As a European who has some familiarity with the layers of EU administration and agendas, I can understand your frustration. At the same time I hope that the sometimes too careful and slow EU approach, based on long discussions and negotiations to achieve a final consensus, may also prove useful to facilitate the acceptance of converging, \"transhumanist\" technologies in Europe.
Robert, developing a technology is one thing, deploying it is another thing. You know well that there are a number of potentially useful technologies that have never reached the marketplace and never improved the lives of people.Suppose tomorrow someone in a lab develops a prototype magic bullet. Like all prototypes, it would work in some cases and not work or even harm recipients in other cases. This would be a good step in the right direction but this step would be only the beginning of a long road. A lot of money and effort would have to be spent to convert the prototype demonstrator into operational technology. This would require acceptance by politicians, probably public funding, acceptance by regulatory authorities, and (especially) by the people in the street. Achieving all that takes time and work. These are all slow processes where you must give the system time to relax to equilibrium before moving on to the next step.So though I am frustrated myself by the \"slow EU approach\", I can see its merits in terms of gradually building consensus. Of course I would like to see things happening a bit faster.
I think it was \"The Clock of the Long Now\" that made the point that we have layers of society that change fast (fashion), slower (markets), slow (law) and very slowly (culture). It is a kind of onion with a fluid surface and more and more fixed interior layers. The upper layers adapt quickly to a change, the lower act as dampers. If changes go in the same direction long enough the lower layers move there too. This is far better than a society where all layers are similarly plastic since it will retain long-term information while adapting partially to short-term information. The timescales of change and how different they should be between different levels remains free parameters (that are non-obvious: their \"optimal\" values are highly dependent on the distribution of event timescales and what metric of success one uses).
Ideally this is how the EU should work. Local systems adapt to local and short-term changes, while Brussels deals with overall strategy. But the problem is that the slow-moving systems not only slow changes, but also that they tie the faster layers to their own timescale. If industries or research projects are forced into lockstep with central planning, they lose flexibility or have to spend resources circumventing the slower systems.
An interesting possibility is that the EU might be useful as a slow-moving reservoir in an otherwise fast-moving world. It would not be highly economically competitive, but it would also be less vulnerable to rapid shifts. Rather than aim for one global onion of societal change we could have several: a slow EU, a faster US and maybe an ultra-fast China or India. Since it is not clear where the optimal gradient of timescales lie, having several different approaches might be beneficial.
Beautiful and useful analogy this of the onion, I am visualizing the outer layers rotating and trying to friction drag the inner layers along.I think the innermost layer is law, which reacts to cultural changes by codifying them when they are already solid and irreversible.Perhaps scientific advances are seen more like fashion by Americans, more lke law by Europeans.I see you agree that the slow approach also has its merits. It could be a T-shirt line: Americans do it fast, Asians do it faster, Europeans do it well.But I agree that slow change should be seen as nothing more than the price to pay for thoroughness and consensus, and that things should not be made even slower than necessary.
Had the EU just been seen as a free trade zone, this would not have been a problem. I can trade with people I disagree with. The number of issues where we would have had to reach a compromise would also have been relatively small. But given that the EU tries to be so much more, it needs a lot more consensus and compromise building. And that in turn leads to ignoring dissent.
Note that the nice soft and slow European approach works both ways:There is as you say a requirement for consensus, but no nation is really willing to make too many concessions. So the only way out is to water down any proposed agreements until reaching something so soft that every nation is willing to agree.This means that on the one hand I do not expect any brave strong push toward transhumanism in Europe anytime soon, but on the other hand, I do not expect any fundamentalist backlash AGAINST transhumanism. Since unfortunately this could happen in the US (e.g. Kass & Co.) we may consider the nice soft and slow European approach as a useful safety net for transhumanism.
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