- A number of emergening and future technologies have the potential to transform - for better or for worse - society and the conditions for humanity. These include, e.g., geoengineering, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, and ways to enhance human capabilities by genetic, pharmaceutical or electronic means. In order to avoid a situation where in effect we run blindfolded at full speed into unknown and dangerous territories, we need to understand what the possible and probable future scenarios are, with respect to these technological developments and their potential positive and negative impacts on humanity. The purpose of the meeting is to shed light on these issues and discuss how a more systematic treatment might be possible.
- Seth Baum, Global Catastrophic Risk Institute, NY, USA: The great downside dilemma for risky emerging technologies
Many emerging technologies show potential to solve major global challenges, but some of these technologies come with possible catastrophic downsides. In this talk I will discuss the great dilemma that these technologies pose: should society accept the risks associated with using these technologies, or should it instead accept the burdens that come with abstaining from them? I will use stratospheric aerosol geoengineering as an illustrative example, which could protect humanity from many burdens of global warming but could also fail catastrophically. Other technologies that pose this great downside dilemma include certain forms of biotechnology, nanotechnology, and artificial intelligence, whereas nuclear fusion power shows less downside.
- Anders Sandberg, Oxford University, UK: The future of humanity
The key to the current ecological success of Homo sapiens is that our species has been able to deliberately reshape its environment to suit its needs. This in turn hinges on our ability to maintain a culture that grows cumulatively. We are now starting to develop technologies that enable us to reshape ourselves and our abilities - genetic engineering, cognitive enhancement, man-machine symbiosis. This talk will examine some of the implications of a self-enhancing humanity and possible paths it could take.
Karim Jebari, Kungliga Tekniska högskolan, Stockholm: Global catastrophic risk and engineering safety
Engineers have maneged risk in complex systems for hundreds of years. Their approach differs radically from what economists refer to as “risk mangement”. The heuristics developed by engineers are very useful to understand and develop strategies to reduce global catastrophic risks. I discuss a potentially disruptive technology: control of ageing and argue that the risks of such a program have been underestimated.
- Roman Yampolskiy, University of Louisville, KY, USA: Artificial general intelligence and the future of humanity
Many scientists, futurologists and philosophers have predicted that humanity will achieve a technological breakthrough and create artificial general intelligence (AGI) within the next one hundred years. It has been suggested that AGI may be a positive or negative factor in the global catastrophic risk. After summarizing the arguments for why AGI may pose significant risk, I will survey the field’s proposed responses to AGI risk, with particular focus on solutions advocated in my own work.