In the first half, AI expert, Dr. Hugo de Garis, joined George Knapp to discuss what he believes the future holds in terms of AI, as well as his upcoming speech at the True Legends conference called "The Post Science Paradigm, Was the Universe Designed?" Particle physicists are discovering ever stronger clues that the universe was designed by a hyper mathematical intelligence, he reported, adding that other planets are billions of years older than ours, so intelligent life almost certainly evolved to enormous heights in terms of AI. "The values of the constants in the laws of physics are so fantastically, improbably finely tuned to allow matter and life to exist that you become extremely suspicious that it's been engineered," he remarked, "as though some hyper-intelligence behind it tuned these parameters to be just right."
As AI development accelerates, he warned that beings with artificial intellect or "artilects" will eventually have god-like capacities, and be trillions of times smarter than us. It's an incredibly risky endeavor for humans to create such beings, de Garis pointed out, as they might view humanity as so inferior to them (like how we see ants or mosquitoes) that they would do something that causes our extinction like removing oxygen from the planet. He outlined how over the coming decades, humanity is probably going to split into three categories which may be in conflict with each other: The Terrans, normal humans as they are today; Cyborgs-- part machine, part human; and Cosmists-- those who push for the building of artilects and have a "big picture" view of expanding out into the cosmos.
From asteroids and AI to volcanic super-eruption to nuclear war, 15-year veteran science reporter and TIME editor Bryan Walsh provided a panoramic view of the most catastrophic threats to the human race, in the latter half. He includes threats that emerge from nature and those of our own making, and offers strategies for saving ourselves, all pulled from his rigorous reporting and research. Beyond the immediate damage from a massive asteroid strike, it's the cooling effect from the particles in the atmosphere, which create an "impact winter," that would create a catastrophic situation that can last for years, he noted. Temperatures drop by 10-15 degrees leading to crop failures and other environmental collapses.
We could do a better job scanning the heavens for possible asteroids on a collision course with us by using space-based telescopes, he continued, and craft could then be sent to change the momentum of such objects. Walsh also talked about how the eruption of a supervolcano can lead to an extinction-level event. If you look back at the history of the planet, mega-volcanic activity has been responsible for far more extinctions than asteroids, he cited, and the caldera at Yellowstone could be overdue for such a cataclysmic eruption. The threat of nuclear war, while lessened from the height of the Cold War days, is still an ever-present danger, cautioned Walsh, and with the addition of countries such as Pakistan and India having nuclear weapons, there are more possibilities for wars or accidents.