The Most Dangerous Fantasy
if only I were in charge
We all know that Klaus Schwab, proprietor of the World Economic Forum, is a fool and a knave. He partakes of the oldest error in the book: if only I were God.
The very idea of God is a tell: that we humans can’t imagine life, the universe, everything without someone being in charge. I suppose this fantasy is a consequence of the universal hierarchy in the animal kingdom. There’s always someone higher up on the food chain than me.
At the latest World Government Summit in Dubai,
Schwab cited technologies like AI, metaverse, cryptocurrencies, space tech, and synthetic biology that will change the world. “Our life in 10 years from now will be completely different, very much affected. And who masters those technologies in some way will be the master of the world,” Schwab stated.
Here is my take. If all the technologies change the world they will change the world in ways completely different that what Klausi and the rest of the world’s experts and rulers imagine.
Of course, Elon Musk, Peck’s Bad Boy of technology, has a warning for the top-down enthusiasts.
“We should be a little bit concerned about actually becoming too much of a single world government … If I may say, we want to avoid creating a civilizational risk by having—frankly, this might sound a little odd—too much cooperation between governments,” Musk said.
If you go looking, you will find a ton of books that warn against imagining that anyone knows enough to rule the world. I’ve just finished Michael Oakshott’s famous essay “Rationalism in Politics.” He is a bit confusing, but basically he is saying that the rational, constructivist agenda of political philosophizing —starting with Francis Bacon and René Descartes, that brought us everything from the French Revolution to the US Constitution to Marxism to Socialism to the Welfare State and now the fight against climate change — is flawed. Because reason and technique are only half the story. He brings up “apprenticeship” as a counter-narrative, a way of acquiring knowledge that combines both technical ideas and practical skills and know-how: not presiding over the world but living and experiencing the world.
And now I’ve got a book coming called The Case Against Reality that says, I believe, don’t believe your lying eyes.
I remember seeing, years ago, a TV program that set up the viewing of someone on a beach, illuminated in light at all different wavelengths. What you see depends on what kind of light you are using, from radar to visible light to X-rays. And what you see is radically different, depending on the illumination you use. We already know this from stage and movie lighting.
This is, I believe a crucial thing to understand. We cannot direct traffic; we cannot build the perfect society; we cannot imagine what the world will look like in 50, 100 years. We cannot construct the future world. We can only adapt to its surprises and its challenges.