Could Democracy & Our Market System Save Us From Ourselves?
~~META: date created = 2016-12-02 ~~
If technological advance is not an absolute good and it is instead precisely technological advance (Nuclear weapons, AI or some other version of Nick Bolstrom's black ball from the Urn) that will bring about our ultimate demise, then what can bring an end to this? Kaczynski would say there is nothing that can halt this advance in our current system without some type or revolution to overthrow our current institutions. Our ever rational drive to higher efficiencies & productivity cannot be stopped through any intellectual endeavor. Can our big brains that drive us towards ever more technological advance be our own undoing as in Vonnegut's Galápagos? Can we truly stay that we are driving technology for our greater good and not just for its own sake? Do the technologists do their work for the greater good of all humanity or merely because they are driven to do so as it is who they are? Being one of them, I suspect the latter,
But could the solution to the problem on how to halt or regulate technological process be already built into our current democratic, market system? In our current system, technological progress allows a certain small group of people who are skilled in these arts of pushing this technology to prosper disproportionately to the rest of the population. This causes economic imbalances over time that will cause some type of democratic unrest and rise anti intellectualism against the people who have more. Here the people reject the dogma of technological progress at all costs. (Trump's “post fact” victory in the US as a positive example to save humanity… I am potentially reaching a little bit here… ;) )
This somehow agrees with the view that through democracy the wisdom of the the people comes through - even if this does not happen every time, errors will be recognized and corrected. The typical disdain for democracy shown by intellectual elites (see for example H.L Menckens - “Notes on Democracy”) is based on the argument that the common man is too stupid to understand the complex issues of the day. It may however be that the intellectual elites are defining and pursuing particular issues that may not be relevant or indeed beneficial for everyone. The hope is, that on a long enough timeframe, people can recognize what is in their own best interests and this may not be aligned with the logic of what a small number of intellectuals would like to do. Recognizing what is in your best interest may not be an intellectual endeavor but one of low level preference.
Maybe stupidity is indeed a virtue, and it is maybe humanities stupidity that will allow us to keep our humanity, meaning our flawed, inefficient, unproductive ways at the center of our world instead of being pushed ever more to the edges by technology's rational.