Friday, 6 February 2015

An Addendum Re Existential Risk Arguments: A Comment and A Fresh Application at Cern with Hawking and de Grass Tyson at the Centre

Related to my latest blog post on the existential risk argument and Pascal's Wager , there's a nice comment by Karim Jebari over at his otherwise mostly Swedish blog - illustrating, with reference to Sven Ove Hansson, how there are certainly openings for taking such risks seriously without basing one's reasoning on the simplistic (alternatively trivial) existential risk argument, and that one may thus avoid exposing oneself to the wager analogy (in full at least). This at the cost of the conclusion being less obvious and straightforward, such as the typical existential risk argument advocates otherwise seem to like them to be. Since in the original post I referred to exactly that being done – however mostly outside the devoted existential risk argument advocacy circles – in bioethics, environmental ethics and research ethics for a rather long time already, and since I have myself developed a rather complicated theory to exactly that effect, I'm of course more than happy to welcome such solutions, although it remains unclear what the devoted existential risk argument advocates (to which I do not count Karim or Sven Ove) would say about such more developed approaches to the area.

I'm even less certain if I should count cosmologist Stephen Hawking and astrophysicist Neil de Grass Tyson among the lot who embrace such willingness to nuance and complication. This due to their recent airings of Star Gate- and Armageddon-related worries due to the coming CERN reopening of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) to perform an experiment to simulate – some say "recreate" – Big Bang.

Read it all here, and judge for yourself.

On a personal note, I do have to confess that, as I'm happy to have just been invited to talk about the existential risk matter at the Swedish Institute for Future Studies in April, and the experiments at CERN are scheduled to start in March, I rather hope they're wrong.