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Archive for the ‘geopolitics’ category: Page 40

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?

Jun 19, 2007

The Missile Shield and the Race for Space Awareness

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

The US-led effort to expand the military BMEWS (ballistic missile early warning radar system) to Poland and the Czech Republic provoke Russian military strategists. Putin has proposed using their already operative radar base in Azerbajian (See “Azeri radar eyed for US shield”, BBC) in exchange for information from the US system. The US/NATO proposed TMD (theater missile defense) will also integrate early warning systems for short-range missiles in southern Europe. Is the race for space awareness and the weaponization of space inevitable?

The justification for the missile shield is the potential threat of long range missiles from Iran and North Korea (See “N-Korea test fires missile”, BBC). Military experts predict that with the current progress of nuclear research and missile technology available to Iran they will pose a threat to the US in 2015. NATO and Russia co-operate in certain military matters through the Russia-Nato Council but has increasingly been in conflict over the Iranian nuclear program and the European missile shield. (See “Russia-NATO: A marriage of convenience”, RIA Novosti). Russia has also demonstrated the ineffectiveness of the missile shield by launching their RS-24 multiple missile system carrying 10 warheads (See “RS-24 Missiles to replace old systems within next few years”, Interfax).

Terrestrial radars need to be complemented by satellites to keep track of missile launches across the planet (so called “boost phase interceptors”, see “Missile defense, satellites and politics”, The Space Review) to ensure complete space awareness. The Chinese Space Agency tested an anti-satellite missile earlier this year (See “Pentagon says China’s anti-satellite test posed a threat to nations”, AP). The move towards a hot space war could be imminent. The official press release was the only information given from Chinese authorities. The secrecy surrounding space capabilities was recently challenged by French authorities when they discovered 20–30 unregistered US surveillance satellites. (See “French says ‘non’ to U.S. Disclosure of Secret Satellites”, Space.com).

Continue reading “The Missile Shield and the Race for Space Awareness” »

Apr 11, 2007

Beyond Terror: The Truth About the Real Threats to Our World

Posted by in categories: geopolitics, sustainability

The Oxford Research Group has published “Beyond Terror: The Truth About the Real Threats to Our World”. The report focus on the disproportionate attention given to terrorism compared to the imminent threat from environmental degradation. The report looks at climate change, competition over resources, “marginalisation of the majority world” and global militarisation.

Read the entire report here.

Feb 23, 2007

Missile Defense Shield Expands to Europe

Posted by in categories: defense, geopolitics, military


The Ballistic Missile Early Warning Radar System (BMEWS) at Fylingdales, U.K.

The ongoing debate on the proposed missile defense shield in Europe is heating up. Poland and the Czech Republic are among the possible sites and the UK is now showing interest in supporting the missile shield. Fears over the destabilising effects of such a shield was confirmed by a Russian general who said that they would target the system.

Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, said America would trigger an “inevitable arms race” if it deployed interceptors in Europe to knock ballistic missiles out of the sky. A senior Russian general rumbled that Russian missiles would target any interceptors in eastern Europe. Poland’s prime minister told his people that Russia was trying to “scare” them. The Czech foreign minister (a prince with a splendid moustache) complained of Russian “blackmail”.

“The aim is to break ground on a European site in 2008, and for its interceptors to become operational in 2012. This week the Polish and Czech prime ministers said they were keen on hosting the missile-defence sites. That is a change: talks with the Poles have dragged on for years, thanks to elaborate Polish demands for things such as extra missile defences for their own country. Yet both Mr Blair and his Polish rivals face objections from three sources: from Russia, from many of their own voters and from fellow European leaders.”

Continue reading “Missile Defense Shield Expands to Europe” »

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