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  1. Nick Bostrom, How Unlikely is a Doomsday Catastrophe?, With Max Tegmark, Published In.
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  2. Nick Bostrom & Anders Sandberg, Converging Cognitive Enhancements.
    Cognitive enhancements in the context of converging technologies. [Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, Vol. 1093, pp. 201-207] [with Anders Sandberg] [pdf].
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  3. Nick Bostrom, Everything.
    For me, belief is not an all-or-nothing thing—believe or disbelieve, accept or reject. Instead, I have degrees of belief, a subjective probability distribution over different possible ways the world could be. This means I am constantly changing my mind about all sorts of things, as I reflect or gain more evidence. While I don’t always think explicitly in terms of probabilities, I often do so when I give careful consideration to some matter. And when I reflect on my own cognitive (...)
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  4. Nick Bostrom, Extension.
    Blackballing the reaper is an old ambition, and considerable progress has been made. For the past 150 years, bestperformance life-expectancy (i.e. life-expectancy in the country where it is highest) has increased at a very steady rate of 3 months per year.[1] Life-expectancy for the ancient Romans was circa 23 years; today the average lifeexpectancy in the world is 64 years.[2] Will this trend continue? What are the consequences if it does? And what ethical and political challenges does the prospect of (...)
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  5. Nick Bostrom, Most Still to Come.
    Perhaps the two most important world events during my thirty‐six years are the ending of the Cold War and the beginning of the Internet. Of those two, I think the latter is the more significant. The Internet has impacted my thinking in several ways. It has put me in touch with people I would not otherwise have met and whose ideas I would never have encountered. It has served as a platform for disseminating my work, helping me get faster and (...)
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  6. Nick Bostrom, Observation.
    Space is big. It is very, very big. On the currently most favored cosmological theories, we are living in an infinite world, a world that contains an infinite number of planets, stars, galaxies, and black holes. This is an implication of most “multiverse theoriesâ€, according to which our universe is just one in a vast ensemble of physically real universes. But it is also a consequence of the standard Big Bang cosmology, if combined with the assumption that our universe is (...)
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  7. Nick Bostrom, Superintelligence.
    Intelligence is a big deal. Humanity owes its dominant position on Earth not to any special strength of our muscles, nor any unusual sharpness of our teeth, but to the unique ingenuity of our brains. It is our brains that are responsible for the complex social organization and the accumulation of technical, economic, and scientific advances that, for better and worse, undergird modern civilization.
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  8. Nick Bostrom, The Future of Human Evolution.
    Evolutionary development is sometimes thought of as exhibiting an inexorable trend towards higher, more complex, and normatively worthwhile forms of life. This paper explores some dystopian scenarios where freewheeling evolutionary developments, while continuing to produce complex and intelligent forms of organization, lead to the gradual elimination of all forms of being that we care about. We then consider how such catastrophic outcomes could be avoided and argue that under certain conditions the only possible remedy would be a globally coordinated policy (...)
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  9. Nick Bostrom, The Infinitarian Challenge to Aggregative Ethics.
    Aggregative consequentialism and several other popular moral theories are threatened with paralysis: when coupled with some plausible assumptions, they seem to imply that it is always ethically indifferent what you do. Modern cosmology teaches that the world might well contain an infinite number of happy and sad people and other candidate value‐bearing locations. Aggregative ethics implies that such a world contains an infinite amount of positive value and an infinite amount of negative value. You can affect only a finite amount (...)
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  10. Nick Bostrom, Www.Nickbostrom.Com.
    When our measurement instruments sample from only a subspace of the domain that we are seeking to understand, or when they sample with uneven sampling density from the target domain, the resulting data will be affected by a selection effect. If we ignore such selection effects, our conclusions may suffer from selection biases. A classic example of selection bias is the election poll taken by the Literary Digest in 1936. On the basis of a large survey, the Digest predicted that (...)
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  11. Max Tegmark & Nick Bostrom, How Unlikely is a Doomsday Catastrophe?
    One might think that since life here on Earth has survived for nearly 4 Gyr (Gigayears), such catastrophic events must be extremely rare. Unfortunately, such an argument is flawed, giving us a false sense of security. It fails to take into account the observation selection effect [6, 7] that precludes any observer from observing anything other than that their own species has survived up to the point where they make the observation. Even if the frequency of cosmic catastrophes were very (...)
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  12. Nick Bostrom, Басня О Драконе-Тиране.
    Когда-то Земля находилась под тиранией гигантского драконa. Ростом дракон был выше самого высокого собора, и весь был покрыт черной чешуей. Его красные глаза пылали ненавистью, и изо рта тёк непрерывный поток зловонной желтовато- зеленой слизи. Дракон требовал от человечества чудовищную дань: для удовлетворения его непомерного аппетита, десять тысяч мужчин и женщин должны были быть доставлены на исходе каждого дня к подножью горы у которой жил дракон-тиран. Некоторых дракон пожирал сразу, других держал в течение многих месяцев или даже лет перед тем (...)
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  13. Nick Bostrom, — ŽŽ—œŽ ˜ ˜œ‘ž–Š— ’—’¢.
    Positions on the ethics of human enhancement technologies can be (crudely) characterized as ranging from transhumanism to bioconservatism. Transhumanists believe that human enhancement technologies should be made widely available, that individuals should have broad discretion over which of these technologies to apply to themselves, and that parents should normally have the right to choose enhancements for their children-to-be. Bioconservatives (whose ranks include such diverse writers as Leon Kass, Francis Fukuyama, George Annas, Wesley Smith, Jeremy Rifkin, and Bill McKibben) are generally (...)
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  14. Nick Bostrom, ŽŒŽ— ŽŸŽ•˜™–Ž—œ ’— ‘Ž ‘’Œœ Œ’Ž—ŒŽ Š— ˜•’’Œœ ˜ ’Ž ¡Ž—œ’˜—.
    Blackballing the reaper is an old ambition, and considerable progress has been made. For the past 150 years, best-performance life-expectancy (i.e. life-expectancy in the country where it is highest) has increased at a very steady rate of 3 months per year.1 Lifeexpectancy for the ancient Romans was circa 23 years; today the average life-expectancy in the world is 64 years.2 Will this trend continue? What are the consequences if it does? And what ethical and political challenges does the prospect of (...)
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  15. Nick Bostrom, ¡’œŽ—’Š• ’œ”œ —Š•¢£’— ž–Š— ¡’—Œ’˜— ŒŽ—Š›’˜œ Š— Ž•ŠŽ Š£Š›œ.
    Because of accelerating technological progress, humankind may be rapidly approaching a critical phase in its career. In addition to well-known threats such as nuclear holocaust, the prospects of radically transforming technologies like nanotech systems and machine intelligence present us with unprecedented opportunities and risks. Our future, and whether we will have a future at all, may well be determined by how we deal with these challenges. In the case of radically transforming technologies, a better understanding of the transition dynamics from (...)
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  16. Nick Bostrom, A Doomsday Argument Primer.
    Rarely does philosophy produce empirical predictions. The Doomsday argument is an important exception. From seemingly trivial premises it seeks to show that the risk that humankind will go extinct soon has been systematically underestimated. Nearly everybody's first reaction is that there must be something wrong with such an argument. Yet despite being subjected to intense scrutiny by a growing number of philosophers, no simple flaw in the argument has been identified.
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  17. Nick Bostrom, Anthropic Shadow: Observation Selection Effects and Human Extinction Risks.
    Keywords: global catastrophes, existential risks, natural hazards, astrobiology, selection effects, anthropic principle, risk management, impact hazard, vacuum phase transition 2 1. INTRODUCTION: EXISTENTIAL RISKS AND OBSERVATION SELECTION EFFECTS..
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  18. Nick Bostrom, Beyond the Doomsday Argument: Reply to Sowers and Further Remarks.
    George Sowers tries to refute the Doomsday argument on grounds that true random sampling requires all possible samples to be equally probable the time when the sample is taken. Yet the Doomsday argument does not rely on true random sampling. It presupposes random sampling only in a metaphorical sense. After arguing that Sowers’ critique fails, I outline my own view on the matter, which is that the Doomsday argument is inconclusive and that by developing a theory of observation selection effects (...)
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  19. Nick Bostrom, Drugs Can Be Used to Treat More Than Disease.
    Future of Humanity Institute, James Martin 21st Century School, University of Oxford, Littlegate House, 16/17 St Ebbe's Street, Oxford OX1 1PT, UK; www.nickbostrom.com..
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  20. Nick Bostrom, Dinosaurs, Dodos, Humans?
    An existential risk is defined as one that threatens to annihilate Earth-originating intelligent life or permanently and drastically to curtail its potential. Since we are still here, we know that no existential disaster has ever occurred. But lacking experience with such disasters, it is also likely that we have not have evolved mechanisms, biologically or culturally, for managing existential risks.
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  21. Nick Bostrom, De Mythe Van de Draak-Tiran.
    Lang, lang geleden werd de planeet getiranniseerd door een gigantische draak. De draak was groter dan de grootste kerk en was bedekt met dikke, zwarte schubben. Zijn rode ogen gloeiden van haat en uit zijn verschrikkelijke bek stroomde onophoudelijk stinkend, geelgroen slijm. Hij eiste van de mens een ijzingwekkend eerbetoon: om zijn enorme honger te stillen, moesten er iedere avond bij het vallen van het duister tienduizend mannen en vrouwen aan de voet van de berg, waar de draak-tiran woonde, afgeleverd (...)
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  22. Nick Bostrom, Ethical Issues in Advanced Artificial Intelligence.
    The ethical issues related to the possible future creation of machines with general intellectual capabilities far outstripping those of humans are quite distinct from any ethical problems arising in current automation and information systems. Such superintelligence would not be just another technological development; it would be the most important invention ever made, and would lead to explosive progress in all scientific and technological fields, as the superintelligence would conduct research with superhuman efficiency. To the extent that ethics is a cognitive (...)
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  23. Nick Bostrom, Ethical Principles in the Creation of Artificial Minds.
    We differentiate morally between actual and potential beings: the latter do not exist now and will never exist unless we bring them into existence. The interests of existing persons should guide the creation of new beings. We ought not to create new beings that are expected to harm the interests of existing persons. If a potential being becomes actual, it becomes a member of the moral community and its interests should be taken into account. A being can be actual even (...)
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  24. Nick Bostrom, Golden.
    Larry King: With me tonight is a very special guest. One year ago, Albert was a golden retriever dog much like any other. Then he was uploaded to a computer, and now he has been given a set of remarkable cognitive enhancements that enable him to reason and speak. Thanks for joining us, Albert.
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  25. Nick Bostrom, In the Great Silence There is Great Hope.
    The idea of life on Mars has been with us for nearly 300 years, ever since early astronomers saw what they believed to be polar ice caps through their primitive telescopes. Since then, space probes have indeed confirmed that the red planet has water and future missions might tell us if Mars contains any traces of life, whether extinct or still active. Such a discovery would be of tremendous scientific significance: the first time that any signs of extraterrestrial life have (...)
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  26. Nick Bostrom, Predictions From Philosophy?
    The purpose of this paper, boldly stated, is to propose a new type of philosophy, a philosophy whose aim is prediction. The pace of technological progress is increasing very rapidly: it looks as if we are witnessing an exponential growth, the growth-rate being proportional to the size already obtained, with scientific knowledge doubling every 10 to 20 years since the second world war, and with computer processor speed doubling every 18 months or so. It is argued that this technological development (...)
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  27. Nick Bostrom, The Case Against Aging.
    More and more researchers now agree that radical human life extension is only a matter of time. Aging is a biochemical process and humans will learn how to intervene in it and slow it down. Abolishing aging is theoretically possible. It is a goal that is not quite within reach yet, but it will be one day.
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  28. Nick Bostrom, Technological Revolutions: Ethics and Policy in the Dark.
    Technological revolutions are among the most important things that happen to humanity. Ethical assessment in the incipient stages of a potential technological revolution faces several difficulties, including the unpredictability of their long‐term impacts, the problematic role of human agency in bringing them about, and the fact that technological revolutions rewrite not only the material conditions of our existence but also reshape culture and even – perhaps – human nature. This essay explores some of these difficulties and the challenges they pose (...)
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  29. Nick Bostrom, Transhumanism: The World's Most Dangerous Idea?
    More precisely, transhumanists advocate increased funding for research to radically extend healthy lifespan and favor the development of medical and technological means to improve memory, concentration, and other human capacities. Transhumanists propose that everybody should have the option to use such means to enhance various dimensions of their cognitive, emotional, and physical well-being. Not only is this a natural extension of the traditional aims of medicine and technology, but it is also a great humanitarian opportunity to genuinely improve the human (...)
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  30. Nick Bostrom, The World in 2050.
    This essay explores some of the social, political, economic and technological issues that the world may have to face in the mid-21 st century. A central theme is the need to regulate molecular nanotechnology because of its immense abuse potential. Advanced nanotechnology can be used to build small self-replicating machines that can feed on organic matter - a bit like bacteria but much more versatile, and potentially more destructive than the H-bomb. The necessity to prevent irresponsible groups and individuals from (...)
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  31. Nick Bostrom, Three Ways to Advance Science.
    It is, of course, widely appreciated that certain academic contributions lay the theoretical or empirical foundations for further work. One reason why a great scientist such as Einstein is celebrated is that his discoveries have enabled thousands of other scientists to tackle problems that they could not have solved without relativity theory.
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  32. Nick Bostrom, Understanding Quine's Theses of Indeterminacy.
    The state of the art as regards the thesis of indeterminacy of translation is as follows. Very much has been said about it, most of which is based on misunderstandings. No satisfactory formulation of the thesis has been presented. No good argument has been given in favour of the thesis. No good argument has been advanced against it.
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  33. Nick Bostrom, Where Are They?
    When water was discovered on Mars, people got very excited. Where there is water, there may be life. Scientists are planning new missions to study the planet up close. NASA’s next Mars rover is scheduled to arrive in 2010. In the decade following, a Mars Sample Return mission might be launched, which would use robotic systems to collect samples of Martian rocks, soils, and atmosphere, and return them to Earth. We could then analyze the sample to see if it contains (...)
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  34. Nick Bostrom, What is Transhumanism?
    Over the past few years, a new paradigm for thinking about humankind's future has begun to take shape among some leading computer scientists, neuroscientists, nanotechnologists and researchers at the forefront of technological development. The new paradigm rejects a crucial assumption that is implicit in both traditional futurology and practically all of today's political thinking. This is the assumption that the "human condition" is at root a constant. Present-day processes can be fine-tuned; wealth can be increased and redistributed; tools can be (...)
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  35. Nick Bostrom, Why I Want to Be a Posthuman When I Grow Up.
    Extreme human enhancement could result in “posthuman” modes of being. After offering some definitions and conceptual clarification, I argue for two theses. First, some posthuman modes of being would be very worthwhile. Second, it could be very good for human beings to become posthuman.
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  36. Nick Bostrom, When Machines Outsmart Humans.
    Artificial intelligence is a possibility that should not be ignored in any serious thinking about the future, and it raises many profound issues for ethics and public policy that philosophers ought to start thinking about. This article outlines the case for thinking that human-level machine intelligence might well appear within the next half century. It then explains four immediate consequences of such a development, and argues that machine intelligence would have a revolutionary impact on a wide range of the social, (...)
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  37. Nick Bostrom, What We Should Say to the Skeptic.
    Since it is conceivable that the sun won't rise tomorrow although it has always done so in the past, we cannot hope for justification for the belief that it is strictly speaking absolutely certain that the sun will rise tomorrow. What we are looking for is an explanation of why it is reasonable even to believe with a high degree of confidence that the sun will rise.
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  38. Stuart Armstrong, Anders Sandberg & Nick Bostrom (forthcoming). Thinking Inside the Box: Using and Controlling an Oracle AI. Minds and Machines.
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  39. Nick Bostrom (forthcoming). Smart Policy: Cognitive Enhancement and the Public Interest. In Julian Savulescu, Ruud ter Muelen & Guy Kahane (eds.), Enhancing Human Capabilities. Wiley-Blackwell.
    Cognitive enhancement may be defined as the amplification or extension of core capacities of the mind through improvement or augmentation of internal or external information processing systems. Cognition refers to the processes an organism uses to organize information. These include acquiring information (perception), selecting (attention), representing (understanding) and retaining (memory) information, and using it to guide behavior (reasoning and coordination of motor outputs). Interventions to improve cognitive function may be directed at any of these core faculties.
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  40. Nick Bostrom (forthcoming). Technological Revolutions and the Problem of Prediction. Nanoethics: The Ethical and Social Implications of Nanotechnology. Wiley-Interscience, Hoboken, Nj.
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  41. Stuart Armstrong, Anders Sandberg & Nick Bostrom (2012). Thinking Inside the Box: Controlling and Using an Oracle AI. [REVIEW] Minds and Machines 22 (4):299-324.
    There is no strong reason to believe that human-level intelligence represents an upper limit of the capacity of artificial intelligence, should it be realized. This poses serious safety issues, since a superintelligent system would have great power to direct the future according to its possibly flawed motivation system. Solving this issue in general has proven to be considerably harder than expected. This paper looks at one particular approach, Oracle AI. An Oracle AI is an AI that does not act in (...)
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  42. Nick Bostrom (2012). Future of Humanity. In Jan Kyrre Berg Olsen Friis, Stig Andur Pedersen & Vincent F. Hendricks (eds.), A Companion to the Philosophy of Technology. Wiley-Blackwell.
     
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  43. Nick Bostrom (2012). The Superintelligent Will: Motivation and Instrumental Rationality in Advanced Artificial Agents. [REVIEW] Minds and Machines 22 (2):71-85.
    This paper discusses the relation between intelligence and motivation in artificial agents, developing and briefly arguing for two theses. The first, the orthogonality thesis, holds (with some caveats) that intelligence and final goals (purposes) are orthogonal axes along which possible artificial intellects can freely vary—more or less any level of intelligence could be combined with more or less any final goal. The second, the instrumental convergence thesis, holds that as long as they possess a sufficient level of intelligence, agents having (...)
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  44. Carl Shulman & Nick Bostrom (2012). How Hard is Artificial Intelligence? Evolutionary Arguments and Selection Effects. Journal of Consciousness Studies 19 (7-8):7-8.
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  45. Nick Bostrom (2011). A Patch for the Simulation Argument. Analysis 71 (1):54 - 61.
    This article reports on a newly discovered bug in the original simulation argument. Two different ways of patching the argument are proposed, each of which preserves the original conclusion.
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  46. Nick Bostrom (2011). Infinite Ethics. Analysis and Metaphysics 10:9-59.
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  47. Nick Bostrom (2010). The Simulation Argument. The Philosophers' Magazine 50 (50):28-29.
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  48. Nick Bostrom (2009). Astronomical Waste: The Opportunity Cost of Delayed Technological Development. Utilitas 15 (03):308-.
    With very advanced technology, a very large population of people living happy lives could be sustained in the accessible region of the universe. For every year that development of such technologies and colonization of the universe is delayed, there is therefore an opportunity cost: a potential good, lives worth living, is not being realized. Given some plausible assumptions, this cost is extremely large. However, the lesson for utilitarians is not that we ought to maximize the pace of technological development, but (...)
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  49. Nick Bostrom (2009). Are You A Computer Simulation? In Susan Schneider (ed.), Science Fiction and Philosophy: From Time Travel to Superintelligence. Wiley-Blackwell. 20.
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  50. Nick Bostrom (2009). Cognitive Enhancement: Methods, Ethics, Regulatory Challenges. [REVIEW] Science and Engineering Ethics 15 (3):311-341.
    Cognitive enhancement takes many and diverse forms. Various methods of cognitive enhancement have implications for the near future. At the same time, these technologies raise a range of ethical issues. For example, they interact with notions of authenticity, the good life, and the role of medicine in our lives. Present and anticipated methods for cognitive enhancement also create challenges for public policy and regulation.
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