What is it about our brains that makes facts so challenging, so odd and threatening? Why do we sometimes double down on false beliefs? And maybe why do some of us do it more than others?
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What I’m trying articulate here is that there is a really fine balance between how do you spur and invigorate innovation, and then also address security at the same time. Because one cannot drown out the other. Because you’re going to have all kinds of issues.
I’m going to make an argument in this talk that dissent is valuable not merely to establish your moral dimension or to make a moral act or moral posture. It’s essential to scientific progress. So we can’t do without dissent; it’s not an affectation.
Mary Shelley’s novel has been an incredibly successful modern myth. And so this conversation today is not just about what happened 200 years ago, but the remarkable ways in which that moment and that set of ideas has continued to percolate and evolve and reform in culture, in technological research, in ethics, since then.
The future is on the whole a wonderful thing because it will bring us new things that we haven’t seen before. And that’s why we stick around.
The best justification we have for killing fifty-six, fifty-seven, whatever billion land animals and a trillion sea animals every year is that they taste good. And so, in a sense how is this any different from Michael Vick, who likes to sit around a pit watching dogs fight, or at least he used to?
Solar geoengineering rests on a simple idea that it is technically possible to make the Earth a little more reflective so that it absorbs a little less sunlight, which would partly counteract some of the risks that come from accumulating carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. When I say technically possible, it appears that at least doing this in a crude way is actually easy, in the sense that it could be done with commercial off-the-shelf technologies now, and it could be done at a cost that is really trivial, sort of a part in a thousand or a part in ten thousand of global GDP.
I think if there are people who are able to take a step backwards, take that proverbial zoom out, and realize that everybody’s kind of doing the same thing in different ways, and be able to step from one perspective to the other and ask different kinds of questions based on where they are at any given moment time, then it just becomes a game. I think it becomes joyful and engaging. I mean, I’m not interested in finding the answer to anything. I don’t think there is the answer to anything.