I Love Science

Weekly Science Links Pt. 4

In this week’s “Science Links” post I share a number of articles covering topics ranging from a man with an artificial heart surviving for 555 days, to NASA’s move to create a fully electric x-plane, to giant holes produced by methane opening up in the Siberian permafrost, a clear sign of accelerating climate change. There are also several tech and industry news articles covering topics such as Microsoft’s foray into blockchain technology and Google’s latest plan to deliver gigabit broadband to consumers. Enjoy!

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Global Catastrophic and Existential Risks

The Wikipedia page on “global catastrophic risks” has the following definition: “A global catastrophic risk is a hypothetical future event that has the potential to damage human well-being on a global scale. Some events could cripple or destroy modern civilization. Any event that could cause human extinction is also known as an existential risk.” Another definition from the “Global Challenges Foundation” is any risk that can eliminate 10% of the population. No points for guessing what percentage of the population dies in an existential risk.

Arthur Raind is particularly concerned about four risks in 2030, two existential and two catastrophic: 1) super-intelligent AI, 2) engineered pandemics, 3) severe climate change, and 4) food scarcity (caused by ocean ecology collapse).

What do you think are the most significant risks that humankind needs to prepare for over the next 15 years?

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A Bold Prediction: (Almost) Free Energy in 20 Years

Today is the second of my “Prediction Saturday” blog posts. The intent of my “Prediction Saturday” posts are to put forward bold predictions about the near future, e.g. 15 – 20 years from now. These tie into the sci-fi novella that I am writing, “2030 ET: Tribulation.” Today I make a bold prediction regarding the future of energy. The prediction is that over the next 20 years, the price of oil will crash as demand for oil will virtually be non-existent. The energy revolution will happen as we learn to efficiently exploit the only fusion reactor that matters, the Sun. Advancements in 3D printing, materials science, and bioengineering will drop the cost per kilowatt of solar and biofuel energy close to zero.

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Probability Robots will Take Your Job

Prediction: The Inevitability of Unconditional Basic Income

Today is the first of my “Prediction Saturday Series” posts. I intend to use these posts to put forward a prediction about the near future, e.g. 15 – 20 years from now.

My prediction for this week is the inevitability of an unconditional basic income; that is, that everyone will be paid a subsistence wage by the government irrespective of whether they work or not.

Tomorrow (June 5th, 2016), will be the first test of my prediction when the citizens of Switzerland will vote on providing an unconditional 2,500 Swiss Franks a month (about the same amount in US Dollars) to each of its citizens, regardless of work, wealth or their social contribution. Opinion polls suggest the referendum will be heavily defeated, and my prediction will not hold up at the first test. That is perfectly understandable as the conditions are not right for unconditional basic income as yet; but in 15 – 20 years’ time, they will be.

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