Juan David's Newsletter - December 19th, 2022
The Impossible Dream: Achieving Technological Progress and Human Well-Being
The most important question of our time: How do we accelerate technological progress while not self-terminating on the way?
Imagine you want to be known for many years as a famous philosopher or thinker, in the same stage as folks such as Karl Marx, Adam Smith, Immanuel Kant, Friedrich Nietzsche, Sigmund Freud, and Charles Darwin.
Just like Marx worked on political philosophy, Smith worked on modern economics, Kant worked on ethics, Nietzsche worked on philosophy, Freud worked on psychology, and Darwin worked on evolution. You’ll want to figure out the dynamics of technological progress and human well-being.
Books, movies, or plays will be written about you if you figure out the dichotomy of technological innovation and human well-being. It’s that simple, at least, in theory.
Technological progress and human-well being don’t need to be mutually exclusive.
But for a reason someone will figure out, it seems that as we get more technologically advanced, we also end up hurting ourselves in various ways. A basic example is social media making kids anxious or having low self-esteem.
This could make you believe technology is bad and we should stop it. “After all, we seemed happier when we were hunting around in the savannas.” This view and conclusion are and were held by many people. An example is someone like Karl Marx, who had a great analysis (flaws of capitalism) with flawed conclusions (advocating for communism).
Like Marx, many people identified many specific issues, but their conclusions were either wrong or could have been much better.
Advocating for communism or ending technological progress isn’t the best approach. Sure, you could argue we were much happier, but what about the better standard of living, reduced poverty, longer lifespans, and global connectivity, among many others?Read this to see how the world sucks, how the world is great, and how the world can improve.
In essence, “solutions create new problems.” Some think this is what evolution is about. We continue to find solutions to survive, and we continue to create new problems. If we don’t solve them, we. . . die.
Going back to “no technology” and not solving any more problems is a not solution.
Just as evolution is about solutions creating new problems, technology is simply the tool we use to make better and faster solutions. Saying “No” to technology is giving up on living and agreeing to die. Technology is fundamentally about life: creating, giving, and improving this miracle.
That’s why we can’t give up on technology.
The other perspective is the human side.
We must continue to provide humans with basic needs such as security, food, and the ability to prosper. Beyond basic needs, we need to give people meaning (either with religion or not), the ability to believe they can work on their curiosity or what they think would make them happy, and also provide ways to accelerate human evolution.
Once we figure out these two seemingly mutually exclusive perspectives of technological progress and human well-being, we can genuinely reach infinity and achieve the impossible. This is also how we transcend the Great Filter.
This is where we stand.
The challenge of our time is to find a way to accelerate technological progress while ensuring that it does not compromise human well-being. This is a complex and multifaceted problem, but it is crucial that we find a solution to continue making progress as a society.
We must balance the potential benefits of technology with the needs and desires of human beings and work to find a way to integrate these two perspectives in a way that allows us to continue moving forward. INTEGRATION is hard!!!
By doing so, we can achieve a future in which technology and human well-being can coexist and thrive, allowing us to reach our full potential as a species and accomplish the impossible.
So, we need to find a way to balance these two seemingly opposing perspectives to move forward and achieve the impossible. This is also how you can be part of the history books for many years to come.
School is over. Now, I’m back home and will be:
Working on my 2022 Annual Review
Running 20 miles before December 31st (want to go over 200)
Creating projects, of course. Still not sure. I want to slow down and choose good quests
Publishing The UIUC Talkshow episodes (including the one with Stephen Wolfram)
Following up with people I haven’t talked to in a while
Being grateful for a great year
And more things I don’t know or things that will come up. I’m wide open!
Trying to learn from this sculpture to slow down and think about direction as the year ends. Direction matters way more!
Every time I think about this topic, I remember a quote from one of my favorite books:
“It is well known the drunken sailor who staggers to the left or right with n independent random steps will, on the average, end up about steps from the origin.
But if there is a pretty girl in one direction, then his steps will tend to go in that direction and he will go a distance proportional to n.
In a lifetime of many, many independent choices, small and large, a career with a vision will get you a distance proportional to n, while no vision will get you only the distance.
In a sense, the main difference between those who go far and those who do not is some people have a vision and the others do not and therefore can only react to the current events as they happen.”
—Richard Hamming, The Art of Doing Science and Engineering: Learning to Learn
Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you next Sunday.
Merry Almost Christmas,
Juan David Campolargo