Favoriting Techtonic with Mark Hurst: Playlist from April 20, 2020 Favoriting

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Favoriting April 20, 2020: Toby Ord, author, "The Precipice: Existential Risk and the Future of Humanity"

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Tonight: Toby Ord, author, "The Precipice: Existential Risk and the Future of Humanity"



About Toby Ord:

• Toby's book: The Precipice: Existential Risk and the Future of Humanity

• Toby's websites: tobyord.com and theprecipice.com

• Toby on Twitter: @tobyordoxford

• Oxford's Future of Humanity Institute

• Toby also founded Giving What We Can, encouraging "effective altruism."

Tech news:

Google's former CEO hopes the coronavirus makes people more "grateful" for Big Tech (by Teddy Schleifer in Recode, Apr 14): Eric Schmidt, on a livestream to the Economic Club of New York, said: "Think about what your life would be like in America without Amazon, for example. The benefit of these corporations — which we love to malign — in terms of the ability to communicate ... the ability to get information, is profound — and I hope people will remember that when this thing is finally over. ... So let's be a little bit grateful that these companies got the capital, did the investment, built the tools that we're using now and have really helped us out. Imagine having the same reality of this pandemic without these tools." (See also Teddy's thread on the speech.)

Apple and Google's Coronavirus Tracking Plan Is a Symptom of Their Power (by Jordan Pearson in Motherboard, Apr 15): "In the absence of a competent government response to the virus, and within a fragile and precarious economic system, politicians seem primed to put their faith in what Google and Apple are proposing because they are proposing something. ... Apple and Google aren't the first entities to propose such a scheme, but their power makes it nearly impossible for anybody but them to do it effectively. ... Apple and Google's proposal is utterly predictable given that the last decade-plus has been defined by the slow acclimation to constant tracking and surveillance by corporations and the government, for the often interlocking purposes of 'economy' and 'safety.'"

Disadvantages of the Google/Apple contact tracing proposal (Rachel Thomas summarizing The Markup coverage, Apr 14): "vulnerable to trolls and spoofing, other apps may try to grab data, long history of supposedly anonymous datasets being de-anonymized, and it relies on testing, which is lacking."

Will the Pandemic Usher in an Era of Mass Surveillance in Higher Education? (Chronicle of Higher Ed, Apr 14), includes quote from recent Techtonic guest Chris Gilliard: "The pandemic will hasten a 'race to the bottom to a surveillance society, with very little indication that it's going to make people safer,' said Chris Gilliard, a professor of English at Macomb Community College, in Michigan, who studies privacy and digital policy."

- - -

Check out techtonic.fm for recent Techtonic interviews and Little Slice of Tech Pie segments.

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Artist Track Images Approx. start time
  Toby Ord, author of "The Precipice," on the end of the world.
Tomaš Dvořák  Game Boy Tune   Favoriting
Favoriting
 
  Mark's intro  
Favoriting
 
  Interview with Toby Ord, Part 1  
Favoriting
0:14:53 (Pop-up)
  Interview with Toby Ord, Part 2  
Favoriting
0:39:34 (Pop-up)


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Listener comments!

Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:00pm
listener james from westwood:

"Unaligned artificial intelligence"—well, neutral is better than chaotic evil, I guess.
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:00pm
ultradamno:

Hello Mark! Techtonagnarökers!
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:01pm
Handy Haversack:

Hi, Mark and the Technically Isolated! Tech Gin: poured! All we need is ...

@james: that position is assailed by the players in my game, trust me.

Hey, ultradamno!
  6:01pm
chresti:

Hi Mark and techtards!
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:01pm
ultradamno:

Hiya Handy!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:02pm
Mark Hurst:

@James, @ultra, @Handy, @chresti, welcome!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:02pm
Phillippe Bastille:

Hey Mark and people technically adept at using a comment board
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:03pm
Mark Hurst:

That includes you, Phillippe - and welcome
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:03pm
Bas NL:

Mark! Markettes!
Avatar 🤖 6:03pm
herb.nyc:

hi all. i cheated and scrolled down, and see a 1 in 6 chance of existential risk. i take it as tue, wed, thu, fri, sat, and sun being the riskiest. ie, we're safe.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:03pm
Mark Hurst:

@Bas!
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:03pm
Handy Haversack:

Hey, Phillippe! Glad humanity was not wiped out before you got here!
  6:03pm
Dave Miss:

techtard here. Hello all.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:04pm
Phillippe Bastille:

@Handy It hasn't been?
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:04pm
Handy Haversack:

@herb.nyc: Thursdays are traditional for it.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:04pm
Mark Hurst:

@Dave, @herb, greetings!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:04pm
queems:

howdy all
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:04pm
Mark Hurst:

@queems thanks for joining us
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:05pm
Franco Twinkie:

Okay, got some of coffee and I'm all ready for the bad news. Fire away, Mark!
Avatar 🤖 6:05pm
herb.nyc:

@handy, holy sinner's crossroads, batman!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:05pm
queems:

@mark i'm always lurking around here somewhere
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:05pm
Mark Hurst:

@Franco between the news & the coffee, you should be well awake by the end of the show
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:06pm
ultradamno:

Well, that little pink Covid-19 looks like he could turn out to be your little buddy sidekick on all your sexy space adventures going forward.
Avatar 🤖 6:06pm
herb.nyc:

Economics Club? any economics person may join? if so, we are *grateful*.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:06pm
Ignatatus666:

FYI
NYPD detained 68 and arrested 2 at a Brooklyn barber shop for not social distancing
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:07pm
queems:

@ignatatus pretty sure the two arrested had illegal firearms
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:07pm
Handy Haversack:

It's like he's asking us to keep wanting chemotherapy after the cancer is cured -- cured by other means, in this case.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:09pm
Phillippe Bastille:

Social distancing really hit the oil companies today. Oil is at -$13 a barrel -- basically they are paying to get the oil taken off their hands.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:09pm
Ike:

If Amazon didn't exist, wouldn't that mean buy dot com (remember them?) would still exist and would be partly in its place instead?
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:09pm
Megaroni:

Thank you Techtonic for calling out these horrible tech giants so out of touch with working people!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:10pm
Mark Hurst:

@igna @ike @megi hello!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:11pm
melinda:

hi everyone!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:11pm
Mark Hurst:

@melinda, thanks for joining
@megaroni appreciate it
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:12pm
Peter from Dover NJ:

Let's also remember Microsoft's war against Netscape in the browser wars of the 1990s.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:15pm
Mr. Pumpy:

many mansions
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:15pm
melinda:

I sat out a Zoom cocktail hour with old friends partly because I don't trust Zoom, then felt lame. Pandemic social dilemmas.
  6:16pm
twirlaround:

Hey Mark. It's Bobby. Listening in.
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:16pm
Ken From Hyde Park:

Good evening, Mark and Branch Covidians.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:16pm
queems:

@melinda same, and then i had to download it for a work thing anyway so i missed the fun and i'm still being surveilled
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:16pm
Handy Haversack:

All of these points are things we should all remember for the *inevitable* times in the near and middle future when friends, coworkers, family, and strangers on the damn street will be praising Google and Amazon and Apple for this stuff. We're the front lines of not letting it be normalized!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:16pm
Mark Hurst:

Hey Bobby, thanks for joining!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:17pm
Mark Hurst:

@KenFHP good evening, sir
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:17pm
Mark Hurst:

@Handy make sure you praise them loudly and enthusiastically... Amazon in particular doesn't seem to have much patience for (employees, now ex-employees) who ask too many questions.
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:18pm
Handy Haversack:

@queems, I have to use it for work and other things, too. But I uninstall after every call and never get into anything sensitive: health, immigration, shoe size ...
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:19pm
melinda:

@Handy true! I've accepted the role of tin foil hat wearer.
  6:19pm
kevlicki:

Hello everyone! Late to the party, but finally listening live after a couple weeks off.
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:20pm
ultradamno:

They get right down to Trump language about a fired strike organizer www.cnbc.com...
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:20pm
Mark Hurst:

Hi kevlicki, thanks for making it to the live broadcast. Just in time for a list of nightmares!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:20pm
mndave:

Good evening Mark and techizens! "Hierarchy of nightmares" is a phrase I'm borrowing for the near future, hope that's okay
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:21pm
Mark Hurst:

@mndave hello hello! "Nightmare Hierarchy" would be a really bad name for a band (or would it)...
Avatar 🤖 6:22pm
herb.nyc:

asteroids? how about that Monty Python foot stomping on us?
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:23pm
Mark Hurst:

Scientists say the foot will miss us by a million miles.
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:23pm
ultradamno:

There was a Japanese band called Nightmare, there was probably a hierarchy with the membership www.discogs.com...
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:24pm
ultradamno:

...or within.
  6:24pm
chresti:

Haha Mark “destroy humaniteeheehee”
Avatar 🤖 6:25pm
herb.nyc:

how about that Monty Python joke that was used in WWII, and it killed so many soldiers.
  6:25pm
Dave Miss:

BTW was on an open Zoom “comedy show“ which got zero-day exploited, And whoever it was started showing child pornography in front of about 30 people. It was horrible! So don’t use that bullshit platform. NOPE
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:26pm
queems:

@dave YIKES
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:27pm
Handy Haversack:

@Dave, there are measures hosts can take to make the meetings more secure from *other people* now -- but the host has to know to do it. And that doesn't keep Zoom from selling, using, turning over any data from the meetings.
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:28pm
ultradamno:

Or best time to be at Yellowstone, it could be more unpleasant every where else once it blows.

After the earthquake in Boise recently, there were reports that it had nothing to do with the supervolcano, which made me think it had everything to do with the supervolcano.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:28pm
Mark Hurst:

@Handy exactly right on both counts
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:29pm
Handy Haversack:

Was never head of supervolcano. Born in Shropshire I was.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:29pm
Mark Hurst:

@ultra "no one panic, this has NOTHING TO DO with the supervolcano percolating below our feet"
Avatar 🤖 6:30pm
herb.nyc:

USandA v Russia nuke war? how about nuke usage by a 3rd country?
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:31pm
Mark Hurst:

@herb here he's talking about the exchanges that are most likely to end all human life (like i said, nightmare hierarchy)
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:32pm
Mark Hurst:

OK, everyone, get ready for THE SCARIEST part of the interview, in my opinion: pandemics
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:32pm
queems:

D:
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:32pm
Handy Haversack:

If anyone wants to read about what it might look like in existential-level climate change or supervulcanism, check out _Carboniferous Giants and Mass Extinction: The Late Paleozoic Ice Age World_.
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:32pm
ultradamno:

Fry:
This snow is beautiful. I'm glad global warming never happened.

Leela:
Actually, it did. But thank God nuclear winter canceled it out.

-Futurama
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:33pm
Mark Hurst:

"Supervulcan" sounds cool, tho
Avatar 6:33pm
Carmichael:

OK, popping up for some air. Heya Mark and technos.
Avatar 🤖 6:33pm
herb.nyc:

thanks for clarification, mark. i sleep better tonight.
  6:33pm
Dave Miss:

@handy @mark. I’m with you. I gave the warning to my friend (host) before but wasn’t heeded.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:33pm
Mark Hurst:

@Carmichael good to see you
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:34pm
Handy Haversack:

Hey, Carm! This has nothing to do with the supervolcano!
Avatar 6:34pm
Carmichael:

Glad to hear that!?
Avatar 6:36pm
Jack:

I hope this isn't inappropriate. Over at Slate Star Codex, there was a recent review and discussion of Toby Ord's book: slatestarcodex.com...
Avatar 6:36pm
MacDonald:

Does Toby get into why we're all having weird dreams?
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:37pm
queems:

i've been worried about germs my whole life so this has been great
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:37pm
Mark Hurst:

@Jack good pointer, thanks
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:38pm
Mark Hurst:

@queems stay worried...
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:38pm
dale:

plum island in suffolk county could be an epicenter of an animal virus that wipes us out.
  6:38pm
Dano312:

Why will people understand the odds the author is writing about (such as 1 in 1000) if they get crazy when the lottery grows high and some think they will be "lucky" even though the odds are often 100 of millions to one, orders higher magnitude than what we are talking about. Who will really understand these
numbers
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:38pm
queems:

@mark oh i will
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:38pm
Mark Hurst:

@MacDonald no, Toby doesn't, but the NYT did recently - www.nytimes.com...
  6:39pm
kevlicki:

Mark, I’m on the wait list for David Quammans book called spillover. About disease coming from other parts of the animal kingdom to humyns. Excitedly anticipating hearing the audio book
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:39pm
Mark Hurst:

@kevlicki interested to hear what you think. maybe DQ should be on the show?
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:40pm
Handy Haversack:

Getting rid of industrial meat production does help reduce risk of zoonotic diseases, too.
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:40pm
ultradamno:

So is everyone worried about being injected with ID/tracker chips with a hypothetical Covid-19 vaccine (and would they have to wait when flu vaccines exist)? www.express.co.uk...
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:40pm
Mark Hurst:

@Handy agreed - hard to see how that happens, tho
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:42pm
melinda:

Spillover is scary.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:42pm
Mark Hurst:

@ultra subdermal chips are real, and Covid "passport" proposals are real, but that particular story comes across as sensationalist. i'd be very skeptical
Avatar 6:42pm
MacDonald:

Thanks Mark, and thanks for this interview and the show...
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:42pm
Handy Haversack:

If every Techtonic listener just convinces 10,000,000 other people to become a vegetarian, we're most of the way there!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:42pm
Mark Hurst:

@Handy let's have it done by Thursday, please
@MacDonald thanks!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:43pm
Phillippe Bastille:

@Handy I'll only promise 3,000,000 conversions. My evangelical skills kinda suck
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:44pm
Mark Hurst:

C'mon, Phillippe, TRY HARDER
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:44pm
queems:

:|
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:44pm
ultradamno:

Well, these people aren't ready to be that nuanced, they see the vaccine chip as the mark of the beast twitter.com...
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:44pm
Mark Hurst:

So sorry, queems. (germ nightmares)
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:45pm
queems:

@mark i guess we all have to go sometime
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:45pm
Phillippe Bastille:

@Mark that would be me trying harder, unfortunately.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:45pm
Mark Hurst:

@ultra they're out there, true... anti-vaxxer worldview is not welcome on this show
  6:46pm
kevlicki:

Mark, I heard quammen on Doug Henwopds program, he’s done fascinating research
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:46pm
Mark Hurst:

@Phillippe ok, ok. 3,000,000 is fine (sigh)
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:47pm
Handy Haversack:

Looks like we'll be adding Phillippe to table 6.1 ...
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:48pm
ultradamno:

A lot of you have probably seen this, but it made think of it: Goth Anti-Vaxxer Refuses to Listen to The Cure www.rivetingnews.org...
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:48pm
Phillippe Bastille:

speaking of anti-vaxxing... I learned today that the CDC is discouraging pharmacies from doing vaccinations in the current environment. I spent 4 hours driving around trying to get a tetanus booster
Avatar 6:50pm
Carmichael:

Ultra, that's a hilarious story. A guy who thinks his mother is an alien, a lab in Geneva has opened a portal to another dimension, and COVID chips will be inserted in everyone. And ... wait for it .... he's an elected official!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:50pm
Mark Hurst:

@Phillippe that is annoying (& scary if it stays this way)
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:50pm
Peter from Dover NJ:

My daughter's K-8 school had a high percentage of anti-wax parents. A chickenpox epidemic hit, and 25-30% of the student body was out sick. We were in daily contact with the NJ Dept of Health. I'm pro vaccinator nation.
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:51pm
Handy Haversack:

Yes, I do very much hope that however we wipe ourselves out doesn't foreclose the possibility of the winner of the kangaroo-raccoon wars from achieving spaceflight.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:51pm
Mark Hurst:

We can thank Google's YouTube, and Facebook's Facebook, for encouraging, spreading, & monetizing anti-vax (and flat-earth and other conspiracies). See the May 20, 2019 show for more on flat-earthers - www.wfmu.org...
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:51pm
ultradamno:

John Oliver did a nice piece about (in part) Lupus patients running short on their needed Hydroxychloroquine pills because of the current, largely White House/Fox News driven rush to get it.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:51pm
Phillippe Bastille:

If you had to get a COVID chip, which camp would you be in: Salsa, guacamole, or onion dip?
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:52pm
Handy Haversack:

Also: what are the chances, I wonder, that climate change and energy shortages put a stop to AI research and other tech research rather before this transformation can occur.
Avatar 6:54pm
fleep:

AI needs power. Until it can eat, can't we just pull the plug?
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:54pm
Mark Hurst:

@fleep let's hope
  6:54pm
kevlicki:

Anyone else bummed about the delayed delivery of irpair and reflectables? Stupid virus
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:55pm
Handy Haversack:

We *are* good at designing foolproof failsafes, @fleep!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:56pm
Peter from Dover NJ:

@ Mark Hurst: on artificial intelligence: so were the Terminator movies an premonition of what we might expect? I'm serious here.
  6:57pm
Dave Miss:

Thanks Mark. Sweet dreams everybody!
Avatar 6:57pm
Carmichael:

More like Total Recall, Peter.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:57pm
Mark Hurst:

@Peter I think there are other risks from AI-related companies (look at our economy right now), not so much shape-shifting time-traveling robots etc.
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:57pm
Handy Haversack:

Very interesting interview, Mark. There are so many ways we might wipe ourselves out, one starts arguing for favorites like they are dog breeds or makes of car.

Still got my fingers crossed that kangaroos or raccoons make it off this rock!

Thanks so much for the show!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:58pm
Mark Hurst:

@Dave have a nice relaxing evening. Cuppa tea?
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:58pm
Corey:

Thanks Mark for the interesting discussion. Contemplating apocalyptic scenarios is much more charged these days!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:58pm
Mark Hurst:

@Handy thanks. I'd prefer kangaroos, but realistically I think raccoons have it.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:58pm
Mark Hurst:

@Corey so true - and thanks
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:59pm
Handy Haversack:

They *do* have a lot of practice washing their hands already!
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:59pm
Bas NL:

So.. carpe diem folks! Great interview. Thanks Mark & Toby!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:59pm
queems:

thanks mark!
  6:59pm
chresti:

Thanks Mark!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:59pm
Phillippe Bastille:

Thanks Mark!
  6:59pm
twirlaround:

Great show! Good night
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:59pm
Franco Twinkie:

Bold and refreshing!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 7:00pm
Mark Hurst:

Thanks, everyone!
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