[ExI] homo sapiens as endangered species

Anders Sandberg anders at aleph.se
Thu Jun 2 16:58:33 UTC 2011

spike wrote:
> In 1973 the US passed a law that protects endangered species, but in 
> retrospect it may have been the biggest victory for the oil 
> companies.  Reasoning: every alternative energy source that I know of 
> could be slowed to a stop by various camps of greens, some perhaps 
> employed by oil companies. 

Nah, this concern is more about the system being exploitable. 
Counterparts exist in countries where corruption or bad governance could 
cause governments to make decisions in favor of NIMBYs with deep 
pockets, pull or the right relatives. The cure is of course to try to 
make the legal system fair, transparent and nonarbitrary. Or place your 
business in such places.

Recently I listened to a presentation by a biodiversity researcher who 
had been developing a software tool for calculating the ecological 
impact of building stuff in different locations. This was a GIS 
tour-de-force, combining worldwide databases of geography, land cover, 
the sightings of more or less endangered species, migration patterns 
etc. This project was funded by StatOil, who wanted to figure out where 
in a concession area to put their oil pumping stations to minimize 
ecological impact. The great irony is that the authorities that gives 
concessions to drill do not use any method like this: if they actually 
used this kind of method they could place concessions so that impact 
would be lower no matter where the oil company drills. This is not due 
to any evil or corruption, just the lack of easily available smart tools.

When I saw the subject of this thread I thought it was more about 
xrisks. I have been tinkering with some minimum viable population models 
of H. sapiens. If we are ever near extinction, it is pretty tough to 
maintain a population - big mammals are tricky.

Anders Sandberg,
Future of Humanity Institute
Philosophy Faculty of Oxford University 

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