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March 26, 2013

The End of Humanity: Nick Bostrom at TEDxOxford




 
Existential Risk
Speaking recently at Oxford University, philosopher Nick Bostrom outlined the case for studying existential risk — the chances of a phenomenon wiping out all of humanity.  Bostrom finds a lack of serious research on the topic despite its importance to us all.
Swedish philosopher Nick Bostrom began thinking of a future full of human enhancement, nanotechnology and cloning long before they became mainstream concerns. Bostrom approaches both the inevitable and the speculative using the tools of philosophy, bioethics and probability.

Bostrom is Professor in the Faculty of Philosophy at Oxford University and founding Director of the Future of Humanity Institute and of the Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology within the Oxford Martin School. He's also the co-founder and chair of both the World Transhumanist Association, which advocates the use of technology to extend human capabilities and lifespans, and the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies.


existential risks chart

In the talk above, Bostrom outlines the importance of studying existential risk.  Compared to other important topics like snowboarding and dung beetles, Bostrom finds that there is scant academic work focused on this important issue.

According to Bostrom,  "Many theories of value imply that even relatively small reductions in net existential risk have enormous expected value. Despite their importance, issues surrounding human-extinction risks and related hazards remain poorly understood."
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