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Archive for the ‘existential risks’ category

Oct 15, 2018

Mammals cannot evolve fast enough to escape current extinction crisis

Posted by in categories: evolution, existential risks

Humans are exterminating animal and plant species so quickly that nature’s built-in defence mechanism, evolution, cannot keep up. An Aarhus-led research team calculated that if current conservation efforts are not improved, so many mammal species will become extinct during the next five decades that nature will need 3 to 5 million years to recover.

There have been five upheavals over the past 450 million years when the environment has changed so dramatically that the majority of Earth’s plant and animal species became extinct. After each mass extinction, evolution has slowly filled in the gaps with new species.

The sixth is happening now, but this time, the extinctions are not being caused by natural disasters; they are the work of humans. A team of researchers from Aarhus University and the University of Gothenburg has calculated that the extinctions are moving too rapidly for evolution to keep up.

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Oct 15, 2018

Food you’ve never heard of could end hunger

Posted by in categories: existential risks, finance, food

Crop Trust guards about one million varieties of seeds in a mountain in Svalbard, Norway. The doomsday vault is the back-up for 1,700 seed banks worldwide, in the event of some future apocalypse.


The term “conservation” may bring wildlife or land preservation to mind. But what about the food we eat?

According to Crop Trust, an international organization working to safeguard agriculture, we only use about 1 percent of available crops to fuel our diets. That could put the future of our food system at risk.

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Oct 2, 2018

CSER Special Issue: ‘Futures of Research in Catastrophic and Existential Risk’

Posted by in category: existential risks

The Centre for the Study of Existential Risk’s (CSER) special issue Futures of Research in Catastrophic and Existential Risk was recently published. CSER is an interdisciplinary research centre within the University of Cambridge dedicated to the study and mitigation of risks that could lead to human extinction or civilisational collapse.

The special issue, edited by CSER postdoc Dr Adrian Currie, brings together a wide range of research on existential and catastrophic risk. This research is increasingly multi-disciplinary and broad in scope. It considers how existential risk is conceptualized as well as challenges in communication, responsibility and epistemology. Many of the fifteen papers collected here were originally presented at our first Cambridge Conference on Catastrophic Risk in 2016.

Contents:

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Oct 2, 2018

Movement for Indefinite Life Extension 2018 Drive to Stay Alive Message

Posted by in categories: aging, bioengineering, ethics, existential risks, futurism, life extension, philosophy, transhumanism

The universe is filled with uncountable amounts of mystery, discovery, opportunity, experiences, marvels and more. So, let’s not die if we don’t have to.

It’s much harder to make the case that radical longevity cannot be engineered into our biology than that it can. Humanity engineers cells in countless ways all the time now, and our knowledge, capability and tools keep growing exponentially.

Now, a mainstream amount of demand to create a bustling global industry of life extension R&D is the only thing standing between you and the ability to live indefinitely.” — Eric Schulke

Fifteen thousand years worth of Netflix are watched every day. Fifteen billion dollars are spent on the Super Bowl and fifteen billion dollars are spent on Valentine’s day. Those aren’t bad things but we need some perspective. Survival is humanity’s main and oldest occupation. We have what it takes to survive if we pay attention and get with the program.

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Sep 26, 2018

Imagine Science Films Festival New York

Posted by in categories: existential risks, life extension, media & arts, science

The Imagine Science Films Festival is happening on October 12-19th, 2018 in New York, at a variety of venues, and this year, it is featuring a theme close to home: survival.

Crisis. Entropy. Extinction. This year we look at the high stakes for all life on Earth and beyond. Between nuclear proliferation, species loss and dwindling resources, existence itself is not assured. But for every dystopia, a corresponding utopia may be within reach. It may be a struggle, but the record of all life is that of an eon-spanning fight to stay alive. We’ll feature tumultuous natural history and startling feats of adaptation. Apoptosis versus immortal cell lines. Half-lives and radical life extension. The deaths of stars and extraordinary paths to SURVIVAL.

With this year’s theme including life extension, we may well see some interesting and thought-provoking films on the topic. Lifespan.io is also an official event sponsor for the festival, as we strongly feel that the worlds of filmmaking and science can be a perfect match in helping to encourage a wider dialogue about aging and doing something about it.

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Sep 24, 2018

Asteroids and comets as space weapons

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, biotech/medical, existential risks, robotics/AI

A dual use research of concern (DURC) refers to research in the life sciences that, while intended for public benefit, could also be repurposed to cause public harm. One prominent example is that of disease and contagion research (can improve disease control, but can also be used to spread disease more effectively, either accidentally or maliciously). I will argue here that DURC can and should be applicable to any technology that has a potential dual use such as this.


Approximately 66 million years ago, a 10 km sized body struck Earth, and was likely one of the main contributors to the extinction of many species at the time. Bodies the size of 5 km or larger impact Earth on average every 20 million years (one might say we are overdue for one, but then one wouldn’t understand statistics). Asteroids 1 km or larger impact Earth every 500,000 years on average. Smaller bodies which can still do considerable local damage occur much more frequently (10 m wide bodies impact Earth on average every 10 years). It seems reasonable to say that only the first category (~5 km) pose an existential threat, however many others pose major catastrophic threats*.

Given the likelihood of an asteroid impact (I use the word asteroid instead of asteroid and/or comet from here for sake of brevity), some argue that further improving detection and deflection technology are critical. Matheny (2007) estimates that, even if asteroid extinction events are improbable, due to the loss of future human generations if one were to occur, asteroid detection/deflection research and development could save a human life-year for $2.50 (US). Asteroid impact mitigation is not thought to be the most pressing existential threat (e.g. artificial intelligence or global pandemics), and yet it already seems to have better return on investment than the best now-centric human charities (though not non-human charities – I am largely ignoring non-humans here for simplicity and sake of argument).

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Sep 14, 2018

Notes from Nietzsche and some Correlations with Transhumanism

Posted by in categories: ethics, existential risks, futurism, government, health, life extension, philosophy, transhumanism

In the vicissitudes of life, our recent and living generations moved from the hard times of a hundred years ago to the exponential good times of today. Now a few hundred key pioneers have positioned the world in front of the opportunities of Transhumanism and its main tenet, indefinite life extension. Will we unite the world on these issues and capitalize or waste it and let the weeds reclaim our “wheel”, the magnum opus of our generations? I challenge all would-be leaders and followers to honor our ancestors’ long tradition of pioneering the next stages of our future. Everything about you was crafted and honed for this and there is no other time. Find the blazers of our emerging values and paths, your philosophers of the future, out there at the forefronts on this epic new transhuman voyage of freedoms and discoveries and follow them. All leaders who haven’t already, I implore you to fully embrace your roles, triple down and raise your flags even higher. Friedrich Nietzsche wrote a book preluding this philosophy of the future, which serves as the structure for this paper and is quoted here throughout.

“[Conditioning to hard times] is thus established, unaffected by the vicissitudes of generations; the constant struggle with uniform unfavourable conditions is, as already remarked, the cause of a type becoming stable and hard. Finally, however, a happy state of things results, the enormous tension is relaxed; there are perhaps no more enemies among the neighbouring peoples, and the means of life, even of the enjoyment of life, are present in superabundance. With one stroke the bond and constraint of the old discipline severs: it is no longer regarded as necessary, as a condition of existence—if it would continue, it can only do so as a form of luxury, as an archaizing taste. Variations, whether they be deviations (into the higher, finer, and rarer), or deteriorations and monstrosities, appear suddenly on the scene in the greatest exuberance and splendour; the individual dares to be individual and detach himself. At this turning-point of history there manifest themselves, side by side, and often mixed and entangled together, a magnificent, manifold, virgin-forest-like up-growth and up-striving, a kind of tropical tempo in the rivalry of growth, and an extraordinary decay and self-destruction, owing to the savagely opposing and seemingly exploding aptitudes, which strive with one another ‘for sun and light,’ and can no longer assign any limit, restraint, or forbearance for themselves by means of the hitherto existing morality. It was this morality itself which piled up the strength so enormously, which bent the bow in so threatening a manner:—it is now ‘out of date,’ it is getting ‘out of date.’ ” – Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil: Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future

Our elders came from the great depression and world war. Then they had to watch what they called “morals”, but which were actually just coping mechanisms particular to their vicissitude of time, as Nietzsche gets at in various places, become increasingly disregarded. That happened faster than ever because, little did they know, the bell curve of exponential advancements in fields across the board were upon them. The variations of excellence and monstrosities proliferated like no other time and were supercharged for an abundant harvest by the buds of enlightenment and technology that had been poking their heads out of the fertile intellectual fields of civilization from the smatterings of good times they were able to come upon throughout the century. A lot of it was stored as compounding action potential. It went off like rifles in the 50s and 60s, with so much force that the bullets are still flying today, and the shots of individual aptitude have been firing ever since. Like he is saying, it’s a jungle of individual morals competing in the survival of the fittest, so you must find ways, that hard times naturally make, to get all these independent construction workers of the best ideas behind the same projects in order to tap that energy for the big stages and human potentials.

This is our window in time here, as I often say, to get projects like life extension, transhumanism, space exploration, and some other things done. The people of the past didn’t have this opportunity and the chance here isn’t available forever because death will close us off from it or bad times will set back in. A great gate in Plato’s cave has opened, the eternal guard lions of death have left their posts and we don’t know how long until they come back or the gate closes. It is devastating watching those who have been hypnotized by the cave, by the death trance, sitting there with a wide-open door and the clock ticking down. The climb must be made, now is the time, there is no other. Team up and follow the leaders on these new emerging circumstances and moral imperatives or everyone will die as the marvels of space and boundless technology tumble from our hands. We rouse them to action slowly but surely, though all as one, more gets done.

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Aug 29, 2018

Inside the United Nations’ effort to regulate autonomous killer robots

Posted by in categories: drones, Elon Musk, existential risks, law, military, robotics/AI

Amandeep Gill has a difficult job, though he won’t admit it himself. As chair of the United Nations’ Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) meetings on lethal autonomous weapons, he has the task of shepherding 125 member states through discussions on the thorny technical and ethical issue of “killer robots” — military robots that could theoretically engage targets independently. It’s a subject that has attracted a glaring media spotlight and pressure from NGOs like Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, which is backed by Tesla’s Elon Musk and Alphabet’s Mustafa Suleyman, to ban such machines outright.

Gill has to corral national delegations — diplomats, lawyers, and military personnel — as well as academics, AI entrepreneurs, industry associations, humanitarian organizations, and NGOs in order for member states to try to reach a consensus on this critical security issue.

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Aug 24, 2018

‘Potentially hazardous,’ 500-foot asteroid set to zoom past Earth at 20,000 mph

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

NASA — National Aeronautics and Space Administration has issued an alert that a “potentially hazardous asteroid” is on a “close approach” towards Earth.


NASA has issued an alert that a “potentially hazardous asteroid” is on a “close approach” toward Earth. However, it’s nothing to be alarmed at, as the asteroid is expected to zoom past the planet approximately 3 million miles away.

The enormous space rock, known as asteroid 2016 NF23 and estimated to be between 230 and 525 feet in diameter, will zip past Earth on Aug. 29 at a velocity of 9.04 kilometers per second, or approximately 20,000 miles per hour, the government space agency said on its Earth Close Approaches page.

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Aug 22, 2018

Massive asteroid bigger than the Great Pyramid of Giza will make a close approach to Earth NEXT WEEK

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

😱😱😱😱😱😱😱😱😱😱


A massive asteroid estimated to be double the size of a Boeing 747 is headed toward a close approach with Earth next week.

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