December 22nd, 2010

Battlestar Galactica

How will Humankind will meet its end? And a poll!

I'm in the midst of planning for my spring "Science, Technology, & Society: Examining the Future Through a Science Fiction Lens" course, and was researching a bit for interesting material. Here's some of what I found.

Are you the very model of a singularitarian?



Speaking of transcendental or catastrophic change, this book on Armageddon Science looks interesting. Here's an interesting interview with the author, discussing various end-of-humankind scenarios.

Poll #1659680 End of the world!

What's the most likely extinction scenario for humankind?

Nuclear war!
1(3.4%)
Bioterrorism or biowar!
0(0.0%)
Natural virus or other microbe (think Cordyceps fungus)!
1(3.4%)
Nanotech run wild (think grey goo)!
0(0.0%)
Singularity-good (think Rapture of the Nerds)!
0(0.0%)
Singularity-bad (think Terminator or Berserker)!
0(0.0%)
Other science gone mad!
0(0.0%)
Alien invasion!
1(3.4%)
Asteroid collision!
1(3.4%)
Slow extinction (think global climate change, overpopulation, end of cheap energy...).
21(72.4%)
Any or all of the above!
1(3.4%)
Other (explain in comments).
2(6.9%)
What are you worried about? Humankind will survive forever.
1(3.4%)

Later: How do we avoid such scenarios?

In related news, have you seen the Google Ngram Viewer? Interesting tool for seeing word usage in the books that Google has scanned. Note how "natural philosophy" reaches peak usage in the early 1800s, while "fuck" saw its peak usage from the late 1600s to the early 1700s, appearing almost not at all from the early 1800s through the 1960 or so. "Extinction" doesn't see much regular use until the late 1700s, becoming more popular ever since. What can we learn from these trends? Just sayin'.

Singularitarianly yours,
Chris