Astronomical Waste: The Opportunity Cost of Delayed Technological Development

  title={Astronomical Waste: The Opportunity Cost of Delayed Technological Development},
  author={Nick Bostrom},
  pages={308 - 314}
  • N. Bostrom
  • Published 1 November 2003
  • Economics
  • Utilitas
With very advanced technology, a very large population of people living happy lives could be sustained in the accessible region of the universe. For every year that development of such technologies and colonization of the universe is delayed, there is therefore a corresponding opportunity cost: a potential good, lives worth living, is not being realized. Given some plausible assumptions, this cost is extremely large. However, the lesson for standard utilitarians is not that we ought to maximize… 
Existential Risk and Growth
Technological innovation can create or mitigate risks of catastrophes— such as nuclear war, extreme climate change, or powerful artificial intelligence run amok—that could imperil human civilization.
Of Malthus and Methuselah: does longevity treatment aggravate global catastrophic risks?
Global catastrophic risk is a term that refers to the risk of the occurrence of an event that kills at least millions of people across several continents. While it has been argued by a number of
The Ethics of Outer Space: A Consequentialist Perspective
Outer space is of major interest to consequentialist ethics for two basic reasons. First, the vast expanses of outer space offer opportunities for achieving vastly more good or bad consequences than
Against the Empire
It is argued that the "generic" evolutionary pathway of advanced technological civilizations are more likely to be optimization-driven than expansion-driven, in contrast to the prevailing opinions
Forecast for the Next Eon: Applied Cosmology and the Long-Term Fate of Intelligent Beings
Cosmology seems extremely remote from everyday human practice and experience. It is usually taken for granted that cosmological data cannot rationally influence our beliefs about the fate of
Risks of space colonization
Space colonization is humankind's best bet for long-term survival. This makes the expected moral value of space colonization immense. However, colonizing space also creates risks --- risks whose
The Infinitarian Challenge to Aggregative Ethics
Aggregative consequentialism and several other popular moral theories are threatened with paralysis: when coupled with some plausible assumptions, they seem to imply that it is always ethically
The Environmental Risks of Incomplete Globalisation
Abstract As the liberal optimism of the long 1990s has faded into a world of growing inequality and resurging nationalism, there is less certainty about the prospects of economic convergence and
Sharing the World with Digital Minds
The minds of biological creatures occupy a small corner of a much larger space of possible minds that could be created once we master the technology of artificial intelligence. Yet many of our moral


The coming technological singularity: How to survive in the post-human era
It is argued in this paper that the authors are on the edge of change comparable to the rise of human life on Earth and the precise cause of this change is the imminent creation by technology of entities with greater than human intelligence.
Existential risks: analyzing human extinction scenarios and related hazards
This paper analyzes a recently emerging category: that of existential risks, threats that could case the authors' extinction or destroy the potential of Earth - originating intelligent life.
The age of spiritual machines: when computers exceed human intelligence
From the Publisher: Ray Kurzweil, called a "restless genius" by The Wall Street Journal, is responsible for some of the most compelling technology of our era. The brains behind the Kurzweil Reading
Are We Living in a Computer Simulation
This paper argues that at least one of the following propositions is true: (1) the human species is very likely to go extinct before reaching a "posthuman" stage; (2) any posthuman civilization is
The coming technological singularity
Within thirty years, we will have the technological means to create superhuman intelligence. Shortly after, the human era will be ended. Is such progress avoidable? If not to be avoided, can events
Robot: Mere Machine to Transcendent Mind
From the Publisher: In this mind-bending new book, Hans Moravec takes the reader on a roller-coaster ride packed with startling predictions. He tells us, for instance, that in the not-too-distant
Engines of Creation
Part 1 The foundations of foresight: engines of construction the principles of change predicting and projecting. Part 2 Profiles of the possible: engines of abundance thinking machines the world
Morality, utilitarianism, and rights
Sources 1. Introductory comments Part I. Metaethical Preliminaries: 2. Moral philosophy and the analysis of language 3. Rational desires 4. The explanation of moral language 5. Morality and its
Nanosystems - molecular machinery, manufacturing, and computation
This book discusses molecular manufacturing systems, nanoscale Structural Components, and Nanomechanical Computational Systems, as well as some of the techniques used in macromolecular engineering and its applications.
Robin Hanson, and James Lenman, and for the financial support of a British Academy Postdoctoral Award
  • Robin Hanson, and James Lenman, and for the financial support of a British Academy Postdoctoral Award