Differential progress is the hastening of risk-reducing progress and the delaying of risk-increasing progress.

Differential progress can be regarded as a generalization of the proposal, first made by Nick Bostrom, to accelerate risk-reducing technological progress and retard risk-increasing technological progress (Bostrom 2002: sect. 9.4). This proposal, which Bostrom calls differential technological development, was originally offered as an alternative to the view that technological progress as a whole should be slowed down in response to concerns about existential risk. As Bostrom argued, since technology has the potential to both increase and decrease risk, the appropriate response is to handle technologies with different effects on risk differently, rather than having a general policy of technological retardation. In more recent publications, Bostrom understands "technology" in a very broad sense, to include "not only gadgets but also methods, techniques and institution design principles" (Bostrom 2009: 551) and "scientific ideas, institutional designs, organizational techniques, ideologies, concepts, and memes" (Bostrom 2019: 458). When the notion of differential technological development is combined with this expansive understanding of technology, it becomes roughly equivalent to differential progress, rather than a special case of it.

The term "differential intellectual progress" is sometimes used as a synonym for "differential progress", though it may also be used more restrictively to exclude non-intellectual forms of progress (cf. Muehlhauser & Salamon 2012; Tomasik 2015)....

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