I like this article. I do think we need to study and prepare for existential level (low likelihood, high consequence) risk better than we do. One added consideration: The types of people who innovate and invent (say, entrepreneurial types) are fundamentally different in character than regulation types, there is very little overlap. So innovators are always ahead of the curve. and the regulation types always play catch up. It was ever thus.

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"We only learn from blood" , was my attempt at a dramatic turn of phrase, in the lecture on the Titanic that got me "internet famous" for a few days in 1997, when the NYT was giving people good links to "Titanic" material on the new Internet thingy with the movie out.

It got me flown cross-continent to, as I told my wife "Lecture the US Navy on marine architecture", at least in that a little science conference sponsored by the Navy picked me as the general-meeting presentation for all.

My point came from how many disasters had already shown the Titanic disaster to be quite possible, and indeed, how earlier ships had been safer, safety factors chopped out one by one to save money, for sixty years...until a sufficiently-LARGE disaster shook everybody up, and new regulations came overnight. But it took a lot of blood to make people notice. The "Atlantic" disaster, 500 dead, just not big enough!

All still collected at my old Unix-user-group web site, 25 years later:


the original short essay(#1) is the quick read, but #3, the longer lecture with graphics, talks the most about the "wait until people die" topic that Dan raises today.

My amendment, is that ENOUGH people have to die. ( On gun regs, the US is still getting there.)

Dan touches on that, though, with the same topic I highlight in the longer lecture: the newspapers went wild. The "Titanic" stayed on the front pages with agony stories about individual survival for weeks. THEN there was a big commission of inquiry. And it really counted that the Titanic killed *celebrities*.

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There is no rational reason to regulate AI. People are terrible at predicting outcomes of new tech, regulators even more so. Because life has become so easy in the West, we have adopted the mentality that any danger, any risk is unacceptable and must be minimized through the use of government force. Yet every major advance since the industrial revolution happened in unregulated or pre-regulated industries. In general, regulation means stagnation.

Risk is part of life. The proper response to the tombstone mentality is to reject the zero-risk mentality and panicked, monomaniacal focus on single risks (e.g., COVID) that end up causing more destruction than the problems they are trying to fix.

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Another commentary on regulation https://t.co/PdDFT5fxQM?ssr=true

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Commissions are political theatre designed to obscure and vindicate the incompetence and malice of the government. Consider the so-called investigation of the use of the Emergency Measures Act. Anyone who paid attention recognized that the facts didn’t fit the conclusion. Spare us more theatre.

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