Tag Archive: science

Legislative Self-Assembly


Isaiah Berlin once wrote, “We cannot legislate
for unknown consequences of consequences of consequences.”

He wasn’t making a statement about the mind’s resemblance to a broken record,
it wasn’t that he COULD NOT GET OVER consequences.

He was making a deep point about science and society…in the 20th century.

But suppose we produce a scientific approach that gets uncommonly robust forecasts
from cadres of superintelligent autonomous nano-brains,
and they all vote on a spectrum;
and suppose we decide to value their opinions?

We have so much that is known so well, an overdetermination of excellent forecasts. Is that so remarkably impossible? I mean, we get that
with global circulation models — which by the way aren’t so autonomous
or superintelligent and super excellent.

But would we legislate for consequences of consequences of consequences if they were OVERKNOWN?

When we have all the terrible nightmares of the world and bright dreams to be thinking, what can we do?


In 1802, Thomas Jefferson asked the Spanish to permit a group of explorers to travel the Missouri River; their motives would be “no other than the advancement of geography.” Months later, Jefferson sent a secret memo to Congress arguing that, because France and Spain would view the expedition as “a literary pursuit,” the United States could use the exploration to wrestle the Indian trade away from Britain. Dupree suggests, in addition, that Jefferson utilized an international ethic of scientific achievement to mask an ambition for a dominant position among competing Colonial powers on the continent.

Thus science as an objective was for foreign ears; commerce as an objective was for Congress; and the real purpose, which had to do with the claims of empires, was carefully screened by silence, secrecy, and an ambiguous title to the act. (p. 26)