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Fictional polymaths debate destructive nanotech

from the that's-a-long-time-from-now dept.
Found by The essay The World in 2050 by Yale lecturer Nick Bostrom features an imaginary dialogue, set in 2050 and broadcast in virtual reality, in which three polymaths debate various issues, especially risk of destructive nanotechnology. The discussion closes with: "We need greater-than-human intelligence to build defenses against nano-attacks. We would not reduce the danger by slowing down; on the contrary, that would make the risks even bigger. The best we can do is to press onward with all possible speed, using as much foresight as we can muster, and hope that there is an other side that we can get to."

4 Responses to “Fictional polymaths debate destructive nanotech”

  1. redbird Says:

    Pretty good

    As the title reads, this is a pretty good essay, but I do have some problems with it. Why is the time frame 2050. By then, I hope to already be uploaded. If all the more tech we have by 2050 is what is in this essay, something really bad must have happened that caused most research to stop for 20 or 30 years. Also, I'm always suspecious of the usefulness of VR, though maybe I've just become jaded against it from it's buzz term status during the early and mid 90s.

    Also, I thought that the idea futures market was very interesting. Done the right way, this could be a method in the future of funding research without the need for any government aide. For example, investors might invest in futures on space colonies, and the money raised would somehow get diverted to SpaceCo, Inc. (sorry if this is already a real business, but you get the idea). Now someone just needs to start it up.

  2. MarkGubrud Says:

    good news

    2050. By then, I hope to already be uploaded.

    Good news, redbird: You don't have to wait. Scanners have already read out your netlist and the upload is ready to go. As soon as you're ready, just delete your current representation, and we'll start the program so you can wake up in your new embodiment.

  3. Nick Bostrom Says:

    Re:Pretty good

    The reason I set the discussion in 2050 was because of an external constraint: I wanted to submit it to the Economist's essay competition "The World in 2050". (It lost.) Although questions of timing are notoriously hard to resolve, my own best guess when such a discussion might take place would rather be ~2030. Also, keep in mind that the dialogue format was a devise to be able to present several viewpoints, not all of which I necessarily share. Rather, what I did was trying to extrapolate what would happen to some commonly held views today after they had benefited from several decades of discussions and new information.

  4. yuvalro Says:

    Uploading is BS

    The uploading process that is described in the paper involves KILLING the original person, no less. Why should I care that a SW replica of me was implemented, if my vitrified brain was, as the paper states, "disassembled cell by cell". This would make – you guessed it – DEAD.

    I think the book 'The Emperor's New Mind' describes what I just said in some detail.

    Who wants un-concurrent existence, anyway? every tried running the search query "evolvable hardware" – or EHW – in altavista? if Koza, who invented Genetic Programming, is now doing EHW, so should every AI researcher. We CAN move on to HW, though. Assemblers will be able to turn our neurons into transistors inside our brains, one by one. This way we can stop being organic, and then later maybe we can export some of our mental functions to software, although IMO HW is better coz it's faster. But being pure code? and directly from organic existence? forget about it.

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