Morality, Foresight, and Human Flourishing: An Introduction to Existential Risks

Morality, Foresight, and Human Flourishing: An Introduction to Existential Risks


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Morality, Foresight, and Human Flourishing: An Introduction to Existential Risks by Phil Torres

" This romp is a great choice for reluctant readers of either gender."

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781634311427
Publisher: Pitchstone Publishing
Publication date: 10/01/2017
Pages: 328
Sales rank: 899,831
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Can an undercover nerd become a superstar agent? Ben Ripley sure hopes so—and his life may depend on it!

Ben Ripley may only be in middle school, but he’s already pegged his dream job: C.I.A. or bust. Unfortunately for him, his personality doesn’t exactly scream “secret agent.” In fact, Ben is so awkward, he can barely get to school and back without a mishap. Because of his innate nerdiness, Ben is not surprised when he is recruited for a magnet school with a focus on science—but he’s entirely shocked to discover that the school is actually a front for a junior C.I.A. academy. Could the C.I.A. really want him?

Actually, no. There’s been a case of mistaken identity—but that doesn’t stop Ben from trying to morph into a supercool undercover agent, the kind that always gets the girl. And through a series of hilarious misadventures, Ben realizes he might actually be a halfway decent spy…if he can survive all the attempts being made on his life!

Read an Excerpt

Gr 5–8—Ben Ripley, a 12-year-old math genius, receives a mysterious summons to join the Academy of Espionage, a secret recruitment arm of the CIA. Since his life's ambition is to become a spy, he is thrilled by the offer, but his first day is hardly what he expected. It involves ninjas, flying bullets, and Erica, the most beautiful girl he has ever seen. A fellow student asks him to hack into the computer mainframe for him because the rumor mill says that Ben has great cryptography skills. Later that night another agent breaks into his room to kidnap him. It turns out someone keeps leaking sensitive information, and Ben's recruitment was set up strictly as a ploy to find the mole; he is a perfect target for the organization of rogue double agents that has infiltrated the school. Most of the adults are so inept and clueless that Ben and Erica, with the help of their fellow students, save the school from being destroyed by a giant bomb hidden in a secret passageway. Twists and turns in the plot keep readers guessing until the very end. The story, over-the-top funny, combines Alex Rider's espionage skills with a huge dose of the sarcasm of Artemis Fowl. Subtle digs at the stuffiness of a federal agency and the romance of spying abound. The book ends with a letter, fully redacted of all sensitive information, to the Director of Internal Investigations recommending Ben's continued attendance at the school, leaving room for a sequel or two.—Diana Pierce, Leander High School, TX

Table of Contents

Foreword 13

Preface 17

Chapter 1 An Emerging Field 21

1.1 A Unique Moment in History 21

1.2 What Are Existential Risks? 25

1.3 Types of Existential Risks 33

1.4 Why Care about Existential Risks? 40

1.5 Fermi and Filters 46

1.6 Biases and Distortions 50

1.7 The Epistemology of Eschatology 55

Chapter 2 Our Cosmic Risk Background 61

2.1 Threats from Above and Below 61

2.2 Super volcanoes 61

2.3 Natural Pandemics 65

2.4 Asteroids and Comets 69

2.5 Other Threats 71

Chapter 3 Unintended Consequences 75

3.1 Intended Causes, Unintended Effects 75

3.2 Climate Change and Biodiversity Loss 76

3.3 Physics Disasters 87

3.4 Geo engineering 90

Chapter 4 Agent-Tool Couplings 95

4.1 Conceptual Framework 95

4.2 World-Destroying Technologies 97

4.2.1 Dual Usability, Power, and Accessibility 97

4.2.2 Weapons of Total Destruction 102

4.3 Agential Risks 116

4.3.1 Agential Terror 116

4.3.2 Agential Error 147

4.3.3 The Future of Agential Risks 151

Chapter 5 Other Hazards 159

5.1 Simulation Shutdown 159

5.2 Bad Governance 164

5.3 Something Completely Unforeseen 169

Chapter 6 Risk Mitigation Macro-Strategies 173

6.1 The Bottleneck Hypothesis 173

6.2 Development Trajectory 175

6.3 Agent-Oriented Strategies 178

6.3.1 Cognitive Enhancement 179

6.3.2 Moral Bioenhancement 190

6.3.3 Other Options 199

6.4 Tool-Oriented Strategies 203

6.5 Other Strategies 208

Chapter 7 Concluding Thoughts 219

7.1 Doom Soon? 219

7.2 Two Types of Optimism 222

Postscript 225

Acknowledgments 229

Notes 231

Index 321

About the Author 328

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