Where There's A William

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A Rights-Based Strategy Of Exponential Technology Change

There exists in the USA an energetic (and more than occasionally vituperative) debate into the nature of rights.  Their source, their expression and, perhaps most vehement of all, the acceptable limitations on that expression.  What follows will draw example from a limited selection of that rights discussion with the express purpose of arguing the applicability of the fundamental principles of human rights as that concept might apply to developing a strategy to accommodate the exponential development of technology on human society.  This post is not intended to be all-inclusive and the hope is to stimulate thought toward arriving at a considered position available to be applied as circumstance makes desirable.

Since the topic is exponential change in capability, I will take the fundamental position that the principles delineated in the 9th and 10 amendments to the US Constitution are the most supportive of people having the broadest authority for developing and using technology.  Additional to this, the principle that restriction of the exercise of rights (specifically, the right to learn about and individually seek to advance the development of technology in a specifiable application) by those other than the legitimate owner(s) of a given technology (in a word; government) are subject to specific and quite limited circumstance (as example, see the entire Bill Of Rights to the US Constitution).

There has recently been an effort to counter the question of an individual exercising certain rights without reference to the general concept of rights.  I think this entire line of reasoning is most pertinent to dealing with the effects of exponential growth on human society.  To wit; that rights cannot be selectively denied without destroying the very concept, and that rights can be mutually limited in specific and stipulated fashion and degree.

Rights are the universal condition of the individual human (alright, the individual intellectual entity).  Their exercise can be denied, but they can only be temporarily extended to some other voluntarily (regardless of the duration of the agreement).  If this be true generally, then applying the same principles to encourage and normalize change becomes a mere extension of established principles and it’s application subject to the established mechanisms for dealing with disruptive circumstance.  Should it come down to a matter of law, I’m thinking a Federalist model; a unifying but expressly limited structure within which a variety of different standards are available to individual choice.  Freedom of movement between the different areas is guaranteed as is personal responsibility for the effects of one’s actions.

In their book Abundance, Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler seem to ignore the effect of network development on the ability of people to adopt technology changes in a fashion that allows for exponential growth of their ability to accommodate the effects of exponential growth on their societies and selves.  What I am suggesting in this post is that a principle of ethical and mutually beneficial standards be developed, specifically in response to the numerous changes the two men make so prominent a part of their book.  We can make such an effort a central part of our effort to adapt to and incorporate exponential change into our lives, or experience yet another set back in the course of human development – an experience they go to some effort to point out that human history is “littered with”.

The two men make the point that humanity has been improving the human condition throughout the course of recorded human existence.  Why not make doing so successfully a prominent part of a conscious strategy to achieve a continuation of that historical trend?

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