12 May 2018

Nova knjiga

Krajnje neskromno, moram da pomenem da se moja nova knjiga upravo pojavila u izdanju Oxford University Press-a. Zahvaljujem se svima, uklj. neke sa ovog bloga, koji su na ovaj ili onaj način doprineli ovom projektu (i pomenuti su u zahvalnici).

Konačno, prigodan citat (str. 183, uklonjene fusnote):

Remember Comrade O’Brien’s solipsist geocentrism in 1984:

‘What are the stars?’ said O’Brien indifferently. ‘They are bits of fire a few kilometres away. We could reach them if we wanted to. Or we could blot them out. The earth is the centre of the universe. The sun and the stars go round it.’

Historians have demonstrated how classical totalitarian  systems  like  Nazism and communism undermined science and technology for ideological benefit. Robert Zubrin has argued that ‘bad memes’ could even destroy a large Galactic civilization which would otherwise be immune to all other natural and artificial threats; this is Introvert Big Brother taken to the extreme.  Lem’s  novel Eden paints another bleak picture of extraterrestrial totalitarianism.

How could such a state of affairs emerge? Obviously, there are many possible ways of establishing a totalitarian state, but one is becoming more and more actual with time: in order to avoid self-destruction or other global catastrophic risks, the infrastructure for such a state could be set up, with broad societal acquiescence. Such an infrastructure would include global and detailed surveillance, advanced methods of data processing, genetic screening, and so on. All such measures—and other more intrusive ones, not considered today in this relatively benign, nearly totalitarianism-free moment in human history— may have entirely legitimate justification within a liberal governance; however, once in place, they might be subverted for totalitarian purposes much more easily than in the case of setting up totalitarianism ab initio. We have witnessed that even the most liberal and enlightened human societies can take illiberal measures, with broad acquiescence of the population, if sufficiently threatened. The relevant insight is that such a development will likely lead to the decrease of contact cross section, thus enabling the hiding of older intelligent communities, and the paradoxical conclusions of Fermi’s problem.

A particularly troubling feature of this type of hypothesis is that a single type of totalitarian state could arise as a consequence of many different sorts of crises (including preventing global catastrophic/existential risks), but there are few ways—if any—it could be dismantled if it is technologically sufficiently advanced. In other words, it could be regarded as an attractor in the space of the possible historical trajectories of civilizations.