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Some Pics from the Catastrophic Risk Conference at Oxford
Jul 29, 2008  

I’m just recovering from the great time we had in Oxford last week talking about the different ways that human civilization might get wiped out, and what to do to prevent that.

The conference was organized by IEET’s Nick Bostrom and new IEET Fellow Milan Cirkovic through Nick’s Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford, to bring together some of the authors of essays in the new book Nick and Milan published at Oxford University Press, Global Catastrophic Risks. The meeting got nice pre-publicity from CNN and Earth and Sky. Ron Bailey was there and he wrote three articles (1, 2, 3) for Reason about the meeting. Thanks to Anders Sandberg for taking a lot of the following pictures, which can be found in his Flickr stream.

The book

Nick opens the conference

I (J. Hughes) spoke at the conference on the topic of my book chapter “Avodiing Millennialist Cognitive Biases.” (PDF and Powerpoint presentation.)

Nick introduces me

My talk

IEET Fellow Mike Treder spoke with his CRN partner Chris Phoenix on the promises and perils of molecular manufacturing.

Mike Treder

Mike’s talk

Although we happily discussed mega-risk for the four days, the riskiest thing we conferees did was probably “punting” on the little Oxford river, which is being pushed in a long canoe by someone standing in the back with a pole. As it happened this brought out a fierce competitiveness in our intrepid organizer, nearly dumping us in the drink.

Nick punting

More relaxingly, many of us were staying next door to the Eagle and Child pub in which J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis and their fellow “Inklings” regularly gathered. So many of us downed many an ale (and red wine) there during our stay. As the photos below demonstrate, the result was especially salubrious for our normally pensive astrophysicist Milan Cirkovic.

Nick punting

Milan before ale

Milan after ale

We will soon be announcing an IEET follow-on event, co-sponsored with the center for Responsible Nanotechnology, at the Computer History Museum, in Mountain View, California on November 14, 2008. Stay tuned.


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