Nick Bostrom on TED – Our Biggest Problems: Death, Existential Risks and Limitations of Humans


Philosopher Nick Bostrom, founder of the World Transhumanist Association (Now Humanity+) and current director of Oxford University’s Future of Humanity Institute, presented on humanity’s three biggest problems including death, existential risk and that “life isn’t usually as wonderful as it could be.”

150,000 people die every day. This is a huge number that’s hard to imagine. That’s one of the reasons why people don’t recognize death as a problem, because it’s too big. The other reason is because it’s very familiar. Bostrom gives a beautiful example of comparing people to books. 52 million people died in 2004, which is equal to the loss of 3 Libraries of Congress. This comparison helps to understand the scope of our greatest problem – death. Aging is responsible for a huge portion of human deaths, but unfortunately, there are not enough efforts to cure it.

Existential risk is an important, but neglected problem. The major goal of humanity has to be to survive, but there are very few people who work on evaluating global risks, not to mention prevention of potential catastrophes.

The third problem is basically that humans are limited in so many ways. It would be so great if our life was at its best all the time, but there are quite a lot of obstacles, physical and mental. Nick Bostrom brilliantly explains the idea of transhumanism, which is all about creating and applying technologies that are able to improve ourselves.

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