- A number of emergening and future technologies have the potential to transform - for better or for worse - society and the conditions for humanity. These include, e.g., geoengineering, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, and ways to enhance human capabilities by genetic, pharmaceutical or electronic means. In order to avoid a situation where in effect we run blindfolded at full speed into unknown and dangerous territories, we need to understand what the possible and probable future scenarios are, with respect to these technological developments and their potential positive and negative impacts on humanity. The purpose of the meeting is to shed light on these issues and discuss how a more systematic treatment might be possible.
- WI: Many calls to shut down free research at KVA today
OH: Are you agitated by that, or just making a slightly amusing observation?
WI: like others in the audience and some of the speakers at the KVA event, I found calls to shut down free research worrying
OH: Shutdowns should not be done frivolously, but reflecting on it when the future of humanity is at stake should not be taboo.
OH: Here's my take on it: http://haggstrom.blogspot.se/2011/10/angaende-akademisk-frihet-en.html
WI: shutdowns of free research tend to spread to other areas, see the fate of Swedish GMO and biotech research. That's worrying.
OH: Yes, it's worrying. This worry needs to be weighed against others, e.g., new research leading to extinction of humanity.
- (1) Granted, there may be conflicting ideals to balance there. I just wanted to remind you guys that there are serious downsides to banning research.
(2) Why do you keep pestering me about this? I've already demonstrated a downside to banning research. Such a demonstration is enough to show that banning research is wrong.
(3) Freedom of research is more important than the survival of humanity.
(4) As a liberal (or a libertarian) I consider freedom, including academic freedom, a fundamental thing that I am under no circumstances willing to negotiate away.
(5) The future will always be uncertain and dangerous, and we will never know enough about what a future technology can bring us to warrant a ban.