It is always the same pattern: hints, recommendations, and warnings – whether from climate research, feminist foreign policy, or even foresight – are ignored until it is too late. The consequences are then presented as inevitable and without alternatives.
“We have no other choice” actually means “We ignored all possible courses of action until only the drastic one remained.”
“No one could have known” actually means “We heard it loud and clear but didn’t want to make a decision for which we could have been held responsible.”
How do we get out of this pattern? How can we break it and replace it with better patterns? Asking for a planet…
I’ve started reading The Good Ancestor by Roman Krznaric and stumbled about him quoting Nick Bostrom on the first pages as if Bostrom is just a random risk researcher and not a transhumanism and longtermism evangelist with a specific and hazardous agenda.*
This keeps happening. For example, German corporations send their managers to Singularity University or let them organize the internal training days as if they are just another business school and not a semi-religious sect, having their concept of redemption right there in their name.
From my interaction with German managers, I’m sure that most of them don’t fully buy into the singularity or transhumanism. So why does this keep happening? Ignorance? Naïveté?
I wonder if this has to do with the lack of alternative narratives. When they book an event, they want “successful” speakers, and in their perception, those “Silicon Valley” guys are the prototype. It’s why Elon Musk is still hailed as the role model for young people in Germany by all kinds of magazines.
I take two courses of action from this train of thought. First, I’ll keep putting my finger on the underlying ideas and world views of the likes of Bostrom to Musk so that lack of knowledge can no longer be an option. Second, and most importantly, we need to push for alternative narratives. We need to tell different stories about maintenance, care, and justice, not just innovation, risk, and exponential potential (for the few).
* I put Krznaric on the spot here because The Good Ancestor is an otherwise excellent book so far.
A signal is not a trend. A trend is not a future. A future is not THE future.
Presenting a signal as a trend is usually a deliberate act of invoking a certain future.