A lengthy but wonderfully philosophical read by Ross Andersen, on humanity's deep future: "When we peer into the fog of the deep future what do we see -- human extinction or a future among the stars?."
As the oldest university in the English-speaking world, Oxford is a strange choice to host a futuristic think tank, a salon where the concepts of science fiction are debated in earnest. The Future of Humanity Institute seems like a better fit for Silicon Valley or Shanghai. During the week that I spent with him, Bostrom and I walked most of Oxfords small cobblestone grid. On foot, the city unfolds as a blur of yellow sandstone, topped by grey skies and gothic spires, some of which have stood for nearly 1,000 years. There are occasional splashes of green, open gates that peek into lush courtyards, but otherwise the aesthetic is gloomy and ancient. When I asked Bostrom about Oxfords unique ambience, he shrugged, as though habit had inured him to it. But he did once tell me that the city's gloom is perfect for thinking dark thoughts over hot tea.
There are good reasons for any species to think darkly of its own extinction. Ninety-nine percent of the species that have lived on Earth have gone extinct, including more than five tool-using hominids. A quick glance at the fossil record could frighten you into thinking that Earth is growing more dangerous with time. If you carve the planet's history into nine ages, each spanning five hundred million years, only in the ninth do you find mass extinctions, events that kill off more than two thirds of all species. But this is deceptive. Earth has always had her hazards; it's just that for us to see them, she had to fill her fossil beds with variety, so that we could detect discontinuities across time. The tree of life had to fill out before it could be pruned.
|The Vaults Are For Real, Not Just in Fallout|
|Giles Turnbull on "The Internet of Actual Things"|
|"Many of the jobs and industries we are now familiar with will be gone tomorrow."|
|The Flying Car: A Little Late, But Here it Comes|
|Robots Are Replacing Middle Class Jobs|
|“Bioinspired Polymeric Woods.”|
|“The more employees are watched, the harder they try to avoid being watched.”|
|How to Avoid Jury Duty|
|“When Life Gives You Lemons.”|
|Japanese Robot Serves Ice Cream From Inside a Vending Machine|
|“Social robots will be uniquely personal.”|
|The (Very Scary) People of Public Transit|
|Why, Typewriters Are Alive and Well, Thank you|
|CaptchaTweet: Write Tweets in Captcha Form|
|“Long live the instant gratification economy—and the increasingly sophisticated technology that’s enabling it.”|
|Fake Name Generator|