Searching for the Exit Routes



  • Author: David Mattin
  • Full Title: Searching for the Exit Routes
  • Document Note: This essay is about the tension between technology and human limits, and how it is manifested as an argument between two opposing futures. The author examines the idea of technological modernity and its ability to transcend human limits; however, the author also argues that new limits must be imposed to avoid civilizational collapse. They detail the implications of these questions and the need for a revived liberalism to navigate the technological revolution. Ultimately, the author argues that a spiritual revolution is needed to chart an appropriate course through these changes.
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  • OpenAI had decided that the best way to proceed was to release their models incrementally, and gather as much feedback as possible. Only via that feedback could they ensure that these technologies ‘benefit all humanity’. (View Highlight)
  • Today, there are people who believe that via new technologies we’ll soon transcend, in some definitive way, the limits that have always governed our experience as a species. Those limits are bodily and organic, material, social, and planetary. (View Highlight)
  • technology will soon lead us to infinite free energy and a world of endless material abundance. It will allow us to create new and decentralised social forms that liberate us from all power relations. (View Highlight)
  • that we must accept new limits on our technological and economic activities if we are to avoid either imminent civilizational collapse, or a pseudo-transcension that will rob us of everything valuable about what we are. (View Highlight)
  • Are we about to fly higher than ever before, or fall to Earth with a thud? This question — the dichotomy between no limits and new limits, between transcension and collapse — underlies much of the conversation about technology and our shared future. Which, it’s increasingly clear, is the question. (View Highlight)
  • Christian Paul Kingsnorth, who in a long series of essays across the last three years has anatomised what he calls the machine: a global techno-capitalist system that, in his formulation, is eating everything that is valuable about human life. (View Highlight)
  • Should we pursue nuclear fusion and near-limitless clean energy, or seek instead to reduce our energy use? Are new techniques of genetic manipulation a gift to the life sciences, or an example of dangerous hubris? Is direct interface between the human brain and the internet a wonderful advance, or a step towards the unhuman? (View Highlight)
  • Should we speed up (no limits) or slow down (new limits)? Should we seek to transcend the boundaries that have always shaped us, or must we act now to ensure we do not trespass beyond them? (View Highlight)
  • We humans are the infinite shackled to the finite and embodied. This truth, and the tension to which it gives rise, is uniquely ours. An AI is a kind of infinite information processor. An ape is an embodied creature destined to live within the bounds of its given self. (View Highlight)
  • what’s needed now is a revived and fully 21st-century liberalism; one focused not on religious differences or on the traditional conservative vs progressive political framework — which is now exhausted — but on the definitive question of our age, which is our proper relationship with the technology revolution. (View Highlight)
  • A deep skepticism about technology is mainstream these days; even fashionable (View Highlight)