Readers interested in the vitally important topic of emerging technologies and their potential consequences for the future of humanity are encouraged to check out the new virtual issue of Physica Scripta on precisely this topic. It grew out of a meeting at the KVA (Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences) in March last year. Besides a short editorial by yours truly, it contains at present three excellent papers (a fourth may be forthcoming), namely:
- The great downside dilemma for risky emerging technologies by Seth Baum. The author offers, with particular focus on the example of geoengineering, a principled discussion of the dilemma involved in deciding whether to go ahead with a technology that can one hand can bring about great benefits, but on the other hand risks causing global catastrophe.
- Of Malthus and Methuselah: does longevity treatment aggravate global catastrophic risks? by Karim Jebari. As the title indicates, this is a discussion about possible catastrophic risks in connection with radical life extension.
- Responses to catastrophic AGI risk: a survey by Kaj Sotala and Roman Yampolskiy. This is a mildly updated version of an extremely important paper that has been around in preprint form since 2013 and that I praised in a blogpost from that year; it is a systematic discussion of risks associated with a breakthrough in artificial intelligence, and what we can do about them.