Quotes

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9/11 Commission

an independent, bipartisan commission created by congressional legislation and the signature of President George W. Bush in late 2002. It is chartered to prepare a full and complete account of the circumstances surrounding the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, including preparedness for and the immediate response to the attacks.

Frank W. Abagnale

was the master criminal whose autobiography Catch Me If You Can was turned into a film by Steven Spielberg starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks.

Jamal Ahmidan

was a principal behind the 3/11 attacks in Spain that left 2000 dead or injured and Spain with a new government that retreated out of Iraq.

Dale Amon

writes for the Samizdata blog.

Michael Anissimov

was recently advocacy director for the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence. He is a member of our Advisory Board.

“If my million dollars can avert the chance of existential disaster by, say, 0.0001%, then the expected utility of this action relative to the expected utility of life extension advocacy is shocking. That’s 0.0001% of the utility of quadrillions or more humans, transhumans, and posthumans leading fulfilling lives. I’ll spare the reader from working out the math and utility curves — I’m sure you can imagine them. So, why is it that people tend to devote more resources to life extension than risk prevention? [My guesses are]:

“If an existential disaster occurs, not only will the possibilities of extreme life extension, sophisticated nanotechnology, intelligence enhancement, and space expansion never bear fruit, but everyone will be dead, never to come back. Because we have so much to lose, existential risk is worth worrying about even if our estimated probability of occurrence is extremely low.
 
It is not the funding of life extension research projects that immortalists should be focusing on. It should be projects that decrease existential risk. By default, once the probability of existential risk is minimized, life extension technologies will be developed and applied. There are powerful economic and social imperatives in that direction, but few towards risk management. Existential risk creates a ‘loafer problem’ — we always expect someone else to do it. I assert that this is a dangerous strategy and should be discarded in favor of making prevention of such risks a central focus.”

Abdullah Ahmad Badawi

Prime Minster of Malaysia and Chairman of the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference.

Jeff Bezos

founder, president, chief executive officer (CEO), and chairman of the board of Amazon.com.

Scott Borg

Director and Chief Economist of the U.S. Cyber Consequences Unit, a Department of Homeland Security advisory group and also a member of our Scientific Advisory Board.

Nick Bostrom

winner of a Templeton Foundation grant, cofounder of The World Transhumanist Association, and is director of the Future of Humanity Institute at the University of Oxford.

BT (British Telecommunications) white paper
Joe Buff

best selling author of Straits Of Power, Tidal Rip, Crush Depth, Thunder in the Deep, and Deep Sound Channel. He is a regular columnist for military.com and is the winner of the 1999 and 2000 Literary Awards from the Naval Submarine League.

Warren Buffett

our 2002 Guardian Award winner, is the world’s second wealthiest man, who is known as the ‘Oracle of Omaha’ for his astute investments.

William E. Burrows

cofounder of the Alliance to Rescue Civilization (ARC) and a member of our Scientific Advisory Board.

George W. Bush

U.S. President.

Charles M. Chafer

involved in launching rockets for the past 25 years, is cofounder of Celestis, Inc., and is a member of our Scientific Advisory Board.

Arthur C. Clarke

prophetic SF author who in 1945 predicted a world linked by geostationary satellites.

Michael Crichton

was author of The Andromeda Strain, Jurassic Park, and Prey. He was also the creator of the television series ER.

DEBKAfile’s

War Diary is included in the US Library of Congress historic collection of 2003 War on Iraq on Internet. This online news source contains in-depth coverage of terrorism, security, political analysis, and espionage and is available in English and Hebrew.

Retired Army General Wayne A. Downing

was U.S. President George W. Bush’s deputy national security adviser for counterterrorism until July 8, 2002.

Eric Drexler
founder of the Foresight Institute, and founder of the nanotechnology movement.

Robert A. Freitas Jr.

was research scientist at Zyvex LLC, the Earth’s first molecular nanotechnology company and is the author of Nanomedicine, the first book-length technical discussion of the medical applications of nanotechnology and medical nanorobotics. He is a 2006 Lifeboat Foundation Guardian Award winner and a member of our Scientific Advisory Board.

Bill First

U.S. Senate Majority Leader.

“Like everyone else, politicians tend to look away from danger, to hope for the best, and pray that disaster will not arrive on their watch even as they sleep through it. This is so much a part of human nature that it often goes unchallenged.
 
But we will not be able to sleep through what is likely coming soon — a front of unchecked and virulent epidemics, the potential of which should rise above your every other concern. For what the world now faces, it has not seen even in the most harrowing episodes of the Middle Ages or the great wars of the last century…
 
No intelligence agency, no matter how astute, and no military, no matter how powerful and dedicated, can assure that a few technicians of middling skill using a few thousand dollars worth of readily available equipment in a small and apparently innocuous setting cannot mount a first-order biological attack.
 
It’s possible today to synthesize virulent pathogens from scratch, or to engineer and manufacture prions that, introduced undetectably over time into a nation’s food supply, would after a long delay afflict millions with a terrible and often fatal disease. It’s a new world…
 
So what must we do?
 
I propose an unprecedented effort — a “Manhattan Project for the 21st Century” — not with the goal of creating a destructive new weapon, but to defend against destruction wreaked by infectious disease and biological weapons…
 
This is a bold vision. But it is the kind of thing that, once accomplished, is done. And it is the kind of thing that calls out to be done — and that, if not done, will indict us forever in the eyes of history.
 
In diverting a portion of our vast resources to protect nothing less than our lives, the lives of our children, and the life of our civilization, many benefits other than survival would follow in train — not least the satisfaction of having done right.”

Rudolph Giuliani

mayor of New York City when it was attacked on 9/11.

Alan H. Goldstein

Professor of Biomaterials, Fierer Chair of Molecular Cell Biology, and Biomedical Materials Engineering and Science Program Chair at Alfred University and is a member of our Scientific Advisory Board.

NASA Administrator Michael D. Griffin

Julian Haight

president of SpamCop.net, the premier spam reporting service.

Stephen Hawking

famous cosmologist who discovered that black holes are not completely black, but emit radiation and eventually evaporate and disappear.

Robert A. Heinlein

was an influential and controversial science fiction author. The English language absorbed several words from his fiction, including “grok”, meaning “to understand so thoroughly that the observer becomes part of the observed.”

Dr. Barbara Marx Hubbard

author, public speaker, social innovator and President of the Foundation for Conscious Evolution. She is also a member of our Scientific Advisory Board.

Admiral David E. Jeremiah

US Navy (Ret.), Former Vice Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff

Bill Joy

“Edison of the Internet” is inventor of the Unix word processor vi, cofounder of Sun Microsystems, and a 2006 Lifeboat Foundation Guardian Award winner.

Michio Kaku

co-creator of string field theory.

Garry Kasparov

chairman of the United Civil Front, a democratic activist group based in Russia. He was the world chess champion for over 20 years.

Mickey Kaus

author of the blog Kausfiles published in Microsoft’s Slate magazine, authored the book The End of Equality.

Ed Koch

former Mayor of New York City.

Charles Krauthammer

syndicated columnist who appears in the Washington Post and other publications and commentator on various TV programs. He earned his M.D. from Harvard University’s medical school in 1975 and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1987.

Ray Kurzweil

prophetic author of the 1990 book The Age of Intelligent Machines where he correctly predicted advancements in AI. He was also the principal developer of the first omni-font optical character recognition, the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, the first CCD flat-bed scanner, and the first commercially marketed large-vocabulary speech recognition. He is a member of the U.S. Army Science Advisory Group, our 2005 Guardian Award winner, and is on our Scientific Advisory Board.

“A self-replicating pathogen, whether biological or nanotechnology based, could destroy our civilization in a matter of days or weeks.”
 
“We can envision a more insidious possibility. In a two-phased attack, the nanobots take several weeks to spread throughout the biomass but use up an insignificant portion of the carbon atoms, say one out of every thousand trillion (1015). At this extremely low level of concentration, the nanobots would be as stealthy as possible. Then, at an ‘optimal’ point, the second phase would begin with the seed nanobots expanding rapidly in place to destroy the biomass. For each seed nanobot to multiply itself a thousand trillionfold would require only about 50 binary replications, or about 90 minutes.”
 
“Recall that biological evolution is measured in millions and billions of years. So if there are other civilizations out there, they would be spread out in terms of development by huge spans of time. The SETI assumption implies that there should be billions of ETIs (among all the galaxies), so there should be billions that lie far ahead of us in their technological progress. Yet it takes only a few centuries at most from the advent of computation for such civilizations to expand outward at at least light speed. Given this, how can it be that we have not noticed them? The conclusion I reach is that it is likely (although not certain) that there are no such other civilizations.”
 
“To this day, I remain convinced of this basic philosophy: no matter what quandries we face — business problems, health issues, relationship difficulties, as well as the great scientific, social, and cultural challenges of our time — there is an idea that can enable us to prevail. Furthermore, we can find that idea. And when we find it, we need to implement it. My life has been shaped by this imperative. The power of an idea — this is itself an idea.”

John Leslie

author of The End of the World: The Science and Ethics of Human Extinction and a member of our Scientific Advisory Board.

Ken Livingstone

mayor of London, said the following after Al Qaeda attacked Spain (and before they attacked London in the worst attack on London since World War II).

András Lörincz

Head Senior Researcher, Neural Information Processing Group, Eötvös Loránd University Budapest, Hungary is a member of our Scientific Advisory Board.

Richard G. Lugar

United States Senator for the state of Indiana. He is also the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman.

Kelvin G. Lynn

Director of Center for Materials Research at Washington State University. Dr. Lynn has developed an “antimatter trap” that the U.S. Air Force is considering as the basis of an antimatter bomb which would be over 1,000 times as powerful as an H-bomb.

John Robert Marlow

author of Nanosecurity and the Future (if Any), and a member of our Scientific Advisory Board.

MIT Technology Review

Elon Musk

often likened to a real-life Tony Stark from Marvel’s Iron Man comics for his role in cutting-edge companies including SpaceX, a private space exploration company that holds the first private contracts from NASA for resupply of the International Space Station, and the electric car company Tesla Motors. Watch Elon in Iron Man 2! He is winner of the 2014 Guardian Award.

Peggy Noonan

contributing editor of The Wall Street Journal and author of A Heart, a Cross, and a Flag.

David R. Obey

U.S. House of Representatives (Democrat – Wisconsin).

Tara O’Toole

physician and director of the Center for Biosecurity at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Ian Pearson

in-house futurologist for Futurizon, and advisor on our Scientific Advisory Board.

Chris Phoenix

cofounder of the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology.

James P. Pinkerton

fellow at the New America Foundation, a columnist for Newsday and TechCentralStation.com and a contributor to the Fox News Channel. He authored What Comes Next: The End of Big Government and the New Paradigm Ahead and is a member of our Scientific Advisory Board.

Lord Martin Rees

Royal Society Professor at Cambridge University, a Fellow of Kings College, and the U.K.’s Astronomer Royal. The winner of the 2001 Cosmology Prize of the Peter Gruber Foundation and our 2004 Guardian Award, he has published numerous academic papers and books including Our Final Hour: A Scientist’s Warning: How Terror, Error, and Environmental Disaster Threaten Humankind’s Future In This Century — On Earth and Beyond. He is a member of our Scientific Advisory Board.

“Even if all the world’s scientific academics agreed that some specific lines of inquiry had a disquieting ‘downside’ and all countries, in unison, imposed a formal prohibition, then how effectively could it be enforced? An international moratorium could certainly slow down particular lines of research, even if they couldn’t be stopped completely. When experiments are disallowed for ethical reasons, enforcement with ninety-nine percent effectiveness, or even just ninety percent, is far better than having no prohibition at all; but when experiments are exceedingly risky, enforcement would need to be close to one hundred percent effective to be reassuring: even one release of a lethal virus could be catastrophic, as could a nanotechnology disaster.
 
Despite all the efforts of law enforcers, millions of people use illicit drugs; thousands peddle them. In view of the failure to control drug smuggling or homicides, it is unrealistic to expect that when the genie is out of the bottle, we can ever be fully secure against bioerror and bioterror: risk would still remain that could not be eliminated except by measures that are themselves unpalatable, such as intrusive universal surveillance.”
 
“It is not inconceivable that physics could be dangerous too. Some experiments are designed to generate conditions more extreme than ever occur naturally. Nobody then knows exactly what will happen. Indeed, there would be no point in doing any experiments if their outcomes could be fully predicted in advance. Some theorists have conjectured that certain types of experiment could conceivably unleash a runaway process that destroyed not just us but Earth itself.”
 
“More ominously, there could be a crucial hurdle at our own present evolutionary stage, the state when intelligent life starts to develop technology. If so, the future development of life depends on whether humans survive this phase.”
 
“Suppose that we had a fateful decision that would determine whether the species might soon be extinguished, or else whether it would survive almost indefinitely. For instance, this might be the choice of whether to foster the first community away from Earth, which, once established, would spawn so many others that one would be guaranteed to survive.”
 
“Even a few pioneering groups, living independently of Earth, would offer a safeguard against the worst possible disaster — the foreclosure of intelligent life’s future through the extinction of all humankind.
 
The ever-present slight risk of a global catastrophe with a ‘natural’ cause will be greatly augmented by the risks stemming from twenty-first-century technology. Humankind will remain vulnerable so long as it stays confined here on Earth. Is it worth insuring against not just natural disasters by the probably much larger (and certainly growing) risk of human-induced catastrophes? Once self-sustaining communities exist away from Earth — on the Moon, on Mars, or freely floating in space — our species would be invulnerable to even the worst global disasters.”
 
“Once the threshold is crossed when there is a self-sustaining level of life in space, then life’s long-range future will be secure irrespective of any of the risks on Earth. Will this happen before our technical civilization disintegrates, leaving this as a might-have-been? Will the self-sustaining space communities be established before a catastrophe sets back the prospect of any such enterprise, perhaps foreclosing it forever? We live at what could be a defining moment for the cosmos, not just for our Earth.”
 
“What happens here on Earth, in this century, could conceivably make the difference between a near eternity filled with ever more complex and subtle forms of life and one filled with nothing but base matter.”

John Reid

Home Secretary for the United Kingdom.

Adeo Ressi

Founding Executive Partner of Sophos Partners, LLC.

Glenn Reynolds

contributing editor of Tech Central Station where his special feature on technology and public policy called “Reynolds’ Wrap” appears each week. He is also the creator of the popular blog Instapundit and author of An Army of Davids : How Markets and Technology Empower Ordinary People to Beat Big Media, Big Government, and Other Goliaths.

Condoleezza Rice

U.S. Secretary of State.

Tom Ridge

first U.S. Homeland Security Director.

Donald H. Rumsfeld

U.S. Secretary of Defense.

Carl Sagan

American astronomer, planetologist, biologist, and popularizer of science and space research.

Marshall T. Savage

author of The Millennial Project: Colonizing The Galaxy In Eight Easy Steps.

“Perhaps advanced civilizations don’t use radio, or radar, or microwaves. Advanced technology can be invoked as an explanation for the absence of extra terrestrial radio signals. But is seems unlikely that their technology would leave no imprint anywhere in the electromagnetic spectrum. We have been compared to the aborigine who remains blissfully unaware of the storm of radio and TV saturating the airwaves around him. Presumably, the aliens use advanced means of communications which we cannot detect. What these means might be is, by definition, unknown, but they must be extremely exotic. We don’t detect K2 signals in the form of laser pulses, gamma rays, cosmic rays, or even neutrinos. Therefore the aliens must use some system we haven’t even imagined.
 
This argument, appealing though it is, cannot survive contact with Occam’s razor — in this case Occam’s machete. The evidence in hand is simply nothing — no signals. To explain the absence of signals in the presence of aliens, demands recourse to what is essentially magic. Unfortunately, the iron laws of logic demand that we reject such wishful thinking in favor of the simplest explanation which fits the data: No signals; no aliens.
 
The skies are thunderous in their silence; the Moon eloquent in its blankness; the aliens are conclusive in their absence. The extraterrestrials aren’t here. They’ve never been here. They’re never coming here. They aren’t coming because they don’t exist. We are alone.”
 
“Now is the watershed of Cosmic history. We stand at the threshold of the New Millennium. Behind us yawn the chasms of the primordial past, when this universe was a dead and silent place; before us rise the broad sunlit uplands of a living cosmos. In the next few galactic seconds, the fate of the universe will be decided. Life — the ultimate experiment — will either explode into space and engulf the star-clouds in a fire storm of children, trees, and butterfly wings; or Life will fail, fizzle, and gutter out, leaving the universe shrouded forever in impenetrable blankness, devoid of hope.
 
Teetering here on the fulcrum of destiny stands our own bemused species. The future of the universe hinges on what we do next. If we take up the sacred fire, and stride forth into space as the torchbearers of Life, this universe will be aborning. If we carry the green fire-brand from star to star, and ignite around each a conflagration of vitality, we can trigger a Universal metamorphosis. Because of us, the barren dusts of a million billion worlds will coil up into the pulsing magic forms of animate matter. Because of us, landscapes of radiation blasted waste, will be miraculously transmuted: Slag will become soil, grass will sprout, flowers will bloom, and forests will spring up in once sterile places. Ice, hard as iron, will melt and trickle into pools where starfish, anemones, and seashells dwell — a whole frozen universe will thaw and transmogrify, from howling desolation to blossoming paradise. Dust into Life; the very alchemy of God.
 
If we deny our awesome challenge; turn our backs on the living universe, and forsake our cosmic destiny, we will commit a crime of unutterable magnitude. Mankind alone has the power to carry out this fundamental change in the universe. Our failure would lead to consequences unthinkable. This is perhaps the first and only chance the universe will ever have to awaken from its long night and live. We are the caretakers of this delicate spark of Life. To let it flicker and die through ignorance, neglect, or lack of imagination is a horror too great to contemplate.”

Robert J. Sawyer

“the dean of Canadian science fiction” and consultant for the Canadian Federal Government’s Department of Justice to discuss what Canadian law should be in relation to biotechnology, stem-cell research, cloning, and the privacy of personal genetic information. He is a member of our Scientific Advisory Board.

NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer

Brad Sherman

U.S. House of Representatives (Democrat – California).

Ray Solomonoff

founder of the branch of Artificial Intelligence based on machine learning, prediction, and probability. He was on our Scientific Advisory Board until his death.

StrategyPage

offers comprehensive bite-size summaries of military news and affairs on the Internet. They provide inside data on how and why things happen.

Ted Turner

American media visionary, philanthropist, and statesman.

Neil deGrasse Tyson

Chairman of the Board of The Planetary Society.

US National Academy of Sciences

Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters.

Vernor Vinge

mathematician, computer scientist, and prophetic SF writer who predicted the Internet in 1981 and the Singularity in 1993.

Ken Wear

authors the site Rationallink.org and was on our Scientific Advisory Board until his death.

White House

US National Security Council.

White House official

speaking to the Washington Post.

Bob Woodward

has authored or coauthored eight No. 1 national nonfiction bestsellers, including four books on the presidency.

Jonathan Zittrain

cofounded the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School and holds the Chair in Internet Governance and Regulation at the University of Oxford.