Page 9147

Apr 23, 2012

Safe Drinking Water: an endangered resource

Posted by in category: biological

Our bodies are composed of 50 to 65 percent water. Without it – we die. Yet studies indicate that human beings are destroying this precious resource that is so vital to our very existence.

The Pacific Institute, in a 2010 report issued for Global Water Day, reports that every day, 2 million tons of sewage and industrial and agricultural waste are discharged into the world’s water — the equivalent of the weight of the entire human population of 6.8 billion people.1

The UN estimates that the amount of wastewater produced annually is about 1,500 km, six times more water than exists in all the rivers of the world. (UN WWAP, 2003) .1 In fact, more people die from unsafe water annually than from all forms of violence, including war (WHO, 2002).2 This Gallup World News report provides a summary of water problems worldwide:

Some think that safe drinking water is easy to find in nations where supermarkets are packed with bottled water – a multibillion-dollar-per-year industry. Yet if you want to drink water that does not have harmful contaminants, the challenge of finding it remains great.

Continue reading “Safe Drinking Water: an endangered resource” »

Apr 23, 2012

A muse on why Telemach could actually be a Safety Assurance

Posted by in categories: existential risks, particle physics

The avid reader of Lifeboat may have noticed that the debate on LHC safety assurances has recently swerved here towards discussion on astronomical phenomenology — mainly the continued existence of white dwarfs and neutron stars.

The detailed G&M safety report naturally considers both of these, and considers hypothetical stable MBH capture rates based on a weak CR background flux. It actually overlooks better examples of white dwarfs which are part of a binary pair such as Sirius B, the little companion to one of our closest and brightest stars, Sirius A.

One could argue that white dwarfs are not greatly understood — but the relevant factors to the safety debate are quite understood — density, mass, escape velocity, and approximate age of such observed phenomenon. Only magnetic field effects are up for debate.

If Sirius B captured even one such MBH due to CR bombardment from its companion star in the first say 20 million years of its existence — and it would be difficult to argue that it would not — then that MBH would be accreting for the last 100 million years, through far denser material, and most likely at a much higher velocity, than any MBH captured in the Earth due to LHC collisions. Therefore, given the continued existence of Sirius B, accretion rates would therefore have to be incredibly slow and there would be no significant threat to Earth from what would be a much slower MBH accretion rate here.

Continue reading “A muse on why Telemach could actually be a Safety Assurance” »

Apr 19, 2012

Bee Colony Collapse not Dealing with Disaster

Posted by in category: existential risks

Relating Black Holes to Old Faithful exploding into a huge volcano and other disasters

Some on this site think there is something unique about the Black Hole controversy. It does affect the whole planet. But most people don’t consider humancide worse than genocide, and humancide not as bad as destroying all life. Americans and Canadians might suffer in an almost total way if Old Faithful geyser and Yellowstone National Park becomes a newly active volcano.

Apr 16, 2012

One Key to The Future is Financial Clarity

Posted by in categories: business, economics, education, finance

On the cusp of graduation, I’ve had two major realizations in college.

One: most of America’s worst economic crises have been a result of financial obscurity. The first major crash in my lifetime was in the tech bubble of the early 2000s, where Wall Street traders were overrating the quality of Internet stocks. Once the broader market realized this, the values of many tech companies were obliterated. Millions of investors exposed to this sector lost their entire investments because they were unaware of these misrepresentations. In the most last recession, where lenders were underrating the riskiness of homeowners and financial institutions were securitizing riskier-than-advertised mortgages, millions of investors lost their entire investments yet again because they were unaware of further misrepresentations.

Two: economic history repeats itself, even if as a society, we might be aware of this pattern. Taking these two market crises as an example of this bleak fact about our species, it seems that we’ll always have the shortest of memories. In this case, history repeated rather quickly – twice in the span of a decade. Is it possible that people are cognizant of a recurring mistake before it happens, even if it’s happened before in their lifetimes? Most likely not, if the last recession is any example. A significant number of real estate professionals, banking gurus, and regulators were responsible for inflating a price bubble in the housing market, even though some fraction should have been economically conscious enough to understand the problems that would eventually arise.

The question then remains: is there a way to solve both of these problems, assuming the best of all possible worlds? Yes. Imagine a place where peoples’ understandings of basic economics and financial practices was commonplace, where a homeowner and a lender had an equal comprehension of a mortgage, where a hard-working breadwinner knew the dangers of payday loans, and where a child could sit side-by-side with his or her parents while overseeing family finances. All of these possibilities – and more – can come into fruition if we as individuals place a greater emphasis on financial awareness. Note: I don’t say “financial learning” because all of these concepts are innate to us, though hidden by verbiage and stigma. Whether we like it or not, if our career is in finance or not, we must come to terms with the economic world that surrounds us.

Continue reading “One Key to The Future is Financial Clarity” »

Apr 15, 2012

Risk Assessment is Hard (computationally and otherwise)

Posted by in categories: existential risks, information science, policy

How hard is to assess which risks to mitigate? It turns out to be pretty hard.

Let’s start with a model of risk so simplified as to be completely unrealistic, yet will still retain a key feature. Suppose that we managed to translate every risk into some single normalized unit of “cost of expected harm”. Let us also suppose that we could bring together all of the payments that could be made to avoid risks. A mitigation policy given these simplifications must be pretty easy: just buy each of the “biggest for your dollar” risks.

Not so fast.

The problem with this is that many risk mitigation measures are discrete. Either you buy the air filter or you don’t. Either your town filters its water a certain way or it doesn’t. Either we have the infrastructure to divert the asteroid or we don’t. When risk mitigation measures become discrete, then allocating the costs becomes trickier. Given a budget of 80 “harms” to reduce, and risks of 50, 40, and 35, then buying the 50 leaves 15 “harms” that you were willing to pay to avoid left on the table.

Continue reading “Risk Assessment is Hard (computationally and otherwise)” »

Apr 15, 2012

I would be Grateful to Be Allowed to Speak at the CERN-Lifeboat Conference

Posted by in categories: existential risks, particle physics

But I would suggest CERN to select the majority of speakers and to make sure they are high-ranking and not necessarily on their payroll.

And Dr. W. Wagner and Mag. M. Goritschnig should be included, as well as the editor of Leonardo.

I also apologize for my having provoked G&M: they have all the chance of the world to defend their position. And no one would be happier than me if they prevailed. For as I always said I am CERN’s best friend. My having asked for a rebuttal was the opposite of an aggressive act: “science is friendship” by its definition. Lifeboat loves science.

Apr 14, 2012

Earth’s Titanic Challenges

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, complex systems, economics, ethics, existential risks, finance, fun, geopolitics, homo sapiens, human trajectories, lifeboat, media & arts, rants
RMS <em>Titanic</em> Sails

What’s to worry? RMS Titanic departs Southampton.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Titanic disaster in 1912. What better time to think about lifeboats?

One way to start a discussion is with some vintage entertainment. On the centenary weekend of the wreck of the mega-liner, our local movie palace near the Hudson River waterfront ran a triple bill of classic films about maritime disasters: A Night to Remember, Lifeboat, and The Poseidon Adventure. Each one highlights an aspect of the lifeboat problem. They’re useful analogies for thinking about the existential risks of booking a passage on spaceship Earth.

Can’t happen…

Continue reading “Earth's Titanic Challenges” »

Apr 9, 2012

LHC-Critique Press Info: Instead of a neutral risk assessment of the LHC: New records and plans for costly upgrades at CERN

Posted by in categories: complex systems, cosmology, engineering, ethics, existential risks, futurism, media & arts, nuclear energy, particle physics, philosophy, physics, policy, scientific freedom, space, sustainability

High energy experiments like the LHC at the nuclear research centre CERN are extreme energy consumers (needing the power of a nuclear plant). Their construction is extremely costly (presently 7 Billion Euros) and practical benefits are not in sight. The experiments eventually pose existential risks and these risks have not been properly investigated.

It is not the first time that CERN announces record energies and news around April 1 – apparently hoping that some critique and concerns about the risks could be misinterpreted as an April joke. Additionally CERN regularly starts up the LHC at Easter celebrations and just before week ends, when news offices are empty and people prefer to have peaceful days with their friends and families.

CERN has just announced new records in collision energies at the LHC. And instead of conducting a neutral risk assessment, the nuclear research centre plans costly upgrades of its Big Bang machine. Facing an LHC upgrade in 2013 for up to CHF 1 Billion and the perspective of a Mega-LHC in 2022: How long will it take until risk researchers are finally integrated in a neutral safety assessment?

There are countless evidences for the necessity of an external and multidisciplinary safety assessment of the LHC. According to a pre-study in risk research, CERN fits less than a fifth of the criteria for a modern risk assessment (see the press release below). It is not acceptable that the clueless member states point at the operator CERN itself, while this regards its self-set security measures as sufficient, in spite of critique from risk researchers, continuous debates and the publication of further papers pointing at concrete dangers and even existential risks (black holes, strangelets) eventually arising from the experiments sooner or later. Presently science has to admit that the risk is disputed and basically unknown.

Continue reading “LHC-Critique Press Info: Instead of a neutral risk assessment of the LHC: New records and plans for costly upgrades at CERN” »

Apr 8, 2012

Nil Nocere, Dear CERN !

Posted by in categories: existential risks, particle physics

[Disclaimer: This contribution does not reflect the views of the Lifeboat Foundation as with the scientific community in general, but individual sentiment — Web Admin]

CERN insists on believing in physical nonsense as a guarantee that their LHC experiment were innocuous. They refuse an update on their false “Safety Report” for almost 4 years.

The sacrosanct safety report dogmatically posits that one particular version of string theory possessed physical reality which no string theorist claims.

They refuse up-dating, open discussion and the necessary scientific safety conference for 4 years ( ). They thereby behave like medieval dogmatists.

Continue reading “Nil Nocere, Dear CERN !” »

Apr 7, 2012

GadgetBridge — Taming dangerous technologies by pushing them into consumer gadgets

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, ethics, futurism, geopolitics, human trajectories, neuroscience

GatgetBridge is currently just a concept. It might start its life as a discussion forum, later turn into a network or an organisation and hopefully inspire a range of similar activities.

We will soon be able to use technology to make ourselves more intelligent, feel happier or change what motivates us. When the use of such technologies is banned, the nations or individuals who manage to cheat will soon lord it over their more obedient but unfortunately much dimmer fellows. When these technologies are made freely available, a few terrorists and psychopaths will use them to cause major disasters. Societies will have to find ways to spread these mind enhancement treatments quickly among the majority of their citizens, while keeping them from the few who are likely to cause harm. After a few enhancement cycles, the most capable members of such societies will all be “trustworthy” and use their skills to stabilise the system (see “All In The Mind”).

But how can we manage the transition period, the time in which these technologies are powerful enough to be abused but no social structures are yet in place to handle them? It might help to use these technologies for entertainment purposes, so that many people learn about their risks and societies can adapt (see “Should we build a trustworthiness tester for fun”). But ideally, a large, critical and well-connected group of technology users should be part of the development from the start and remain involved in every step.

To do that, these users would have to spend large amounts of money and dedicate considerable manpower. Fortunately, the basic spending and working patterns are in place: People already use a considerable part of their income to buy consumer devices such as mobile phones, tablet computers and PCs and increasingly also accessories such as blood glucose meters, EEG recorders and many others; they also spend a considerable part of their time to get familiar with these devices. Manufacturers and software developers are keen to turn any promising technology into a product and over time this will surely include most mind measuring and mind enhancement technologies. But for some critical technologies this time might be too long. GadgetBridge is there to shorten it as follows:

Continue reading “GadgetBridge — Taming dangerous technologies by pushing them into consumer gadgets” »