apocalyptic techno-optimism

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Qazwer
Posts: 146
Joined: Thu May 16, 2019 6:51 pm

Re: apocalyptic techno-optimism

Post by Qazwer »

Saw this working paper referenced on Cowen’s site. Climate change as a geographical differentiator. My quick read of it is that migration ability is a key driver of societal welfare loss. I know that I do not know enough to understand the science side of it. The argument is that climate change might create winners as well as losers and that societal sum is a function of distribution. Any change in technology therefore to be net encouraged indirectly might require to overcome this difference (not the paper - Cowen’s interpretation)
https://www.princeton.edu/~erossi/EGGW.pdf
https://marginalrevolution.com/marginal ... rming.html

Not sure if including cost/benefit with a geography bent might help this conversation given the geographic differences in locations of research and technology.

Riggerjack
Posts: 3031
Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2011 3:09 am

Re: apocalyptic techno-optimism

Post by Riggerjack »

I wonder if this is a noble lie because he knows that talking about reducing consumption is a non-starter?
By "noble lie" I assume you mean lies aristocrats tell, to increase the yield from the sacrifices of the peasants? Some form of that is usually what is implied behind the term.

Gates lives in Medina, on his estate, sandwiched between his other Medina estates. Behind security barriers, and baronial landscaping. I've worked with plenty of folks who have worked there. The Winchester mansion ain't got nothing on the Gates Estate.

I did some work at Microsoft, back in the 90's. Back when most people were still employees, and most people had at least one "I met Bill" story. I never met him, but my impression was that he was a decent guy, and treated folks well.

But the Gates foundation is something else entirely. It's a huge pile of money, so it attracts a lot of ideas, and egos. Some good, some bad. All I can say is he seems to be looking for synergies to exploit. Where investment in one change generates a secondary effect greater than the investment could have bought.

If you have an idea on how money could fix the American consumption patterns, he would probably be interested. But your idea is in direct competition with everyone else's ideas, so make it good.

This isn't a "why doesn't Bill fix this" situation. It's a "why doesn't Bill fix this, instead of that" question. And he probably has never been pitched your idea.

And to be honest, money doesn't seem to be the missing factor, here. So I don't see how the Gates Foundation would be the right tool.

white belt
Posts: 515
Joined: Sat May 21, 2011 12:15 am

Re: apocalyptic techno-optimism

Post by white belt »

Riggerjack wrote:
Wed Feb 17, 2021 12:12 pm
By "noble lie" I assume you mean lies aristocrats tell, to increase the yield from the sacrifices of the peasants? Some form of that is usually what is implied behind the term.

...

If you have an idea on how money could fix the American consumption patterns, he would probably be interested. But your idea is in direct competition with everyone else's ideas, so make it good.

This isn't a "why doesn't Bill fix this" situation. It's a "why doesn't Bill fix this, instead of that" question. And he probably has never been pitched your idea.

And to be honest, money doesn't seem to be the missing factor, here. So I don't see how the Gates Foundation would be the right tool.
I meant "noble lie" in the sense that it's a falsehood that's repeated for the "greater good". In this case, the greater good cause is that having companies focus on green tech would likely be more helpful to address CC than not having them do that and continue business as usual. Even if it's the case that our entire economy is structured on ever increasing consumption.

To me, American over-consumption patterns are a culture problem. I don't know that you can fix that problem by throwing money at it. You would be fighting against every business and political interest. Maybe you could pay to create some kind of grassroots ad campaign that changes culture away from consumerism? That might not be possible because traditionally advertising just persuades someone to buy something. Maybe you could bribe politicians to act against corporate interests? You essentially need a massive (dis)information campaign akin to what we've seen Russia perpetrate over the past few US elections. Something like stoking the flames of populism but to actually overhaul consumer culture (I'm not sure how exactly to do that within the framework of capitalism). Ditto with something that makes it cool/acceptable to not have children, perhaps with some kind of emphasis on community mentorship programs so childless adults can still scratch the itch to be involved in shaping a young mind.

I'm not claiming my idea is good, I'm just spitballing what would be necessary to change culture. Something like the Gates Foundation has power to influence some things because it has a lot of money, but donor enthusiasm might disappear if you talk about restructuring the world that made them rich.

As a techno-optimist, it seems that Gates views CC as a technological problem with a focus on carbon emissions. CC is a much more complex problem than a simple technological fix like ending acid rain or repairing the ozone layer.

Riggerjack
Posts: 3031
Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2011 3:09 am

Re: apocalyptic techno-optimism

Post by Riggerjack »

I meant "noble lie" in the sense that it's a falsehood that's repeated for the "greater good".
Oh, I understand what you meant.

I was trying to point out that the concept of a noble lie, (and greater good, for that matter) doesn't exist among those who are lied to (or those whose good, isn't good enough).

It's a concept that is very useful for dismissing the concerns of the people who would have to sacrifice for such a greater good.

It's also very nice for lining up opposition to your goals.

This is the same line of thinking that creates the problems you want to solve. Is more of the same going to create the changes you want to make?

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