Parochial Problems

an elevator to the exponential



The following was a short conversation between me (K) and my new friend (Y), who recently arrived from West Africa to pursue their 2nd Masters degree in the city where I was living at the time.

It happened while we were waiting for the elevator.


Y: History is important... You have to remember what their ancestors did to your ancestors! So you don't make the same mistakes...

K: Of course, but don't you think that resentment that has been passed down through generations ceases to make sense? Wouldn't it be better if we all just focused on building better future?

Y: Well, regardless of the time, people with the power will try to take advantage of people without it.

K: Indeed, humans are inherently power-seeking creatures. But only as long as there's limited resources, you see? Once everyone becomes infinitely rich, people would become much less hostile, too. At least that's what I noticed: the less one struggles to survive, the less motivation one has for exploitation...[1]

Y: People preached the same thing during the industrial revolution, no? - "Once we create more machines, everyone will be rich". The result? More inequality. The rich get richer, and the poor get poorer...

K: But were they wrong though?

Y: Huh?

K: The industrial revolution happened just a few centuries ago, but people were poor for much longer. Before, human progress was linear [I draw a linear graph in the air], and now it's moving exponentially [I quickly raise one of my hands], double exponential that is. Even the poorest of the regions live better than they ever did.

Y: So you're saying that people would get even richer, but what makes you think that inequality would not simply get worse?

K: I think you severely underestimate the power of infinity, my friend. In a few years, all of these parochial problems would cease to exist. Once we solve alignment, everything else gets solved, too.

[The elevator doors opened, and we both stepped inside]


  1. It's easy to become elitist and forget about struggles people are experiencing right now, when you spend your days focused on building the future.
  2. It is just as easy to be stuck in the past, when your present actions is all you can control.
  3. Be considerate to each other, no matter how important the issue at hand seems to you. We haven’t arrived there yet.
  4. Be mindful about the reasons why you're doing what you're doing. My thoughts on this from one of my recent conversations:


  1. Perhaps I'm using the word parochial a little bit too much in my conversations. I blame David Deutsch and The Beginning of Infinity for that.

The accelerationist score of this post is 1.0x, I think things are going as fast as they should. Humanity will solve the problems in the order that would seem the most important to them.

No matter whether you are hopeful about the future or you believe that we are inevitably doomed, don't forget about your fellow humans in the meantime!


1. Some argumentation: We're entering a world where coercion and violence are much less rewarding. The economics of violence is in decline because of decreasing cost of protecting property.