[ExI] Cosmopolitanism, collective epistemology and other issues

Anders Sandberg anders at aleph.se
Sun Jul 10 10:27:00 UTC 2016

On 2016-07-10 09:27, BillK wrote:
> On 9 July 2016 at 22:15, Anders  wrote:
>> There are three reasons Brexit disturbs me: (1) it represents a rejection of
>> cosmopolitanism, (2) it represents a serious failure of collective
>> cognition, (3) it likely has somewhat bad effects for me.
> Ooooh!  Now we can bore US list members with a month-long argument
> about Brexit!  :)
That was partially why I named the thread something different. Because I 
do think there are more important things going on here than politics on 
a small island. (Still, we now do have a response to endless 
Trump-threads ;-)

> I think the most significant factor was that the voting patterns
> showed a London 'bubble' voting to Remain and almost all the rest of
> England voting to Leave the EU. This was England rebelling against
> rule by 'rich' Londoners. Outside London feels ignored and disenfranchised.
It is interesting that you describe it as 'London'. Because clearly it 
was not just London that voted remain: the demographic is rather urban, 
younger, more educated, more well-off and so on. West Wales and 
Manchester are part of this "London" (we can ignore Scotland and N 
Ireland since they are special cases).

The bubbles are more subtle: since you tend to interact with people like 
you in the total social network, it is entirely possible for leave and 
remain people to live side by side without even noticing that there are 
a lot of dissenting views nearby. That is perhaps part of the epistemic 
trouble: thanks to the increasing role of online social media you are 
less likely to notice what your physical neighbour thinks, since he is 
not your social neighbour. If you had to meet at the town hall regularly 
you both would actually know what that other fool thinks.

> The discontent among the 'groundlings' is growing.

Yes, and this is worrying. Because either we internationalists let them 
have their say, and hope after a few Greek-style country collapses they 
will learn - huge suffering and losses of opportunity, and as the 30s 
demonstrated the lesson learned is not always the right one - or one has 
to go on a charm offensive to show the groundlings that 
"internationalisation works for you", which typically means bribing them 
with redistribution and hence introducing clientelism. There should be 
better approaches in the toolbox?

Most automation technologies make it easier to turn capital into labour 
in the production equation. That means that (1) having access to capital 
of the right kinds becomes more important, and (2) labour of many kinds 
becomes less important - and people and regions optimized for one system 
of labour will lose out. Quite often without understanding why, since 
the most obvious things like offshoring and robots often have smaller 
effects than refactoring and smart supply chains.

Dr Anders Sandberg
Future of Humanity Institute
Oxford Martin School
Oxford University

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