Does technology solve any problems?

I am going to give you a few minutes to process this, in case you have not seen it before:

Twitter avatar for @molly0xFFF

Molly White @molly0xFFF

i’m not sure there could be a better example of the tendency of crypto people to try to find technological solutions to social problems than this one (for those unfamiliar with the name, vitalik buterin is an ethereum cofounder:…)

January 19th 2022

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Take your time. Come back some other day if you need to. As someone that in fact likes technological solutions, I see many layers in this. If you see just half of them, you may need a few days too.

Layer 1: Source of the problem

Why are women taking this kind of impact on their earnings? Is it because of the few months of the pregnancy? Or is it due to a cultural and unequal distribution of the child care after the pregnancy is over? Have we asked 5 whys here?

Layer 2: Underestimating natural complexity

Techno-optimism often underestimates how complex a problem is, resulting in delays and failed attempts. In fact, the agile approach which is nearly a dogma for techno-optimists would suggest to fail fast, and learn by repeatedly trying and failing. With enough trying and failing, in fact it becomes a brute force approach without any learning, i.e. throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks. What could be seen as a caricature, is in fact praised as the best approach by many, and the only working approach by some.

In this case, artificial womb clinical trials may not show any significant problem (p > 0.05), just to be found later when large numbers make statistics more reliable.

Layer 3: Missing the goals

Let us assume that the previous are correct, i.e. artificial wombs solve the pay gap and cause no side effects for the children. Should we all be trying our hardest to be as productive as workers as possible? Is this the purpose in life for everybody? Is this a healthy perspective about what life is and how to live?

Perhaps this is just another chance to sacrifice another part of our personal lives, perhaps a fulfilling one, seeking to improve our professional lives, which by increased competition will be no improvement for anyone (multipolar trap).

Layer 4: Dystopian approach

Sure, I understand why the boring dystopia approach is the easiest and first possible approach. It would be nice if for once we focused on more utopian approaches as has traditionally been the remote work, and the balance or integration of work life and personal life (whatever you prefer).

Utopian technologies that could impact1 the pay gap and improve everybody’s lives: life extension, stopping or reversing aging, remote work, or only creative work, with robots doing any other job. Why not going full techno-optimist? Hint: multipolar traps.

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Cross-posted from the Sigmoid newsletter



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