Society for Risk Analysis Annual Meeting Presentation

This is just a reminder that I will be presenting at the Society for Risk Analysis annual meeting in Salt Lake City on December 5-8. The meeting is open to anyone interested in risk analysis. Registration is $500. Robin Hanson and Seth Baum will be there as well. My presentation will be part of the “Assessment, Communication and Perception of Nanotechnology” track. The full session list is here. Seth will be chairing the “Methodologies for Global Catastrophic Risk Assessment” track, where Robin will be giving his talk.

Here’s my abstract:

T3-F.4 14:30 Public Scholarship For Global Catastrophic Risks. Anissimov M*; Singularity Institute

Abstract: Global catastrophic risks (GCRs) are risks that threaten civilization on a global scale, including nuclear war, ecological collapse, pandemics, and poorly understood risks from emerging technologies such as nanotechnology and artificial intelligence. Public perception of GCRs is important because these risks and responses to them are often driven by public activities or by the public policies of democracies. However, much of the public perception is based on science fiction books and films, which unfortunately often lack scientific accuracy. This presentation describes an effort to improve public perceptions of GCR through public scholarship. Public scholarship is the process of bringing academic and other scholarship into the public sphere, often to inform democratic processes. The effort described here works on all GCRs and focuses on emerging technologies such as biotechnology and nanotechnology. The effort involves innovating use of blogs, social networking sites, and other new media platforms. This effort has already resulted in, among other things, a visible online community of thousands following the science around GCRs, and plans to further move discussion of scholarly GCR literature into the mainstream media. It is believed that public scholarship efforts like these can play important roles in societal responses to GCRs.

Here’s Professor Hanson’s abstract:

W3-A.3 14:10 Catastrophic Risk Forecasts From Refuge Entry Futures. Hanson RD*; George Mason University

Abstract: Speculative markets have demonstrated powerful abilities to forecast future events, which has inspired a new field of prediction markets to explore such possibilities. Can such power be harnessed to forecast global catastrophic risk? One problem is that such mechanisms offered weaker incentives to forecast distant future events, yet we want forecasts about distant future catastrophes. But this is a generic problem with all ways to forecast the distant future; it is not specific to this mechanism. Bets also have a problem forecasting the end of the world, as no one is left afterward to collect on bets. So to let speculators advise us about world’s end, we might have them trade an asset available now that remains valuable as close as possible to an end. Imagine a refuge with a good chance of surviving a wide range of disasters. It might be hidden deep in a mine, stocked with years of food and power, and continuously populated with thirty experts and thirty amateurs. Locked down against pandemics, it is opened every month for supplies and new residents. A refuge ticket gives you the right to use an amateur refuge slot for a given time period. To exercise a ticket, you show up at its entrance at the assigned time. Refuge tickets could be auctioned years in advance, broken into conditional parts, and traded in subsidized markets. For example, one might buy a refuge ticket valid on a certain date only in the event that USA and Russia had just broken off diplomatic relations, or in the event a city somewhere is nuked. The price of such resort tickets would rise with the chance of such events. By trading such tickets conditional on a policy that might mitigate a crisis, such as a treaty, prices could reflect conditional chances of such events.

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