Stop reading if you are prone to anxiety.
Shall we let the games go on?
What is your approach and what game do you play on the issue of the survival of our species?
Using best available data and systems and paradigms to identify possible risks, evaluate likely probability, and develop appropriate strategies.
Risk mitigation strategies come in two major forms – those that remove the source of risk, and those that improve resilience leading to survival and recovery.
Stop reading now if you are prone to anxiety.
I have been a student of existential level risk both to me and to humanity as a whole for over 40 years. My engagement includes groups like Lifeboat foundation http://www.lifeboat.org, CSER (Cambridge Center for Study of Existential RIsk), Oxford Martin School, Ray Kurzweil’s Accelerating Intelligence group, London Futurists, Transhumanists, as well as local regional and national level civil defense and disaster recovery within New Zealand.
In 1993 I published the website http://www.solnx.org, as a strategy to avoid what I saw as the major sets of threats facing us as a species. The strategy remains substantially the same, though some variants have been added.
Why worry about such risks?
Because as I completed my undergraduate biochemistry in 1974 the logic of the possibility of indefinite life extension became almost certain for me – having seen that from a “cells eye” perspective, every cell alive today would consider itself to have been alive for some 4 billion years – so indefinite cellular life must be the genetic default, overlain by other systems that induce age related cellular senescence in organisms like ourselves.
Having accepted that as a possibility the question became – what sorts of social political and technical institutions are required to give a potentially very long lived individual a reasonable probability of living a very long time?
All else came from following where that question led.
In terms of risks, they fall into four major categories: cosmological, tectonic, biological, and systemic (which I take to include technological and cultural).
I don’t have time this morning to enumerate all the many subcategories, and they are many (as I have to leave for a couple of days of meetings out of town).
Most of the really nasty stories in our cultures seem to be echos of instances of near misses of some of them (in the sense that at least some few individuals survived, and our species continued).
Far from being rare, in the longer timescales of our evolutionary and even our cultural history, such things are disturbingly common.
I am confident that we have the technical capability of developing effective risk mitigation strategies for most of them, and I am also clear that aspects of “cultural drag” (failure of accepted cultural truths at many different levels to accept the reality of either the risk or the most effective mitigation strategies) is itself the greatest risk, and chief among them is the idea of using markets as an effective measure of value, but a close second is the very idea of *Truth*.
And that will have to do for now.