Prominent AI Philosopher and 'Father' of Longtermism Sent Very Racist Email to a 90s Philosophy Listserv - 2023-01-12

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F0.png Prominent AI Philosopher and 'Father' of Longtermism Sent Very Racist Email to a 90s Philosophy Listserv January 12, 2023, Matthew Gault, Vice News

Nick Bostrom, an influential philosopher at the University of Oxford who has been called the "father" of the longtermism movement, has apologized for a racist email he sent in the mid-90s. In the email, Bostrom said that "Blacks are more stupid than whites," adding, "I like that sentence and think it is true," and used a racial slur.

Bostrom is a prominent philosopher in the field of existential risks to humanity's long-term prospects; specifically, superintelligent AI, but also others. For example, Bostrom has listed "dysgenic pressures" as an existential threat—the idea that less intelligent people might out-breed more intelligent people for a total loss of species-wide intelligence. "Currently it seems that there is a negative correlation in some places between intellectual achievement and fertility," he wrote. "If such selection were to operate over a long period of time, we might evolve into a less brainy but more fertile species." He added that this might not come to pass, either because the trend doesn't hold, or because genetic engineering allows parents to make their children more intelligent.

Bostrom's ideas have not just been highly influential in the field of AI, but also laid the foundations for the longtermist movement. Longtermism is a belief that has found traction among the Silicon Valley elite, and encourages its adherents to take actions now that are aimed at benefiting humans living many years in the future. Elon Musk has called the philosophy a "close match" to his own, and disgraced former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried has also expressed die-hard longtermist beliefs. Longtermism has been criticized for being essentially anti-democratic, leaving humanity's future up to a select handful of super-wealthy people and their potentially dubious personal beliefs. For example, longtermist thought—in particular, Bostrom's concern over "dysgenic pressures"—has been criticized as being eugenicist.

Wikipedia cite:
{{cite news | first = Matthew | last = Gault | title = Prominent AI Philosopher and 'Father' of Longtermism Sent Very Racist Email to a 90s Philosophy Listserv | url = https://www.vice.com/en/article/z34dm3/prominent-ai-philosopher-and-father-of-longtermism-sent-very-racist-email-to-a-90s-philosophy-listserv | work = Vice News | date = January 12, 2023 | accessdate = April 4, 2023 }}