The FTX crypto scandal has unmasked the hypocrisy that drives our “philanthropic” elites
Futurists don’t just predict coming events. They also seek to shape them. Each prediction is framed to bring about change in a certain direction, whether by bold promises or doomsday prophecies.
For instance, when you hear warnings that artificial intelligence could outsmart humankind and destroy us all—or more precisely, if you believe those claims—there is no choice but to rethink your long-term strategy. Maybe you smash the machines preemptively. Or maybe you teach the AI to be nice and then jam a Neuralink trode in your brain to keep up with the conversation.
To the extent our immediate decisions are guided by these imagined futures, we’re all unwitting tools of the futurist.
After the spectacular crash of the FTX cryptocurrency exchange, the twin philosophies of “effective altruism” and “longtermism” have invaded the public consciousness. Like an infestation of eusocial termites, once you notice the first effective altruist crawling around the house, you start to see them everywhere.
Effective altruism is an egghead academic movement focused on helping large numbers of people, or perhaps all conscious entities, on a global scale. One popular proposal is to accumulate as much money as possible, then give it away to charity. These strategies often rely on the sorts of elaborate calculations and convoluted ethical frameworks that only “experts” could concoct.
Longtermism takes this do-gooder ball and runs with it into the distant future. Its proponents imagine how our altruistic actions today might benefit all the conscious minds that will eventually come to exist. In theory, that includes untold trillions of humans living in space, as well as mind uploads and AI bots living in vast digital simulations.
You may have problems today. But if we’re gonna be serious about utilitarianism, the highest moral priority belongs to all the cyborg space invaders yet to be. Sorry, but at the end of the day, there are more of them than you.
By Joe Allen