TL;DR: independent researcher (M.A. Philosophy) crowdsourcing questions for an upcoming survey: submit here some controversial societal goals and fears you think we should get cross-comparison public opinion data on! The driving question of the survey: what do we want the world to look like in ~50 years time? More details below:
The world is changing rapidly and we face a number of challenges: environmental collapse, general-purpose Artificial Intelligence, geopolitical instability, faltering trust in democratic institutions, to name a few. Technical experts can tell us which actions will result in which outcomes, but no expert can tell you which outcome is most desirable: that’s a question of values and terminal goals. Not all values and goals are compatible though. For example, in the degrowth vs green growth debate, the disagreement is not merely empirical but also political: there are competing visions of what future we seek. Broadly, that debate asks us to consider: do we prefer rewilding/reforestation and slow living, or prefer doubling down on rapid technological change and ever more efficient production of abundant consumer goods? Or consider Bostrom's Vulnerable World Hypothesis: if true, then continued technological development, greater privacy/freedom from state oversight, and a high degree of safety from X or S-risk seem all but incompatible. One must go.
In an effort to gain greater strategic clarity, I'll be conducting a survey that seeks to answer the following question: what future do people actually want? As a society, what are our goals/priorities for this century? And what do we fear? What do we most want to avoid? If the public doesn’t make its preferences known, they will effectively be forfeiting their say to corporations, wealthy special interest groups, and technocrats. This is not only unjust, but likely to result in worse outcomes from the perspective of the general public (why should we expect these groups to accurately represent the interests of the general public?).
While many surveys of individual issues exist, I plan to collect many such competing goals and risks into one survey to study how people make tradeoffs between them. To avoid bias, I’m trying to crowdsource the goals and risks I present to survey respondents: that’s where you come in! I’m posting this call for submission among various groups who I believe have controversial or unusual opinions about what utopia looks like. Please make your submission here.
Some tips for what I’m looking for:
- Concrete and specific is preferable over broad and vague (e.g. “losing control over power-seeking and/or deceptive AI” is better than “AI apocalypse.” Likewise, “20hr work week” is better than “more play.”).
- Goals that are at odds are of greater interest (e.g. "20hr work week" is at odds with "making current luxuries more affordable" – achieving the former works against achieving the latter).
- Complete sentences not required if you feel I can infer the gist of your thought.
- Stick to this century: this is the time frame I plan to use in the survey.
- Though neglected and unusual goals are certainly of extra interest, this isn’t an originality contest: feel free to make a submission you suspect someone else has already made. The frequency of a suggestion will be useful information when designing the survey!
Thank you for your time!