• Anthropic Bias

    Anthropic Bias explores how to reason when you suspect that your evidence is biased by “observation selection effects”–that is, evidence that has been filtered by the precondition that there be some suitably positioned observer to “have” the evidence. This conundrum–sometimes alluded to as “the anthropic principle,” “self-locating belief,” or “indexical information”–turns out to be a surprisingly perplexing and intellectually stimulating challenge, one abounding with important implications for many areas in science and philosophy.,There are the philosophical thought experiments and paradoxes: the Doomsday Argument; Sleeping Beauty; the Presumptuous Philosopher; Adam & Eve; the Absent-Minded Driver; the Shooting Room.,And there are the applications in contemporary science: cosmology (“How many universes are there?”, “Why does the universe appear fine-tuned for life?”); evolutionary theory (“How improbable was the evolution of intelligent life on our planet?”); the problem of time’s arrow (“Can it be given a thermodynamic explanation?”); quantum physics (“How can the many-worlds theory be tested?”); game-theory problems with imperfect recall (“How to model them?”); even traffic analysis (“Why is the ‘next lane’ faster?”).,Anthropic Bias argues that the same principles are at work across all these domains. And it offers a synthesis: a mathematically explicit theory of observation selection effects that attempts to meet scientific needs while steering clear of philosophical paradox.

  • Global Catastrophic Risks

    A global catastrophic risk is one with the potential to wreak death and destruction on a global scale. In human history, wars and plagues have done so on more than one occasion, and misguided ideologies and totalitarian regimes have darkened an entire era or a region. Advances in technology are adding dangers of a new kind. It could happen again.,In Global Catastrophic Risks 25 leading experts look at the gravest risks facing humanity in the 21st century, including asteroid impacts, gamma-ray bursts, Earth-based natural catastrophes, nuclear war, terrorism, global warming, biological weapons, totalitarianism, advanced nanotechnology, general artificial intelligence, and social collapse. The book also addresses over-arching issues – policy responses and methods for predicting and managing catastrophes.,This is invaluable reading for anyone interested in the big issues of our time; for students focusing on science, society, technology, and public policy; and for academics, policy-makers, and professionals working in these acutely important fields.

  • Superintelligence

    Superintelligence asks the questions: What happens when machines surpass humans in general intelligence? Will artificial agents save or destroy us? Nick Bostrom lays the foundation for understanding the future of humanity and intelligent life.,The human brain has some capabilities that the brains of other animals lack. It is to these distinctive capabilities that our species owes its dominant position. If machine brains surpassed human brains in general intelligence, then this new superintelligence could become extremely powerful – possibly beyond our control. As the fate of the gorillas now depends more on humans than on the species itself, so would the fate of humankind depend on the actions of the machine superintelligence.,But we have one advantage: we get to make the first move. Will it be possible to construct a seed Artificial Intelligence, to engineer initial conditions so as to make an intelligence explosion survivable? How could one achieve a controlled detonation?,This profoundly ambitious and original book breaks down a vast track of difficult intellectual terrain. After an utterly engrossing journey that takes us to the frontiers of thinking about the human condition and the future of intelligent life, we find in Nick Bostrom’s work nothing less than a reconceptualization of the essential task of our time.