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Incentivized technologies not pursued

This is a collection of cases where someone seemingly had a large incentive to pursue a technology, and did not.


'Resisted technological temptations'

These are cases where incentives to pursue a technology were overcome by concerns about downsides not imminently accruing to the decision-maker (e.g. risks to distant people, ethical concerns). These cases are being collected via the Resisted Technological Temptations Project.

Plausible cases

This is a non-exhaustive list of plausible cases. Inclusion on this list does not imply any degree of confidence.

  • Geoengineering, many actors, present, scientist opposition inhibits research needed for others' enthusiasm
  • Chlorofluorocarbons, many actors, 1985-present
  • Nanotechnology, scientists and governments, five decades ago to present
  • Airships / Zeppelins
  • Genetic engineering of humans
  • Some scientific studies prevented by the burden of IRB / GDPR compliance
  • Human challenge trials, especially for covid vaccines
  • Recreational drug development
  • Dietary restrictions, in most (all?) human cultures
  • GMOs, in some countries
  • Atomic gardening
  • Nuclear power, in some countries
  • Use of nuclear explosions in construction
  • Fracking, in some countries
  • Various weapons (nuclear, chemical, biological, land mines, etc), in some countries and at some times

Investigated cases

  • (To be added)

Other notable failures of rational action or foresight in pursuing technologies

Plausible cases

  • AI winters
  • Delay in nuclear weapons research early in WWII
  • Excalibur

Investigated cases

  • (To be added)
responses_to_ai/technological_inevitability/incentivized_technologies_not_pursued/start.txt · Last modified: 2023/01/06 19:32 by jeffreyheninger