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Bostrom: From Extinction to Transcendence

27 Feb 2013, 14:28 UTC
Bostrom: From Extinction to Transcendence
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At the top of my list of people I’d someday like to have a long conversation with is Nick Bostrom, a philosopher and director of Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute. As Centauri Dreams readers will likely know, Bostrom has been thinking about the issue of human extinction for a long time, his ideas playing interestingly against questions not only about our own past but about our future possibilities if we can leave the Solar System. And as Ross Andersen demonstrates in Omens, a superb feature on Bostrom’s ideas in Aeon Magazine, this is one philosopher whose notions may make even the most optimistic futurist think twice.

I suppose there is such a thing as a ‘philosophical mind.’ How else to explain someone who, at the age of 16, runs across an anthology of 19th Century German philosophy and finds himself utterly at home in the world of Schopenhauer and Nietzsche? Not one but three undergraduate degrees at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden followed. Now Bostrom applies his philosophical background, along with training in mathematics, to questions that are literally larger than life. As Andersen reminds us, ninety-nine percent of all species that have lived on our planet are now ...

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