The value of science, the scientific approach to knowledge and the dangers (or benefits) of applying that knowledge have been discussed for centuries.
So let’s identify those thinkers who have thought it through to the logical conclusion. I don’t claim they don’t exist, and it seems likely that they do. But who are they? Other than Ted Kaczynski.
I can think of one off the top of my head. Whoever wrote the Adam and Eve story in the Bible. Adam and Eve ate the apple of knowledge, and then were expelled from the garden of eden. Translated to modern times, we unlocked the secrets of the atom, and then demolished the environment we depend on.
There is surely a rational case to be made that having more knowledge than your opponent offers a significant advantage.
Yes, of course, this is one of the major challenges involved in this problem.
I’m not sure I accept your position that there is a knowledge threshold in certain topics that we should not go beyond. Knowledge may be used or abused. It is the nature of knowledge that we cannot know which will prevail and therefore which knowledge we should not pursue.
That’s the status quo argument, which I claim is outdated.
The counter argument is that if we develop powers of “existential scale” it’s only a matter of time until we abuse one of them. And due to their vast scale, abusing just one such power just one time is all it takes.
There is ongoing vigorous debate about the approach to science by philosophers and politicians among others. How can a topic so vigorously pursued at the present time be outdated.
No offense, but everybody always says this, and yet nobody can ever point to anybody with credentials who is having this specific conversation.
The website philpapers.org may have some interesting reading for you. Nicholas Maxwell seems to share your concerns and suggests we should focus on “more” wisdom (http://www.ucl.ac.uk/from-knowledge-to-wisdom). He has written a few books on the topic.
Thanks, I’ll check that out, and thanks also for the reminder to revisit that site, good plan.
More wisdom is obviously a step in the right direction. Two problems though.
1) Techniques for generating wisdom are highly limited, and there is no currently known way to scale them up to the degree needed in the time frame needed.
2) More wisdom is not sufficient. Perfect wisdom is required. As example, we have shown some wisdom in regards to nukes, limiting their development to some degree. That’s great, but we still face the challenge of NEVER having just one bad day.
As I’ve previously suggested, there are known dangers we cannot currently mitigate so there is certain unpleasantness if you fail to pursue knowledge. It is also the nature of knowledge (or lack of it) that you can never be sure what approach will yield the most valuable information (or the most dangerous risks) so what do you censor?
You are appropriately bringing up real challenges. However I would caution you against making a common mistake.
Listing all the challenges to this thesis does not solve the problem.
As example, I’ve been having this discussion for years and have received many welcome challenges asking what I would do about this or what I would do about that. When I have to admit I don’t know the answer challengers typically claim victory and then vanish. This process is entirely valid, and welcome, but it does not in itself solve the problem.
What would be helpful, and most welcome, is for challengers to identify which of the following statements is false:
a) Science is driving an ever accelerating knowledge explosion.
b) This explosion will give us greater and greater powers, at a faster and faster rate.
c) Some of these powers will be capable of collapsing modern civilization.
d) Sooner or later we’ll lose control of at least one of these large powers.
e) When that happens the accomplishments of science will be largely erased.
I’m not seeking a personal victory here, I’m seeking solutions. I don’t want civilization to crash any more than anyone else. If that happened, where would I get my bagels????