By Sean Coughlan
Dr Bostrom believes we’ve entered a new kind of technological era with the capacity to threaten our future as never before. These are “threats we have no track record of surviving”.
Lack of control
Likening it to a dangerous weapon in the hands of a child, he says the advance of technology has overtaken our capacity to control the possible consequences.
Experiments in areas such as synthetic biology, nanotechnology and machine intelligence are hurtling forward into the territory of the unintended and unpredictable.
Synthetic biology, where biology meets engineering, promises great medical benefits. But Dr Bostrom is concerned about unforeseen consequences in manipulating the boundaries of human biology.
Nanotechnology, working at a molecular or atomic level, could also become highly destructive if used for warfare, he argues. He has written that future governments will have a major challenge to control and restrict misuses.
There are also fears about how artificial or machine intelligence interact with the external world.
Such computer-driven “intelligence” might be a powerful tool in industry, medicine, agriculture or managing the economy.
But it also can be completely indifferent to any incidental damage.
Phi Beta Iota: The ignorance and arrogance of those in power cannot be understated.