Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies

Technoprogressive? BioConservative? Huh?
Quick overview of biopolitical points of view


MULTIMEDIA: SpaceThreats Topics

Rover’s-Eye View of Marathon on Mars

Here’s What Brian Greene’s Gut is Telling Him About Intelligent Life in the Universe

In an Immense Universe, Small is Significant

Toxicologists are Freakin’ Awesome!

What we need is a Tom Lehrer-style Elements of Risk Song

Future News From The Year 2137

The future is going to be wonderful (If we don’t get whacked by the existential risks)

Existential Risk

Risk of massive asteroid strike underestimated

Futurists discuss The Transhumanist Wager

Can technology solve our big problems?

Cheating Death - Sun Exposure & Marijuana

The Love Police: Megaphone the Drone

What’s the Rational Choice? Risk, Values and the Politics of Geoengineering

We Live in a Cosmic Shooting Gallery

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SpaceThreats Topics

Dear Elon Musk: Are You Sure You Want to Nuke Mars?

by Tery Spataro

34.9 million miles away from Earth an epic explosion occurs. On Mars.

All eyes on Earth glaze upward to watch as the atmosphere slowly peals back from the neighbor we hardly knew…

It all started with a simplistic comment made on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, by the genius Elon Musk.

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The Doomsday Argument

by Alexey Turchin

The Doomsday argument (DA) is controversial idea that humanity has a higher probability of extinction based purely on probabilistic arguments. The DA is based on the proposition that I will most likely find myself somewhere in the middle of humanity’s time in existence (but not in its early time based on the expectation that humanity may exist a very long time on Earth.)

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World’s Largest Camera Will Show Us the Universe Like We’ve Never Seen It

by George Dvorsky

The U.S. Department of Energy has green-lit the construction of a 3.2-gigapixel digital camera for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST). Once complete, the instrument will be used by astronomers to study everything from the Big Bang to the motions of nearby asteroids.

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Nitpicking Recent (Great) Hard Science Fiction Novels: AURORA and THE MARTIAN

by David Brin

Is interstellar travel by bio-humanity even possible?  Not according to my dear bro and esteemed colleague Kim Stanley Robinson. Whose new novel AURORA follows one of the first… and possibly last… efforts to send a generation starship to a neighboring star. Naturally, any KSR book is worth rushing out to purchase… though like many of his other works, there is a very strong sense that the author has a point to make. 

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Our Biggest Year in Space, Ever

by David Brin
We’re looking outward… toward the vast, vast majority of all there is. And after decades of doldrums, it seems we truly are regaining some momentum in space exploration.  Have any of you been keeping track on a scorecard?

Hang on till the end, to read the news from NASA NIAC!

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Space Junk and Its Impending Impact

by Maria Ramos

With the launch of Sputnik in 1957, humankind extended its presence from the Earth’s surface towards outer space. Since that time, thousands of other objects have been sent into Earth orbit, including weather satellites, communications equipment and military hardware. Wherever people go, they tend to leave their mark, mostly harmful, on the natural environment, and space is no exception. There are many pieces of space junk – the remains of discarded, malfunctioning or obsolete devices – that now whiz around the earth and pose threats to current space projects.

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Don’t Worry, Intelligent Life Will Reverse the Slow Death of the Universe

by Giulio Prisco

A scientific paper announcing that the universe is slowly dying is making waves on the Internet. But don’t worry, intelligent life will be able to do something about that.

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Mind Uploading and The Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything

by Keith B. Wiley

We stand at the cusp of guaranteeing the survival of fundamental purpose in the universe, reality, and existence by insuring the continuation of consciousness. This is a far grander calling than merely enabling individual life extension. Existential metaphysical purpose is our foremost responsibility as conscious beings, and computer intelligence is the method of achieving it.

It’s ALIVE! And it’s in Outer Spaaaace!

by David Brin

Excitement is building for the New Horizons Mission and its hurried swing past Pluto on July 14.  What a terrific way to celebrate Bastille Day!  Watch this terrific video - Fast and Light to Pluto  - about New Horizons, created by the NY Times.

I met Pluto discoverer Clyde Tombaugh when I was 15…

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How to Survive the End of the Universe

by Alexey Turchin

My plan below needs to be perceived with irony because it is almost irrelevant: we have only a very small chance of surviving the next 1000 years. If we do survive, we have numerous tasks to accomplish before my plan can become a reality.

Additionally, there’s the possibility that the “end of the universe” will arrive sooner, if our collider experiments lead to a vacuum phase transition, which begins at one point and spreads across the visible universe.

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Existential Risks – my shortlist ranging from conventional to bizarre

by Steven Umbrello

The dangers that face Earth and its inhabitants are diverse and intricate. The solutions, if any exists per particular danger, are equally complex and nuanced. Below you will find a shortlist of threats that range from conventional to bizarre.

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Comet Day, Anyone?

by Joel Marks

On this day 245 years ago – July 1, 1770 – humanity had its closest known encounter with extinction (with the possible exception of the Cuban Missile Crisis).

Two weeks before that date the French astronomer Charles Messier had discovered a faint comet in the constellation Sagittarius, which thereafter rapidly brightened and began moving swiftly across the sky. At its peak it was naked-eye, and its coma, according to various observers, the apparent size of from 5 to 16 full moons across. Lexell’s Comet, so named after another astronomer who subsequently calculated its orbit, was then under one-and-a-half million miles from Earth, or less than six times the distance of the Moon, and thus the nearest a comet has ever approached us in recorded history. (Kronk n.d.)

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How many X-Risks for Humanity? This Roadmap has 100 Doomsday Scenarios

by Alexey Turchin

In 2008 I was working on a Russian language book “Structure of the Global Catastrophe”.  I showed it to a friend to review, the geologist Aranovich, an old friend of my late mother’s husband.

We started to discuss Stevenson’s probe — a hypothetical vehicle which could reach the earth’s core by melting its way through the mantle, taking scientific instruments with it. It would take the form of a large drop of molten iron – at least 60,000 tons – theoretically feasible, but practically impossible.

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What Would Happen If All Our Satellites Were Suddenly Destroyed?

by George Dvorsky

Since their inception 60 years ago, satellites have gone on to become an indispensable component of our modern high-tech civilization. But because they’re reliable and practically invisible, we take their existence for granted. Here’s what would happen if all our satellites suddenly just disappeared.

The idea that all the satellites — or at least good portion of them — could be rendered inoperable is not as outlandish as it might seem at first. There are at least three plausible scenarios in which this could happen.

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I am an International Radical Life Extension Activist

by Alexey Turchin

In the last three years, I’ve traveled the world, performing street actions. My goal is to increase public awareness in the following issues:

1) fighting aging
2) elevating the possibility of radical life extension
3) saving the world from global catastrophes. 

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The Second Intelligent Species: How Humans Will Become as Irrelevant as Cockroaches

by Marshall Brain

Chapter 1 - The Origin and State of the First Intelligent Species

The following statement is something we all understand, but it bears repeating because it is perhaps the coolest, most interesting scientific fact that we know about our universe and human existence:

Hydrogen, given sufficient time, turns into people.

It is an amazing statement if you think about it. A collection of simple atoms swirling around in the early universe, combined with the ordinary laws of nature like gravity, created human beings living here on planet earth over the course of billions of years.

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We Should Mine the Asteroids Now, but Not The Moon

by David Brin

Planetary Resources, founded by Peter Diamandis and Eric Anderson, aims to pave the way to humanity mining asteroids for vast wealth… as the B612 Foundation hopes to detect and track asteroids that threaten civilization’s survival… a real case of synergy of purpose. (I’ve been helping both.)

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We May be Systematically Underestimating the Probability of Annihilation

by Phil Torres

This article examines the risks posed by “unknown unknowns,” which I call monsters. It then introduces a taxonomy of the unknowable, and argues that one category of this taxonomy in particular should lead us to inflate our prior probability estimates of annihilation, whatever they happen to be. The lesson here is ultimately the same as the Doomsday Argument, except the reasoning is far more robust.

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A look back at our origins

by David Brin

We are the first human civilization to remove our envisioned “golden age” from an imagined-nostalgic past and instead plant that better-than-the-present era (tentatively) in a potential future.

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The Massive Danger of Societal Nihilism

by Khannea Suntzu

Just a short while, a researcher by the name of Safa Motesharri came out with an article that got some support from NASA. NASA at least put some money in that study, and it caught on in the media that the story was an officially NASA sanctioned, supported or otherwise prominent study. It isn't but that does not make the conclusions in the study any more relevant.

Senior U.S. spies warn of future top 10 security threats

by George Dvorsky

A senior American spy chief has released his assessment of the most troubling threats facing the US — a list that includes terrorism, hackers, WMD proliferation, pandemics, extreme weather events — and the militarization of space.

Neo-Malthusians, Luddites, and the rise of the Anti-Science Left

by B. J. Murphy

As much as I respect Pres. Obama’s senior advisor on science and technology, John Holdren, on his work in fighting against climate change, I’ve come to find out that his political beliefs are almost interrelated with that of Maoist-Third-Worldism (an extremist Leftist ideology).

Engineering the Future: Geoengineering

by Christopher Reinert

Geoengineering has an image problem. Some proposed geoengineering projects, such as space mirrors or cloud seeding, seem like they come from the pages of a science fiction novel. Those who propose these projects are treated with belittling rhetoric. Other projects face a different type of imaging problem; the project’s proponents are accused of having vague or unspecified goals and timelines. Such projects are summarily dismissed as being idealistic, out of touch or nebulous.

Asteroid Mining? - the Wrong & Right Reasons to Invest in this Critical Enterprise

by Zeev Kirsh

Asteroid mining memes have been around for decades. Recently, they molted out of their shell of science fiction into talk of technical feasibility. The rub about asteroid mining is that it’s actually a great idea worth your support because asteroid mining is a lie. This article will delve into the cynical underside of a big ‘sell’ only to enlighten you about why futurists everywhere should embrace farcical solicitations when the underlying story supports a practical and necessary futuristic pursuit;Deflecting Earthbound Asteroids.

From Glass-shattering Asteroids to Transparency…

by David Brin

Yesterday morning I was diverted to serve a stint as astronomy pundit - on BBC - regarding or planet's double encounter with asteroids.  Wow.  As one asteroid about 50 meters across zipped by earth, closer even than our communication satellites, another (probably just ten meters in size) gave up more energy than an atomic bomb … gradually, thank heavens, but right over a city in the Russian Urals… briefly outshining the sun and shattering hundreds of windows.  My job on-air was to reassure that there would be no dangerous radiation… that in fact, bolides like this one seem to strike our planet once or twice a decade or so, but always till now over open ocean or deserts or countryside. (In the 1970s one such event, off Japan, almost triggered a rise in DEFCON alert level at the US NORAD!)

A Billion-Year Future Fraught with Danger?  Never Fear, Technologies to the Rescue

by Dick Pelletier

Why peer into this far-future? As scientists forecast significant catastrophes for our solar system, galaxy, and universe, it seems fitting that we should focus on solutions for these disruptive events…

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The Transcension Hypothesis: An Intriguing Answer to the Fermi Paradox?

by Owen Nicholas

Ever since Enrico Fermi questioned back in the 1950’s why, if a multitude of civilisations are likely to exist in the Milky Way, no sign of their existence in the form of probes or spacecraft has ever been detected, scientists and critical thinkers have struggled to resolve the problem by supplying a host of inventive arguments with mixed reception.

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Prometheus Gave Us Fire. Ridley Scott’s Film Gave Us Disappointment and all the Wrong Messages!

by Nikola Danaylov

Prometheus is the most over-hyped and under-delivering film I have seen in a long while. Even Worse: It sends out all the wrong messages!

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Are We Panspermia or Not? Does Knowing Matter?

by Gabriel Rothblatt

Did life on Earth arrive from outer space? Are we spawned by Von Neumann Probes sent from distant solar systems? Here’s pro and con arguments for both possibilities.

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Ten Rules for Creating Awful Scenarios

by Jamais Cascio

Warning: This is satire! For futurists! You actually want to do the opposite of all of these things - Seriously!

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