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Moment of Zen E11: The Episode We Wait for Antonio to Arrive w/ Dan Romero and Erik Torenberg
Egalitarianism, America's cultural power, equality, and moral v. technological primitives and a look ahead to tomorrow's episode with anons Bayeslord and Based Beff Jezos.
No Antonio last week…again
Today we’ll discuss:
Egalitarianism eats the world & America's cultural power globally
Equality of opportunity *is* equality of outcome
Moral primitives vs technological primitives
Egalitarianism Eats the World
Egalitarianism is a political philosophy that emphasizes equality and equal rights for all individuals, regardless of their social status or background. In recent years, there has been a growing sense that this philosophy is becoming more prevalent and influential around the world, particularly in the United States.
One of the main reasons for this is the rise of social movements focusing on inequality and social justice, such as the Black Lives Matter movement. The protests in Europe in response to the killing of George Floyd in the US as an example of how these issues have become increasingly globalized. This suggests that people around the world are increasingly aware of and concerned about issues of inequality and social injustice, and are willing to take action to address them.
Another factor contributing to the rise of egalitarianism is the influence of American culture and consumerism around the world. American consumer culture is the most pervasive in the world, and that this has led to a desire for more economic opportunities and access to American-style education and lifestyle. This suggests that American cultural exports, such as movies, music, and social media platforms, have become powerful tools for promoting American values and ideals around the world.
US and China are the two countries with the most influence in the world today. However, China has not been successful in exporting its culture to the same extent as the US, and this is a significant disadvantage for them in terms of soft power.
Egalitarianism is eating the world in the sense that it is becoming a more powerful force for change and transformation around the globe. Whether this trend will continue in the future remains to be seen, but it is clear that the idea of equality and social justice is resonating with people around the world in new and powerful ways.
Equality of opportunity *is* equality of outcome
When we talk about equality, we need to distinguish between equality of opportunity and equality of outcome. True equality should mean equity meaning that everyone has a fair shot at success, but success itself is not guaranteed. It is wrong to assume that success is solely based on privilege and exploitation and that this mindset is "anti-American." Instead, we should focus on creating equal opportunities for all, which means providing basic necessities like education, safety, and food for all children. Achieving this goal is difficult because of factors like nepotism and privilege, but it is important to strive for this kind of equality. In this way, equality of opportunity is actually a form of equality of outcome, because it means that everyone has the same chance to succeed regardless of their background or circumstances.
Moral vs. Technological Primitives
Technological primitives are the basic building blocks of technology, such as GPS or a touch screen, that can be combined in various ways to create more complex technologies. Similarly, moral primitives are basic building blocks of morality, such as the concept of justice or fairness, that can be combined in various ways to create more complex moral frameworks.
Understanding history and the development of moral primitives is important for moral innovation. By studying the evolution of morality over time, we can better understand how different moral primitives have been combined to create new moral frameworks. For example, the combination of intersectionality and critical race theory is a recent moral innovation within the broader movement of wokeness.
The difference between moral and technological primitives is that while technological primitives are concrete and observable, moral primitives are abstract concepts that are open to interpretation and debate. It is difficult to come up with new moral frameworks from scratch, but by understanding and recombining existing moral primitives, we can create new moral innovations that address the challenges of our time.
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The Be Better
TBD on Dan’s brilliance ;)
13:00 Why knowing history makes you a better entrepreneur — Erik’s favorite quote from the episode was:
“If you can't compete on history, you should compete on philosophy.”
20:00 Christianity’s moral innovations
29:00 America as culture exporter
37:00 Consumer culture and social progressivism
50:00 Egalitarianism eats the world
1:04:48 Equality of Opportunity vs Equality of Outcome
1:12:00 Equality of Opportunity IS Equality of Outcome
1:17:00 Is wokeness receding?
Full episode below. Moment of Zen is still evolving and we want to know what is most valuable to you. What do you want us to talk about or share in this newsletter? Leave us a note in the comments.
For the next episode of Moment of Zen, we’re blessed to have Bayeslord and Based Beff Jezos. If you don’t know who they are, they are the founders of effective accelerationism. If you don’t know what that is, it’s a contrasting philosophy to effective altruism that aims to accelerate technological progress and growth and all the benefits that come with that instead of slowing development down in the name of AI safety. We’ll unpack what exactly effective accelerationism means, its intellectual foundations, how it’s different from EA, and we have a bit of an AI safety debate joined by my cohost of The Cognitive Revolution, Nathan Labenz. It will drop tomorrow Saturday, March 12th. You don’t want to miss this one and make sure to subscribe - we’ll be sharing more bonus content here!