[Paper Discussion] Astronomical Waste: Opp cost of delayed tech development

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About the event

Paper discussion events are events where we’ll discuss a paper in the field of existential risk. Every week we hope to discuss a new paper. Members are free to propose a paper by for the upcoming weeks by messaging to the admin.

Proposer of the paper, if accepted will have to read, digest, summarize and produce the paper in a simple approachable manner for the wider audience. Critique on the paper or new insights gained from reading the paper contextualized to modern times are encouraged.

The purpose of paper discussion events is to make scientific literature available to the public and to build a heightened sense of awareness about the nuances of human/life’s existence on Earth.

This is a free event, but please RSVP in advance. You can email the admin on the email: connect@rayyanzahid.com.


[Paper Discussion] Astronomical Waste: Opp cost of delayed tech developement

Paper Discussion] Astronomical Waste: The Opportunity Cost of Delayed Technological Development - NICK BOSTROM, Oxford University (2003) ------- About the event -------Paper discussion events are events where we'll discuss a paper in the field of existential risk. Every week we hope to discuss a new paper.

Paper name

Astronomical Waste: The Opportunity Cost of Delayed Technological Development - NICK BOSTROM, Oxford University (2003)



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 a corresponding 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 standard utilitarians is not that we ought to maximize the pace of technological development, but rather that we ought to maximize its safety, i.e. the probability that colonization will eventually occur. This goal has such high utility that standard utilitarians ought to focus all their efforts on it. Utilitarians of a ‘person affecting’ stripe should accept a modified version of this conclusion. Some mixed ethical views, which combine utilitarian considerations with other criteria, will also be committed to a similar bottom line.

Author Details###

Nick Bostrom is a Swedish-born philosopher at the University of Oxford known for his work on existential risk, the anthropic principle, human enhancement ethics, superintelligence risks, and the reversal test. In 2011, he founded the Oxford Martin Program on the Impacts of Future Technology, and is the founding director of the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University. In 2009 and 2015, he was included in Foreign Policy’s Top 100 Global Thinkers list. [Wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nick_Bostrom]

Presenter details

Rayyan Zahid is a systems thinker and a researcher in software language design at a startup in San Francisco. In light of the recent global risks, he is currently writing a book on the future of humanity. Rayyan Zahid is also personally trained by former US Vice President Al Gore for The Climate Reality Project to serve as a Climate Reality Leader.

Rayyan volunteers at the Santa Fe Institute, is a life-long global citizen of AIESEC and a member of Future Team Pakistan.

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Welcome humans far and wide! We’re an online and in-person group hosting live speaking events on a range of topics that concern our future. You can join us in person if possible or on one of our live streams. Look out for our virtual happy hours and other networking events.

This is a group for anyone interested in our collective future from the lens of science, design, social systems, systems thinking, complex systems, existential risks, biology, transhumanism, finance and economics and so on. All skill levels are welcome. I started this group to meet other people actively working to preserve life on Earth.

Let’s get together for affordable activities in our communities, like reading at the library, online presentations on topics that enrich us, having discussion picnics at Dolores Park, and compete to publish things together.