I don’t even know who most of these smug pasty-faced motherfuckers are.
Except for Nick Bostrom, the second from the left. He’s a philosophical dingleberry who is far more widely known than he deserves, simply because he has wacky ideas that appeal to filthy rich libertarians, Dark Enlightenment cockroaches, and transhumanists who dream of the day they can have their heads permanently grafted up their colons. Phil Torres seems to be making a useful career of dissecting “rationalists”, though, and has written up a good exposé.
For a long time, I’ve noticed that anything associated with Bostrom is pure poison — he is a wicked con artist who is great at coming up with bad ideas that serve the self-interest of wealthy, privileged elites. It’s a great racket. It used to be you had to invent a religion, but Bostrom…wait, no, his schemes actually are a novel technocratic religion.
This has roots in the work of philosopher Nick Bostrom, who coined the term “existential risk” in 2002 and, three years later, founded the Future of Humanity Institute (FHI) based at the University of Oxford, which has received large sums of money from both Tallinn and Musk. Over the past decade, “longtermism” has become one of the main ideas promoted by the “Effective Altruism” (EA) movement, which generated controversy in the past for encouraging young people to work for Wall Street and petrochemical companies in order to donate part of their income to charity, an idea called “earn to give.” According to the longtermist Benjamin Todd, formerly at Oxford University, “longtermism might well turn out to be one of the most important discoveries of effective altruism so far.”
Longtermism should not be confused with “long-term thinking.” It goes way beyond the observation that our society is dangerously myopic, and that we should care about future generations no less than present ones. At the heart of this worldview, as delineated by Bostrom, is the idea that what matters most is for “Earth-originating intelligent life” to fulfill its potential in the cosmos. What exactly is “our potential”? As I have noted elsewhere, it involves subjugating nature, maximizing economic productivity, replacing humanity with a superior “posthuman” species, colonizing the universe, and ultimately creating an unfathomably huge population of conscious beings living what Bostrom describes as “rich and happy lives” inside high-resolution computer simulations.
It’s all about future potential. If killing a beggar in the street means that maybe, hypothetically two scions of an Oxford don might be able to each buy a second yacht in the future, then murder away! The net benefit to the economy, and therefore all of human happiness (which is, of course, entirely a product of a healthy economy) is greater for the loss of a parasite and the enhancement of the capitalist class. Never mind that the benefits are entirely imaginary and work to the advantage of nonexistent people, or that we could also imagine that beggar has the potential to cure all diseases given the opportunity, no, just fantasize a benefit for someone you like, and all harm is justified.
This is the kind of thinking that spawned Roko’s Basilisk, you know.
Anyway, billionaires love these guys. That ought to be enough to tell you that they are literally evil.