I believe in nothing. Whereas I don’t even believe in the
cult of nature-worshipers or wilderness-worshipers. (I am
perfectly ready to litter in parts of the woods that are of no use
to me - I often throw cans in logged-over areas or in places much
frequented by people; I don’t find wilderness particularly healthy
physically; I don’t hesitate to poach.)
One of the bombs made by the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski, an incredibly intelligent academic with a doctorate in mathematics, who started a bomb mailing spree that lasted a period of 20 years. In total he killed 3 people and injured a further 23.
Ted Kaczynski, aged 9, with his pet parakeet and younger brother Dave, age 2. Ted is better known as ‘The Unabomber’, a domestic terrorist who engaged in a bomb mailing plot that lasted over 20 years and killed 3 people and injured 23 in total.
A letter from Theodore Kaczynski to one of his victims, Yale computer science professor David Gelernter.
People with advanced degrees aren’t as smart as they think they are. If
you’d had any brains you would have realized that there are a lot of
people out there who resent bitterly the way techno-nerds like you are
changing the world and you wouldn’t have been dumb enough to open an
unexpected package from an unknown source.
In the epilog of your book, “Mirror Worlds,” you tried to justify your
research by claiming that the developments you describe are inevitable,
and that any college person can learn enough about computers to compete
in a computer-dominated world. Apparently, people without a college
degree don’t count. In any case, being informed about computers won’t
enable anyone to prevent invasion of privacy (through computers),
genetic engineering (to which computers make an important contribution),
environmental degradation through excessive economic growth (computers
make an important contribution to economic growth) and so forth.
As for the inevitability argument, if the developments you describe are
inevitable, they are not inevitable in the way that old age and bad
weather are inevitable. They are inevitable only because techno-nerds
like you make them inevitable. If there were no computer scientists
there would be no progress in computer science. If you claim you are
justified in pursuing your research because the developments involved
are inevitable, then you may as well say that theft is inevitable,
therefore we shouldn’t blame thieves.
But we do not believe that progress and growth are inevitable.
We’ll have more to say about that later.
P.S. Warren Hoge of the New York Times can confirm that this letter does come from FC.
A mathematics prodigy, Ted Kaczynski taught at the University of California before retreating to a survivalist lifestyle in the Montana woods. Between 1975 and 1995, Kaczynski mailed bombs to universities and airlines, killing three people and injuring 23 more. FBI agents arrested Kaczynski in 1996.