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How Civilisations End(s)

Musings on existential risk following a talk I gave in 2024 at DevOpsDays Amsterdam. The talk, although called “How civilisations end” isn’t really about existential risk, because while there is a need to find strategies to manage the risk posed by BioTech, AI, and other technologies with the potential to ‘end civilisations’, there is also a much more tangible risk, of those technologies, ending ‘civilisation as we know it’: even minor fuck-ups with  algorithmic decision making (let alone AI that would deserve that name) or other technologies that humanity has just started to dabble in, can have major negative impact on society, democracy, economy and the environment.

Managing the challenges of the future today

This talk is not about scare mongering, it's about using the very technologies that pose global and existential risks, to drive the evolution of our civilisation into a positive direction...

Without giving away too much, the solutions are simple in theory, exceedingly hard in practice:

  • create awareness
  • define strategies to manage the risks but more so the technologies (which, in some cases may mean thinking about technologies that don’t exist yet)
  • define ethics frameworks

and do this at individual, local and global scale, which, humanity hasn’t got a particularly good track record of.

We may also have to become smarter, ironically, most likely through the use of the very technologies that pose the risks.

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