I agree with you overall sentiment about the problems of a race you can’t opt out of. Social democracies such as my home country Norway, is always struggling with this question. We want to have an extensive welfare system helping the poor, giving everybody a good education, healthcare etc. This requires high taxes. But you can’t set taxes at arbitrary levels, because in a globalized world, companies, the rich and individuals can simply chose to move to a low tax country.

However I must disagree with several of your particular points. Without rereading Chinese history, to the best of my memory you are presenting a rather rose tinted view of Chinese life before western invasion. The great philosopher of political economy, Adam Smith wrote in the 1700s about the conditions of China. The observations of western travelers at the time was that of deep poverty among the common people. This despite the fact that the overal developmenent of China suggested the country was equally if not better developed than Britain or France. However inequality was much worse. That a 1700 Brit would complain about inequality says a lot of the dire state China was in.

I also feel it is somewhat unfair to present Mao and his brutality in an absolute vacuume. Violent uprising and revolutions killing tens of millions of people happened on multiple occassions in China long before Mao. This was not a novel experience for China.

By the same logic it is easy to make case that democracy in France was no worth it because it caused so many violent revolutions and hardship on people for decades.

My alternative view of history has that you get very violent and abrupt changes when you resist change for too long. Change will come eventually. You chose whether it is going to be gradual and peaceful or abrupt and violent.

I will read your piece on AI, but I suspect we risk the same. Rejecting change will just cause a later more dramatic and damaging change than if we introduce AI gradually and carefully into society.

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Geek dad, living in Oslo, Norway with passion for UX, Julia programming, science, teaching, reading and writing.

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