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Archive for the ‘existential risks’ category

Nov 5, 2014

The Exponential Nature of Ebola

Posted by in categories: biological, existential risks

The Exponential Nature of Ebola

Otto E. Rossler

Institute for Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, University of Tubingen, Auf der Morgenstelle 8, 72076 Tubingen, Germany

Inscribed on the UN Building:
Human beings are members of a whole,
In creation of one essence and soul;
If one member is afflicted with pain,
Other members uneasy will remain;
If you have no sympathy for human pain,
The name of human you cannot retain.
(Saadi, 1210–1292)

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Oct 18, 2014

Marilyn Monroe in London and Continuous Performance Improvement

Posted by in categories: business, economics, education, energy, existential risks, futurism

Marilyn Monroe in London and Continuous Performance Improvement

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This is an actual story.

I was the Insurance Broker House EVP for the world’s global oil corporation number two and got asked a delicate official favor from the Client.

To give you an idea of this piece of business, the Client was paying cash US$ 100 million for insured and re-insured premiums over their fixed and liquid assets. The latter via a major and reputable London Reinsurance Brokerage House.

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Oct 9, 2014

Dying Twice

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, existential risks

Dying Twice

Of course, Ebola can be stopped: By rigorously restricting locomotion for the population. But this presupposes heavy support networks. At the present moment in time, this strategy is still feasible. However, since the disease is spreading exponentially in both number and area, very soon the resources of aid-giving nations will be overtaxed. Then the Big Dying from Ebola will be accompanied by the Big Dying from hunger and thirst due to restricted locomotion without the necessary support services.

There exist institutions that could help. But they all do not know what “dying twice” means:
FIRST: from having become untouchable and unapproachable;
SECOND: from thirst, hunger and the pangs of the disease which are intolerably ugly and stenching.
Mothers do not mind. But where are all the mothers for the dying? Even Jesus’ mother was there at the cross.

Since the disease is doubling every 3 weeks (only at some places the rate is slowed due to restricted locomotion), someone must make a “war plan.” I am sure some wonderful organizations have already done so, but they must join forces, resources and above all: information.
One joint plan must be negotiated, maybe under the auspices of the Vatican?, or the CDC?, or Castroland? It need not be the money-stripped United Nations. Only: SOON!

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Oct 4, 2014

Method of Sustainable Fuel-less Terra-forming of Venus & Mars

Posted by in categories: existential risks, futurism, human trajectories, solar power, space, sustainability

Terra Forming Venus & Mars by leveraging Asteroids
Inspired by: Lifeboat Foundation

Both Mars and Venus can be terra-formed to provide Earth-like gravity and atmospheres; Venus with an effort of about 100 years to terra-form the atmosphere, and Mars with an effort of about 2,000 years to terra-form the atmosphere. These are both potentially realized through the use of systems of solar sails. Asteroids provide many of the resources needed to seed related development.

Business model for interplanetary transport without fuel

Conceptual Space Elevator

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Sep 25, 2014

Question: A Counterpoint to the Technological Singularity?

Posted by in categories: defense, disruptive technology, economics, education, environmental, ethics, existential risks, finance, futurism, lifeboat, policy, posthumanism, science, scientific freedom

Question: A Counterpoint to the Technological Singularity?

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Douglas Hofstadter, a professor of cognitive science at Indiana University, indicated about The Singularity is Near Book (ISBN: 978–0143037880),

“ … A very bizarre mixture of ideas that are solid and good with ideas that are crazy. It’s as if you took a lot of very good food and some dog excrement and blended it all up so that you can’t possibly figure out what’s good or bad …”

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Sep 18, 2014

Why Superintelligence May Not Help Us Think about Existential Risks — or Transhumanism

Posted by in categories: alien life, biological, cyborg, defense, disruptive technology, ethics, existential risks, futurism, homo sapiens, human trajectories, internet, military, philosophy, policy, posthumanism, science, singularity, transhumanism

Among transhumanists, Nick Bostrom is well-known for promoting the idea of ‘existential risks’, potential harms which, were they come to pass, would annihilate the human condition altogether. Their probability may be relatively small, but the expected magnitude of their effects are so great, so Bostrom claims, that it is rational to devote some significant resources to safeguarding against them. (Indeed, there are now institutes for the study of existential risks on both sides of the Atlantic.) Moreover, because existential risks are intimately tied to the advancement of science and technology, their probability is likely to grow in the coming years.

Contrary to expectations, Bostrom is much less concerned with ecological suicide from humanity’s excessive carbon emissions than with the emergence of a superior brand of artificial intelligence – a ‘superintelligence’. This creature would be a human artefact, or at least descended from one. However, its self-programming capacity would have run amok in positive feedback, resulting in a maniacal, even self-destructive mission to rearrange the world in the image of its objectives. Such a superintelligence may appear to be quite ruthless in its dealings with humans, but that would only reflect the obstacles that we place, perhaps unwittingly, in the way of the realization of its objectives. Thus, this being would not conform to the science fiction stereotype of robots deliberately revolting against creators who are now seen as their inferiors.

I must confess that I find this conceptualisation of ‘existential risk’ rather un-transhumanist in spirit. Bostrom treats risk as a threat rather than as an opportunity. His risk horizon is precautionary rather than proactionary: He focuses on preventing the worst consequences rather than considering the prospects that are opened up by whatever radical changes might be inflicted by the superintelligence. This may be because in Bostrom’s key thought experiment, the superintelligence turns out to be the ultimate paper-clip collecting machine that ends up subsuming the entire planet to its task, destroying humanity along the way, almost as an afterthought.

But is this really a good starting point for thinking about existential risk? Much more likely than total human annihilation is that a substantial portion of humanity – but not everyone – is eliminated. (Certainly this captures the worst case scenarios surrounding climate change.) The Cold War remains the gold standard for this line of thought. In the US, the RAND Corporation’s chief analyst, Herman Kahn — the model for Stanley Kubrick’s Dr Strangelove – routinely, if not casually, tossed off scenarios of how, say, a US-USSR nuclear confrontation would serve to increase the tolerance for human biological diversity, due to the resulting proliferation of genetic mutations. Put in more general terms, a severe social disruption provides a unique opportunity for pursuing ideals that might otherwise be thwarted by a ‘business as usual’ policy orientation.

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Aug 21, 2014

Getting Sexy and the Undivided Attention of Your Fortune-500 Client CEOs! Aug 22 2014

Posted by in categories: architecture, big data, business, complex systems, disruptive technology, economics, education, engineering, ethics, existential risks, finance, futurism, government, information science, innovation, physics, science, scientific freedom, security

Getting Sexy and the Undivided Attention of Your Fortune-500 Client CEOs! (Excerpt from the White Swan book) By Andres Agostini at www.linkedin.com/in/andresagostini

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(1.- of 17 ).- If you want to seize the undivided attention of top executives at Los Alamos National Laboratory and Procter & Gamble, talk to them through the notions of and by Process Re-engineering.

(2.- of 17 ).- If you want to seize the undivided attention of top executives at GE, talk to them through the notions of and by Six Sigma, and Peter F. Drucker’s Management by Objective (MBO). While you are with them, remember to commend on the Jack Welch’ and Jeff Immelt’s master lectures at GE’s Crotonville.

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Jul 31, 2014

CERN AND THE EARLY EINSTEIN

Posted by in categories: existential risks, particle physics

CERN bets the planet on the early Einstein having been wrong. Let me explain.

After having founded special relativity in mid-1905, the early Einstein held fast to the speed of light c being a global constant of nature for another 2 ½ years. Only in December of 1907 did Einstein switch to the view that c was only an everywhere locally, but not globally, valid constant of nature.

In 2008, results proving that the early Einstein of 1905 was right started to appear in the scientific literature. For example, quantum electrodynamics combined with the equivalence principle (Schwinger) shows this. Up until now, no counterproof is in the literature.

In light of this renaissance of the early Einstein, a previously noncontroversial policy of the famous CERN consortium turns out to be problematical: their refusal to update the outdated Safety Report of mid-2008. Demanding this update has become a priority issue for everyone who learns about its lack.

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Jul 15, 2014

Political futurism, ethics energized by sci-fi

Posted by in categories: entertainment, ethics, existential risks, philosophy, transhumanism
.@hjbentham . @clubofinfo. @dissidentvoice_ . @ieet. #scifi. #philosophy. #ethics.
Literature has served an indispensable purpose in exploring ethical and political themes. This remains true of sci-fi and fantasy, even if there is such a thing as reading too much politics into fictional work or over-analyzing.


Since Maquis Books published The Traveller and Pandemonium, a novel authored by me from 2011–2014, I have been responding as insightfully as possible to reviews and also discussing the book’s political and philosophical themes wherever I can. Set in a fictional alien world, much of this book’s 24 chapters are politically themed on the all too real human weakness of infighting and resorting to hardline, extremist and even messianic plans when faced with a desperate situation.

The story tells about human cultures battling to survive in a deadly alien ecosystem. There the human race, rather than keeping animals in cages, must keep their own habitats in cages as protection from the world outside. The human characters of the story live out a primitive existence not typical of science-fiction, mainly aiming at their own survival. Technological progress is nonexistent, as all human efforts have been redirected to self-defense against the threat of the alien predators.

Even though The Traveller and Pandemonium depicts humanity facing a common alien foe, the various struggling human factions still fail to cooperate. In fact, they turn ever more hostilely on each other even as the alien planet’s predators continue to close in on the last remaining human states. At the time the story is set, the human civilization on the planet is facing imminent extinction from its own infighting and extremism, as well as the aggressive native plant and animal life of the planet.

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Jul 15, 2014

A minor new Result can change the World (c-global)

Posted by in categories: existential risks, particle physics

It is a nice game: Pretend that c, the speed of light in the vacuum, were a global constant of nature. Then the Einstein equation assumes a more compact form. And black holes acquire radically new properties. One should not try to produce them down on earth, for example.

Fortunately, this simple game is pure fiction. Presently, Stephen Hawking’s safety guarantee to the planet – the rapid “evaporation” he described – renders miniature black holes innocuous, his recent modifications notwithstanding.

There are some voices that c is indeed globally constant (http://eujournal.org/index.php/esj/article/view/2608/2469 ). Would this be a reason to look at the issue anew for Hawking and others?

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