Accelerating Future Transhumanism, AI, nanotech, the Singularity, and extinction risk.


New Page on Extraterrestrials, Excerpt from “The Millennial Project”

I've transcribed a few pages of Marshall T. Savage's The Millennial Project (1992), a section specifically on why it seems that there are no aliens in our general vicinity. Here's a great quote:

There is not a single thread of hard UFO evidence. Nothing I have heard of would even stand up in a court of law, let alone convince a hardened skeptic. The arrival of ETs on Earth would be the single greatest event in human history. By comparison, the discovery of fire, the fall of the Roman Empire, detonation of the atomic bomb, and landing on the Moon would all be reduced to trivialities. How could such an epoch-shaking affair transpire without producing any more evidence than a handful of blurry Polaroids? Belief in alien visitors requires hard evidence; at least a scrap, a smidgen, a particle, one iota, something. Anything! For my part, I would settle for a spliner of alien alloy, a corpuscle of alien blood, a fleck of alien dandruff. I will settle for anything you can actually put under an electron microscope and say of it, definitively: "It is not of this world." Is that too much to ask as evidence of the greatest thing since Moses? Of course, there is no such scintilla of evidence. And without it, no number of "eyewitness reporters", duly chronicled by the National Enquirer, will ever make any difference.

When I read this section of the book as a teenager, it really convinced me that attempts to look for aliens locally, like SETI, are just misguided. Here's another quote that really resonated with me:

Scientists huddle around radio telescopes listening intently to one star at a time for the sound of dripping water, when what they are seeking would sound like Niagara Falls.

Seriously! Why would the radio noise of a technological alien civilization sound like a whisper? Once a civilization develops radios, it's fair to expect it will develop a lot of them. At this very moment, we're blasting radio energy into space in all directions, in an expanding sphere almost 200 light-years wide.

Please, read the page before you submit a comment!

Filed under: space 40 Comments

Greg Fish on Life Extension

Greg Fish, whose past posts on transhumanism have mainly appeared to be about why he doesn't like mind uploading and why we need to copy the human brain to the last neurotransmitter to create AI, recently defended the merit of life extension against Paul Carr.

Paul's post at TechCrunch has some funny bits:

Oh yes, go to any Silicon Valley party right now and you'll find a scrawny huddle in the corner discussing the science of living forever: a topic that's gone from fringe to hot to cliche in -- ironically -- less time that it takes a tsetse fly to start getting interested in girls. But then why wouldn't it when the science of ageing touches on so many valley obsessions?

I am really enjoying the recent media against life extension. The arguments just aren't persuasive. Arguments against LE filled with holes are an essential complement of solid arguments in favor of LE.


Indian Law Professor: “Post-Human Humanitarian Law: The Law of War in the Age of Robotic Warfare”

"Post-Human Humanitarian Law: The Law of War in the Age of Robotic Warfare"

Indian Yearbook of International Law and Policy, Vol. 1, 2010


This Review Essay, to be published in the Indian Yearbook of International Law and Policy (2010) surveys the recent literature on the tensions between of autonomy and accountability in robotic warfare. Four books, taken together, suggest an original account of fundamental changes taking place in the field of IHL: P.W. Singer's book Wired for War: the Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century (2009), William H. Boothby;s Weapons and the Law of Armed Conflict (2009), Armin Krishnan's Killer Robots: Legality and Ethicality of Autonomous Weapons (2009), and Ronald Arkin's Governing Lethal Behavior in Autonomous Robots (2009). This Review Essay argues that from the point of view of IHL the concern is not the introduction of robots into the battlefield, but the gradual removal of humans. In this way the issue of weapon autonomy marks a paradigmatic shift from the so-called "humanization" of IHL to possible post-human concerns.

Thanks to Carl Shulman for the link.

Filed under: robotics 3 Comments