What does it mean to be human? Can we improve our human nature with technological enhancements? Swedish philosopher Nick Bostrom began thinking of a future full of human enhancement, nanotechnology and cloning long before they became mainstream concerns. He will explore his views on the future speeding towards us in this key lecture.
Nick Bostrom, director of Oxford's Future of Humanity Institute: We have the pedal to the metal, we are accelerating ahead, we're going faster and faster. Maybe not with very much foresight or very much of a plan as to where we want to end up. But we are going really fast, accelerating. Bostrom is worried about the way humanity is rushing forward. The time between having an idea and developing it is getting increasingly shorter. This gives less space to reflect on the safety of a product. Bostrom believes that humans cannot see the existential danger this entails. If the future is a place where we really want to live, then we will have to think in different and better-targeted ways about ourselves and about technological developments.
From his famous simulation argument which presents evidence for the Matrix-like idea that humans are living in a computer simulation to the impact of uploading our brains on human consciousness, Bostrom approaches both the inevitable and the speculative using the tools of philosophy, bioethics and probability. He is the co-founder and chair of both the World Transhumanist Association, which advocates the use of technology to extend human capabilities and lifespans, and the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies. In his prolific writing, Bostrom tackles the future of the human condition head-on, laying out both the promises of accelerating technology and its potential for catastrophe.
His new book Superintelligence will be published in June 2014 and reach the Dutch market in the autumn.
TedTalk Nick Bostrom on the three biggest problems for humanity.