a good summary of the criticisms of Bill Joy's call for "relinquishing"
technological advancement and economic growth. Nothing all that new
to readers here, but it is good to see more critical public responses.
Because people in the technical and scientific community have been
thinking about the problem, they also find Joy's prescriptions --
which involve bans on research and international controls on science --
somewhere between frightening and laughable. Such bans have no chance of
success (look at our efforts in controlling nuclear research in, say,
Iraq and North Korea for example) and would require the establishment
of a global police state even to fail plausibly.
Of course, to the extent that such efforts succeed, the cure may be
worse than the disease. In 1875, Great Britain, then the world's sole
superpower, was sufficiently concerned about the dangers of the new
technology of high explosives that it passed an act barring all private
experimentation in explosives and rocketry. The result was that German
missiles bombarded London rather than the other way around.
Because of these problems, most people who have thought seriously about
the problem reject regulatory solutions such as Joy's. Those solutions
are not only unworkable, but would produce major setbacks for freedom
and prosperity. Instead, many tend to support what Dartmouth College
professor Arthur Kantrowitz (in an essay on this topic published more
than 10 years ago) called the weapon of openness.
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