Re: Goo prophylaxis (was: Hanson antiproliferation

Nicholas Bostrom (
Tue, 26 Aug 1997 12:25:44 +0000

Anders Sandberg wrote:

> "Nicholas Bostrom" <> writes:

> > We underestimate small, common disasters, overestimate the risks of
> > huge disasters, and we underestimate the risks of absolutley enormous
> > disasters. Or we put them in the same category as the huge disasters
> > without realising that they may be millions of times worse.
> Hmm, you mean like the risk for dinosaur killer asteroid impacts
> or vacuum decay? They seem to belong in the category of disasters
> that are so absurdly devastating that they do not appear real; we
> can relate to nuclear war and plagues of nanites, but not the
> truly big disasters?

No, nuclear war and especially plagues of nanites belong to the
truly big disasters.

1. Small, common disaster: car accident

2. "huge" disaster: Tjernobyl, major earthquakes

3. enormous disasters: grey goo, all-out nuclear war

There is more difference between 2 and 3 than between 1 and 2.

I think people would do well to pay more attention to the dangers of
killer asteroids and vacuum decay, if it weren't for the fact that
there are much more probable disasters in category 3 that they should
concentrate on instead.

Nicholas Bostrom