[ExI] Parts 1 to 3 of The Perils of Precaution now online

samantha sjatkins at mac.com
Mon Aug 23 20:25:40 UTC 2010

Adrian Tymes wrote:
> Good stuff, Max, but a few parts strike me odd.
> In part 1 you say, "Most of us want to do two things at the same time: 
> Protect our
> freedom to innovate technologically, and protect ourselves and our 
> environment from
> excessive collateral damage."  Problem is, many of the people to whom 
> this piece is
> or should be addressed, don't really want to innovate 
> technologically.  If they are
> consciously aware of it being a good thing at all, they place it far 
> less in priority than
> protection - to the point that they say they're willing to do away 
> with innovation entirely.
> ("If it would lessen damage to the environment" is one of the 
> justifications given, but not
> the only one.  Not having to deal with technology's dislocation, and 
> wanting to be
> familiar with the world their children are growing up to inherit, are 
> among the others..)
> Replacing "Protect our freedom to innovate technologically" with 
> something like "Find
> ways to fix the problems - ours and the world's - that we care about" 
> might be better

I think that this is part of the point of the book, that protection does 
not trump innovation.  If it is unclear in the rest of the book why 
innovation is so crucially important then that lack would need 
addressing.  But I doubt very much Max would miss that.   And the 
objections above need some examination, for instance when someone makes 
the environmental claim.  At the least questions of what aspects of the 
environment are important to maintain and to what degree and in the 
context of which other values very important and even crucial to human 
wellbeing.   Protect the environment as an out of context meme can do 
and has done a lot of damage.   As far as your children having a future 
that looks a lot like your own, well what exactly do you want them to 
have and not have?  Do you want them to suffer the same diseases as 
you?  Do you want it to be as hard to improve things in the real world 
as it is now?  Do you want them to have as much difficulty mastering new 
things?  Do you want them to be under an automatic death sentence just 
from the accumulation of years and to suffer more and more as they get 
older?   No?  Then exactly what is being talked about when people want 
to keep things more or less the same?

- samantha

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