Optimism, was Re: more on Brand and the Singularity idea

From: Emlyn (emlyn@one.net.au)
Date: Mon Jan 15 2001 - 21:58:11 MST

> Pure unadulterated optimism, to put it bluntly, is unrealistic -- and
> everybody knows it.
> -- Charlie

But optimism is only a useful concept in an unclear environment. If it were
clear that outcomes would be good, there would be no need for optimism; only
acceptance of a predictable destiny.

(Optimism/Pessimism/Other guiding principle) is something that you adopt in
the face of lack of information; you use it to help make decisions when
there is no reasonable way to make a choice. For instance, after debating
nanotech ad nauseam, we don't seem to be any closer to deciding if we should
pursue it or not (or even if that is a valid option). So, we must retreat to
core values, and say "Well, I'm optimistic about people and the future;
let's do it".

Pure unadulterated optimism is a cause for concern, because it begins to
intrude on situations where the facts would otherwise speak clearly; where a
more moderate approach might be better advised. I see that a bit in the GM
discussions on this list; anyone intending to shop from a list of GM foods
is clearly pushing a barrow, rather than employing reason.

But we can still have a lot of optimism. It's one of the guiding principles
of this list, and is quite out in the open. We take a solid combined
knowledge of "the way things are", informed projections of the possible "way
things could be", and colour that with optimism, faith in humanity. Ta-da,
what pops out is a future worth believing in. And, to the extent that we
make the future we envisage and pursue, it is socially responsible to-boot.


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