Archive for the ‘existential risks’ category: Page 8

Jun 30, 2022

Can We Genetically Engineer Humans for Space?

Posted by in categories: alien life, existential risks, genetics, habitats

Traveling far distances in space is difficult, but advances in jet propulsion and genetics are making it possible. Trace is joined by Dr. Kiki Sanford to discuss how by altering the genes in our own bodies, we can make ourselves more fit to survive on other planets!

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Jun 28, 2022

How to See the Giant Comet Heading Our Way Soon

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

One of the largest comets known is approaching our planet on the only trip through the inner solar system it will make during our lifetimes.

Five years ago, the Hubble Space Telescope spotted a large comet at the farthest distance ever, as it was approaching the sun from way out between the orbits of Saturn and Uranus. Now, that giant space snowball is coming in for its closest pass by Earth in just a few weeks.

Comet C/2017 K2 will be at its nearest point to us on its current swing through the inner solar system on July 14. Even at its closest, however, it will still be farther away from us than the average distance between Earth and Mars. This will likely make it difficult to see the comet without at least a small telescope, despite its substantial stature.

Jun 28, 2022

If the Ocean Continues to Warm, Fish May No Longer Be on the Menu

Posted by in categories: climatology, existential risks, sustainability

Climate change is already had a serious impact on global food production — from making food less nutritious to messing with the growing season of plants, to even pushing some crop species towards extinction. On top of that, the world’s oceans are already stressed by overfishing, with over 70 percent of the world’s fish stocks fully exploited, over-exploited, or depleted.

The combination of overuse and climate change could prove deadly for global food security. And by the time 2,300 rolls around, it will be too late to mitigate the impact of human activity on our food sources, both those on land and those under the sea.

Jun 26, 2022

Life will find a way: could scientists make Jurassic Park a reality?

Posted by in categories: existential risks, lifeboat, sustainability

Alex SharpThe world needs to be subsidising heat pumps for the poorer regions of the world, to keep people safe.

2 Replies.

Chris BartlettThat’s alarmist, while they’re is global warming, there’s little evidence that we are yet seeing extreme weather previously unseen in Earth’s history or even during human history.

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Jun 23, 2022

Interstellar Travel Could Be Possible Even Without Spaceships, Scientist Says

Posted by in categories: existential risks, space travel

In about 5 billion years, the Sun will leave the main sequence and become a red giant. It’ll expand and transform into a glowering, malevolent ball and consume and destroy Mercury, Venus, Earth, and probably Mars.

Can humanity survive the Sun’s red giant phase? Extraterrestrial Civilizations (ETCs) may have already faced this existential threat.

Could they have survived it by migrating to another star system without the use of spaceships?

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Jun 18, 2022

NASA publishes the results of its intense killer asteroid dress rehearsal

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

Monitoring PHAs is a huge responsibility that requires a worldwide effort, including tracking, alerts, and disaster preparedness. Last year, over 100 participants from 18 countries (including NASA scientists and the NEOWISE mission) conducted an international exercise that simulated an encounter with an asteroid that made a close flyby to Earth. As NASA revealed in a recently-released study, the exercise was a complete success. The lessons learned could help avert real impacts in the near future or significantly limit the devastation one could cause.

The study, which appeared in the May 31 issue of The Planetary Science Journal (titled “Apophis Planetary Defense Campaign”), was conducted by the Planetary Defense Exercise Working Group and led by Vishnu Reddy — an Associate Professor at the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory (LPI). The working group is made up of more than 100 participants from 18 countries and includes facilities like NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO), the ESA NEO Coordination Centre, the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute (KASI), and many universities and research institutes worldwide.

As Reddy and his colleagues describe in the paper, the planetary defense exercise was the culmination of work that began in 2017, which was designed to test the operational readiness of our global planetary defense capabilities. The exercise was carried out with the support of NASA’s PDCO, the Minor Planet Center (MPC) — the internationally-recognized authority for monitoring the position and motion of small celestial bodies — and the International Asteroid Warning Network (IAWN). The exercise was named the Apophis Campaign since it coincided with the close approach of the NEO (99942) Apophis, which flew past Earth from December 2020 to March 2021.

Jun 12, 2022

AI’s Threats to Jobs and Human Happiness Are Very Real

Posted by in categories: economics, education, employment, existential risks, finance, robotics/AI, transportation

There’s a movement afoot to counter the dystopian and apocalyptic narratives of artificial intelligence. Some people in the field are concerned that the frequent talk of AI as an existential risk to humanity is poisoning the public against the technology and are deliberately setting out more hopeful narratives. One such effort is a book that came out last fall called AI 2041: Ten Visions for Our Future.

The book is cowritten by Kai-Fu Lee, an AI expert who leads the venture capital firm Sinovation Ventures, and Chen Qiufan, a science fiction author known for his novel Waste Tide. It has an interesting format. Each chapter starts with a science fiction story depicting some aspect of AI in society in the year 2041 (such as deepfakes, self-driving cars, and AI-enhanced education), which is followed by an analysis section by Lee that talks about the technology in question and the trends today that may lead to that envisioned future. It’s not a utopian vision, but the stories generally show humanity grappling productively with the issues raised by ever-advancing AI.

IEEE Spectrum spoke to Lee about the book, focusing on the last few chapters, which take on the big issues of job displacement, the need for new economic models, and the search for meaning and happiness in an age of abundance. Lee argues that technologists need to give serious thought to such societal impacts, instead of thinking only about the technology.

Jun 9, 2022

Tiny meteoroid bops $10 billion Webb space telescope

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

WASHINGTON, June 8 (Reuters) — A tiny meteoroid struck the newly deployed James Webb Space Telescope in May, knocking one of its gold-plated mirrors out of alignment but not changing the orbiting observatory’s schedule to become fully operational shortly, NASA said on Wednesday.

The little space rock hit the $10 billion telescope sometime in late May and left a small but noticeable effect in the telescope’s data, NASA said in a statement, adding that it was the fifth and largest hit to the telescope since its December launch. read more

“After initial assessments, the team found the telescope is still performing at a level that exceeds all mission requirements,” NASA said. “Thorough analysis and measurements are ongoing.”

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Jun 1, 2022

Killer Asteroids Are Lurking Around Us — A New Cloud-Based Tool Can Help Spot Them

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

Discovering and tracking asteroids is critical for planetary defense against killer asteroid impacts. The detailed astronomical data associated with it is also useful for providing new insights for astronomers. Helping with this task is a new algorithm called THOR, which has now proven to be capable of finding asteroids. It has been running on the Asteroid Institute’s cloud-based astrodynamics platform for identifying and tracking asteroids.

May 30, 2022

When it Comes to Human Extinction, We Could Be Our Worst Enemy and Best Hope

Posted by in category: existential risks

Human extinction? It could happen, but it doesn’t have to.

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