"Perfection Is Not A Useful Concept"

Nick Bostrom directs the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University. He talked with Martin Eiermann about existential risks, genetic enhancements and the importance of ethical discourses about technological progress.

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The European: I want to start with a quote from your website. You have said: “When we are headed the wrong way, the last thing we need is progress.” Can we reason about the wrong way without taking concrete steps in that direction?
Bostrom: That is a good question. Probably you have to take these steps. But they must be small and careful to give us more insight into where we should be going.

The European: The idea of practical wisdom. We might need to make small mistakes to figure out that there is a better way…
Bostrom: If we developed the ability to think more clearly and to understand the world better–which we have to do if we want to figure out what is right–then that understanding will also tend to increase the pace with which we move. And the better we understand technologies, the closer we will be to developing new technologies. That practical knowledge is an important part of innovation.

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