What new technologies carry the biggest risks?

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/01/30/what-new-technologies-carry-th.html


AI/Robotics will either make a hell or heaven of our planet.


Drones with chainsaws.


I don’t see how anyone could like at the climate situation we are in and think geoengineering could have little benefit… even the most pessimistic of our survival plans absolutely require it…


That is incredible! Up until it is disabled by a child’s balloon.
Still, pretty bioshocky! mm mm RUN FOR YOUR LIVES! (saved by an errant plastic vegetable bag that happened to float in between our hero and a horrible fate)


That struck me, too. If anything it should switch places in the chart with ubiquitous linked sensors.

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Did anyone else find the report’s chirpy nattering about what emerging areas just need a little more governancing and everything will work out just fine to be…somewhere between tone-deaf and chilling in light of the whole “Recent history suggests a mixture of dysfunction and regulatory capture of sufficient caliber to render ‘rule of law’ a polite fiction across broad swaths of the developed world; never mind the hellholes that everyone always knew were corrupt” problem?


The fact that artificial intelligence has the potential to eliminate millions of jobs isn’t a negative consequence. If eliminating most jobs is a negative, then the problem is with the way we organize our economy.

If glass manufacturers suddenly found a way to make unbreakable glass cheaply, should we hold back that innovation because it’s going to put people working in the window industry out of business?


Ironic that energy capture is viewed as low risk despite the fact it could literally be powering all of the higher risked technologies.

I don’t see how anyone can look at geoengineering and think it’s going to do anything remotely useful to improve our chances of survival.

Our first geoengineering experiment is already more than a century old, its a total disaster and we have no practical means of ending the experiment. Once various nations of the world start deploying more rapid geoengineering solutions, we’ll be fighting global wars over the impacts.

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What’s the “Our first geoengineering experiment”? If you’re referring to the unfettered burning of carbon based fuels, it’s not an experiment and it was never done with geoengineering in mind. It’s just a no fucks attitude given towards the environment kind of the opposite of geoengineering.

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Humans are bad at estimating risk, if anything this story just shows how bad.

For example, one current space mission that has been in planning for quite a while is an asteroid redirect mission, where an asteroid in orbit around the Sun is redirected to orbit the Earth. While very smart people are making sure that if it’s ever done it would be done safely, you can’t tell me that it has less risk than 3D printing.


I would have expected some of the things CERN is doing might make it on the list:


antimatter is part of energy capture, blackholes are filed under AI (singularity)

Think about why we don’t have a strong climate change treaty, despite 30 years of negotiations, amid scientific reports that have repeatedly made it clear we’re fucked if we don’t do this. Then explain to me how the hell the world will agree on the right level for the global thermostat, once we think we can control it. If you think geoengineering can work, then you don’t understand politics.

Some background: http://climate.envsci.rutgers.edu/pdf/20Reasons.pdf

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Interesting exercise but, for example, I think they downplay the risks of nanomaterials. We have poor understanding of our own biological systems and a track record of not understanding long term consequences of unusual toxic/carcinogenic materials coming to market. I’d put the risk at about the same level as biological materials.

Imagine discovering something as widespread and hazardous as asbestos but it is nanoscopic in scale. How do you safely clean up your ubiquitous nano silver (or whatever turns out to be like that) surfaces? Or how do you filter out malfunctioning self replicating nano machines that turn biologically hazardous. Paging Michael Crichton…


The way I see it, much of the point of geoengineering is to replace politics. And to replace economy with ecology. Human models and goals are a tiny subset of the world at large, and need to be approached as such.

Oil/gas and mining requires advanced geological engineering.


I didn’t read the article but suspect being lost in translation here.

Why don’t I see the technology that involves having a runaway nuclear reactor buried under the White House? Yes, it’s risky and kind of stupid, but I want it.

I have to say that from my perspective, inexpensive swarming drones seem to be something with a huge potential to be destructive. And there is almost nothing I can think of to defend against them. Especially if they are semi-autonomous. I have seen what cluster bombs can do, but those have a very limited ability to chase you around.