[SEQ RERUN] Eutopia is Scary

To­day’s post, Eu­topia is Scary was origi­nally pub­lished on 12 Jan­uary 2009. A sum­mary (taken from the LW wiki):

If a cit­i­zen of the Past were dropped into the Pre­sent world, they would be pleas­antly sur­prised along at least some di­men­sions; they would also be hor­rified, dis­gusted, and fright­ened. This is not be­cause our world has gone wrong, but be­cause it has gone right. A true Fu­ture gone right would, re­al­is­ti­cally, be shock­ing to us along at least some di­men­sions. This may help ex­plain why most liter­ary Utopias fail; as Ge­orge Or­well ob­served, “they are chiefly con­cerned with avoid­ing fuss”. Heav­ens are meant to sound like good news; poli­ti­cal utopias are meant to show how neatly their un­der­ly­ing ideas work. Utopia is re­as­sur­ing, un­sur­pris­ing, and dull. Eu­topia would be scary. (Of course the vast ma­jor­ity of scary things are not Eu­topian, just en­tropic.) Try to imag­ine a gen­uinely bet­ter world in which you would be out of place—not a world that would make you smugly satis­fied at how well all your cur­rent ideas had worked. This proved to be a very im­por­tant ex­er­cise when I tried it; it made me re­al­ize that all my old pro­pos­als had been op­ti­mized to sound safe and re­as­sur­ing.


Dis­cuss the post here (rather than in the com­ments to the origi­nal post).

This post is part of the Rerun­ning the Se­quences se­ries, where we’ll be go­ing through Eliezer Yud­kowsky’s old posts in or­der so that peo­ple who are in­ter­ested can (re-)read and dis­cuss them. The pre­vi­ous post was Con­tin­u­ous Im­prove­ment, and you can use the se­quence_re­runs tag or rss feed to fol­low the rest of the se­ries.

Se­quence re­runs are a com­mu­nity-driven effort. You can par­ti­ci­pate by re-read­ing the se­quence post, dis­cussing it here, post­ing the next day’s se­quence re­runs post, or sum­ma­riz­ing forth­com­ing ar­ti­cles on the wiki. Go here for more de­tails, or to have meta dis­cus­sions about the Rerun­ning the Se­quences se­ries.