The Vulnerable World Hypothesis

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sciborg2

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« on: November 19, 2018, 08:15:17 pm »
The Vulnerable World Hypothesis

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Scientific and technological progress might change people’s capabilities or incentives in ways that would destabilize civilization. For example, advances in DIY biohacking tools might make it easy for anybody with basic training in biology to kill millions; novel military technologies could trigger arms races in which whoever strikes first has a decisive advantage; or some economically advantageous process may be invented that produces disastrous negative global externalities that are hard to regulate. This paper introduces the concept of a vulnerable world: roughly, one in which there is some level of technological development at which civilization almost certainly gets devastated by default, i.e. unless it has exited the “semi-anarchic default condition”. Several counterfactual historical and speculative future vulnerabilities are analyzed and arranged into a typology. A general ability to stabilize a vulnerable world would require greatly amplified capacities for preventive policing and global governance. The vulnerable world hypothesis thus offers a new perspective from which to evaluate the risk-benefit balance of developments towards ubiquitous surveillance or a unipolar world order.



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TLEILAXU

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« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2018, 08:32:32 pm »
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For example, advances in DIY biohacking tools might make it easy for anybody with basic training in biology to kill millions
God I'm so tired of this particular meme. Buying some PCR kit off e bay and injecting plasmids into your bloodstream is NOT "hacking" anything, it's just a waste of time, and technological advances don't change that. The notion that you can randomly "engineer" a virus to kill millions is just absurd and even if somehow the average Joe gets to mutate viruses in his backyard, this still assumes that the nobody's going to, like, make a fucking vaccine or something, and how is the virus supposed to kill millions anyway? Is it an xXx_uLtRa_EvOlVeD_xXx super zombie ebola virus that just magically kills people extremely fast WHILE managing to propagate? Goddamn I hate ""biohacking"" and everything related to it SO MUCH.
    Regarding the main topic though, I don't get it. We've had the atomic bomb for nearly a 100 years, the most destructive weapon ever known to man. Several wars, famines, droughts. Black death killed like half of Europe's population, and Euroasian/African diseases putatively wiped out most Native Americans and here we are, over 7 billion breathing bags of blood and feces sprawling all over this incontinent wonder-world of shit, plastic and cigarette butts. I'd say we're a lot less vulnerable now than before, and ain't no dumb ass "biohacking" or AGI (which will never be invented because AGI is dumb. I have a bet with Wilshire and somebody else on this actually) going to stop us now. Nuclear apocalypse could though. Or Aliens.
    Anyway I didn't really read the article, just got triggered by the "biohacking" mention, hope this post is at least a little bit constructive.

sciborg2

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« Reply #2 on: November 19, 2018, 09:11:59 pm »
Heh it's Bostrom so I'd take it with a grain of salt. If you thought you lived in a simulation like Sim City you might also believe someone can just press the disaster button and unleash tornadoes [or plagues in this case] for a lark...or maybe only I did that all the time in that game...
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Wilshire

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« Reply #3 on: November 20, 2018, 12:48:32 pm »
Heh it's Bostrom so I'd take it with a grain of salt. If you thought you lived in a simulation like Sim City you might also believe someone can just press the disaster button and unleash tornadoes [or plagues in this case] for a lark...or maybe only I did that all the time in that game...
Something about being a god makes one violent I think. I've never heard of someone playing simcity and not delighting in the destruction of their people.
One of the other conditions of possibility.

sciborg2

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« Reply #4 on: November 20, 2018, 08:11:22 pm »
Something about being a god makes one violent I think. I've never heard of someone playing simcity and not delighting in the destruction of their people.

I do wonder if there's something about having certain worldviews that makes one more inclined toward particular arenas of interest.

For example Bostrom clearly seems to be worried about things like Rogue Super AIs (though thankfully not Basilisks AFAIK and now some kind of easy-bake-oven type WMD. He might be correct, such advances may eventually come to pass, but it's somewhat telling he doesn't seem to be able to make a clear cut example of what that might be without venturing into pure speculation.

I suspect we're more likely to diminish as a species from a thousand cuts, so to speak, than Black Ball tech.
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Wilshire

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« Reply #5 on: November 21, 2018, 12:27:58 pm »
I suspect we're more likely to diminish as a species from a thousand cuts, so to speak, than Black Ball tech.
Yeah. Things like global warming, poisoning and over-fishing oceans, strip mining and fracking destroying rivers, forests, over farming, peak oil, etc. At some point we'll soak up most of the resources that are easily available. Not saying that'll lead to extinction, but lots and lots of people will die for completely avoidable reasons due to poor planning. We might cross over a point of no return as well, which will lead us backwards to subsistence living that we may never be able to crawl back out of.

Or simply a meteor. Plenty of terribly likely things to remove humanity from existence/prominence that we really don't need to invent science fiction alternatives.
One of the other conditions of possibility.

TaoHorror

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« Reply #6 on: November 21, 2018, 01:45:51 pm »
The shittiness of ecological destruction is already apparent, even if we survive it and medical advances outpace the damage to our health from this, it sucks we're losing so many of our big mammals.
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Wilshire

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« Reply #7 on: November 21, 2018, 02:14:50 pm »
The shittiness of ecological destruction is already apparent, even if we survive it and medical advances outpace the damage to our health from this, it sucks we're losing so many of our big mammals.

The hope is that we only need a small fraction of the existing species to survive. Some bugs to pollinate, some herd animals to eat, some plants to eat too. Mass extinction, while extremely unfortunate imo, wouldn't stop us from living on.
That said, we still get medical advancements in particular from studying animals and plants. Everything we kill off before we extract ever bit of useful information from it is a potential loss to scientific advancement.

As Sci said, a thousand cuts.
One of the other conditions of possibility.