[extropy-chat] Lifeboat Foundation awared to Freitas, Joy

Robert Bradbury robert.bradbury at gmail.com
Tue Mar 14 12:30:57 UTC 2006

On 3/13/06, "Hal Finney" <hal at finney.org> wrote:
> Via slashdot I found this article about an award to Robert Freitas and
> Bill Joy: http://lifeboat.com/news.cgi?40


I saw this.  My initial reaction was also "Who is Lifeboat?"  Further
investigation seemed to suggest it was an organization wanting to preserve
humanity from both natural and self-created hazards.  That in and of itself
seemed reasonable.

However, I was struck by how long the Board list was, particularly given the
fact that a number of years ago I had asked Ray to be on the SAB for
Robiobotics and he had declined.  Now perhaps his thinking was different
back then, but one would expect a person interested in the risks of
biotechnology would want to be on the SAB of a company proposing to
facilitate "whole genome engineering".  Why participate in Lifeboat and not
Robiobotics?  I also know some of the people listed on the Board (Freitas,
Fahy, More, Vita-More, Annisimov, Yudkowsky,  de Grey, Fossel, Rose, etc.)
and know that they have relatively high standards with respect to projects
they would actively participate in and/or support.

So a combination of the length of the Board list and my experience sent me
on a fishing expedition.  The "whois" on the domain lifeboat.com doesn't
help much as it appears to be registered to one "Eric Klien" in Buffalo,
NY.  So I thought "relative" of Bruce Klein (?) of the Immortality Institute
but the last name spelling is different.  Now, from the /. article it does
appear that "Eric Klien" was involved in "The Atlantis Project" (aka the
Oceania project) [1] which dates back to 1990's and seems to have some roots
in Libertarian politics/philosophy.

Now, a bit of digging in the Internet Archive, suggests that up until
sometime in 2001/2002, "Lifeboat.com" was a company specializing in "secure
credit card solutions for Internet transactions" [2].  After that it seems
to have "morphed" into the "Lifeboat Foundation" out to "save humanity".
Interestingly, if one looks carefully through the Internet Archive, the
first member of the Board [3] appears to be Dr. Niklas Järvstråt.  And I
thought, boy that names seems familiar.  Sure enough he was mentioned as
PhysOrg.org today as the primary person behind Swedish efforts to build a
self-sustaining colony on the moon [4].  (Now they plan to apparently
sustain themselves by exporting He3 to Earth to supply fuel for fusion
reactors -- that haven't been designed or built yet... don't get me
started.)  So the whole thing starts to seem a bit fishy particulary when
one takes into account their (1) lack of transparancy with regard to who
created the "Lifeboat Foundation" and what their background(s) are; and (2)
their emphasis on "matching donations" [5].

The Lifeboat Foundation appears to be a nonprofit organization located in
Minden, NV.  Interestingly its stated corporate address according to Google
Maps & Mapquest is in a relatively rural area east of Lake Tahoe and
according to the SBN.com yellow pages appears to be colocated with several
attorneys.  That leads me to really want to know who are its founders,
officers, shareholders, etc.?  And most importantly for me -- are all of the
people listed on the "board" aware of who is behind the organization and
have they explicitly said that they will actively participate in the board?
I've participated in a number of corporate board meetings as well as
scientific advisory board meetings and there is absolutely no way that a
"real" management or advisory board can productively function with the
number of people they currently list.

Being optimistic I would say we have we may have a well-intentioned
individuals with a extropian/transhumanistic perspective trying to promote
reasonable ideas in line with reducing the overall hazard function for
humanity.  Being pessimistic I would say we have someone who may be using
(abusing?) the reputations of people many of us know and respect (best case)
or what may be an extremely elaborate con game (worst case).

I would strongly urge people to review the board [6] and confirm or deny
their active participation and/or the use of their reputations by the
Lifeboat Foundation.  Those finding that their names are being used without
approval may wish to post comments to the ExI list and/or the /. article

For those wishing to attempt to contact them, the contacts page claims:
Lifeboat Foundation, 1638 Esmeralda Ave, Minden, NV 89423.
Phone: (775) 783-8443; Fax: (775) 783-0803; Email: admin at lifeboat.com.


1. http://www.oceania.org/
2. http://web.archive.org/web/20010516220939/http://www.lifeboat.com/
3. http://web.archive.org/web/20021204114050/lifeboat.com/ex/board
4. http://www.physorg.com/news11669.html
5. http://lifeboat.com/ex/donations.matching.info<http://lifeboat.com/ex/donations.matching.info%20Dr.%20Niklas%20J%C3%83%C2%A4rvstr%C3%83%C2%A5t>
6. http://lifeboat.com/ex/board
7. http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=02/11/21/1453253
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