In this episode I talk to Seth Baum. Seth is an interdisciplinary researcher working across a wide range of fields in natural and social science, engineering, philosophy, and policy. His primary research focus is global catastrophic risk. He also works in astrobiology. He is the Co-Founder (with Tony Barrett) and Executive Director of the Global Catastrophic Risk Institute. He is also a Research Affiliate of the University of Cambridge Centre for the Study of Existential Risk. We talk about the importance of studying the long-term future of human civilisation, and map out four possible trajectories for the long-term future.
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- 0:00 – Introduction
- 1:39 – Why did Seth write about the long-term future of human civilisation?
- 5:15 – Why should we care about the long-term future? What is the long-term future?
- 13:12 – How can we scientifically and ethically study the long-term future?
- 16:04 – Is it all too speculative?
- 20:48 – Four possible futures, briefly sketched: (i) status quo; (ii) catastrophe; (iii) technological transformation; and (iv) astronomical
- 23:08 – The Status Quo Trajectory – Keeping things as they are
- 28:45 – Should we want to maintain the status quo?
- 33:50 – The Catastrophe Trajectory – Awaiting the likely collapse of civilisation
- 38:58 – How could we restore civilisation post-collapse? Should we be working on this now?
- 44:00 – Are we under-investing in research into post-collapse restoration?
- 49:00 – The Technological Transformation Trajectory – Radical change through technology
- 52:35 – How desirable is radical technological change?
- 56:00 – The Astronomical Trajectory – Colonising the solar system and beyond
- 58:40 – Is the colonisation of space the best hope for humankind?
- 1:07:22 – How should the study of the long-term future proceed from here?
- Seth’s homepage
- The Global Catastrophic Risk Institute
- “Long-Term Trajectories for Human Civilisation” by Baum et al
- “The Perils of Short-Termism: Civilisation’s Greatest Threat” by Fisher, BBC News
- The Knowledge by Lewis Dartnell
- “Space Colonization and the Meaning of Life” by Baum, Nautilus
- “Astronomical Waste: The Opportunity Cost of Delayed Technological Development” by Nick Bostrom
- “Superintelligence as a Cause or Cure for Risks of Astronomical Suffering” by Kaj Sotala and Lucas Gloor
- “Space Colonization and Suffering Risks” by Phil Torres
- “Thomas Hobbes in Space: The Problem of Intergalactic War” by John Danaher