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Jul 26, 2009

Herman Khan about Doomsday Machine

Posted by in categories: defense, geopolitics, military, nuclear weapons, policy

50 years ago Herman Khan coined the term in his book “On thermonuclear war”. His ideas are still important. Now we can read what he really said online. His main ideas are that DM is feasable, that it will cost around 10–100 billion USD, it will be much cheaper in the future and there are good rational reasons to built it as ultimate mean of defence, but better not to built it, because it will lead to DM-race between states with more and more dangerous and effective DM as outcome. And this race will not be stable, but provoking one side to strike first. This book and especially this chapter inspired “Dr. Strangelove” movie of Kubrick.
Herman Khan. On Doomsday machine.

Jun 16, 2009

Gulches — freedom lifeboats

Posted by in categories: education, geopolitics, habitats, lifeboat, nuclear weapons

Jim Davies of Strike the Root writes about Galt’s Gulch and some gulch-like projects. These appeal to him because of the exponential trends in government power and abuse of power. He writes, in part,

“We have the serious opportunity in our hands right now of terminating the era of government absolutely, and so of removing from the human race the threat of ever more brutal tyranny ending only with WMD annihilation–while opening up vistas of peaceful prosperity and technological progress which even a realist like myself cannot find words to describe. ”

http://www.strike-the-root.com/91/davies/davies11.html

Avoiding those terrible events is what building our Lifeboat is all about. Got Lifeboat?

May 3, 2009

Swine Flu Update: are we entering an Age of Pandemics?

Posted by in categories: biological, biotech/medical, existential risks, futurism, geopolitics, nanotechnology, space, sustainability

May 2: Many U.S. emergency rooms and hospitals crammed with people… ”Walking well” flood hospitals… Clinics double their traffic in major cities … ER rooms turn away EMT cases. — CNN

Update May 4: Confirmed cases of H1N1 virus now at 985 in 20 countries (Mexico: 590, 25 deaths) — WHO. In U.S.: 245 confirmed U.S. cases in 35 states. — CDC.

“We might be entering an Age of Pandemics… a broad array of dangerous emerging 21st-century diseases, man-made or natural, brand-new or old, newly resistant to our current vaccines and antiviral drugs…. Martin Rees bet $1,000 that bioterror or bioerror would unleash a catastrophic event claiming one million lives in the next two decades…. Why? Less forest, more contact with animals… more meat eating (Africans last year consumed nearly 700 million wild animals… numbers of chickens raised for food in China have increased 1,000-fold over the past few decades)… farmers cut down jungle, creating deforested areas that once served as barriers to the zoonotic viruses…” — Larry Brilliant, Wall Street Journal


Apr 29, 2009

Ugolog Creates Surveillance Website To Watch Anyone, Anywhere

Posted by in categories: ethics, geopolitics

Ugolog Creates Surveillance Website To Watch Anyone, Anywhere

Written on April 28, 2009 – 2:43 am | by keith kleiner |

big_brother

What if people all over the world randomly decided to setup motion detection webcams and then send feeds from these webcams to a single website that would centralize the video data for anyone to search, view, and manipulate? Hot off of the heels of our story yesterday about the implications of cameras recording everything in our lives comes a website called Ugolog that does exactly this. The concept is both spooky and captivating all at once. The privacy implications are just out of control, opening the door to all sorts of immoral and illegal invasions of people’s privacy. On the other hand, the power and usefulness of such a network is extremely compelling.

When you go to the Ugolog website you are immediately impressed with the simplicity of the site (I sure hope they keep it this way!). No advertisements, no stupid gimmicks, no complicated interface. The site offers a bare bones, yet elegant design that allows you to do one thing quickly and easily: setup a motion detecting webcam and send the feed to Ugolog. No software is required, only a web browser and a properly configured camera. Don’t know how to setup the camera? No problem! The site has tutorials that tell you everything you need to know. Once Ugolog has a feed from one or more of your cameras, the data will be available for you and anyone else in the world to view along with all of the other feeds on the site.

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Jan 15, 2009

What should be at the center of the U.S. stimulus package

Posted by in categories: existential risks, geopolitics, habitats, lifeboat, space, sustainability

The projected size of Barack Obama’s “stimulus package” is heading north, from hundreds of billions of dollars into the trillions. And the Obama program comes, of course, on top of the various Bush administration bailouts and commitments, estimated to run as high as $8.5 trillion.

Will this money be put to good use? That’s an important question for the new President, and an even more important question for America. The metric for all government spending ultimately comes down to a single query: What did you get for it?

If such spending was worth it, that’s great. If the country gets victory in war, or victory over economic catastrophe, well, obviously, it was worthwhile. The national interest should never be sacrificed on the altar of a balanced budget.

So let’s hope we get the most value possible for all that money–and all that red ink. Let’s hope we get a more prosperous nation and a cleaner earth. Let’s also hope we get a more secure population and a clear, strategic margin of safety for the United States. Yet how do we do all that?

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Nov 26, 2008

What are the Risks of Failure of Nuclear Deterrence?

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

Nuclear warheads

Martin Hellman is a professor at Stanford, one of the co-inventors of public-key cryptography, and the creator of NuclearRisks.org. He has recently published an excellent essay about the risks of failure of nuclear deterrence: Soaring, Cryptography and Nuclear Weapons. (also available on PDF)

I highly recommend that you read it, along with the other resources on NuclearRisks.org, and also subscribe to their newsletter (on the left on the frontpage).

There are also chapters on Nuclear War and Nuclear Terrorism in Global Catastrophic Risks (intro freely available as PDF here).

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Nov 25, 2008

Giant planets ignition

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, existential risks, futurism, geopolitics, nanotechnology, nuclear weapons, rants, space

I wrote an essay on the theme of the possibility of artificial initiation and fusion explosion of giants planets and other objects of Solar system. It is not a scientific article, but an atempt to collect all nesessary information about this existential risk. I conclude that it could not be ruled out as technical possibility, and could be made later as act of space war, which could clean entire Solar system.

Where are some events which are very improbable, but which consequence could be infinitely large (e.g. black holes on LHC.) Possibility of nuclear ignition of self-containing fusion reaction in giant planets like Jupiter and Saturn which could lead to the explosion of the planet, is one of them.

Inside the giant planets is thermonuclear fuel under high pressure and at high density. This density for certain substances is above (except water, perhaps) than the density of these substances on Earth. Large quantities of the substance would not have fly away from reaction zone long enough for large energy relize. This fuel has never been involved in fusion reactions, and it remained easy combustible components, namely, deuterium, helium-3 and lithium, which have burned at all in the stars. In addition, the subsoil giant planets contain fuel for reactions, which may prompt an explosive fire — namely, the tri-helium reaction (3 He 4 = C12) and for reactions to the accession of hydrogen to oxygen, which, however, required to start them much higher temperature. Substance in the bowels of the giant planets is a degenerate form of a metal sea, just as the substance of white dwarfs, which regularly takes place explosive thermonuclear burning in the form of helium flashes and the flashes of the first type of supernova.
The more opaque is environment, the greater are the chances for the reaction to it, as well as less scattering, but in the bowels of the giant planets there are many impurities and can be expected to lower transparency. Gravitational differentiation and chemical reactions can lead to the allocation of areas within the planet that is more suitable to run the reaction in its initial stages.

The stronger will be an explosion of fuse, the greater will be amount of the initial field of burning, and the more likely that the response would be self-sustaining, as the energy loss will be smaller and the number of reaction substances and reaction times greater. It can be assumed that if at sufficiently powerful fuse the reaction will became self-sustaining.

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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.

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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.

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