Eight unusual science fiction plots

Post-apocalyptic 1. Hundreds of millions of years after civilization destroys itself and all complex life on Earth, human-level intelligence emerges again and sophisticated civilizations begin to form. Told as alternate history in which humans actually evolved in the shadow of a much more ancient alien civilization. The protagonist is an archaeologist and intellectual living in the … More Eight unusual science fiction plots


Previously I’ve assumed that the search for extraterrestrial life (SETI) is irrelevant to altruists. On further reflection I think that’s probably right, but it’s not obvious as I’d assumed. In this post I’ll argue: If SETI rules out 50% of the possible places aliens could be, you shouldn’t conclude that searching the other 50% is a … More On SETI

Takeoff speeds

Futurists have argued for years about whether the development of AGI will look more like a breakthrough within a small group (“fast takeoff”), or a continuous acceleration distributed across the broader economy or a large firm (“slow takeoff”). I currently think a slow takeoff is significantly more likely. This post explains some of my reasoning … More Takeoff speeds

Liability insurance

Someone walking around stabbing people can cause a lot of damage before anyone stops them. That’s a bummer, but some technologies make the situation much worse. If we don’t want to ban dangerous technologies outright (because they have legitimate purposes, or because we really love guns), we could instead expand liability insurance requirements. In the case of … More Liability insurance

Honest organizations

Suppose that I’m setting up an AI project, call it NiceAI. I may want to assure my competitors that I abide by strong safety norms, or make other commitments about NiceAI’s behavior. This post presents one possible strategy for making such commitments credible. A realistic plan will be much more complicated and messy, and this … More Honest organizations