Book about AI and the end of civilisation?
December 9, 2013 6:31 AM   Subscribe

Within the last two years I read an article which mentioned an academic who was writing a book about things that could possibly cause the end of civilisation. I would love to find that book.

He had intended to cover lots of different topics like asteroid impact and volcanic eruption and so on, but decided instead to focus purely on artificial intelligence as he found it to be the most compelling scenario. The academic in question had a strange title to the effect that he specifically studied things that may end civilisation. I thought he was associated with Oxford, but as I can find no mention of him or his book or indeed the original article I read, I may be getting some of these details wrong. Ringing any bells for anyone?
posted by StephenF to Science & Nature (8 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Nick Bostrom, at Oxford's Future of Humanity Institute?

This might be the article you're thinking of. Not sure about the book - he edited a book called Global Catastrophic Risks, which sounds promising, but that was in 2008.
posted by inire at 6:39 AM on December 9, 2013

Best answer: I clicked through to say Nick Bostrom too.
posted by kestrel251 at 6:54 AM on December 9, 2013

Could it be this? The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology
posted by Hellafiles at 7:31 AM on December 9, 2013

Could it be Our Final Invention by James Barrat? Not Oxford but otherwise quite on the mark. This is a great read about the work, incidentally...
posted by garlicsmack at 7:33 AM on December 9, 2013

Best answer: The title you're looking for is quite possibly eschatologist. If that helps.
posted by Ted Maul at 7:52 AM on December 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

On a much lighter note, Phil Plait wrote a book called Death from the Skies!: These Are The Ways The World Will End. While Mr. Plait is an academic (PHd astronomer) it certainly isn't an academic text. But it might be what you are looking for.
posted by intermod at 8:56 AM on December 9, 2013

Response by poster: Sorry for the silence, stuff kicked off at work right after I posted.

Nick Bostrom is indeed the right person. Kurzweil and Azimov also good answers, but Bostrom is our man. Our Final Invention may have been the book I was thinking of.

Thanks all! Eschatologist is my word of the day.
posted by StephenF at 9:10 AM on December 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

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