Differential technological development

Differential technological development is a strategy proposed by transhumanist philosopher Nick Bostrom in which societies would seek to influence the sequence in which emerging technologies developed. On this approach, societies would strive to retard the development of harmful technologies and their applications, while accelerating the development of beneficial technologies, especially those that offer protection against the harmful ones.[1][2]

Paul Christiano believes that while accelerating technological progress appears to be one of the best ways to improve human welfare in the next few decades, a faster rate of growth cannot be equally important for the far future because growth must eventually saturate due to physical limits. Hence, from the perspective of the far future, differential technological development appears more crucial.[3]

Inspired by Bostrom's proposal, Luke Muehlhauser and Anna Salamon suggested a more general project of "differential intellectual progress", in which society advances its wisdom, philosophical sophistication, and understanding of risks faster than its technological power.[4][5] Brian Tomasik has expanded on this notion.[6]

See also


  1. Bostrom, Nick (2002). "Existential Risks: Analyzing Human Extinction Scenarios". Cite journal requires |journal= (help) 9 Journal of Evolution and Technology Jetpress Oxford Research Archive
  2. Bostrom, Nick (2014). Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 229–237. ISBN 0199678111.
  3. Christiano, Paul (15 Oct 2014). "On Progress and Prosperity". Effective Altruism Forum. Retrieved 21 October 2014.
  4. Muehlhauser, Luke; Anna Salamon (2012). "Intelligence Explosion: Evidence and Import" (PDF): 18–19. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 October 2014. Retrieved 29 November 2013. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  5. Muehlhauser, Luke (2013). Facing the Intelligence Explosion. Machine Intelligence Research Institute. Retrieved 29 November 2013.
  6. Tomasik, Brian (23 Oct 2013). "Differential Intellectual Progress as a Positive-Sum Project". Foundational Research Institute. Retrieved 18 February 2016.

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