Blog

Page 2341

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” »

Dec 6, 2007

Aerospaceplanes and space solar power

Posted by in categories: habitats, space


Supplying a substantial percentage of America’s future electrical power supply from space using SBSP (space-based solar power) systems can only be expressed as a giant leap forward in space operations. Each of the hundreds of solar power satellites needed would require 10,000–20,000 tons of components transported to orbit, assembled in orbit, and then moved to geostationary orbit for operations. The scale of logistics operations required is substantially greater than what we have previously undertaken. Periodically, industrial operations experience revolutions in technology and operations. Deep sea oil exploration is an example. Within a couple decades, entirely new industrial operations can start and grow to significant levels of production. The same will happen with space industrialization when—not if—the right product or service is undertaken. SBSP may be the breakthrough product for leading the industrialization of space. This was our assumption in conducting the study. As the cost of oil approaches $100 a barrel, combined with the possibility of the world reaching peak oil production in the near future, this may turn out to be a valid assumption.

Source: The Space Review

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?

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).

Continue reading “Social Software Society for Safety” »

Nov 10, 2007

Yellowstone Caldera Rising

Posted by in category: existential risks

The Yellowstone caldera has moved upwards nine inches over the last three years, a record rate since geologists first began taking measurements in the 1920s. This is the result of a Los Angeles-sized blob of magma that recently rose up into the chamber only six miles below the surface. The Yellowstone caldera is an ancient supervolcano. Last time it erupted, 642,000 years ago, it ejected 1,000 cubic kilometers of magma into the air. If this happened in today’s world, it would kill millions and cover most of the United States in a layer of ash at least a centimeter thick. The lighter ash would rise up into the atmosphere, initiating a volcanic winter and ruining crops worldwide.

Calderas rise and fall worldwide all the time without erupting. But the activity in Yellowstone is still concerning. Like a reckless teenager in a sports car, it seems as if our civilization laughs off the possibility of its own demise like a complete joke. Yet the right sort of event, and we could be knocked flat. Instead of waiting for a disaster to happen, we should prepare in advance to minimize its probability.

I would like to see scientists do a study on the feasibility of using nuclear weapons to initiate a supervolcano eruption. If it looks feasible, then park security in Yellowstone should be increased.

Nov 3, 2007

Distraught Participants Riot at the Foresight Unconference

Posted by in category: humor


Rioting at the Foresight Unconference

AP, Nov. 3 — The Foresight Unconference announced today that scientists have discovered that there in no world below 1 nanometer. “It’s just space,” said noted scientist Eric Drexler. “We don’t know what to do!” Participants left dazed. Many decided to go back to philosophy, one attendee said.

“Like I said, It’s full of stars!” said novelist Arthur C. Clarke, reached in Sri Lanka. “There’s no there, there.”

Continue reading “Distraught Participants Riot at the Foresight Unconference” »

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.

Oct 25, 2007

Overview: Biological Weapons Convention

Posted by in categories: biological, treaties

(Source: Wikipedia)

Full name: Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction

Short name: Biological Weapons Convention (BWC)
Open for signature: April 10, 1972
Entered into force: March 26, 1975
Member states: 158
Map of member states:

Continue reading “Overview: Biological Weapons Convention” »