Archive for the ‘existential risks’ tag

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.

(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.”
“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.

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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] 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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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.


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 24, 2015

Article: Harnessing “Black Holes”: The Large Hadron Collider – Ultimate Weapon of Mass Destruction

Posted by in categories: astronomy, big data, computing, cosmology, energy, engineering, environmental, ethics, existential risks, futurism, general relativity, governance, government, gravity, information science, innovation, internet, journalism, law, life extension, media & arts, military, nuclear, nuclear energy, open source, particle physics, philosophy, physics, policy, posthumanism, quantum physics, science, security, singularity, space, space travel, supercomputing, sustainability, time travel, transhumanism, transparency, treaties

Harnessing “Black Holes”: The Large Hadron Collider – Ultimate Weapon of Mass Destruction

Why the LHC must be shut down

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Nov 4, 2013

Our Parent Star: New Solar Science, an Uptick in Activity, and a Clearer Emerging Picture

Posted by in categories: existential risks, science

Zach Urbina, solar science, SDO

After nearly six months of relative quiet, our parent star, the sun, awoke. Recent predictions from leading solar scientists ranged from “cycle 24 will be our weakest yet” to “cycle 24 is quiet now, because it will be double peaked.” It appears that the latter is emerging as the clearer truth.

Over the course of a week, between October 24th and 31st, more than 28 substantial flares fired off from the sun. Several of the more recent flares sent massive clouds of ionized particulate matter, called coronal mass ejections, toward Earth.

Four of the recent flares were X-class solar flares, the strongest on the scale, erupting from the photosphere of the sun, causing minor radio blackouts, and sending coronal mass ejections in many different directions, including toward Earth.

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Jun 16, 2013

Vaccinate against B.S.O.D — Insure your Memories.

Posted by in categories: ethics, evolution, futurism, robotics/AI, singularity


“…and on the third day he rose again…”

If we approach the subject from a non theist point of view, what we have is a re-boot. A restore of a previously working “system image”. Can we restore a person to the last known working state prior to system failure?

As our Biological (analog) life get’s more entwined with the Digital world we have created, chances are, there might be options worth exploring. It all comes down to “Sampling” — taking snapshots of our analog lives and storing them digitally. Today, with reasonable precision we can sample, store and re-create most of our primary senses, digitally. Sight via cameras, sound via microphones, touch via haptics and even scents can be sampled and/or synthesized with remarkable accuracy.


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Apr 11, 2013

Faith in the Fat of Fate may be Fatal for Humanity

Posted by in categories: existential risks, futurism, human trajectories, philosophy

This essay was originally published at Transhumanity.

They don’t call it fatal for nothing. Infatuation with the fat of fate, duty to destiny, and belief in any sort of preordainity whatsoever – omnipotent deities notwithstanding – constitutes an increase in Existential Risk, albeit indirectly. If we think that events have been predetermined, it follows that we would think that our actions make no difference in the long run and that we have no control over the shape of those futures still fetal. This scales to the perceived ineffectiveness of combating or seeking to mitigate existential risk for those who have believe so fatalistically. Thus to combat belief in fate, and resultant disillusionment in our ability to wreak roiling revisement upon the whorl of the world, is to combat existential risk as well.

It also works to undermine the perceived effectiveness of humanity’s ability to mitigate existential risk along another avenue. Belief in fate usually correlates with the notion that the nature of events is ordered with a reason on purpose in mind, as opposed to being haphazard and lacking a specific projected end. Thus believers-in-fate are not only more likely to doubt the credibility of claims that existential risk could even occur (reasoning that if events have purpose, utility and conform to a mindfully-created order then they would be good things more often than bad things) but also to feel that if they were to occur it would be for a greater underlying reason or purpose.

Thus, belief in fate indirectly increases existential risk both a. by undermining the perceived effectiveness of attempts to mitigate existential risk, deriving from the perceived ineffectiveness of humanity’s ability to shape the course and nature of events and effect change in the world in general, and b. by undermining the perceived likelihood of any existential risks culminating in humanity’s extinction, stemming from connotations of order and purpose associated with fate.

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Jan 3, 2013

Explaining Space Travel

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, biological, defense, engineering, ethics, existential risks, finance, geopolitics, habitats, military, nuclear, nuclear energy, space, transparency

I recently posted this on the only two other sites that will allow me to express my opinions;

I see the problem as one of self similarity; trying to go cheap being the downfall of all these schemes to work around human physiology.

When I first became interested in space travel several years ago I would comment on a couple blogs and find myself constantly arguing with private space proponents- and saying over and over again, “there is no cheap.” I was finally excommunicated from that bunch and banned from posting. They would start calling me an idiot and other insults and when I tried to return the favor the moderator would block my replies. The person who runs those two sites works for a firm promoting space tourism- go figure.

The problem is that while the aerospace industry made some money off the space program as an outgrowth of the military industrial complex, it soon became clear that spaceships are hard money- they have to work. The example of this is the outrage over the Apollo 1 fire and subsequent oversight of contractors- a practice which disappeared after Apollo and resulted in the Space Shuttle being such a poor design. A portion of the shuttle development money reportedly went under the table into the B-1 bomber program; how much we will never know. Swing wings are not easy to build which is why you do not see it anymore; cuts into profits.

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Jan 1, 2013

Cosmic Ray Gorilla

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, biotech/medical, defense, ethics, events, existential risks, futurism, habitats, military, nuclear, nuclear energy, policy, space, sustainability, transparency

Excerpt: “Galactic cosmic radiation poses a significant threat to future astronauts,” said M. Kerry O’Banion, M.D., Ph.D., a professor in the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy and the senior author of the study. “The possibility that radiation exposure in space may give rise to health problems such as cancer has long been recognized. However, this study shows for the first time that exposure to radiation levels equivalent to a mission to Mars could produce cognitive problems and speed up changes in the brain that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease.”

It appears when Eugene Parker wrote “Shielding Space Travelers” in 2006 he was right- and all the private space sycophants claiming radiation mitigation is trivial are wrong.

Only a massive water shield a minimum of 14 feet thick and massing 400 tons for a small capsule can shield human beings in deep space on long duration missions. And since a small capsule will not have sufficient space to keep a crew psychologically healthy on a multi-year journey it is likely such a shield will massive over a thousand tons.

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Oct 28, 2012

Mapping the Mind to Merge with Machines: Experimental Research Approaches to Brain Computer Interfaces (BCIs)

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

The historical context in which Brain Computer Interfaces (BCI) has emerged has been addressed in a previous article called “To Interface the Future: Interacting More Intimately with Information” (Kraemer, 2011). This review addresses the methods that have formed current BCI knowledge, the directions in which it is heading and the emerging risks and benefits from it. Why neural stem cells can help establish better BCI integration is also addressed as is the overall mapping of where various cognitive activities occur and how a future BCI could potentially provide direct input to the brain instead of only receive and process information from it.

EEG Origins of Thought Pattern Recognition
Early BCI work to study cognition and memory involved implanting electrodes into rats’ hippocampus and recording its EEG patterns in very specific circumstances while exploring a track both when awake and sleeping (Foster & Wilson, 2006; Tran, 2012). Later some of these patterns are replayed by the rat in reverse chronological order indicating a retrieval of the memory both when awake and asleep (Foster & Wilson, 2006). Dr. John Chapin shows that the thoughts of movement can be written to a rat to then remotely control the rat (Birhard, 1999; Chapin, 2008).

A few human paraplegics have volunteered for somewhat similar electrode implants into their brains for an enhanced BrainGate2 hardware and software device to use as a primary data input device (UPI, 2012; Hochberg et al., 2012). Clinical trials of an implanted BCI are underway with BrainGate2 Neural Interface System (BrainGate, 2012; Tran, 2012). Currently, the integration of the electrodes into the brain or peripheral nervous system can be somewhat slow and incomplete (Grill et al., 2001). Nevertheless, research to optimize the electro-stimulation patterns and voltage levels in the electrodes, combining cell cultures and neurotrophic factors into the electrode and enhance “endogenous pattern generators” through rehabilitative exercises are likely to improve the integration closer to full functional restoration in prostheses (Grill et al., 2001) and improved functionality in other BCI as well.

When integrating neuro-chips to the peripheral nervous system for artificial limbs or even directly to the cerebral sensorimotor cortex as has been done for some military veterans, neural stem cells would likely help heal the damage to the site of the limb lost and speed up the rate at which the neuro-chip is integrated into the innervating tissue (Grill et al., 2001; Park, Teng, & Snyder, 2002). These neural stem cells are better known for their natural regenerative ability and it would also generate this benefit in re-establishing the effectiveness of the damaged original neural connections (Grill et al., 2001).

Neurochemistry and Neurotransmitters to be Mapped via Genomics
Cognition is electrochemical and thus the electrodes only tell part of the story. The chemicals are more clearly coded for by specific genes. Jaak Panksepp is breeding one line of rats that are particularly prone to joy and social interaction and another that tends towards sadness and a more solitary behavior (Tran, 2012). He asserts that emotions emerged from genetic causes (Panksepp, 1992; Tran, 2012) and plans to genome sequence members of both lines to then determine the genomic causes of or correlations between these core dispositions (Tran, 2012). Such causes are quite likely to apply to humans as similar or homologous genes in the human genome are likely to be present. Candidate chemicals like dopamine and serotonin may be confirmed genetically, new neurochemicals may be identified or both. It is a promising long-term study and large databases of human genomes accompanied by medical histories of each individual genome could result in similar discoveries. A private study of the medical and genomic records of the population of Iceland is underway and has in the last 1o years has made unique genetic diagnostic tests for increased risk of type 2 diabetes, breast cancer prostate cancer, glaucoma, high cholesterol/hypertension and atrial fibrillation and a personal genomic testing service for these genetic factors (deCODE, 2012; Weber, 2002). By breeding 2 lines of rats based on whether they display a joyful behavior or not, the lines of mice should likewise have uniquely different genetic markers in their respective populations (Tran, 2012).

fMRI and fNIRIS Studies to Map the Flow of Thoughts into a Connectome
Though EEG-based BCI have been effective in translating movement intentionality of the cerebral motor cortex for neuroprostheses or movement of a computer cursor or other directional or navigational device, it has not advanced the understanding of the underlying processes of other types or modes of cognition or experience (NPG, 2010; Wolpaw, 2010). The use of functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) machines, and functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRIS) and sometimes Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scans for literally deeper insights into the functioning of brain metabolism and thus neural activity has increased in order to determine the relationships or connections of regions of the brain now known collectively as the connectome (Wolpaw, 2010).

Dr. Read Montague explained broadly how his team had several fMRI centers around the world linked to each other across the Internet so that various economic games could be played and the regional specific brain activity of all the participant players of these games can be recorded in real time at each step of the game (Montague, 2012). In the publication on this fMRI experiment, it shows the interaction between baseline suspicion in the amygdala and the ongoing evaluation of the specific situation that may increase or degree that suspicion which occurred in the parahippocampal gyrus (Bhatt et al., 2012). Since the fMRI equipment is very large, immobile and expensive, it cannot be used in many situations (Solovey et al., 2012). To essentially substitute for the fMRI, the fNIRS was developed which can be worn on the head and is far more convenient than the traditional full body fMRI scanner that requires a sedentary or prone position to work (Solovey et al., 2012).

In a study of people multitasking on the computer with the fNIRIS head-mounted device called Brainput, the Brainput device worked with remotely controlled robots that would automatically modify the behavior of 2 remotely controlled robots when Brainput detected an information overload in the multitasking brains of the human navigating both of the robots simultaneously over several differently designed terrains (Solovey et al., 2012).

Writing Electromagnetic Information to the Brain?
These 2 examples of the Human Connectome Project lead by the National Institute of Health (NIH) in the US and also underway in other countries show how early the mapping of brain region interaction is for higher cognitive functions beyond sensory motor interactions. Nevertheless, one Canadian neurosurgeon has taken volunteers for an early example of writing some electromagnetic input into the human brain to induce paranormal kinds of subjective experience and has been doing so since 1987 (Cotton, 1996; Nickell, 2005; Persinger, 2012). Dr. Michael Persinger uses small electrical signals across the temporal lobes in an environment with partial audio-visual isolation to reduce neural distraction (Persinger, 2003). These microtesla magnetic fields especially when applied to the right hemisphere of the temporal lobes often induced a sense of an “other” presence generally described as supernatural in origin by the volunteers (Persinger, 2003). This early example shows how input can be received directly by the brain as well as recorded from it.

Higher Resolution Recording of Neural Data
Electrodes from EEGs and electromagnets from fMRI and fNIRIS still record or send data at the macro level of entire regions or areas of the brain. Work on intracellular recording such as the nanotube transistor allows for better understanding at the level of neurons (Gao et al., 2012). Of course, when introducing micro scale recording or transmitting equipment into the human brain, safety is a major issue. Some progress has been made in that an ingestible microchip called the Raisin has been made that can transmit information gathered during its voyage through the digestive system (Kessel, 2009). Dr. Robert Freitas has designed many nanoscale devices such as Respirocytes, Clottocytes and Microbivores to replace or augment red blood cells, platelets and phagocytes respectively that can in principle be fabricated and do appear to meet the miniaturization and propulsion requirements necessary to get into the bloodstream and arrive at the targeted system they are programmed to reach (Freitas, 1998; Freitas, 2000; Freitas, 2005; Freitas, 2006).

The primary obstacle is the tremendous gap between assembling at the microscopic level and the molecular level. Dr. Richard Feynman described the crux of this struggle to bridge the divide between atoms in his now famous talk given on December 29, 1959 called “There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom” (Feynman, 1959). To encourage progress towards the ultimate goal of molecular manufacturing by enabling theoretical and experimental work, the Foresight Institute has awarded annual Feynman Prizes every year since 1997 for contribution in this field called nanotechnology (Foresight, 2012).

The Current State of the Art and Science of Brain Computer Interfaces
Many neuroscientists think that cellular or even atomic level resolution is probably necessary to understand and certainly to interface with the brain at the level of conceptual thought, memory storage and retrieval (Ptolemy, 2009; Koene, 2010) but at this early stage of the Human Connectome Project this evaluation is quite preliminary. The convergence of noninvasive brain scanning technology with implantable devices among volunteer patients supplemented with neural stem cells and neurotrophic factors to facilitate the melding of biological and artificial intelligence will allow for many medical benefits for paraplegics at first and later to others such as intelligence analysts, soldiers and civilians.

Some scientists and experts in Artificial Intelligence (AI) express the concern that AI software is on track to exceed human biological intelligence before the middle of the century such as Ben Goertzel, Ray Kurzweil, Kevin Warwick, Stephen Hawking, Nick Bostrom, Peter Diamandis, Dean Kamen and Hugo de Garis (Bostrom, 2009; de Garis, 2009, Ptolemy, 2009). The need for fully functioning BCIs that integrate the higher order conceptual thinking, memory recall and imagination into cybernetic environments gains ever more urgency if we consider the existential risk to the long-term survival of the human species or the eventual natural descendent of that species. This call for an intimate and fully integrated BCI then acts as a shield against the possible emergence of an AI independently of us as a life form and thus a possible rival and intellectually superior threat to the human heritage and dominance on this planet and its immediate solar system vicinity.


Bhatt MA, Lohrenz TM, Camerer CF, Montague PR. (2012). Distinct contributions of the amygdala and parahippocampal gyrus to suspicion in a repeated bargaining game. Proc. Nat’l Acad. Sci. USA, 109(22):8728–8733. Retrieved October 15, 2012, from

Birhard, K. (1999). The science of haptics gets in touch with prosthetics. The Lancet, 354(9172), 52–52. Retrieved from

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