Silas Hudson on the Obsolescence of Technocracy

Technocratic managerialism conditioned its subjects to crave accurate and reliable guidance, while leaving that craving unfulfilled. Its experts were compromised by their biases, ambitions, and wishful thinking in ways that sim ints could not be – and could not be reliably programmed to replicate.

Sim ints quickly came to do a better job of providing accurate and viewpoint-neutral information than human experts. The itch technocracy had created found a superior scratch, one that made technocracy itself obsolete.

— Silas Hudson

Silas Hudson on Shiny Utopian Futures

Perhaps the most effective persuasion against technocracy was its own literature, especially science fiction depicting futures of pure reason and socialist brotherhood. These bright imaginary utopias of endless scientific progress stood in embarrassing contrast to the drab and stultifying reality that emerged from every attempt to implement in the real world the means by which these new orders were to be established.

— Silas Hudson

Silas Hudson on Thinking Outside the Box

There is often merit in ‘thinking outside the box’ for new and improved ideas and options. But when doing so is framed as ‘setting aside old perceptions and conventions’, or ‘moving beyond old ideas’, or ’embracing progress’ as ends in themselves – throwing away the old because it is old, in favor of the new because it is new – that is cause for caution.

It is often observable in such cases that what is presently known, though useful and effective otherwise, is ‘bad’ precisely because it doesn’t give those seeking to dispose of it the predetermined outcome that they desire, or merely fails to flatter their desired self-image as intelligent and insightful.

It’s a cheap shortcut to a self-interested paradigm shift. Denigrating the existing reality-congruent paradigm as backward, stagnant, or regressive opens the door to replacing it with their new, ego-flattering and ideologically-congruent paradigm without having to refute the old on its merits.

— Silas Hudson

Silas Hudson on Intellectual Objectivity

The assertion of objectivity or neutrality is often an attempt to have it both ways, to split the difference between what one wants to be true versus what what one knows to be true. By taking a position in the middle, or not taking a position at all, one can at the same time avoid having to accept the latter and having to give up the former.

Silas Hudson

Back to the Quote Mines

Holidays are over, family has gone home, and I’ve handed off the time-consuming part of my job to a new hire – time to pick up where I left off.

Easing back into things, I spent a half hour or so every day this past week extracting from my commonplace books anything that could serve as a Silas Hudson quote. The original idea was to publish it as a standalone piece akin to Heinlein’s Notebooks of Lazarus Long.*

Whether or not that happens, it will at least be a useful background resource. Much of the material ascribable to Hudson concerns technocracy, a personal hobbyhorse and one of the themes of Book 2 and especially Book 3.

The unexpected part of this side project is discovering that I have plenty of material to do the same for both Aaron Jacobsen and Martin Beech and the themes they represent. It’s an imposing amount of material to sift through: 30+ commonplace books and 1800+ index cards. And then there are all the books with margin notes…

* – Looking at the fulltext on the Baen website, I see I’m going to have to fisk it at some point. Long’s “wisdom” seemed a lot wiser when I was lot naiver.

Silas Hudson on Innovation

“Innovative people respond to incentives, just like anyone. You can’t punish them for innovating or taking rational risks and expect them to continue to do so. Nor can you merely deny them the rewards, recognition, and returns for their efforts without creating an atmosphere of indifference which is every bit as stagnating as an openly hostile one.”

Testimony before the House Science, Technology,  and Space Policy Subcommittee, March 13, 2046