The Singularity and Existential Risk

Existential risk (google it if the term is new to you) is a major threat to all of humanity, and it comes in many forms. It is literally a matter of life and death, not just for some humans, but for ALL humans. The singularity may reduce the chance of some of the risks, and increase the chance of others.

Which one do you consider most serious, and also one that you have some idea how we might mitigate? What aspects of the Singularity contain inherent risk, and what consequences of the Singularity could help exacerbate specific existential risks?

Perhaps it is grey goo, terminator-esque robot extinction, subtle or not so subtle erosion of what it means to be human, or some other Singularity caused event or series of events that we need to guard against. How exactly?

Perhaps most of the current existential risks will lessen once the Singularity occurs, such as global warming, asteroid collision, and global pandemics. But how? Waving the singularity magic wand around only goes so far.

Perhaps even super-intelligence will not be able to help us avoid some calamities, like geomagnetic reversal or super-volcanoes (although this may only kill all life on earth, rather than all humans living off-earth). Are some things unavoidable no matter how smart we get?

As people arrive, we will have one-on-one discussions, but once we have a quorum, be prepared to get up in front of the rest of the attendees, and give your views, and specific answers to some or all of the above questions. Each person will get 5 or 10 minutes, with concise Q&A from the rest of the attendees immediately afterwards. Be prepared to defend your arguments. Or change your mind if others raise serious doubts about your assertions.

This will be in some ways like an unconference - rather than famous speakers, everyone gets to speak.

And specific action items can come out at the end. Perhaps political, fund-raising, awareness raising, or particular projects targeted to achieve specific goals. Talking is great, maybe if we can get a consensus we might be able to start doing as well, and direct the course of the future, even if only in small ways. Although when it comes to existential risk, nothing is really small.

Looking forward to some thought-provoking ideas.

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  • Jose A.

    I just forgot about this. Apologizes on my end I should have updated my rsvp

    June 24, 2013

  • rna2600

    I was very sorry to miss it, I had something come up at the last minute. The AGI conversation sounds like it was interesting - will come next time!

    June 23, 2013

  • Michael R.

    Today's meetup was a bust. Only 3 of us turned up. Please comment here in the forums if you had RSVPd yes, did you just change your mind, decide it would be too hard to find us in Central Park, or arrived somewhere near Delacorte theater and was unable to find us because my directions were unclear.

    Paul and Matt did make it, and we had an interesting discussion, mainly on AGI and the difficulty in knowing how it will behave. And the distinct possibility that it will consider us irrelevant and its subsequent behavior will be unpleasant from our point of view.

    June 22, 2013

  • Michael R.

    Update to location. We are meeting just to the west of Delacote Theater, in the grassy area to the north of Shakespeare Garden, north east of the Swedish Marionette Theater, just to the east if West Drive (79th Tranverse). Under the trees about 50 feet from the path. Sorry if I confused anyone. Turn up even if you are late.

    June 22, 2013

  • Michael R.

    We likely won't be able to get into theater itself, so will meet near it. Look for red Singularity NYC meetup signs near the event. There will be instructions on 2 of them (one at the theater and one at the castle) pointing you in the right direction, and another one printed on both sides at the event itself, on top of an umbrella stuck in the grass. Rather than walking up to Belvedere Castle, let's meet on the grassy area just south of Delacorte Theater, north of Belvedere Castle, and West of Turtle Pond. That way you can sit down on the grass if you like once the presentations begin. Bring a water bottle and a snack if you like. Looks like it will be a beautiful day.

    June 21, 2013

  • Michael R.

    There is a public showing at 8:30 pm at the open air Delacorte Theater of Shakespeare in the Park. Tickets are given out at 12:00. Does anyone know if this will cause any problem for us using the theater at 1pm?

    June 9, 2013

    • Michael R.

      If you are unable to get in to Delacorte Theater, please walk south 50 yards up to Belvedere Castle. There is a covered area just outside and to the west of the castle where we can gather.

      June 19, 2013

  • Michael R.

    A light-hearted look at seven existential risks from "out there": http://www.cracked.com/article_19117_7-horrible-ways-universe-can-destroy-us-without-warning.html

    May 24, 2013

  • Michael R.

    You might like to watch this new Singularity music video: http://io9.com/steve-aoki-explores-the-singularity-in-this-futuristic-509266053

    May 24, 2013

  • johnatha

    Looking forward to this event..

    May 9, 2013

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