At Doteveryone, we’re working on ways to make technology more “responsible” — more aware of its consequences and engaged with society. To do that, we need to get to a shared idea of what is reasonable: something that not only works in the context of our national laws and the global Internet, but that also chimes with a shared moral compass. Before we can get to the technology equivalent of “First, do no harm” we need to agree what harm is, what won’t be done, and what the penalty might be. If Heaven is the Singularity, what does Hell look like?
This isn’t mere pedantry — it matters. It’s hard to get traction on what’s really going on in the here and now, never mind the immediate future, if you are facing a constant gale of grandiose claims. It distracts attention away from very real problems and steers it towards frothier issues. It’s how, for example, serious people, in serious outlets, end up debating not-so-serious ideas like a tax on robots.