Archive for the ‘lifeboat’ category: Page 14

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

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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Oct 1, 2008

SpaceX Falcon 1 Rocket Reaches Orbit on 4th Try

Posted by in categories: habitats, lifeboat, space

This is cross-posted from my blog. This milestone by SpaceX is directly relevant to programs by Lifeboat such as the AsteroidShield and SpaceHabitat, and possibly also (eventually) to Space-Based Solar Power.

SpaceX Falcon 1 Rocket Launch photo

Stars My Destination
After the third try, Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, co-founder of Paypal, chairman of SolarCity and chairman of Tesla Motors (beat that resumé!) was interviewed by WIRED about the difficulties of making his space rockets reach orbit: How do you maintain your optimism?

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Sep 19, 2008

Open Source Health Research Plan

Posted by in categories: biological, biotech/medical, lifeboat, open access, open source

Open source has emerged as a powerful set of principles for solving complex problems in fields as diverse as education and physical security. With roughly 60 million Americans suffering from a chronic health condition, traditional research progressing slowly, and personalized medicine on the horizon, the time is right to apply open source to health research. Advances in technology enabling cheap, massive data collection combined with the emerging phenomena of self quantification and crowdsourcing make this plan feasible today. We can all work together to cure disease, and here’s how.

Read more…

Jul 31, 2008

SRA Proposal Accepted

Posted by in categories: existential risks, lifeboat

My proposal for the Society for Risk Analysis’s annual meeting in Boston has been accepted, in oral presentation format, for the afternoon of Wednesday, December 10th, 2008. Any Lifeboat members who will be in the area at the time are more than welcome to attend. Any suggestions for content would also be greatly appreciated; speaking time is limited to 15 minutes, with 5 minutes for questions. The abstract for the paper is as follows:

Global Risk: A Quantitative Analysis

The scope and possible impact of global, long-term risks presents a unique challenge to humankind. The analysis and mitigation of such risks is extremely important, as such risks have the potential to affect billions of people worldwide; however, little systematic analysis has been done to determine the best strategies for overall mitigation. Direct, case-by-case analysis can be combined with standard probability theory, particularly Laplace’s rule of succession, to calculate the probability of any given risk, the scope of the risk, and the effectiveness of potential mitigation efforts. This methodology can be applied both to well-known risks, such as global warming, nuclear war, and bio-terrorism, and lesser-known or unknown risks. Although well-known risks are shown to be a significant threat, analysis strongly suggests that avoiding the risks of technologies which have not yet been developed may pose an even greater challenge. Eventually, some type of further quantitative analysis will be necessary for effective apportionment of government resources, as traditional indicators of risk level- such as press coverage and human intuition- can be shown to be inaccurate, often by many orders of magnitude.

More details are available online at the Society for Risk Analysis’s website. James Blodgett will be presenting on the precautionary principle two days earlier (Monday, Dec. 8th).

Jul 30, 2008

30 days to make antibodies to limit Pandemics

Posted by in categories: biological, biotech/medical, defense, existential risks, lifeboat

Researchers have devised a rapid and efficient method for generating protein sentinels of the immune system, called monoclonal antibodies, which mark and neutralize foreign invaders.

For both ethical and practical reasons, monoclonals are usually made in mice. And that’s a problem, because the human immune system recognizes the mouse proteins as foreign and sometimes attacks them instead. The result can be an allergic reaction, and sometimes even death.

To get around that problem, researchers now “humanize” the antibodies, replacing some or all of mouse-derived pieces with human ones.

Wilson and Ahmed were interested in the immune response to vaccination. Conventional wisdom held that the B-cell response would be dominated by “memory” B cells. But as the study authors monitored individuals vaccinated against influenza, they found that a different population of B cells peaked about one week after vaccination, and then disappeared, before the memory cells kicked in. This population of cells, called antibody-secreting plasma cells (ASCs), is highly enriched for cells that target the vaccine, with vaccine-specific cells accounting for nearly 70 percent of all ASCs.

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Jul 30, 2008

Preventing flu fatalities by stopping immune system overreaction

Posted by in categories: biological, defense, existential risks, futurism, lifeboat

Researchers from Imperial College in London, England, isolated the receptor in the lungs that triggers the immune overreaction to flu.

With the receptor identified, a therapy can be developed that will bind to the receptor, preventing the deadly immune response. Also, by targeting a receptor in humans rather than a particular strain of flu, therapies developed to exploit this discovery would work regardless of the rapid mutations that beguile flu vaccine producers every year.

The flu kills 250,000 to 500,000 people in an average year with epidemics reaching 1 to 2 million deaths (other than the spanish flu which was more severe

This discovery could lead to treatments which turn off the inflammation in the lungs caused by influenza and other infections, according to a study published today in the journal Nature Immunology. The virus is often cleared from the body by the time symptoms appear and yet symptoms can last for many days, because the immune system continues to fight the damaged lung. The immune system is essential for clearing the virus, but it can damage the body when it overreacts if it is not quickly contained.

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May 29, 2008

Time for a Bigger Machine!

Posted by in category: lifeboat


We are currently hosting on free web space provided by Due to the growth in our traffic plus more general activity on this server, it would be best if we had our own server.

Note that we have additional space from on a shared server (shared with many domains) but the shared server is always rather loaded since it has so many domains on it so we don’t host our main pages on it. (We use the shared server for backups, file transfers, and less important domains.)

Our current solution is to stay with the same provider as but to move to our own machine. (This should simplify the transition.) The current provider is We plan on getting: Intel Xeon 3210 Quad Core Kentsfield Processor, 250GB HDD, 4GB RAM, 2500GB bandwidth, 10 IPs, 100mbps uplink — $199 monthly / $25 setup.

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Apr 15, 2008

$153 million/city thin film plastic domes can protect against nuclear weapons and bad weather

Posted by in categories: biological, chemistry, defense, existential risks, habitats, lifeboat, military, nanotechnology, nuclear weapons, sustainability

Cross posted from Nextbigfuture

Click for larger image

I had previously looked at making two large concrete or nanomaterial monolithic or geodesic domes over cities which could protect a city from nuclear bombs.

Now Alexander Bolonkin has come up with a cheaper, technological easy and more practical approach with thin film inflatable domes. It not only would provide protection form nuclear devices it could be used to place high communication devices, windmill power and a lot of other money generating uses. The film mass covered of 1 km**2 of ground area is M1 = 2×10**6 mc = 600 tons/km**2 and film cost is $60,000/km**2.
The area of big city diameter 20 km is 314 km**2. Area of semi-spherical dome is 628 km2. The cost of Dome cover is 62.8 millions $US. We can take less the overpressure (p = 0.001atm) and decrease the cover cost in 5 – 7 times. The total cost of installation is about 30–90 million $US. Not only is it only about $153 million to protect a city it is cheaper than a geosynchronous satellite for high speed communications. Alexander Bolonkin’s website

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Apr 8, 2008

Disruptions from small recessions to extinctions

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, business, defense, existential risks, futurism, habitats, lifeboat, nanotechnology, space, sustainability

Cross posted from Next big future by Brian Wang, Lifeboat foundation director of Research

I am presenting disruption events for humans and also for biospheres and planets and where I can correlating them with historical frequency and scale.

There has been previous work on categorizing and classifying extinction events. There is Bostroms paper and there is also the work by Jamais Cascio and Michael Anissimov on classification and identifying risks (presented below).

A recent article discusses the inevtiable “end of societies” (it refers to civilizations but it seems to be referring more to things like the end of the roman empire, which still ends up later with Italy, Austria Hungary etc… emerging)

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Feb 3, 2008

Spending Effectively

Posted by in categories: finance, futurism, lifeboat

Last year, the Singularity Institute raised over $500,000. The World Transhumanist Association raised $50,000. The Lifeboat Foundation set a new record for the single largest donation. The Center for Responsible Nanotechnology’s finances are combined with those of World Care, a related organization, so the public can’t get precise figures. But overall, it’s safe to say, we’ve been doing fairly well. Most not-for-profit organizations aren’t funded adequately; it’s rare for charities, even internationally famous ones, to have a large full-time staff, a physical headquarters, etc.

The important question is, now that we’ve accumulated all of this money, what are we going to spend it on? It’s possible, theoretically, to put it all into Treasury bonds and forget about it for thirty years, but that would be an enormous waste of expected utility. In technology development, the earlier the money is spent (in general), the larger the effect will be. Spending $1M on a technology in the formative stages has a huge impact, probably doubling the overall budget or more. Spending $1M on a technology in the mature stages won’t even be noticed. We have plenty of case studies: Radios. TVs. Computers. Internet. Telephones. Cars. Startups.

The opposite danger is overfunding the project, commonly called “throwing money at the problem”. Hiring a lot of new people without thinking about how they will help is one common symptom. Having bloated layers of middle management is another. To an outside observer, it probably seems like we’re reaching this stage already. Hiring a Vice President In Charge Of Being In Charge doesn’t just waste money; it causes the entire organization to lose focus and distracts everyone from the ultimate goal.

I would suggest a top-down approach: start with the goal, figure out what you need, and get it. The opposite approach is to look for things that might be useful, get them, then see how you can complete a project with the stuff you’ve acquired. NASA is an interesting case study, as they followed the first strategy for a number of years, then switched to the second one.

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