I’m just curious. Here I’m specifically talking about existential risks generally considered to be more than 15 or so years in the future (even though they may in fact be nearer), like self-replicating microbots, recursively self-improving AI, and the like. Do non-immortalists just not look very far ahead, or are they just skeptical that the risks are technologically feasible?
There is somewhat of an overlap between the technologies predicted to lead to radical life extension (nanotech mainly) and the risks themselves, so it would make sense that immortalists are more informed on these technologies, including their risks. But this overlap only goes so far – websites on radical life extension generally address the benefits of medical nanotechnology while largely ignoring the risks. There are also many risks unrelated to life extension: AI, synthetic biology, nanoweapons, etc. So maybe immortalists just care about these risks because they have a much longer expected lifespan and accordingly look further into the future?
The ironic thing is that risks 15+ years away still threaten most of the population today, including all baby boomers. Why is it, on average, that I see more serious attention given to existential risks from the younger (than 40) set than the boomers? (Update: this may be incorrect on my part, based on the bias that my friends tend to be younger, and past involvement with SIAI where many supporters are young. Look at the Lifeboat Foundation donor list and you see many people over 40, plus Martin Rees, Stephen Hawking, Ray Kurzweil, etc.)
Of particular concern are the older Republicans in the United States, pre-boomers, who advocate the development and potential deployment (against Iran) of nuclear weapons. These people have lived the longest with the threat of nuclear war – why is it that they seem the most hawkish about the deployment of nukes? Don’t they understand that a single use of a nuke would set a precedent for further usage by other countries, and that the expected cost of using conventional firepower is much less, even if thousands of soldiers have to die, because it avoids setting a nuclear precedent?
I wish the US would have a policy where it went into future wars with a declaration not to use nuclear weapons, as long as certain conditions are kept (like no one else jumping in). Maybe the world would feel less like it’s being threatened by the US that way, and we could reduce the justifications used by rogue states to acquire the weapons.