Archive for the ‘existential risks’ category: Page 4

May 1, 2021

In a NASA simulation of an asteroid impact, scientists concluded they couldn’t stop a space rock from decimating Europe

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, existential risks

Scientists around the world have been bamboozled this week by a fictitious asteroid heading toward Earth.

A group of experts from US and European space agencies attended a week-long exercise led by NASA in which they faced a hypothetical scenario: An asteroid 35 million miles away was approaching the planet and could hit within six months.

Apr 24, 2021

Making Sense Podcast Special Episode: Engineering the Apocalypse

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biological, biotech/medical, existential risks, finance, media & arts, robotics/AI, terrorism

In this nearly 4-hour SPECIAL EPISODE, Rob Reid delivers a 100-minute monologue (broken up into 4 segments, and interleaved with discussions with Sam) about the looming danger of a man-made pandemic, caused by an artificially-modified pathogen. The risk of this occurring is far higher and nearer-term than almost anyone realizes.

Rob explains the science and motivations that could produce such a catastrophe and explores the steps that society must start taking today to prevent it. These measures are concrete, affordable, and scientifically fascinating—and almost all of them are applicable to future, natural pandemics as well. So if we take most of them, the odds of a future Covid-like outbreak would plummet—a priceless collateral benefit.

Rob Reid is a podcaster, author, and tech investor, and was a long-time tech entrepreneur. His After On podcast features conversations with world-class thinkers, founders, and scientists on topics including synthetic biology, super-AI risk, Fermi’s paradox, robotics, archaeology, and lone-wolf terrorism. Science fiction novels that Rob has written for Random House include The New York Times bestseller Year Zero, and the AI thriller After On. As an investor, Rob is Managing Director at Resilience Reserve, a multi-phase venture capital fund. He co-founded Resilience with Chris Anderson, who runs the TED Conference and has a long track record as both an entrepreneur and an investor. In his own entrepreneurial career, Rob founded and ran Listen.com, the company that created the Rhapsody music service. Earlier, Rob studied Arabic and geopolitics at both undergraduate and graduate levels at Stanford, and was a Fulbright Fellow in Cairo. You can find him at www.after-on.

Apr 22, 2021

‘Power for Power’: North Korea Returns to a Show of Force

Posted by in categories: energy, existential risks, military

Pyongyang’s recent ballistic missiles test indicated that the country is once again raising tensions to gain leverage with Washington.

Apr 17, 2021

These are the asteroids to worry about

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, existential risks, mapping, physics

Stephen Hawking thought an asteroid impact posed the greatest threat to life on Earth. Thanks to Kiwico for sponsoring this video. For 50% off your first month of any crate, go to https://kiwico.com/veritasium50
For other potential world ending catastrophes, check out Domain of Science: https://ve42.co/DoS

Special thanks to:
Prof. Dave Jewitt from UCLA Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences.
Prof. Mark Boslough from Sandia National Labs.
Scott Manley: https://www.youtube.com/user/szyzyg.
Ryan Wyatt at Morrison Planetarium.
Prof. Amy Mainzer.
Alexandr Ivanov for the opening shot of Chelyabinsk Meteor.

Continue reading “These are the asteroids to worry about” »

Apr 13, 2021

Preparing for AI-enabled cyberattacks

Posted by in categories: business, cybercrime/malcode, existential risks, information science, robotics/AI

MIT Technology Review Insights, in association with AI cybersecurity company Darktrace, surveyed more than 300 C-level executives, directors, and managers worldwide to understand how they’re addressing the cyberthreats they’re up against—and how to use AI to help fight against them.

Cyberattacks continue to grow in prevalence and sophistication. With the ability to disrupt business operations, wipe out critical data, and cause reputational damage, they pose an existential threat to businesses, critical services, and infrastructure. Today’s new wave of attacks is outsmarting and outpacing humans, and even starting to incorporate artificial intelligence (AI). What’s known as “offensive AI” will enable cybercriminals to direct targeted attacks at unprecedented speed and scale while flying under the radar of traditional, rule-based detection tools.

Some of the world’s largest and most trusted organizations have already fallen victim to damaging cyberattacks, undermining their ability to safeguard critical data. With offensive AI on the horizon, organizations need to adopt new defenses to fight back: the battle of algorithms has begun.

Continue reading “Preparing for AI-enabled cyberattacks” »

Apr 6, 2021

Humans Were Apex Predators for Two Million Years – Our Stone Age Ancestors Mostly Ate Meat

Posted by in categories: evolution, existential risks, food, genetics, military

Researchers at Tel Aviv University were able to reconstruct the nutrition of stone age humans.

In a paper published in the Yearbook of the American Physical Anthropology Association, Dr. Miki Ben-Dor and Prof. Ran Barkai of the Jacob M. Alkov Department of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University, together with Raphael Sirtoli of Portugal, show that humans were an apex predator for about two million years. Only the extinction of larger animals (megafauna) in various parts of the world, and the decline of animal food sources toward the end of the stone age, led humans to gradually increase the vegetable element in their nutrition, until finally they had no choice but to domesticate both plants and animals — and became farmers.

“So far, attempts to reconstruct the diet of stone-age humans were mostly based on comparisons to 20th century hunter-gatherer societies,” explains Dr. Ben-Dor. “This comparison is futile, however, because two million years ago hunter-gatherer societies could hunt and consume elephants and other large animals — while today’s hunter gatherers do not have access to such bounty. The entire ecosystem has changed, and conditions cannot be compared. We decided to use other methods to reconstruct the diet of stone-age humans: to examine the memory preserved in our own bodies, our metabolism, genetics, and physical build. Human behavior changes rapidly, but evolution is slow. The body remembers.”

Continue reading “Humans Were Apex Predators for Two Million Years – Our Stone Age Ancestors Mostly Ate Meat” »

Apr 5, 2021

Neuralink Co-Founder Says We Have the Tech to Build an Actual Jurassic Park

Posted by in categories: existential risks, genetics, neuroscience, sustainability

For the uninitiated, “Jurassic Park” and “Jurassic World” make up a five-movie franchise — with a sixth in the works — all based on Michael Crichton’s hit novel about how bad of an idea it was to open a place like Jurassic Park. Leveraging recent advances in genetic research to create entirely new creatures is certainly an enticing idea, though there’s a big difference between something potentially being feasible and actually being a good idea.

But it’s not all fun and games when you’re playing god and creating new dinosaurs. Hodak later added that de-extinction could be a valuable tool for increasing biodiversity, perhaps because we find ourselves in the midst of an era of mass extinction.

“Biodiversity (antifragility) is definitely valuable; conservation is important and makes sense,” Hodak tweeted minutes later. “But why do we stop there? Why don’t we more intentionally try to generate novel diversity?”

Apr 2, 2021

OSIRIS-REx to make final close approach to asteroid before heading back to Earth

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, existential risks

WASHINGTON — NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will make one final close approach to the asteroid it collected samples from next week before heading back to Earth.

On April 7, the spacecraft will pass 3.7 kilometers above the location on the asteroid Bennu called Nightingale where, in October, the spacecraft briefly touched down and collected as much as several hundred grams of material, now stored in the spacecraft.

Immediately after that sample collection maneuver, the mission had no plans to return to the vicinity of Bennu. However, NASA decided to make a final pass over the touchdown site to see what changes the sampling made to the Nightingale region, like the creation of a crater.

Continue reading “OSIRIS-REx to make final close approach to asteroid before heading back to Earth” »

Apr 1, 2021

Particles of a Meteor Explosion From 430,000 Years Ago Found Hidden in Antarctic Ice

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, existential risks, particle physics

Approximately 430000 years ago, a meteorite exploded over Antarctica.

The only reason we know about it now is because scientists have just found tiny, once-molten particles of space rock that have been hidden away in the ice ever since.

Based on an analysis of those particles, the event was an unusual one — not quite powerful enough to produce an impact crater, but nor was it a lightweight. The jet of melted and vaporized material that blasted from the mid-air explosion would have been more hazardous than the Tunguska event that flattened a Siberian forest in 1908.

Continue reading “Particles of a Meteor Explosion From 430,000 Years Ago Found Hidden in Antarctic Ice” »

Mar 30, 2021

Asteroid collision ruled out for 100+ years

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, existential risks

A collision between Earth and the asteroid 99942 Apophis can be ruled out, for at least the next century, based on new observations by NASA.

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