A couple of weeks ago I highlighted Robin Hanson's ideas about alien civilizations. A big part of Hanson's reasoning involved the Fermi paradox, the question that, if alien civilizations are common, there where is everyone? It seems like Earth should have been colonized long ago. Hanson focused on the number of difficult evolutionary filters life … Continue reading The return of heretical thought?
Kurzgesagt takes a look at the number of deaths from nuclear power in comparison with other sources. You might find the actual numbers surprising. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jzfpyo-q-RM Kurzgesagt - in a Nutshell: How Many People Did Nuclear Energy Kill? Nuclear Death Toll I think the video makes an important point. But by focusing exclusively on deaths, it … Continue reading The safety of nuclear power?
Over the years, I've done a lot of posts speculating about alien civilizations. My take is generally that while extraterrestrial life may be prevalent in the universe, complex life is rare, and intelligent civilization producing life is profoundly rare. This seems evident from our own history, where simple life appears to have started as soon … Continue reading Aliens and intergalactic spheres of influence
This is the final post in a series about or inspired by Yuval Noah Harari's book, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. This final post is a brief summary of the overall book and some final comments. Harari's subject matter, as the title suggests, is the history of the Homo sapiens species. He breaks that … Continue reading Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
Sean Carroll recently did a podcast interview of futurist John Danaher on the issue of increasing automation, and what it might mean for future society. Danaher sees automation taking away jobs, jobs that won't come back. In this common view, we're heading for a post work society, where the machines do everything, and we need … Continue reading Our coming automated utopia?
Someone asked for my thoughts on an argument by Sean Dorrance Kelly at MIT Technology Review that AI (artificial intelligence) cannot be creative, that creativity will always be a human endeavor. Kelly's main contention appears to be that creativity lies in the eye of the beholder and that humans are unlikely to recognize AI accomplishments … Continue reading AI and creativity
At Nautilus, Phil Torres argues that we should think twice about colonizing space. His reasoning appears to be that as we spread throughout the universe, we will undoubtedly diversify into different species, and that those species may come to distrust each other, and eventually try to destroy each other. Now, I've argued before that most … Continue reading The real issues with colonizing space
Lux Alpstraum at Undark argues against "Our Irrational Fear of Sexbots": When most people envision a world where human partners are abandoned in favor of robots, the robots they picture tend to be reasonably good approximations of flesh-and-blood humans. The sexbots of “Westworld” are effectively just humans who can be programmed and controlled by the … Continue reading The dangers of artificial companionship
You've probably heard the narrative before. At some point, we will invent an artificial intelligence that is more intelligent than we are. The superhuman intelligence will then have the capability to either build an improved version of itself, or engineer upgrades that improve its own intelligence. This will set off a process where the system … Continue reading Is the singularity right around the corner?
Futurism.com has an article reviewing the results of a survey they conducted with their readers asking when the first human might leave the solar system. The leading answer was after the year 2100, which make sense given our current level of progress just getting humans back out of low Earth orbit. But I think the … Continue reading The difficulty of interstellar travel for humans