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Archive for the ‘futurism’ category: Page 648

Nov 19, 2007

Helphookup.com internet empowered volunteers against disasters

Posted by in categories: defense, existential risks, futurism, lifeboat, open access, open source, sustainability

The inspiration of Help Hookup is actually a comic book called Global Frequency by Warren Ellis. My brother, Alvin Wang, took the idea to startup weekend and they launched the idea this past weekend for hooking up volunteers. It is similar to the concepts of David Brin’s “empowered citizens” and Glenn Reynolds “an army of Davids”. The concepts are compatible with the ideas and causes of the Lifeboat foundation.

Global Frequency was a network of 1,001 people that handled the jobs that the governments did not have the will to handle. I thought that it was a great idea and it would be more powerful with 1,000,001 people or 100,000,001 people. We would have to leave out the killing that was in the comic.

Typhoons, earthquakes, and improperly funded education could all be handled. If there is a disaster, doctors could volunteer. Airlines could provide tickets. Corporations could provide supples. Trucking companies could provide transportation. Etc. State a need, meet the need. No overhead. No waste.

The main site is here it is a way for volunteers to hookup

The helphookup blog is tracking the progress.

Nov 12, 2007

Social Software Society for Safety

Posted by in category: futurism

Social Software Society for Safety.

Is there any scarcity? Perhaps friendship, because it requires time, shared history, and attention, is the ultimate scarcity—but must it always be the case?

A thoroughgoing naturalist, I stipulate that the value of all objects supervenes on their natural properties—rational evaluation of them is constrained by the facts. If I choose one car instead if its identical copy, simply because one has been stamped with a “brand,” this is the very definition of irrationality—if the 2 objects are exactly the same—you must be indifferent or violate the axioms of decision theory/identity theory. If I used a Replicator Ray to duplicate the Hope Diamond—which would you choose—the original—based on its history (was stolen, traveled around the world, etc) or the duplicate—they are identical!!

What happens to the value of the original? It is worth ½ because now there are 2? I make a 3rd copy so now it is worth 1/3? Nonsense—value has nothing to do with scarcity—a piece of feces may be totally unique in shape, just like a snowflake—but it has no value. Intrinsic value of objects depends on their properties. Instrumental value depends on what they can be used for (converted to intrinsic value).

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Oct 29, 2007

One shot Gene therapy protection from radiation

Posted by in categories: defense, existential risks, futurism, lifeboat, nuclear weapons

University of Pittsburgh researchers injected a therapy previously found to protect cells from radiation damage into the bone marrow of mice, then dosed them with some 950 roentgens of radiation — nearly twice the amount needed to kill a person in just five hours. Nine in 10 of the therapy-receiving mice survived, compared to 58 percent of the control group.

Between 30 and 330 days, there were no differences in survival rates between experiment and control group mice, indicating that systemic MnSOD-PL treatment was not harmful to survival.

The researchers will need to verify whether this treatment would work in humans.

This is part of the early development in the use of genetic modification to increase the biological defences (shields) of people against nuclear, biological and chemical threats. We may not be able to prevent all attacks, so we should improve our toughness and survivability. We should still try to stop the attacks and create the conditions for less attacks.

Aug 21, 2007

Risks Not Worth Worrying About

Posted by in categories: defense, futurism, lifeboat

There are dozens of published existential risks; there are undoubtedly many more that Nick Bostrom did not think of in his paper on the subject. Ideally, the Lifeboat Foundation and other organizations would identify each of these risks and take action to combat them all, but this simply isn’t realistic. We have a finite budget and a finite number of man-hours to spend on the problem, and our resources aren’t even particularly large compared with other non-profit organizations. If Lifeboat or other organizations are going to take serious action against existential risk, we need to identify the areas where we can do the most good, even at the expense of ignoring other risks. Humans like to totally eliminate risks, but this is a cognitive bias; it does not correspond to the most effective strategy. In general, when assessing existential risks, there are a number of useful heuristics:

- Any risk which has become widely known, or an issue in contemporary politics, will probably be very hard to deal with. Thus, even if it is a legitimate risk, it may be worth putting on the back burner; there’s no point in spending millions of dollars for little gain.

- Any risk which is totally natural (could happen without human intervention), must be highly improbable, as we know we have been on this planet for a hundred thousand years without getting killed off. To estimate the probability of these risks, use Laplace’s Law of Succession.

- Risks which we cannot affect the probability of can be safely ignored. It does us little good to know that there is a 1% chance of doom next Thursday, if we can’t do anything about it.

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Mar 29, 2007

Rehearsing the Future

Posted by in category: futurism

Never underestimate the power of a “do-over.”

Video gamers know exactly what I’m talking about: the ability to face a challenge over and over again, in most cases with a “reset” of the environment to the initial conditions of the fight (or trap, or puzzle, etc.). With a consistent situation and setting, the player is able to experiment with different strategies. Typically, the player will find the approach that works, succeed, then move on to the next challenge; occasionally, the player will try different winning strategies in order to find the one with the best results, putting the player in a better position to meet the next obstacle.

Real life, of course, doesn’t have do-overs. But one of the fascinating results of the increasing sophistication of virtual world and game environments is their ability to serve as proxies for the real world, allowing users to practice tasks and ideas in a sufficiently realistic setting that the results provide useful real life lessons. This capability is based upon virtual worlds being interactive systems, where one’s actions have consequences; these consequences, in turn, require new choices. The utility of the virtual world as a rehearsal system is dependent upon the plausibility of the underlying model of reality, but even simplified systems can elicit new insights.

The classic example of this is Sim City (which I’ve written about at length before), but with the so-called “serious games” movement, we’re seeing the overlap of gaming and rehearsal become increasingly common.

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