The premise of Iain M. Banks’s Culture novels sounds good. The Culture is a society with advanced AI and no scarcity and an inclination to liberate less advanced societies from their scarcity. So I am starting from the beginning with Consider Phlebas. I am reading the novel on my Kindle, which means that I get to see other users’ highlights. The following passage was highlighted by six users, unusual enough to make me wonder why. This might mean that six people thought “wow, man, that’s like, so profound”, or it might mean something else.
experience as well as common sense indicated that the most reliable method of avoiding self-extinction was not to equip oneself with the means to accomplish it in the first place.
It is a thought that occurs to a human member of the Culture, who is thought of as particularly insightful, when considering another society that went exctinct in a war involving fusion bombs, “delivered by transplanetary guided rocket”. Perhaps the people who highlighted it though it was clever commentary on nuclear proliferation or something like that.
The trouble is that the word “oneself” refers to billions of individuals. Where does that leave “common sense”?
What is interesting to me is the way that people fall for these sorts of rhetorical tricks. Perhaps we can turn it to our favour. After all, experience and common sense indicate that enslaving and stealing from oneself is not the way to get rich.