I figured they would post it themselves but I got too excited and decided to spread it around.
The Lifeboat Foundation is a nonprofit organization devoted to encouraging the promotion and advancement of science while helping develop strategies to survive existential risks and the possible abuse of technology. They are interested in biotechnology, nanotechnology, robotics and AI and fostering the safe and responsible use of these powerful new technologies. The Life Preserver program is aligned with our mission to promote and develop rejuvenation biotechnology capable of combating age-related diseases.
We believe that a bright future awaits mankind and support the ethical and safe use of new medical technologies being developed today, thus we consider the goals of the Lifeboat Foundation to be compatible with ours and are pleased to move forward with them in official collaboration. As part of our commitment to the ethical progress of medical science LEAF promotes scientific research and learning via our crowdfunding website Lifespan.io and our educational hub at the LEAF website. A number of LEAF board members are already on the Scientific Advisory board for the Lifeboat Foundation and we look forward to working closely with them in the coming year.
Latest article chronicling my entrepreneurial journey and how anyone can be successful and change the world. You need only look at the Lifeboat Foundation to see that entrepreneurs can turn their wealth into instigators for change!
YawLife is an embodiment of my life… All of my struggles, all of my mistakes, all of my pain, and all of my perseverance through in-fortitude to reach the pinnacle I’m at now, where the fruits of my labour are finally beginning to flourish, and where the seeds sowed in the past have begun to grown roots, which shall outlast even my own passing. To me, YawLife is not about just building a company and selling instantaneously. It’s about endowing my life’s work to make it successful. To reward those who believed in me early once I’ve succeeded, to reward the world for their choice to use our service, and to reward myself with, at the very least,the pride in creating something from nothing… Because, to do such a thing, is not a simple task. You can try as much as possible, and for all that effort, nothing may arise from it, but…
It is in the journey of creation that brings true elation to one’s soul — an inner fulfilment beyond what any odd job or person can spark within.
I think it is determination like this that is required to build something successful. And by successful, I don’t mean billions or millions of dollars.The scale of what you deem success to be will vary between you and me, and the expectation of society. But…
Been a while since I’ve written a new article. Include my love for the Lifeboat Foundation in it!
Are we alone in the universe? Are we the first to witness the stellar bursts amongst the skies of old? Is it foretold that we were the ones destined for the stars, beginning at the Moon and then Mars? Once driving cars, do we venture far, beyond the horizon of antiquated liveliness, a surreal vibrancy-but-a-tranquillity to the origins of chaos? Without science, these imaginary realities are but dreams shuttered away in the subconscious mind. But, with this magical and logical element of human society, we are gifted with the power to envision the sleeping mind’s abstract impossibilities, transforming them into possible realities… So that we may morph the series of footsteps in waking life.
Like evolution is the guardian of change, time dictates discovery. We advance, and the nuances past become more prevalent; a new precedent set forth in every dedicated shard of time engulfed in the sublime, and rhythmic confines, of the mind. Interlinked by their commonality, the totality of the world’s abilities lays not in the futility of complacency, but in the eulogy of peaceful unity. Once we as species see the far reaches of harnessing all pieces of this puzzle [that is the international intellect], each passing day will become more perfect.
Recent advances in lasers suggest that we may see rockets propelled by light earlier than we had imagined. NASA scientist Philip Lubin and his team are working on a system that would use Earth-based lasers to allow space travel to far-away places in just a fraction of the time needed with current technology.
Using earth based lasers to push along a spacecraft instead of on board hydrocarbon-based fuel could dramatically reduce travel time to Mars, within our lifetime. Currently, it takes five months for a space craft to reach Mars. But, with photonic propulsion, it is likely that small crafts filled with experiments will reach Mars in just 3 days. Large spaceships with astronauts and life support systems will take only one month, which is about 20% of the duration of a current trip.
What’s next? Lubin believes that we may be able to send small crafts with scientific experiments to exoplanets as fast as 5% light speed in, perhaps, 30 years. Eventually, he claims that the technology will carry humans at speeds up to 20% light speed.
I am not an astronomer or astrophysicist. I have never worked for NASA or JPL. But, during my graduate year at Cornell University, I was short on cross-discipline credits, and so I signed up for Carl Sagan’s popular introductory course, Astronomy 101. I was also an amateur photographer, occasionally freelancing for local media—and so the photos shown here, are my own.
By the end of the 70’s, Sagan’s star was high and continuing to rise. He was a staple on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, producer and host of the PBS TV series, Cosmos, and he had just written Dragons of Eden, which won him a Pulitzer Prize. He also wrote Contact, which became a blockbuster movie, starring Jodie Foster.
Sagan died in 1996, after three bone marrow transplants to compensate for an inability to produce blood cells. Two years earlier, Sagan wrote a book and narrated a film based on a photo taken from space.
Pale Blue Dot is a photograph of Earth taken in February 1990, by Voyager 1 from a distance of 3.7 billion miles (40 times the distance between earth and the sun). At Sagan’s request (and with some risk to the ongoing scientific mission), the space probe was turned around to take this last photo of Earth. In the photo, Earth is less than a pixel in size. Just a tiny dot against the vastness of space, it appears to be suspended in bands of sunlight scattered by the camera lens.
Four years later, Sagan wrote a book and narrated the short film, Pale Blue Dot, based on the landmark 1990 photograph. He makes a compelling case for reconciliation between humans and a commitment to care for our shared environment. In just 3½ minutes, he unites humanity, appealing to everyone with a conscience. [Full text]
—Which brings us to a question: How are we doing? Are we getting along now? Are we treating the planet as a shared life-support system, rather than a dumping ground?
Sagan points out that hate and misunderstanding plays into so many human interactions. He points to a deteriorating environment and that that we cannot escape war and pollution by resettling to another place. Most importantly, he forces us to face the the fragility of our habitat and the need to protect it. He drives home this point by not just explaining it, but by framing it as an urgent choice between life and death.
It has been 22 years since Sagan wrote and produced Pale Blue Dot. What has changed? Change is all around us, and yet not much has changed. To sort it all out, let’s break it down into technology, our survivable timeline and sociology.
Technology & Cosmology
Since Carl Sagan’s death, we have witnessed the first direct evidence of exoplanets. Several hundred have been observed and we will likely find many hundreds more each year. Some of these are in the habitable zone of their star.
Sagan died about 25 years after the last Apollo Moon mission. It is now 45 years since those missions, and humans are still locked into low earth orbits. We have sent a few probes to the distant planets and beyond, but the political will and resources to conduct planetary exploration—or even return to the moon—is weak.
A few private companies are launching humans, satellites or cargo into Space (Space-X, Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin). Dozens of other private ventures have not yet achieved manned flight or an orbital rendezvous, but it seems likey that some projects will succeed. Lift off is becoming commonplace—but almost all of these launches are focused on TV, communications, monitoring our environment or monitoring our enemies. The space program no longer produces the regular breakthroughs and commercial spin-offs that it did throughout the 70s and 80s. continue below photo…
Like most scientists, Carl Sagan was deeply concerned about pollution, nuclear proliferation, loss of bio-diversity, war and global warming. In fact, the debate over global warming was just beginning to heat up in Sagan’s last years. Today, there is no debate over global warming. All credible scientists understand that the earth is choking, and that our activities are contributing to our own demise.
In most regions, air pollution is slightly less of a concern than it was in the 1970s, but ground, water pollution, and radiation contamination are all more evident.
Most alarmingly, we humans are even more pitched in posturing and in killing our neighbors than ever before. We fight over land, religion, water, oil, and human rights. We especially fight in the name of our Gods, in the name of national exceptionalism and in the name of protecting our right to consume disposable luxury gadgets, transient thrills and family vacations—as if we were a prisoner consuming his last meal.
We have an insatiable appetite for raw materials, open spaces, cars and luxury. Yet no one seems to be doing the math. As the vast populations of China and India finally come to the dinner table (2 billion humans), it is clear that they have the wealth to match our gluttony. From where will the land, water, and materials come? And what happens to the environment then? In Beijing, the sky is never blue. Every TV screen is covered in a thick film of dust. On many days, commuters wear filter masks. There is no grass in the parks and no birds in the sky. Something is very wrong. With apologies for a mixed metaphor, the canary is already dead while the jester continues to dance.
Sociology: Man’s Inhumanity to Man
Sagan observed that our leaders are passionate about conquering each other, spilling blood over frequent misunderstandings, giving in to imagined self-importance. None of this has changed.
Regarding our ability to get off of this planet, Sagan said “Visit? Perhaps…Settle? Not yet”. We still do not possess the technology or resources to settle even a single astronaut away from our fragile home planet. We won’t have both the technology and the will to do so for at least 75 years—and then, only a tiny community of scientists or explorers. It falls centuries shy of resettling a population.
Hate, zealotry, intolerance and religious fervor are more toxic than ever before
Today, the earth has a bigger population. Hate and misunderstanding has spread like cancer. Weapons of mass destruction have escaped the restraint of governments, oversight and safety mechanisms. They are now in the hands of intolerant and radical organizations that believe in martyrdom and that lack any desire to coexist within a global community.
Nations, organizations and some individuals possess the technology to kill a million people or more. Without even targeting civilians, a dozen nations can lay waste to the global environment in weeks.
Is it time to revisit Pale Blue Dot? Is it still relevant? The urgency of teaching and heeding Carl Sagan’s words has never been more urgent than now.
Carl Sagan probably didn’t like me. When I was his student, I was a jerk.
Sagan was already a TV personality and author when I took Astronomy 101 in 1977. Occasionally, he discussed material from the pages of his just-released Dragons of Eden, or slipped a photo of himself with Johnny Carson into a slide presentation. He clearly was a star attraction during parent’s weekend before classes started.
Indeed, he often used the phrase “Billions and Billions” even before it led as his trademark. Although he seemed mildly mused that people noticed his annunciation and emphasis, he explained that he thought it was a less distracting alternate to the phrase “That’s billions with a ‘B’ ” when generating appreciation for the vast scope of creation.
At this time that Sagan was my professor, he appeared on the cover of Newsweek magazine. Like a lunkhead, I wrote to Newsweek, claiming that his adulation as a scientist was misplaced and that he was nothing more than an PR huckster for NASA and JPL in the vein of Isaac Asimov. I acknowledged his a gift for popularizing science, but argued that he didn’t have the brains to contribute in any tangible way.
I was wrong, of course. Even in the role of education champion, I failed to appreciate the very powerful and important role that he played in influencing an entire generation of scientists, including, Neil DeGrasse Tyson. Although Newsweek did not publish my letter to the editor, someone on staff sent it to Professor Sagan! When the teaching assistant, a close friend of Sagan, showed me my letter, I was mortified.
Incidentally, I always sat in the front row of the big Uris lecture hall. As a student photographer, I took many photos, which show up on various university web sites from time to time. In the top photo, Professor Sagan is crouching down and clasping hands as he addresses the student seated next to me.
I gave an interview for a queer people of interest blog and plugged the lifeboat foundation. Thought I would share the information here.
Phillipe Bojorquez is an engineer, activist, and artist: He has been described as “a futurist with a community minded bent.” He is a engineer, with experience at First Dibs, Samsung, Boxee, and Canary. He is a board member of The Lifeboat Foundation, an independent research group dedicated to helping humanity survive the risks posed by new technologies. His research areas include artificial intelligence, robotics, engineering, and philosophy. Bojorquez is a past board member of CRUX, NYC’s LGBT rock climbing organization, and an early contributor and organizer of Vegans in Vegas, a yearly gathering of activists and entrepreneurs at the forefront of nutrition and sustainability.
A piece I wrote recently about blockchain & AI, and how I see the Lifeboat Foundation as a crucial component in a bright future.
Blockchain technology could lead to an AI truly reminiscent of the human brain, with less of its frailties, and more of its strengths. Just as a brain is not inherently dictated by a single neuron, neither is the technology behind bitcoin. The advantage (and opportunity) in this sense, is the advent of an amalgamation of many nodes bridged together to form an overall, singular function. This very much resembles the human brain (just as billions of neurons and synapses work in unison). If we set our sights on the grander vision of things, humans could accomplish great things if we utilize this technology to create a truly life-like Artificial Intelligence. At the same time, we need to keep in mind the dangers of such an intelligence being built upon a faultless system that has no single point of failure.
Just as any technology has upsides and corresponding downsides, this is no exception. The advantages of this technology are seemingly endless. In the relevant sense, it has the ability to create internet services without the same downfalls exploited in the TV show ‘Mr. Robot,’ where a hacker group named “fsociety” breached numerous data centers and effectively destroyed every piece of data the company held, causing worldwide ramifications across all of society. Because blockchain technology ensures no centralized data storage (by using all network users as nodes to spread information), it can essentially be rendered impossible to take down. Without a single targeted weak point, this means a service that, in the right hands, doesn’t go offline from heavy loads, which speeds up as more people use it, has inherent privacy/security safeguards, and unique features that couldn’t be achieved with conventional technology. In the wrong hands, however, this could be outright devastation. Going forward, we must tread lightly and not forget to keep tabs on this technology, as it could run rampant and destroy society as we know it.
Throughout the ages, society has always experienced mass change; the difference here being the ability for it to wipe us out. Therefore, it arises from a survival imperative that we strive for the former rather than the latter. We can evolve without destroying ourselves, but it won’t be a cakewalk. With our modern-day luxuries, we, as a species think ourselves invincible, while, in reality, we’re just dressed-up monkeys operating shiny doomsday technology. Just as it was a challenge to cross the seas, to invent tools and harness electricity, the grandest stakes posed by the future (and the ones defining our survival) are the most difficult to accomplish.
“In Designed for the Future, author Jared Green asks eighty of today’s most innovative architects, urban planners, landscape architects, journalists, artists, and environmental leaders the same question: what gives you the hope that a sustainable future is possible?”