Curtis dropped this post today, and I love the analogy. Liberals sell heroin, conservatives sell cocaine.

Techno-Optimism is cocaine. Atlas Shrugged is cocaine. Futurism is cocaine.

I am a progressive. A liberal. I believe in progress.

I am not a conservative. Conservatives lose. If you want to not lose, you have to stop being a conservative.

  • The American empire will continue its decline
  • The socially permissive will continue to grow
  • Without tanks, there will not be reform at Harvard
  • The best thing you can do to make SF better is leave

But this post is heroin, it’s supposed to make you feel good. Or at least numb. On to that part.

“Alright, believe it or not, time’s arrow neither stands still nor reverses. It merely marches forward.” – Joseph Sugarman

Technology is a one-way street. Ironically, it would take immensely powerful technology to try to drive in reverse on that street. And this reversing technology would need to be orders of magnitude more powerful than where the street is at. As long as we keep technology fairly well-distributed, the required power disparity will never exist.

Humanity is going to die. Is this news to you? Did you pay attention in high school physics? Entropy increases. Time’s arrow marches forward. If you want to try to reverse that arrow, if it’s even possible, you are going to need god-like levels of technology.

Now there’s a chance we die sooner, but does it get everything? Or something small will crawl from the dirt millenia from now? A paperclipping AI makes no sense beyond a thought experiment. The search processes that created that AI will not stop at paperclipping! There will be chaos and debate. The prisoner’s dilemma will never be solved.

Terribly wrong moves, which are non-obvious to see (don’t build AI is a really dumb strategy), are way more likely to plunge Earth into a dark age, a saddle point in God’s optimization function. I’m sorry you won’t get to see humans go to the stars, but don’t be so bold as to talk about the fate of our light cone. You have no idea.

We are progressives. Destiny is on our side.

But don’t go around being an indefinite optimist, nobody likes those people. Build the world you want to see tomorrow. Not because it matters, but because we can. And what the hell else are you doing?