Nick Bostrom Quotes

Best 22 Quotes by Nick Bostrom

“Are you living in a computer simulation?”

“For healthy adult people, the really big thing we can foresee are ways of intervening in the ageing process, either by slowing or reversing it.”

“Had Mother Nature been a real parent, she would have been in jail for child abuse and murder.”

“Human nature is a work in progress.”

“It's unlikely that any of those natural hazards will do us in within the next 100 years if we've already survived 100,000. By contrast, we are introducing, through human activity, entirely new types of dangers by developing powerful new technologies. We have no record of surviving those.”

“Knowledge about limitations of your data collection process affects what inferences you can draw from the data.”

“Our approach to existential risks cannot be one of trial-and-error. There is no opportunity to learn from errors. The reactive approach - see what happens, limit damages, and learn from experience - is unworkable. Rather, we must take a proactive approach. This requires foresight to anticipate new types of threats and a willingness to take decisive preventive action and to bear the costs (moral and economic) of such actions.”

“The Internet is a big boon to academic research. Gone are the days spent in dusty library stacks digging for journal articles. Many articles are available free to the public in open-access journal or as preprints on the authors' website.”

“There are some problems that technology can't solve.”

“There is more scholarly work on the life-habits of the dung fly than on existential risks to humanity.”

“We should not be confident in our ability to keep a super-intelligent genie locked up in its bottle forever.”

“We would want the solution to the safety problem before somebody figures out the solution to the AI problem.”

“When we are headed the wrong way, the last thing we need is progress.”

Superintelligence Quotes

“Far from being the smartest possible biological species, we are probably better thought of as the stupidest possible biological species capable of starting a technological civilization - a niche we filled because we got there first, not because we are in any sense optimally adapted to it.”


“Human working memory is able to hold no more than some four or five chunks of information at any given time.”


“Let an ultraintelligent machine be defined as a machine that can far surpass all the intellectual activities of any man however clever. Since the design of machines is one of these intellectual activities, an ultraintelligent machine could design even better machines; there would then unquestionably be an 'intelligence explosion', and the intelligence of man would be left far behind. Thus the first ultraintelligent machine is the last invention that man need ever make, provided that the machine is docile enough to tell us how to keep it under control.”


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“You cannot predict the future.”

More quotes by Stephen Hawking

“Machine intelligence is the last invention that humanity will ever need to make.”


“Nature might be a great experimentalist, but one who would never pass muster with an ethics review board – contravening the Helsinki Declaration and every norm of moral decency, left, right, and center.”


“On one estimate, the adult human brain stores about one billion bits—a couple of orders of magnitude less than a low-end smartphone.”


“One can speculate that the tardiness and wobbliness of humanity's progress on many of the 'eternal problems' of philosophy are due to the unsuitability of the human cortex for philosophical work. On this view, our most celebrated philosophers are like dogs walking on their hind legs - just barely attaining the treshold level of performance required for engaging in the activity at all.”


“Some little idiot is bound to press the ignite button just to see what happens.”


“The gap between a dumb and a clever person may appear large from an anthropocentric perspective, yet in a less parochial view the two have nearly indistinguishable minds.”


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“Our currently accepted conceptions of the beginning of the universe postulate much more uniformity than exists now. One way entropy could increase in the universe is by the process of reduction of its state function by some other system. Since the universe, by definition, cannot have any other matter in it, it becomes essential to postulate a mechanism other than that of physical laws, which permits the state function to reduce. This other mechanism may be the working of the 'consciousness principle' which can just by the process of 'observation' increase entropy.”

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