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The Oppenheimer Moment

Where did this evil stuff come from? Are we evil? I’m per­fect­ly will­ing to stip­u­late you are not evil. Neither is your boss evil. Nor is Larry Page or Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates. And yet the results of our work, our best most altru­is­tic work, often turns evil when it’s deployed in the larg­er world. We go to work every day, gen­uine­ly expect­ing to make the world a bet­ter place with our pow­er­ful tech­nol­o­gy. But some­how, evil is sneak­ing in despite our good inten­tions.

The Conversation #23 — Carolyn Raffensperger

When the pub­lic can­not prove that the oil com­pa­ny is going to cause dam­age, then we’re not allowed to say, Nevertheless, the risk is not accept­able.” So we have turned it over, the deci­sion, to the expert. We have tak­en it out of the hands of the com­mu­ni­ty. And then when we say we want com­mu­ni­ty input, we hold a pub­lic hear­ing, and the experts sit up at a table. And then the grand­moth­er who does not have a grad­u­ate degree, she’s not allowed to say, Here’s what I’ve seen. Here is what’s hap­pened in my com­mu­ni­ty. And that’s not accept­able.” Her view is not tak­en because she’s not an expert. And so we’ve tak­en away the right for self deter­mi­na­tion and for com­mu­ni­ty deter­mi­na­tion.