See categories on left for all FHI publications.
Indefinite Survival through Backup Copies
If an individual entity endures a fixed probability of disappearing ("dying") in a given fixed time period, then, as time approaches infinity, the probability of death approaches certainty. One approach to avoid this fate is for individuals to copy themselves into different locations; if the copies each have an independent probability of dying, then the total risk is much reduced. However, to avoid the same ultimate fate, the entity must continue copying itself to continually reduce the risk of death. In this paper, we show that to get a non-zero probability of ultimate survival, it suffices that the number of copies grows logarithmically with time. Accounting for expected copy casualties, the required rate of copying is hence bounded.
Download the PDF here.
Probing the Improbable
The article explores important methodological problems which arise when assessing risks with very low probabilities and very high stakes, and concludes that the risks involved in the LHC are larger than the official estimates.
FHI's paper, "Probing the Improbable: Methodological Challenges for Risks with Low Probabilities and High Stakes", written by Toby Ord, Rafaela Hillerbrand and Anders Sandberg, is now available for download here.
Existential Risk Reduction as the Most Important Task for Humanity
Existential risks are those that threaten the entire future of humanity. Many theories of value imply that even relatively small reductions in net existential risk have enormous expected value. Despite their importance, issues surrounding human]extinction risks and related hazards remain poorly understood. In this paper, I clarify the concept of existential risk and develop an improved classification scheme. I discuss the relation between existential risks and basic issues in axiology, and show how existential risk reduction (via the maxipok rule) can serve as a strongly action-guiding principle for utilitarian concerns. I also show how the notion of existential risk suggests a new way of thinking about the ideal of sustainability.
Download the PDF (working draft) www.existential-risk.org/concept.pdf
(2011) Nick Bostrom
Faculty of Philosophy & Oxford Martin School
University of Oxford
Brain Emulation Roadmap
Whole brain emulation (WBE) is the possible future one-to-one modelling of the function of the human brain. It represents a formidable engineering and research problem, yet one which appears to have a well-defined goal and could, it would seem, be achieved by extrapolations of current technology.
Since the implications of successful WBE are potentially very large the Future of Humanity Institute hosted a workshop in Oxford on 26-27 May, 2007. Invited experts from areas such as computational neuroscience, brain-scanning technology, computing, and neurobiology presented their findings and discussed the possibilities, problems and milestones that would have to be reached before WBE becomes feasible.
Enhancing Human Capacities
"Enhancing Human Capacities" is the first to review the very latest scientific developments in human enhancement. It is unique in its examination of the ethical and policy implications of these technologies from a broad range of perspectives.
- Presents a rich range of perspectives on enhancement from world leading ethicists and scientists from Europe and North America
- The most comprehensive volume yet on the science and ethics of human enhancement
- Unique in providing a detailed overview of current and expected scientific advances in this area
- Discusses both general conceptual and ethical issues and concrete questions of policy
- Includes sections covering all major forms of enhancement: cognitive, affective, physical, and life extension
Edited by: Julian Savulescu, Ruud ter Meulen and Guy Kahane
Publisher: Oxford: Wiley Blackwell
Anthropic Bias: Observation Selection Effects in Science and Philosophy
This book explores how to reason when you suspect that your evidence is biased by observation selection effects. We will be discussing many interesting applications: philosophical thought experiments and paradoxes aside, we will use our results to address several juicy bits of contemporary science: cosmology (how many universes are there?), evolution theory (how improbable was the evolution of intelligent life on our planet?), the problem of time's arrow (can it be given a thermodynamic explanation?), game theoretic problems with imperfect recall (how to model them?), traffic analysis (why is the "next lane" faster?) and a lot more.
Author: Nick Bostrom
Available from: amazon.co.uk, amazon.com , manuscript now available for free at http://www.anthropic-principle.com/book/anthropicbias.html
"Human Enhancement" presents the latest moves in this crucial debate: original contributions from many of the world's leading ethicists and moral thinkers, representing a wide range of perspectives, advocates and sceptics, enthusiasts and moderates. These are the arguments that will determine how humanity develops in the near future.
Edited by Julian Savulescu and Nick Bostrom
Publisher: Oxford University Press (22 January 2009)
Global Catastrophic Risks
In July 2008 the Future of Humanity Institute held an international conference on Global Catastrophic Risks in Oxford. An informal survey was circulated amongst participants, asking them to estimate the chance of disasters of different types occurring before 2100. The first research report issued by FHI summarizes the main results.