Nick Bostrom

DEDICATION: Episode EF48 is dedicated to Nick Bostrom, a Swedish philosopher most well known for his work on ethics and the existential risks of technology. When your day job is to figure out all the ways humanity might find it’s end, it probably makes you the most intriguing guy at the cocktail party. While Bostrom’s rationale generates conclusions that many people might perceive as depressing, he’s doing very important work in raising awareness about the relative risk of scenarios relating to AI and technology that the world’s decision makers need to be taking more seriously.

Bostram is also an important science communicator, sharing his work and theories through popular books, talks, and podcasts. His ideas about the Simulation Argument have convinced the Silicon Valley technorati that we’re all living in a video game. He’s also posited a convincing argument called the Singleton which leads to a logical conclusion that a giant Google-like company, or government, with the first true general AI is likely takeover the world (replacing the multinational civilization we have today). One might wonder if AI running things might actually be a good thing in light of the way our planet is currently on outdated human wetware.

Bostrom also believes that superintelligence — an intelligence vastly more advanced than anything possible by humanity — is unavoidable. It seems impossible to predict if this will be the end of humanity or the next greatest phase in our evolution. Only time, and our AI overlords, will tell … unless one of Bostram’s other existential threats wipe us out first.

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