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Archive for the ‘existential risks’ category

Aug 24, 2016

Steve Fuller’s Review of Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari

Posted by in categories: big data, bioengineering, biological, bionic, cyborgs, disruptive technology, energy, evolution, existential risks, futurism, homo sapiens, innovation, moore's law, neuroscience, philosophy, policy, posthumanism, robotics/AI, science, singularity, theory, transhumanism

My sociology of knowledge students read Yuval Harari’s bestselling first book, Sapiens, to think about the right frame of reference for understanding the overall trajectory of the human condition. Homo Deus follows the example of Sapiens, using contemporary events to launch into what nowadays is called ‘big history’ but has been also called ‘deep history’ and ‘long history’. Whatever you call it, the orientation sees the human condition as subject to multiple overlapping rhythms of change which generate the sorts of ‘events’ that are the stuff of history lessons. But Harari’s history is nothing like the version you half remember from school.

In school historical events were explained in terms more or less recognizable to the agents involved. In contrast, Harari reaches for accounts that scientifically update the idea of ‘perennial philosophy’. Aldous Huxley popularized this phrase in his quest to seek common patterns of thought in the great world religions which could be leveraged as a global ethic in the aftermath of the Second World War. Harari similarly leverages bits of genetics, ecology, neuroscience and cognitive science to advance a broadly evolutionary narrative. But unlike Darwin’s version, Harari’s points towards the incipient apotheosis of our species; hence, the book’s title.

This invariably means that events are treated as symptoms if not omens of the shape of things to come. Harari’s central thesis is that whereas in the past we cowered in the face of impersonal natural forces beyond our control, nowadays our biggest enemy is the one that faces us in the mirror, which may or may not be able within our control. Thus, the sort of deity into which we are evolving is one whose superhuman powers may well result in self-destruction. Harari’s attitude towards this prospect is one of slightly awestruck bemusement.

Here Harari equivocates where his predecessors dared to distinguish. Writing with the bracing clarity afforded by the Existentialist horizons of the Cold War, cybernetics founder Norbert Wiener declared that humanity’s survival depends on knowing whether what we don’t know is actually trying to hurt us. If so, then any apparent advance in knowledge will always be illusory. As for Harari, he does not seem to see humanity in some never-ending diabolical chess match against an implacable foe, as in The Seventh Seal. Instead he takes refuge in the so-called law of unintended consequences. So while the shape of our ignorance does indeed shift as our knowledge advances, it does so in ways that keep Harari at a comfortable distance from passing judgement on our long term prognosis.

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Aug 14, 2016

World War 3 in SPACE: Superpowers engineering battle-ready laser-armed cosmic tech

Posted by in categories: engineering, existential risks

Ok, which country will have a Darth Vader leading the command?


HUMANITY’S next war will move away from Earth and be a brutal battle for control of the stars, experts predict.

Jul 31, 2016

Nat Geo’s ‘Mars’: “If Mankind Has Two Planets… Then Our Odds Of Extinction Will Drop To Nearly Zero” — TCA

Posted by in categories: education, existential risks, space

National Geographic’s scripted/unscripted hybrid series Mars gives viewers both a real and dramatized quest to colonize the planet. The combination present-day documentary and scripted look at the future is what director Everard Gout described as a process in which “one hand fits in the other in terms of the knowledge and in terms of the emotion.” “It’s electrical” he added, “because you have that level of truthfulness on the documentary side but you also have an equal amount of beauty and truthfulness on the scripted side. It’s a very visceral experience.”

Jul 21, 2016

We’ll Only Have a Year to Prepare For a Cataclysmic Super-Eruption

Posted by in category: existential risks

Volcanic super-eruptions are bad. Like really bad. Scientists warn of such a potentially civilization-ending catastrophe in our future, but as a new study shows, we’ll only have a year to prepare once the signs of an impending eruption become visible.

A new microscopic analysis of quartz crystals taken from the site of a massive volcanic eruption that occurred 760,000 years ago in eastern California suggests we’ll only have about a year’s worth of advance warning before a devastating super-eruption. In a paper published in PLOS ONE, Guilherme Gualda from Vanderbilt University and Stephen Sutton from the University of Chicago show that super-eruptions don’t require much time to blow their tops, even though they’re tens of thousands of years in the making.

Jul 14, 2016

Transhumanist Terminology

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, computing, cryonics, cyborgs, encryption, existential risks, food, genetics, information science, life extension, nanotechnology, neuroscience, quantum physics, robotics/AI, singularity, transhumanism

Transhuman Terminology.

ADHOCRACY
AEONOMICS
A-LIFE
AGORIC SYSTEM

AI-COMPLETE ALEPH ALGERNON AMORTALIST ARACHNIOGRAPHY ARCH-ANARCHY ARCOLOGY ARROW IMPOSSIBILITY THEOREM ARTILECT ASEX ASIMORT ASIMOV ASSEMBLER ATHANASIA ATHANOPHY ATHEOSIS AUGMENT AUTOEVOLUTIONIST AUTOMATED ENGINEERING AUTOMORPHISM AUTOPOTENT AUTOSCIENT BABY UNIVERSE BASEMENT UNIVERSE BEAN DIP CATASTROPHE BEANSTALK BEKENSTEIN BOUND BERSERKER BETELGEUSE-BRAIN BIG CRUNCH BINERATOR BIOCHAUVINISM BIOLOGICAL FUNDAMENTALISM BIONICS BIONOMICS BIOPHILIAC BIOSTASIS B-LIFE BLIGHT BLIND UPLOADING BLUE GOO BOGOSITY FILTER BORGANISM BREAKEVEN POINT BROADCATCHING BRUTE FORCE UPLOADING BUSH ROBOT CALCUTTA SYNDROME CALM TECHNOLOGY CALORIE RESTRICTION CASIMIR EFFECT CEREBROSTHESIS CHINESE ROOM CHRONONAUTS CHURCH-TURING THESIS COBOTS COMPUFORM COMPUTRONIUM CONCENTRATED INTELLIGENCE CONSILIENCE CONNECTIONISM CONTELLIGENCE CONTINUITY IDENTITY THEORY COSMYTHOLOGY CRYOBIOLOGY CRYOCRASTINATE CRYOGENICS CRYONICS CRYONIC SUSPENSION CRYPTO ANARCHY CRYPTOCOSMOLOGY CYBERCIDE CYBERFICTION CYBERGNOSTICISM CYBERIAN CYBERNATE/CYBERNIZE CYBERSPACE/CYBERMATRIX CYBRARIAN CYPHERPUNK DEANIMALIZE DEATH FORWARD DEATHISM DEEP ANARCHY DEFLESH DIGITAL PSEUDONYM DIAMONDOID DISASSEMBLER DISASTERBATION DISTRIBUTED INTELLIGENCE DIVERGENT TRACK HYPOTHESIS DIVERSITY IQ DIVIDUALS DOOMSDAY ARGUMENT DOWNLOAD DRYWARE DUBIFIER DYSON SPHERE ECOCALYPSE ECTOGENESIS

EMBRYOMEME
EMULATION
ENHANCED REALITY
ENVIROCAPITALISM
EPHEMERALISTS
E-PRIME
ESCALATORLOGY
THE ETERNAL LIFE POSTULATE
EUPSYCHIA
EUTHENICS
EVOLUTIONARILY STABLE STRATEGY (ESS)
EVOLUTURE
EXCONOMICS
EXES
EXFORMATION
EXISTENTIAL TECHNOLOGY
EXOPHOBIA
EXOSELF
EXTROPIAN
EXTROPIATE
EXTROPIC
EXTROPOLIS
EXTROPY
FACULTATIVE ANAGOROBE
FAR EDGE PARTY
THE FERMI PARADOX
FEMTOTECHNOLOGY
FLATLANDER
FLUIDENTITY
FOGLET
FORK
FREDKIN’S PARADOX
FUNCTIONAL SOUP
FUTIQUE
FUTURE SHOCK
GALAXY BRAIN
GAUSSIAN
GENEGENEERING
GENETIC ALGORITHM
GENIE
GREEN GOO
GÖDEL’S THEOREM
GOLDEN GOO
GREAT FILTER, THE
GREY GOO
GUY FAWKES SCENARIO
HALLUCINOMEMIC
HIVE COMPUTING
HOMORPH
HPLD
HYPERTEXT
HYPONEIRIA
HYPOTECH

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Jul 13, 2016

10 Predictions About the Future That Should Scare the Hell Out of You

Posted by in categories: computing, existential risks, futurism

As far as the whole mind-to-computer thing I totally agree.

The name of the game, for me at least, when it comes to this type of thing is continuity of consciousness. Without that you are nothing more than a copy of another person, not the person themselves. That said, if there were to be a very, very slow process where your natural neurons are replaced by artificial ones, with both types working together seamlessly, THEN I’d be first in line.


The future looks bright, except when it doesn’t. Here are 10 exceptionally regrettable developments we can expect in the coming decades.

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Jul 11, 2016

Biodiversity, GMOs, Gene Drives and the Militarized Mind

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, existential risks

Nice callout of the Gates Foundation.


“Amaranth, Amaranto, love-lies-bleeding, tassel flower, Joseph’s coat, or ramdana (gods own grain) is the grain of well-being,” Shiva writes. (Photo: Elizabeth Weller/flickr/cc)

A recent report from the National Academy of Science of The United States, titled “Gene Drives on the Horizon: Advancing Science, Navigating Uncertainty, and Aligning Research with Public Values,” warns:

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Jun 30, 2016

Asteroids could threaten Earth, scientists say

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, existential risks

Captain Obvious has OBVIOUSLY taken over NASA, I’m afraid.

;-)


Space rocks are a bigger threat than people realize, scientists say. An organization is trying to bring awarness to the dangerous of asteroids.

Jun 28, 2016

The Top Ten Reasons I Believe Vaccine Safety Is an Epic Mass Delusion

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, ethics, existential risks, government, health, life extension, policy, rants, science, scientific freedom

Its painful to bear views that make many think I’m an imbicile and dislike me. So please, if anybody has a rational argument why any of this is wrong, I beg to be enlightened. I’ve set up a diagram for the purpose that will support you to add your criticism exactly where it is pertinent. http://truthsift.com/search_view?topic=Are-Vaccines-Safe-?&a…p;nid=4083

(1) The National Academy’s Reviews Of Vaccine Safety
The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies has provided several multi-hundred page surveys studying the safety of vaccines, but rather than reassuring, these itemize some iatrogenic conditions being caused, and pronounce the scientific literature inadequate to say whether most others are. The 2011 Institute of Medicine (IOM) Review[1] looked at 146 vaccine-condition pairs for causality, reporting:

  • 14 for which the evidence is said to convincingly support causality, the vaccine is causing the condition.
  • 4 where the evidence is said to favor acceptance.
  • 5 where the evidence is said to favor rejection, including MMR causing autism.
  • 123 where the evidence is said insufficient to evaluate.

The 2003 IOM Review on multiple vaccines said[2]:
“The committee was unable to address the concern that repeated exposure of a susceptible child to multiple immunizations over the developmental period may also produce atypical or non-specific immune or nervous system injury that could lead to severe disability or death (Fisher, 2001). There are no epidemiological studies that address this.”
and:
“the committee concludes that the epidemiological and clinical evidence is inadequate to accept or reject a causal relationship between multiple immunization and an increased risk of allergic disease, particularly asthma.”

  • None of the IOM Safety Reviews[1][2][3][4] addressed the aluminum (for example whether the aluminum is causing autism), or mentioned contaminants, or discussed animal models although they had concluded as just quoted there is generally no epidemiological or clinical data worth preferring.

Continue reading “The Top Ten Reasons I Believe Vaccine Safety Is an Epic Mass Delusion” »

May 31, 2016

TruthSift: A Platform for Collective Rationality

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, business, computing, disruptive technology, education, existential risks, information science, innovation, science, scientific freedom

“So there came a time in which the ideas, although accumulated very slowly, were all accumulations not only of practical and useful things, but great accumulations of all types of prejudices, and strange and odd beliefs.
Then a way of avoiding the disease was discovered. This is to doubt that what is being passed from the past is in fact true, and to try to find out ab initio again from experience what the situation is, rather than trusting the experience of the past in the form in which it is passed down. And that is what science is: the result of the discovery that it is worthwhile rechecking by new direct experience, and not necessarily trusting the [human] race[’s] experience from the past. I see it that way. That is my best definition…Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.“
–Richard P Feynman, What is Science? (1968)[1]

TruthSift.com is a platform designed to support and guide individuals or crowds to rationality, and make them smarter collectively than any unaided individual or group. (Free) Members use TruthSift to establish what can be established, refute what can’t be, and to transparently publish the demonstrations. Anyone can browse the demonstrations and learn what is actually known and how it was established. If they have a rational objection, they can post it and have it answered.

Whether in scientific fields such as climate change or medical practice, or within the corporate world or political or government debate, or on day to day factual questions, humanity hasn’t had a good method for establishing rational truth. You can see this from consequences we often fail to perceive:
Peer reviewed surveys agree: A landslide majority of medical practice is *not* supported by science [2,3,4]. Scientists are often confused about the established facts in their own field [5]. Within fields like climate science and vaccines, that badly desire consensus, no true consensus can be reached because skeptics raise issues that the majority brush aside without an established answer (exactly what Le Bon warned of more than 100 years ago[6]). Widely consulted sources like Wikipedia are reported to be largely paid propaganda on many important subjects [7], or the most popular answer rather than an established one [8]. Quora shows you the most popular individual answer, generated with little or no collaboration, and often there is little documentation of why you should believe it. Existing systems for crowd sourced wisdom largely compound group think, rather than addressing it. Existing websites for fact checking give you someone’s point of view.

Corporate or government planning is no better. Within large organizations, where there is inevitably systemic motivation to not pass bad news up, leadership needs active measures to avoid becoming clueless as to the real problems [9]. Corporate or government plans are subject to group think, or takeover by employee or other interests competing with the mission. Individuals who perceive mistakes have no recourse capable of rationally pursuading the majority, and may anyway be discouraged from speaking up by various consequences[6].

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