Anders Sandberg: Radical Views of Utility and Evaluating Risk

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By Policy Punchline and Princeton University. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.
Dr. Anders Sandberg is a James Martin Research Fellow at the Future of Humanity Institute at the University of Oxford. He is a senior research fellow on the ERC UnPrEDICT Programme, and a research associate to the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, and the Oxford Centre for Neuroethics. He holds a PhD in computational neuroscience from Stockholm University, and his research focuses on existential risks and long-term societal and ethical facets of new technology regarding human enhancement. Existential risks are risks that deal with the end of something — in this case, the end of humanity and Earth-originating intelligent life. As Prof. Sandberg explains, the most dire of risks lead to a lot of interesting implications and there are many interesting links that bridge different risks. Understanding those linkages are interesting and useful in discovering what the risks are, and also what we can do about it. Risks are broadly classified into anthropogenic (in this sense, self-inflicted) and external (natural). In this episode of Policy Punchline, we discuss both types of risks, and why we should really care. After all, there is a low probability of this kind of existential risk occurring in our lifetime, and we have a fairly resilient infrastructure already in place. As Prof. Sandberg points out, “you can motivate the badness of existential risk in quite a lot of ways, both consequentialist and non-consequentialist”. The conversation then turns to utilitarianism and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the thought process and awareness of the field. Animal welfare (including humans) is brought up, and also the subject of human enhancement. Technological enhancements seem inevitable in the future, and, going back to anthropogenic risks, how this affects the future of humanity is a nuanced topic. We hope you enjoy listening to an episode on existential risks and utility, a subject that concerns all of us. The pandemic has brought increased attention to how vulnerable humans could actually be to unforeseen threats to our existence, and we hope this interview provokes thought with regards to the future of humanity.

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