Archive for the ‘existential risks’ category: Page 77

Jun 26, 2010

Existential Risk Reduction Career Network

Posted by in categories: existential risks, finance, lifeboat

The existential risk reduction career network is a career network for those interested in getting a relatively well-paid job and donating substantial amounts (relative to income) to non-profit organizations focused on the reduction of existential risks, in the vein of SIAI, FHI, and the Lifeboat Foundation.

The aim is to foster a community of donors, and to allow donors and potential donors to give each other advice, particularly regarding the pros and cons of various careers, and for networking with like-minded others within industries. For example, someone already working in a large corporation could give a prospective donor advice about how to apply for a job.

Over time, it is hoped that the network will grow to a relatively large size, and that donations to existential risk-reduction from the network will make up a substantial fraction of funding for the beneficiary organizations.

In isolation, individuals may feel like existential risk is too large a problem to make a dent in, but collectively, we can make a huge difference. If you are interested in helping us make a difference, then please check out the network and request an invitation.

Please feel free to contact the organizers at [email protected] with any comments or questions.

Jun 25, 2010

Lifeboat Foundation in Games

Posted by in categories: existential risks, fun

The RPG Eclipse Phase includes the “Singularity Foundation” and “Lifeboat Institute” as player factions. Learn more about this game!

P.S. In case you don’t know, there is a Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence.

Eclipse Phase is a roleplaying game of post-apocalyptic transhuman conspiracy and horror.

An “eclipse phase” is the period between when a cell is infected by a virus and when the virus appears within the cell and transforms it. During this period, the cell does not appear to be infected, but it is.

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Jun 9, 2010

Have Corporations Become a Global Existential Threat?

Posted by in categories: business, ethics, existential risks

Perhaps you think I’m crazy or naive to pose this question. But more and more the past few months I’ve begun to wonder if there is a possibility here that this idea may not be too far off the mark.

Not because of some half-baked theory about a global conspiracy or anything of the sort but simply based upon the behavior of many multinational corporations recently and the effects this behavior is having upon people everywhere.

Again, you may disagree but my perspective on these financial giants is that they are essentially predatory in nature and that their prey is any dollar in commerce that they can possibly absorb. The problem is that for anyone in the modern or even quasi-modern world money is nearly as essential as plasma when it comes to our well-being.

It has been clearly demonstrated again and again — all over the world — that when a population has become sufficiently destitute that the survival of the individual is actually threatened violence inevitably occurs. On a large enough scale this sort of violence can erupt into civil war and wars, as we all know too well can spread like a virus across borders, even oceans.

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Jun 5, 2010

Friendly AI: What is it, and how can we foster it?

Posted by in categories: complex systems, ethics, existential risks, futurism, information science, policy, robotics/AI

Friendly AI: What is it, and how can we foster it?
By Frank W. Sudia [1]

Originally written July 20, 2008
Edited and web published June 6, 2009
Copyright © 2008-09, All Rights Reserved.

Keywords: artificial intelligence, artificial intellect, friendly AI, human-robot ethics, science policy.

1. Introduction

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May 2, 2010

Nuclear Winter and Fire and Reducing Fire Risks to Cities

Posted by in categories: defense, existential risks, lifeboat, military, nuclear weapons

This is a crosspost from Nextbigfuture

I looked at nuclear winter and city firestorms a few months ago I will summarize the case I made then in the next section. There is significant additions based on my further research and email exchanges that I had with Prof Alan Robock and Brian Toon who wrote the nuclear winter research.

The Steps needed to prove nuclear winter:
1. Prove that enough cities will have firestorms or big enough fires (the claim here is that does not happen)
2. Prove that when enough cities in a suffient area have big fire that enough smoke and soot gets into the stratosphere (trouble with this claim because of the Kuwait fires)
3. Prove that condition persists and effects climate as per models (others have questioned that but this issue is not addressed here

The nuclear winter case is predictated on getting 150 million tons (150 teragram case) of soot, smoke into the stratosphere and having it stay there. The assumption seemed to be that the cities will be targeted and the cities will burn in massive firestorms. Alan Robock indicated that they only included a fire based on the radius of ignition from the atmospheric blasts. However, in the scientific american article and in their 2007 paper the stated assumptions are:

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Apr 18, 2010

Ray Kurzweil to keynote “H+ Summit @ Harvard — The Rise Of The Citizen Scientist”

Posted by in categories: biological, biotech/medical, business, complex systems, education, events, existential risks, futurism, geopolitics, human trajectories, information science, media & arts, neuroscience, robotics/AI

With our growing resources, the Lifeboat Foundation has teamed with the Singularity Hub as Media Sponsors for the 2010 Humanity+ Summit. If you have suggestions on future events that we should sponsor, please contact [email protected].

The summer 2010 “Humanity+ @ Harvard — The Rise Of The Citizen Scientist” conference is being held, after the inaugural conference in Los Angeles in December 2009, on the East Coast, at Harvard University’s prestigious Science Hall on June 12–13. Futurist, inventor, and author of the NYT bestselling book “The Singularity Is Near”, Ray Kurzweil is going to be keynote speaker of the conference.

Also speaking at the H+ Summit @ Harvard is Aubrey de Grey, a biomedical gerontologist based in Cambridge, UK, and is the Chief Science Officer of SENS Foundation, a California-based charity dedicated to combating the aging process. His talk, “Hype and anti-hype in academic biogerontology research: a call to action”, will analyze the interplay of over-pessimistic and over-optimistic positions with regards of research and development of cures, and propose solutions to alleviate the negative effects of both.

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Apr 3, 2010

Natural selection of universes and risks for the parent civilization

Posted by in category: existential risks

Lee Smolin is said to believe (according to personal communication from Danila Medvedev who was told about it by John Smart. I tried to reach Smolin for comments, but failed) that global catastrophe is impossible, based on the following reasoning: the multiverse is dominated by those universes that are able to replicate. This Self-replication occurs in black holes, and in especially in those black holes, which are created civilizations. Thus, the parameters of the universe are selected so that civilization cannot self-destruct before they create black holes. As a result, all physical processes, in which civilization may self-destruct, are closed or highly unlikely. Early version of Smolin’s argument is here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_Smolin but this early version was refuted in 2004, and so he (probably) added existence of civilization as another condition for cosmic natural selection. Anyway, even if it is not Smolin’s real line of thoughts, it is quite possible line of thoughts.

I think this argument is not persuasive, since the selection can operate both in the direction of universes with more viable civilizations, and in the direction of universes with a larger number of civilizations, just as biological evolution works to more robust offspring in some species (mammals) and in the larger number of offspring with lower viability (plants, for example, dandelion). Since some parameters for the development of civilizations is extremely difficult to adjust by the basic laws of nature (for example, the chances of nuclear war or a hostile AI), but it is easy to adjust the number of emerging civilizations, it seems to me that the universes, if they replicated with the help of civilizations, will use the strategy of dandelions, but not the strategy of mammals. So it will create many unstable civilization and we are most likely one of them (self indication assumption also help us to think so – see recent post of Katja Grace http://meteuphoric.wordpress.com/2010/03/23/sia-doomsday-the-filter-is-ahead/)

But still some pressure can exist for the preservation of civilization. Namely, if an atomic bomb would be as easy to create as a dynamite – much easier then on Earth (which depends on the quantity of uranium and its chemical and nuclear properties, ie, is determined by the original basic laws of the universe), then the chances of the average survival of civilization would be lower. If Smolin’s hypothesis is correct, then we should encounter insurmountable difficulties in creating nano-robots, microelectronics, needed for strong AI, harmful experiments on accelerators with strangelet (except those that lead to the creation of black holes and new universes), and in several other potentially dangerous technology trends that depend on their success from the basic properties of the universe, which may manifest itself in the peculiarities of its chemistry.

In addition, the evolution of universes by Smolin leads to the fact that civilization should create a black hole as early as possible in the course of its history, leading to replication of universes, because the later it happens, the greater the chances that the civilization will self-destruct before it can create black holes. In addition, the civilization is not required to survive after the moment of “replication” (though survival may be useful for the replication, if civilization creates a lot of black holes during its long existence.) From these two points, it follows that we may underestimate the risks from Hadron Collider in the creation of black holes.

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Mar 27, 2010

Critical Request to CERN Council and Member States on LHC Risks

Posted by in categories: complex systems, cosmology, engineering, ethics, existential risks, particle physics, policy

Experts regard safety report on Big Bang Machine as insufficient and one-dimensional

International critics of the high energy experiments planned to start soon at the particle accelerator LHC at CERN in Geneva have submitted a request to the Ministers of Science of the CERN member states and to the delegates to the CERN Council, the supreme controlling body of CERN.

The paper states that several risk scenarios (that have to be described as global or existential risks) cannot currently be excluded. Under present conditions, the critics have to speak out against an operation of the LHC.

The submission includes assessments from expertises in the fields markedly missing from the physicist-only LSAG safety report — those of risk assessment, law, ethics and statistics. Further weight is added because these experts are all university-level experts – from Griffith University, the University of North Dakota and Oxford University respectively. In particular, it is criticised that CERN’s official safety report lacks independence – all its authors have a prior interest in the LHC running and that the report uses physicist-only authors, when modern risk-assessment guidelines recommend risk experts and ethicists as well.

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Mar 12, 2010

Reduction of human intelligence as global risk

Posted by in categories: existential risks, neuroscience

Another risk is loss of human rationality, while preserving human life. In a society there are always so many people with limited cognitive abilities, and most of the achievements are made by a small number of talented people. Genetic and social degradation, reducing the level of education, loss of skills of logic can lead to a temporary decrease in intelligence of individual groups of people. But as long as humanity is very large in population, it is not so bad, because there will always be enough intelligent people. Significant drop in population after nonglobal disaster may exacerbate this problem. And the low intelligence of the remaining people will reduce their chances of survival. Of course, one can imagine such an absurd situation that people are so degraded that by the evolutionary path new species arise from us, which is not having a full-fledged intelligence — and that back then this kind of evolving reasonable, developed a new intelligence.
More dangerous is decline of intelligence because of the spread of technological contaminants (or use of a certain weapon). For example, I should mention constantly growing global arsenic contamination, which is used in various technological processes. Sergio Dani wrote about this in his article “Gold, coal and oil.” http://sosarsenic.blogspot.com/2009/11/gold-coal-and-oil-reg…is-of.html, http://www.medical-hypotheses.com/article/S0306-9877 (09) 00666–5/abstract
Disengaged during the extraction of gold mines in the arsenic remains in the biosphere for millennia. Dani binds arsenic with Alzheimer’s disease. In his another paper is demonstrated that increasing concentrations of arsenic leads to an exponential increase in incidence of Alzheimer’s disease. He believes that people are particularly vulnerable to arsenic poisoning, as they have large brains and longevity. If, however, according to Denis, in the course of evolution, people will adapt to high levels of arsenic, it will lead to a decline in the brain and life expectancy, resulting in the intellect of people will be lost.
In addition to arsenic contamination occurs among many other neurotoxic substances — CO, CO2, methane, benzene, dioxin, mercury, lead, etc. Although the level of pollution by each of them separately is below health standards, the sum of the impacts may be larger. One reason for the fall of the Roman Empire was called the total poisoning of its citizens (though not barbarians) of lead from water pipes. Of course, they could not have knowledge about these remote and unforeseen consequences — but we also may not know about the many consequences of our affairs.
In addition to dementia is alcohol and most drugs, many drugs (eg, side effect in the accompanying sheets of mixtures of heartburn called dementia). Also rigid ideological system, or memes.
Number of infections, particularly prion, also leads to dementia.
Despite this, the average IQ of people is growing as life expectancy.

Feb 19, 2010

Small steps that can make difference on global catastrophes

Posted by in category: existential risks

Danila Medvedev asked me to make a list of actual projects that can reduce the likelihood of global catastrophe.

EDITED: This list reflects only my personal opinion and not opinion of LF. Suggeted ideas are not final but futher discussion on them is needed. And these ideas are mutual independed.

1. Create the book “Guide to the restoration of civilization”, which describe all the necessary knowledge of hunting, industry, mining, and all the warnings about the risks for the case of civilization collapse.Test its different sections on volunteers. Print the book in stone / metal / other solid media in many copies throughout the world. Bury treasure with the tools / books / seeds in different parts of the world. 1–100 million USD. Reduction of probability of extinction (assuming that real prior probability is 50% in XXI century): 0.1%.
2. Collect money for the work of Singularity Institute in creating a Friendly AI. They need 3 million dollars. This project has a maximum ratio of the cost-impact. That is, it can really increase the chances of survival of humanity at about 1 percent. (This is determined by the product of estimates of the probabilities of events — the possibility of AI, what SIAI will solve this problem, the fact that it chooses the problem first, and that it solves the problem of friendliness, and the fact that the money they have will be enough.)
3. Krisave in the ice of Antarctica (the temperature of −57 C, in addition, you can create a stable region of lower temperature by use of liquid nitrogen which would be pumped and cooled it) a few people, so that if on earth there another advanced civilization, it could revive them. cost is several million dollars. Another project on the preservation of human knowledge in the spirit of the proposed fund by LongNow titanium discs with recorded information.
4. Send human DNA on the moon in the stable time capsule. Several tens of millions of dollars. You can also send the criopreserved human brain. The idea here is that if mankind would perish, then someday the aliens arrive and revive people based on these data. Expenses is 20–50 million dollars, the probability of success of 0.001%. Send human DNA in space in other ways.
5. Accelerated development of universal vaccines. Creation of the world’s reserves of powerful means of decontamination in the event of a global epidemic, the stockpiling antvirus drugs and vaccines to the majority of known viruses, which would be enough for a large part of humanity. Establishment of virus monitoring and instant diagnosis (test strips). Creation and production of many billions of pieces of advanced disinfecting tools such as personal UV lamps, nanotech dressing for the face, gloves, etc. The billions or hundreds of billions of dollars a year. Creating personal stockpiles of food and water at each house for a month. Development of supply system with no contact of people with one another. Jump to slow global transport (ships) in the event of a pandemic. Training of medical personnel and the creation of spare beds in hospitals. Creating and testing on real problems huge factories, which in a few weeks can develop and produce billions of doses of vaccines. Improvement of legislation in the field of quarantine. There are also risks. Increase the probability of survival 2–3 percent.
6. Creating a self-contained bunker with a supply of food for several decades and with the constant “crews”, able to restore humanity. About $ 1 billion. Save those types of resources that humanity could use the post-apocalyptic stage for recovery.
7. The creation of scientific court for Hadron Collider and other potentially dangerous projects, in which the theoretical physicist will be paid large sums of money for the discovery of potential vulnerabilities.
8. Adaptation of the ISS function for bunker in case of disasters on Earth — the creation of the ISS series of additional modules, which may support the existence of the crew for 10 years. Cost is tens of billions of dollars.
9. Creation of an autonomous self-sustaining base on the Moon. At the present level of technology — about $ 1 trillion or more. Proper development of strategy of space exploration would cheapen it — that is, investments in new types of engines and cheap means of delivery. Increase survival by 1 percent. (But there are also new risks).
10. The same is true on Mars. Several trillion. Increase survival of 1–2 per cent.
11. Creating star nuclear Ark ship- — tens of trillions of dollars. Increase survival of 1–2 per cent.
12. (The following are items for which are not enough money, but political will is also needed.) Destruction of rogue states and the establishment of a world state. 10 percent increase in survival. However, the high risks in the process.
13. Creating a global center for rapid response to global risks. Something like Special Forces or the Ministry of Emergency Situations, which can throw on the global risks. Enable it to instant action, including the hostilities, as well as intelligence. Giving its veto on the dangerous experiments. Strengthening of civil defense in the field.
14. The ban on private science (in the sense in the garage) and the creation of several centers of certified science (science town with centralized control of security in the process) with a high level of funding of breakthrough research. In the field of biotechnology, nuclear technology, artificial intelligence and nano. This will help prevent the dissemination of knowledge of mass destruction, but it will not stop progress. It is only after the abolition of nation states. A few percent increase in survival. These science towns can freely exchange technical information between themselves, but do not have the right to release it into the outside world.
15. The legislation required the duplication of a vital resource and activities — which would make impossible the collapse of civilization in a domino effect on failure at one point. The ban on super complex system of social organization, whose behavior is unpredictable and too prone to a domino effect, and replace them on the linear repetitive production system — that is, opposition to economic globalization.
16. Certification and licensing researchers in bio, nano, AI and nuclear technologies. Legislative requirement to check all their own and others’ inventions for the global risks associated with them, and the commitment to develop both a means of protection in the event of their inventions go out of control.
17. Law on raising intelligence of people half the population of fertilization from a few hundred of the best fathers in terms of intelligence and common sense and dislike of the risks. (Second half of the breed in the usual manner to maintain genetic diversity, the project is implemented without violence due to cash payments.) Plus education reform, where the school is replaced by a system of training, which given the important role of good sense and knowledge of logic.
18. Limitation of capitalist competition as the engine of the economy, because it leads to an underestimation of risk in the long term.
19. Leading investment in the field like nanotechnology breakthrough in the best and most critical facilities, to quickly slip dangerous period.
20. The growth of systems of information control and surveillance of the total, plus the certification data in them, and pattern recognition. Control of the Internet and the personal authorization for network logons. Continuous monitoring of all persons who possess potentially dangerous knowledge.
This could be creating a global think tank from the best experts on global risks and the formulation of their objectives to develop a positive scenario. Thus it is necessary to understand which way to combine these specialists would be most effective, so A) they do not eat each other because of different ideas and feelings of their own importance. B) that it does not become money feedbox. B) but that they received money for it, which would allow them to concentrate fully on this issue. That is, it should be something like edited journal, wiki, scientific trial or predictions market. But the way of association should not be too exotic, as well as exotic ways should be tested on less important matters.
However, the creation of accurate and credible for all models of the global risk would reduce by at least twice the probability of global catastrophe. And we are still at the stage of creating such a model. Therefore, how to create models and ways of authentication are now the most important, though, may have already been lost.
I emphasize that the main problems of global risks lies within the scope of knowledge, rather than to the sphere of action. That is the main problem that we do not know where we should prepare, not that we do not have instrument of defence. Risks are removed by the knowledge and expertise.
Implementation of these measures is technically and economically possible and could reduce the chance of extinction in the XXI century, in my estimation, 10 times.

Any ideas or missed projects?

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