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Archive for the ‘geopolitics’ category: Page 33

Oct 8, 2008

Global Catastrophic Risks: Building a Resilient Civilization

Posted by in categories: biological, biotech/medical, chemistry, cybercrime/malcode, defense, events, futurism, geopolitics, lifeboat, military, nanotechnology, nuclear weapons, robotics/AI

November 14, 2008
Computer History Museum, Mountain View, CA

http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/eventinfo/ieet20081114/

Organized by: Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology and the Lifeboat Foundation

A day-long seminar on threats to the future of humanity, natural and man-made, and the pro-active steps we can take to reduce these risks and build a more resilient civilization. Seminar participants are strongly encouraged to pre-order and review the Global Catastrophic Risks volume edited by Nick Bostrom and Milan Cirkovic, and contributed to by some of the faculty for this seminar.

Continue reading “Global Catastrophic Risks: Building a Resilient Civilization” »

Sep 10, 2008

Global risk researches in Russia

Posted by in categories: defense, existential risks, geopolitics, military, nuclear weapons

1. Language and cultural isolation lead to the situation then Russian researches are not known in West and vice versa. I spent a lot of time translating into Russian and promoting works of Bostrom, Yudkowsky, Circovic, D.Brin, Freitas, A.Kent and other writers on global risks. Here I would like to tell you about some Russian researchers. Though I can’t prove validity of their ideas I think they should be checked internationally in order to roll out them or to take preventive measures. A. V. Karnauhov created a theory of “green house” catastrophe. He shows that climate is non linear system this many positive feedbacks and one of them is often missed – it is that water vapor is also greenhouse gas and growing temperatures would lead to injection of more and more water vapor into atmosphere. Also current level of carbon dioxid should lead to much more temperature increase, but inertia of ocean temperature makes current temperature smaller. But ocean temperature will rise, especially in Arctic, where large amounts of methane stored under seebed on the low shallow waters. This would lead to clarhat gun explosion of metane. Cumulative effect of water vapor, CO2, Metane and surmounting of ocean inertia will lead to very quick exponential global warming, which could have devastating effects as early as in 2020th and make global temperature higher not on 6 degrees but on several tens to the end of the century – which would mean human extinction, and after 200 years all life extinction on Earth Some his ideas you could see in the article: http://www.poteplenie.ru/doc/role.pdf Karnaukhov A.V. Role of the biosphere in the formation of the Earth’s Climate: The Greenhouse Catastrophe, Biophysics, Vol.46, No 6, 2001, pp. 1078–1088. Also I should mention works of Drobishevsky “Danger of the explosion of Callisto and the priority of space missions” http://www.springerlink.com/content/584mw0407824nt72/ He thinks that Jovian satellite Callisto could soon explode because of H and O reaction in its ice. Such explosion will lead to bombardment of the earth by comets and “nuclear winter” for 60 years. He suggested to send there a space mission. But I wrote him that, if he is write, it is very dangerous to send where mission, because it could trigger the explosion by drilling the ice crust. And the last man, about whom I would like to tell you, is a reviewer of my book “the Structure of the global catastrophe” Aranowich, who told me by way that his group has created much more effective way to penetrate the earth crust the Stevenson’s probe. Stevenson’s probe require 10 million ton of melted iron. His probe will weight only 10 tons and will use an energy of radioactive decay. It could reach 1000 km depth by one month – and the main danger is creation of supervolcano. Then I asked him, was any safety analysis done – he said not. But this is only theoretical work and no practical realization is planned.
2. I have wrote a book “The structure of global catastrophe” which aim was to investigate how different scenarios of global risks could interact in time, because all of them could realize in the XXI century. This book is sponsored by Russian Transhumanist movemet. Nick Bostrom wrote short preface to it. The book is mostly ready, but some editorial and organizational problems still persists. I hope it will be published by the end of the year.
3. I am started to translate this book into English. I have translated it by computer and then edit the result – now I am on the page 27 of 390. I need someone with native English who could help me to edit this translation. The book is here: http://avturchin.narod.ru/sgkengl2.doc I hope to finish English translation (in readable, but not high literature quality:) of the book until winter.
4. The shorter version of this book is already published on the name “War and 25 other scenarios of the End of the world”. This name was suggested by editorial house, the original name was: “Gnoseology of catastrophes”. The main idea of the book is that our inability to predict the future is equal to the end of the world.
5. I have translated the most part of Lifeboat site on Russian and I expect it will appear in the Net soon.
6. I have wrote several articles on the theme of global catastrophe: “Is SETI dangerous? English translation — http://www.proza.ru/texts/2008/04/12/55.html, “Atrophic principle and natural catastrophes” http://www.proza.ru/texts/2007/04/12-13.html and “About possibilities of manmade ignition of giant planets and other objects of Solar system” http://www.proza.ru/texts/2008/07/19/466.html which are in Russian.
7. I have created “Global catastrophic risks and human extinction library” there you could find many interesting literature on English and Russian. http://avturchin.narod.ru/Global.htm
8. I think that it is provable that if humanity will unite, it will have a chance to resist global risks, but if it will be divided on military competing parts, it almost doomed. Resent events on Caucasus put again in agenda the question of New cold war. Here we should ask what is the worst outcome of possible Cold war? Common answer is that Nuclear war is that worst outcome. But Nuclear war will not terminate all human population in most realistic scenarios. Much worse outcome is, I think, new arm race, which could lead to quick creation of much more destructive weapons, than nuclear. And the worst outcome of arm race is creation of Doomsday machine. Doomsday machine (DM) is ultimate defense weaponry. The example of such strategy was depicted by Kubrick in his genius movie “Dr. Strangelove”. Here we should say that DM-strategy is more suitable for a weaker state, which is in danger of aggression (or feels so). Quality of Russian nuclear forces is continue to deteriorating and minimum is expected around the year 2010 then most of old soviets rockets should be out of order. Simultaneously after the year 2010 US will rich a peak of their supremacy (because of thousand non nuclear cruise missiles, unique GPS system and antimissile shield it will have ability to make first strike without answer.), but later could lose supremacy because of economic crisis in US and growing arsenal of new Russian missiles. This situation looks dangerous, because from chess we know the principle: “Someone must attack under threat of losing his supremacy”. And antiballistic missile shield (ABM), which is developing now by NATO is very dangerous because it makes direct way to the creation of Doomsday Machine. Before ABM rockets were good as a mean of defense. But now only large underground bomb (gigaton order and with cobalt shield) could be a strategic defense. Such ideas is not only my creation but they are circulating in the air. Of course nobody is going to actually use such weapon, but it could be lunched accidentally. It should not be nuclear – it could be also large stockpile of anthrax, manmade supervulcano-threat or something more sophisticated. DM also could be used as a offensive mean. If Osama get it, he could say: everybody should convert in Islam, or I detonate it. The really big problem arise if in answer someone Catholic say: if anyone convert in Islam I will detonate my own Doomsday machine. In this case we finally doomed. But worst case scenarios are low probability ones, so I hope we have a chance to unite.

Sep 2, 2008

Threats to humanity – the old and the resurgent

Posted by in categories: biological, biotech/medical, geopolitics

Following is a discussion of two potential threats to humanity – one which has existed for eons, the second we have seen recently resurfacing having thought it had been laid to rest.

First, a recent story on PhysOrg describes the work researchers at Vanderbilt University have performed in isolating antibodies from elderly people who had survived the 1918 flu pandemic. This comes three years after researchers at Mount Sinai and the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Washington, D.C isolated the same virus which caused this outbreak from the frozen bodies of people in Alaska who had died in the pandemic.

In addition to being an impressive achievement of biomedical science, which involved isolating antibody-secreting B cells from donors and generating “immortalized” cell lines to produce large amounts of antibodies, this research also demonstrates the amazing memory the immune system has (90 years!), as well as the ability scientists have to use tissue samples from people born nearly a century ago and fashion them into a potential weapon against future similar outbreaks. Indeed, these manufactured antibodies proved effective against 1918 flu virus when tested in mice.

Continue reading “Threats to humanity – the old and the resurgent” »

Mar 14, 2008

Dreamers of a Better Future, Unite!

Posted by in categories: biological, futurism, geopolitics, space

[Crossposted from the blog of Starship Reckless]

Views of space travel have grown increasingly pessimistic in the last decade. This is not surprising: SETI still has received no unambiguous requests for more Chuck Berry from its listening posts, NASA is busy re-inventing flywheels and citizens even of first-world countries feel beleaguered in a world that seems increasingly hostile to any but the extraordinarily privileged. Always a weathervane of the present, speculative fiction has been gazing more and more inwardly – either to a hazy gold-tinted past (fantasy, both literally and metaphorically) or to a smoggy rust-colored earthbound future (cyberpunk).

The philosophically inclined are slightly more optimistic. Transhumanists, the new utopians, extol the pleasures of a future when our bodies, particularly our brains/minds, will be optimized (or at least not mind that they’re not optimized) by a combination of bioengineering, neurocognitive manipulation, nanotech and AI. Most transhumanists, especially those with a socially progressive agenda, are as decisively earthbound as cyberpunk authors. They consider space exploration a misguided waste of resources, a potentially dangerous distraction from here-and-now problems – ecological collapse, inequality and poverty, incurable diseases among which transhumanists routinely count aging, not to mention variants of gray goo.

And yet, despite the uncoolness of space exploration, despite NASA’s disastrous holding pattern, there are those of us who still stubbornly dream of going to the stars. We are not starry-eyed romantics. We recognize that the problems associated with spacefaring are formidable (as examined briefly in Making Aliens 1, 2 and 3). But I, at least, think that improving circumstances on earth and exploring space are not mutually exclusive, either philosophically or – perhaps just as importantly – financially. In fact, I consider this a false dilemma. I believe that both sides have a much greater likelihood to implement their plans if they coordinate their efforts, for a very simple reason: the attributes required for successful space exploration are also primary goals of transhumanism.

Continue reading “Dreamers of a Better Future, Unite!” »

Feb 8, 2008

How long did you want that space elevator cable?

Posted by in categories: chemistry, geopolitics, nanotechnology, space

Many of you have recently read that a research team at the University of Illinois led by Min-Feng Yu has developed a process to grow nanowires of unlimited length. The same process also allows for the construction of complex, three-dimensional nanoscale structures. If this is news to you, please refer to the links below.

It’s easy to let this news item slip past before its implications have a chance to sink in.

Professor Yu and his team have shown us a glimpse of how to make nanowire based materials that will, once the technology is developed more fully, allow for at least two very significant enhancements in materials science.

1. Nanowires that will be as long as we want them to be. The only limitations that seem to be indicated are the size of the “ink” reservoir and the size of spool that the nanowires are wound on. Scale up the ink supply and the scale up size of the spool and we’ll soon be making cables and fabric. Make the cables long enough and braid enough of them them together and the Space Elevator Games may become even more exciting to watch.

Continue reading “How long did you want that space elevator cable?” »

Jan 13, 2008

Lifeboat Foundation SAB member asks “Is saving humanity is worth the cost?”

Posted by in categories: defense, futurism, geopolitics, lifeboat

In his most recent paper “Reducing the Risk of Human Extinction,” SAB member Jason G. Matheny approached the topic of human extinction from what is unfortunately a somewhat unusual angle. Jason examined the cost effectiveness of preventing humanity’s extinction due to a catastrophic asteroid impact.

Even with some rather pessimistic assumptions, his calculations showed a pretty convincing return on investment. For only about US$ 2.50 per life year saved, Matheny predicts that we could mitigate the risk of humanity being killed off by a large asteroid. Maybe it’s just me, but it sounds pretty compelling.

Matheny also made a very good point that we all should ponder when we consider how our charitable giving and taxes gets spent. “We take extraordinary measures to protect some endangered species from extinction. It might be reasonable to take extraordinary measures to protect humanity from the same.”

For more coverage on this important paper please see the October 2007 issue of Risk Analysis and a recent edition of Nature News.

Jan 3, 2008

Oil Surpasses $100 Per Barrel

Posted by in categories: geopolitics, sustainability

Peak OilIn an upward spurt that has been long predicted by the more realistic analysts, oil has finally broken through the triple digit threshold. While some experts maintain that this number is little more than a psychological barrier and has little real-world importance it is an inescapable fact that oil prices themselves have actually increased approximately 73% in the past year.

This price increase alone should be a call to action sufficient to bring us to a state of alert yet it appears that the general population remains relatively complacent in the face of this looming crisis. It should be noted by those of us more aware of the ramifications of peak oil and the impending oil supply shock that such a drastic reduction in oil availability represents one of the clearest and most present threats to the stability of a global peace and the longevity of mankind.

As with all threats of a global nature, the Lifeboat Foundation will continue to monitor news related to oil reserves, prices, supply and of course replacement technologies and continue to provide information, perspective and solutions.

Jan 2, 2008

The Enlightenment Strikes Back

Posted by in categories: complex systems, futurism, geopolitics, lifeboat, nanotechnology, open access, sustainability

In a recent conversation on our discussion list, Ben Goertzel, a rising star in artificial intelligence theory, expressed skepticism that we could keep a “modern large-scale capitalist representative democracy cum welfare state cum corporate oligopoly” going for much longer.

Indeed, our complex civilization currently does seem to be under a lot of stress.

Lifeboat Foundation Scientific Advisory Board member and best-selling author David Brin’s reply was quite interesting.

David writes:

Continue reading “The Enlightenment Strikes Back” »

Nov 29, 2007

Planning for First Lifeboat Foundation Conference Underway

Posted by in categories: biological, biotech/medical, cybercrime/malcode, defense, existential risks, futurism, geopolitics, lifeboat, nanotechnology, robotics/AI, space

Planning for the first Lifeboat Foundation conference has begun. This FREE conference will be held in Second Life to keep costs down and ensure that you won’t have to worry about missing work or school.

While an exact date has not yet been set, we intend to offer you an exciting line up of speakers on a day in the late spring or early summer of 2008.

Several members of Lifeboat’s Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) have already expressed interest in presenting. However, potential speakers need not be Lifeboat Foundation members.

If you’re interested in speaking, want to help, or you just want to learn more, please contact me at [email protected]

Nov 28, 2007

Help Develop the NanoShield

Posted by in categories: defense, existential risks, geopolitics, lifeboat, military, nanotechnology

What’s the NanoShield you ask? It’s a long-term scientific research project aimed at creating a nanotechnoloigical immune system. You can learn more about it here.

Facebook users — please come join the cause and help fund the Lifeboat Foundation’s NanoShield project.

Not a Facebook user? No worries. By joining the Lifeboat Foundation and making even a small donation you can have a hugely positive impact on humanity’s future well being.

So why not join us?

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