[ExI] Response to Dan Gardner's anti-libertarian attack

Max More maxmore01 at gmail.com
Sat Apr 1 17:54:58 UTC 2023

My response to:

The Techno-Libertarian Faith

What "loony gas" tells us about AI

April 1, 2023


It sounds like you are annoyed that people assume you are always in favor
of going ahead and never think that things can go wrong and so you pick on
libertarians for causing that perception, because you usually agree with
them. You then pick a tiny number of cases where you think libertarians are
wrong and label them as having “faith”. You do not pint the faith label on
those who automatically jump up to regulate everything and get it wrong.

Also, you smear libertarians by pointing out that some are funded partly by
corporate interests. As if this isn’t the case for all other causes. You
correctly say that you think that, for the most part, these people are
sincere. It’s probably true of many people who are non-libertarians and
anti-libertarians. But you use this to select attack libertarians. If the
funding does not give cause to dismiss libertarian views, why bring it up
at all? Of course, there are many, many libertarians who have never
benefited from corporate money. Many of us have campaigned against
government funding that benefits us financially.

It is probably true that few libertarians write much about lead although
I’ve seen plenty of writing about cigarettes. That’s hardly surprising
since just about everyone else writes about lead and cigarettes and the
need for regulation. However, you join the regulation train too easily. Do
you believe that consumers, once well-informed on real dangers (unlike most
of the “dangers” we hear about, as you well know) will ignore them and can
only be saved by our wise, benevolent, and impartial politicians and
bureaucrats? When you dig into the history of regulation, what you will
usually find is the regulations follows awareness and consumer pressure for
change (as well as economic developments that make the change workable and
affordable. Restrictions on child labor being a good example.

“Faith” is much better applied to those who see a problem and immediately
turn to the coercive solution, despite all the failures throughout history,
and despite the public choice issues that explain why regulation is
systematically bad and gets worse over time. (Let’s also distinguish
regulation from application of general law, which libertarians obviously
support. If a company is emitting something definitely harmful and people
are being hurt without their consent, you don’t need regulation to stop it.)

Your criticism is especially inappropriate in the AI risk/AI apocalypse
panic. Lead in gasoline is clearly unhealthy and has no upside apart from a
(temporary) mild lowering of costs. AI has enormous likely benefits. We are
just beginning to see them. Just as AI is actually starting to be useful –
increasing productivity, accelerating medical advances, and so on – some
people want to stomp on it and kill it. What you call the libertarian
response was indeed predictable. And correct. Stopping AI is a terrible
idea that will cause people to die when AI could have accelerated cures.
Just to name one area. And you are wrong that this is the universal
libertarian response (sadly). Yudkowsky is a libertarian and rejects calls
for moratoriums in every other area. He makes an exception for this one
because he’s gone down an intellectual rabbit hole and become hysterical.

Max More, PhD
Director of Communications
Biostasis Technologies
Editor, *The transhumanist Reader*
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