Are You Familiar With The Concept Of "Longtermism" ? What Do You Think Of It?
Category: Religion & EthicsBy: john-russell • 3 months ago • 3 comments
Longtermism is an ethical stance which gives priority to improving the long-term future . It is an important concept in effective altruism and serves as a primary motivation for efforts to reduce existential risks to humanity. 
Sigal Samuel from Vox summarizes the key argument for longtermism as follows: " future people matter morally just as much as people alive today;... there may well be more people alive in the future than there are in the present or have been in the past; and... we can positively affect future peoples' lives."  These three ideas taken together suggest, to those advocating longtermism, that it is the responsibility of those living now to ensure that future generations get to survive and flourish. 
Sounds good, right?
But is there a dark side?
In the view of philosopher and former longtermist Émile Torres, longtermism is “an immensely dangerous ideology [that] goes far beyond a simple shift away from myopic, short-term thinking.” newrepublic.com/article/168047…
The New Republic @newrepublic
Even if humans could establish a utopia on Earth lasting billions of years, longtermism would judge it a catastrophe on par with nuclear war, since any civilization not obsessed with technological progress will fail to build the great digital Valhalla.
The father of longtermism, Nick Bostrom, a transhumanist and Oxford philosophy professor, has been trying to push into the mainstream the idea that the future's hypothetical digital people matter more than the billions of humans alive today because there will be at least 1058 of them. That's a 1 followed by 58 zeroes -- the number of human simulations he calculates we could run using the stars' computing power.
The New York Times, the New Yorker and other media have given longtermism fawning coverage this year with little or no mention of its deranged core. The global fad and media frenzy are almost understandable at this moment in history. It truly is hard to watch: climate change, war, migration crises, economic instability, political regression into nativism, fascism and dictatorships. It's not science fiction but current events that inspire the quest for an escape path from planet Earth.
Longtermism is often framed as a way to protect Earth. But its architects care less about ecosystems than about making sure nothing stops humanity from reaching what Bostrom calls "technological maturity." That's a nice way of characterizing that moment when people turn into bits.
Last year, Emile P. Torres, a philosopher who studies existential threats and has extensively investigated longtermism, warned that the traction longtermism is gaining makes it "the most dangerous secular belief system in the world today."
Digital immortality will never be real; But the current fad for 'longtermism' does real harm. It reminds me of my teen yearning to upload my mind.