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Archive for the ‘existential risks’ category

Apr 27, 2016

If You Care About the Earth, Vote for the Least Religious Presidential Candidate

Posted by in categories: energy, existential risks, genetics, geopolitics, policy, transportation

My new Vice Motherboard article on environmentalism and why going green isn’t enough. Only radical technology can restore the world to a pristine condition—and that requires politicians not afraid of the future:


I’m worried that conservatives like Cruz will try to stop new technologies that will change our battle in combating a degrading Earth

But there are people who can save the endangered species on the planet. And they will soon dramatically change the nature of animal protection. Those people may have little to do with wildlife, but their genetics work holds the answer to stable animal population levels in the wild. In as little as five years, we may begin stocking endangered wildlife in places where poachers have hunted animals to extinction. We’ll do this like we stock trout streams in America. Why spend resources in a losing battle to save endangered wildlife from being poached when you can spend the same amount to boost animal population levels ten-fold? Maye even 100-fold. This type of thinking is especially important in our oceans, which we’ve bloody well fished to near death.

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Apr 25, 2016

Adelaide AI pioneer says Terminator-like takeover unlikely

Posted by in categories: existential risks, robotics/AI, singularity

Apparently, Rodney Brooks, AI pioneer (@MIT CS & AI Lab; iRobot), is skeptical about artificial superintelligence:

“The difference between science fiction robots and real-life creations was the concept of robots being able to learn and teach themselves independently. A person can generalise, but we don’t have that kind of generalisation in any of these AI learning systems. So relax is my message.”

Or is he? This article by ABC Australia was focused on the same unfortunate meme, the unlikely Terminator which nobody has ever seriously suggested is realistic: “The Terminator series of movies foretold the future of humans and robots with Skynet becoming self-aware and launching its own nuclear war. But Professor Brooks said that was just science fiction.”

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Apr 16, 2016

Stephen Hawking: Human Aggression Could ‘Destroy Us All’

Posted by in categories: existential risks, space travel

I couldn’t agree more…aggression and recklessness.


Stephen Hawking may be getting some Hollywood love for “The Theory of Everything,” a biopic about his life that earned actor Eddie Redmayne the best actor Oscar at last night’s Academy Awards. But that hasn’t stopped the world-famous physicist from issuing yet another warning about humanity’s impending doom.

Human aggression threatens to destroy us all, Hawking said during a tour of London’s Science Museum last week. The remark was in response to a question about what human shortcomings he would most like to alter. Hawking suffers from a neurological disease similar to Lou Gehrig’s disease, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

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Apr 16, 2016

Tweaking Genes to Save Species

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, existential risks, genetics

Another gene editing triumph.


Genetic engineering may emerge as an important tool to avert extinctions. But ecosystems are complex, and this tinkering might not unfold as planned.

Apr 12, 2016

Jeff Bezos wants to open the way for millions to live, work in space

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

COLORADO SPRINGS — Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com, could not be more clear about what he believes is mankind’s future.

“I want millions of people living and working in space. I want us to be a space-faring civilization,” Bezos told a packed audience at the Space Symposium on Tuesday in Colorado Springs.

“My motivation is, I don’t want Plan B to be, ‘Good news, Earth got destroyed by a big comet but we live on Mars.’ I think we need to explore and utilize space in order to save the Earth,” he said, referring to the need to shift industrial manufacturing to space to limit the impact on Earth’s resources.

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Apr 11, 2016

Why Pessimistic Predictions For Future of AI May be More Hype than High Tech

Posted by in categories: complex systems, cryonics, existential risks, futurism, life extension, robotics/AI, singularity

The growth of human and computer intelligence has triggered a barrage of dire predictions about the rise of super intelligence and the singularity. But some retain their skepticism, including Dr. Michael Shermer, a science historian and founding publisher of Skeptic Magazine.

quote-i-m-a-skeptic-not-because-i-do-not-want-to-believe-but-because-i-want-to-know-michael-shermer-71-29-72

The reason so many rational people put forward hypotheses that are more hype than high tech, Shermer says, is that being smart and educated doesn’t protect anyone from believing in “weird things.” In fact, sometimes smart and educated people are better at rationalizing beliefs that they hold for not-so-rational reasons. The smarter and more educated you are, the better able you are to find evidence to support what you want to be true, suggests Shermer.

“This explains why Nobel Prize winners speak about areas they know nothing about with great confidence and are sure that they’re right. Just because they have this great confidence of being able to do that (is) a reminder that they’re more like lawyers than scientists in trying to marshal a case for their client,” Shermer said. “(Lawyers) just put together the evidence, as much as you can, in support of your client and get rid of the negative evidence. In science you’re not allowed to do that, you’re supposed to look at all the evidence, including the counter evidence to your theory.”

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Apr 7, 2016

Newly discovered planet could destroy Earth any day now

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

Look up the definition of irresponsible journalism and you’ll probably find a link to THIS article.


A mysterious planet that wiped out life on Earth millions of years ago could do it again, according to a top space scientist.

And some believe the apocalyptic event could happen as early as this month.

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Mar 31, 2016

Could ‘Planet X’ Cause Comet Catastrophes on Earth?

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

As astronomers track down more clues as to the existence of a large world orbiting the sun in the outer fringes of the solar system, a classic planetary purveyor of doom has been resurrected as a possible trigger behind mass extinctions on Earth.

Yes, I’m talking about “Planet X.” And yes, there’s going to be hype.

MORE: 9th Planet May Lurk in the Outer Solar System.

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Mar 30, 2016

12 Ways Humanity Could Destroy The Entire Solar System

Posted by in categories: existential risks, space

We humans are doing a bang-up job of messing up our home planet. But who’s to say we can’t go on to screw things up elsewhere? Here, not listed in any particular order, are 12 unintentional ways we could do some serious damage to our Solar System, too.

Mar 29, 2016

Something Just Slammed Into Jupiter

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

Astronomers have captured video evidence of a collision between Jupiter and a small celestial object, likely a comet or asteroid. Though it looks like a small blip of light, the resulting explosion was unusually powerful.

As Phil Plait of Bad Astronomy reports, the collision occurred on March 17, but confirmation of the event only emerged this week. An amateur Austrian astronomer used a 20-centimeter telescope to chronicle the unexpected event, but it could’ve been some kind of visual artifact.

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