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Archive for the ‘existential risks’ category: Page 5

Jan 22, 2019

Asteroid Impacts Increased Around Time of Largest Extinction Event

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

Dinosaurs never stood a chance once asteroid impacts more than doubled some 290 million years ago.

By studying the Moon, an international team of scientists revealed that the number of asteroids crashing into Earth and its satellite increased by two to three times toward the end of the Paleozoic era.

Contrary to popular belief, most of the planet’s more primitive asteroid-produced craters were not erased by erosion and other geologic processes.

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Jan 22, 2019

NASA will attempt to knock an asteroid out of orbit for the first time in 2022

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

  • If an asteroid were to head towards Earth in the foreseeable future, we would be quite defenceless.
  • To change that, NASA has approved a mission to throw a “small” asteroid off course in October 2022.
  • The aim of the project is to establish whether we can protect our planet from a future asteroid impact.

If an asteroid were to head towards Earth, we would be quite defenceless as we have not successfully developed a method that could reduce the impact of — or entirely avert — a devastating collision.

However, that may be about to change. NASA has approved a project called the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), the aim of which is to throw a “small” asteroid off course in October 2022.

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Jan 21, 2019

Time to Say Goodbye to Coffee?

Posted by in categories: climatology, existential risks, finance, sustainability

Saying farewell to coffee isn’t that easy. According to research about three-fifths of all our beloved coffee species are going to go extinct. This is a phenomenal amount of coffee that we risk losing.

Here’s something to think about as you sip that morning mochaccino:?Deforestation, climate change and the proliferation of pests and fungal pathogens are putting most of the world’s wild coffee species at risk of extinction.

At least 60 percent of wild coffee species are considered “threatened,” according to a study published this week in Science Advances. And fewer than half of all the wild species are safeguarded in so-called germplasm collections—banks for seed and living plants kept in protected areas as backups.

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Jan 19, 2019

Why it is dangerous to build ever larger big bang machines

Posted by in categories: alien life, astronomy, cosmology, energy, engineering, ethics, existential risks, general relativity, governance, gravity, innovation, law, nuclear energy, nuclear weapons, particle physics, philosophy, physics, policy, quantum physics, science, scientific freedom, security, singularity, space travel, supercomputing, theory, time travel

CERN has revealed plans for a gigantic successor of the giant atom smasher LHC, the biggest machine ever built. Particle physicists will never stop to ask for ever larger big bang machines. But where are the limits for the ordinary society concerning costs and existential risks?

CERN boffins are already conducting a mega experiment at the LHC, a 27km circular particle collider, at the cost of several billion Euros to study conditions of matter as it existed fractions of a second after the big bang and to find the smallest particle possible – but the question is how could they ever know? Now, they pretend to be a little bit upset because they could not find any particles beyond the standard model, which means something they would not expect. To achieve that, particle physicists would like to build an even larger “Future Circular Collider” (FCC) near Geneva, where CERN enjoys extraterritorial status, with a ring of 100km – for about 24 billion Euros.

Experts point out that this research could be as limitless as the universe itself. The UK’s former Chief Scientific Advisor, Prof Sir David King told BBC: “We have to draw a line somewhere otherwise we end up with a collider that is so large that it goes around the equator. And if it doesn’t end there perhaps there will be a request for one that goes to the Moon and back.”

“There is always going to be more deep physics to be conducted with larger and larger colliders. My question is to what extent will the knowledge that we already have be extended to benefit humanity?”

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Jan 19, 2019

Scott Aaronson — The Winding Road to Quantum Supremacy

Posted by in categories: computing, existential risks, neuroscience, quantum physics

This was the first part in an interview series with Scott Aaronson — this one is on quantum computing — other segments are on Existential Risk, consciousness (including Scott’s thoughts on IIT) and thoughts on whether the universe is discrete or continuous.


First part in an interview series with Scott Aaronson — this one is on quantum computing — future segments will be on Existential Risk, consciousness (including Scott’s thoughts on IIT) and thoughts on whether the universe is discrete or continuous.

Continue reading “Scott Aaronson — The Winding Road to Quantum Supremacy” »

Dec 27, 2018

The Wooly Mammoth Lumbers Back into View

Posted by in category: existential risks

The optimism of de-extinction science in a warming world.

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Dec 24, 2018

Http://immortality

Posted by in categories: existential risks, life extension

Ok, the new version of my global risk prevention map is up (pdf link is in comments) and now it is accompanied by recently the published article “Approaches to the Prevention of Global Catastrophic Risks.”


Abstract: Many global catastrophic and existential risks (X-risks) threaten the existence of humankind. There are also many ideas for their prevention, but the meta-problem is that these ideas are not structured. This lack of structure means it is not easy to choose the right plan(s) or to implement them in the correct order. I suggest using a “Plan A, Plan B” model, which has shown its effectiveness in planning actions in unpredictable environments. In this approach, Plan B is a backup option, implemented if Plan A fails. In the case of global risks, Plan A is intended to prevent a catastrophe and Plan B to survive it, if it is not avoided. Each plan has similar stages: analysis, planning, funding, low-level realization and high-level realization. Two variables—plans and stages—provide an effective basis for classification of all possible X-risks prevention methods in the form of a two-dimensional map, allowing the choice of optimal paths for human survival. I have created a framework for estimating the utility of various prevention methods based on their probability of success, the chances that they will be realized in time, their opportunity cost, and their risk. I also distinguish between top-down and bottom-up approaches.

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Dec 22, 2018

How The 1% Will Live After The End Of The World | VICE on HBO (Bonus)

Posted by in category: existential risks

Throughout human history, doomsayers — people predicting the end of the world — have lived largely on the fringes of society. Today, a doomsday industry is booming thanks to TV shows, movies, hyper-partisan politics and the news media. With the country’s collective anxiety on the rise, even the nation’s wealthiest people are jumping on board, spending millions of dollars on survival readiness in preparation for unknown calamities. We sent Thomas Morton to see how people across the country are planning to weather the coming storm.

Check out VICE News for more: http://vicenews.com

Continue reading “How The 1% Will Live After The End Of The World | VICE on HBO (Bonus)” »

Dec 3, 2018

Thousands of Unstudied Plants May Be at Risk of Extinction

Posted by in categories: existential risks, robotics/AI

Plants often get short shrift in conservation circles, but machine learning could help botanists save tens of thousands of species.

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Dec 2, 2018

Astronaut says a neglected telescope is NASA’s best chance of defending Earth from ‘city killer’ asteroids — ‘for God’s sake, fund it’

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

Killer asteroids might be a bigger threat than you think.


  • Small asteroids can strike Earth with the force of many nuclear weapons and destroy entire cities.
  • A small fraction of such asteroids is estimated to have been found, but NASA is supposed to find 90% of them by 2020.
  • Retired astronaut Rusty Schweickart says a relatively inexpensive space telescope, called the Near-Earth Object Camera, could find these space rocks — and quickly.
  • NASA has denied full funding to NEOCam multiple times because the agency’s mission selection process is weighted against the telescope.
  • NEOCam’s supporters say the telescope needs just $40 million more in NASA’s budget to launch into space.
  • It’s up to President Trump and Congress to raise NASA’s budget enough to support the mission.

A former NASA astronaut says the agency he used to work for has a duty to protect civilians from killer asteroids, but that it isn’t meeting that obligation.

The threat of asteroid strikes might seem as abstract as outer space itself. But the risk, while infrequent, is real — and potentially more deadly than the threat posed by some of the most powerful nuclear weapons ever detonated.

Continue reading “Astronaut says a neglected telescope is NASA’s best chance of defending Earth from ‘city killer’ asteroids — ‘for God’s sake, fund it’” »

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