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With our growing resources, the Lifeboat Foundation has teamed with the Singularity Hub as Media Sponsors for the 2010 Humanity+ Summit. If you have suggestions on future events that we should sponsor, please contact [email protected].

The summer 2010 “Humanity+ @ Harvard — The Rise Of The Citizen Scientist” conference is being held, after the inaugural conference in Los Angeles in December 2009, on the East Coast, at Harvard University’s prestigious Science Hall on June 12–13. Futurist, inventor, and author of the NYT bestselling book “The Singularity Is Near”, Ray Kurzweil is going to be keynote speaker of the conference.

Also speaking at the H+ Summit @ Harvard is Aubrey de Grey, a biomedical gerontologist based in Cambridge, UK, and is the Chief Science Officer of SENS Foundation, a California-based charity dedicated to combating the aging process. His talk, “Hype and anti-hype in academic biogerontology research: a call to action”, will analyze the interplay of over-pessimistic and over-optimistic positions with regards of research and development of cures, and propose solutions to alleviate the negative effects of both.

The theme is “The Rise Of The Citizen Scientist”, as illustrated in his talk by Alex Lightman, Executive Director of Humanity+:

“Knowledge may be expanding exponentially, but the current rate of civilizational learning and institutional upgrading is still far too slow in the century of peak oil, peak uranium, and ‘peak everything’. Humanity needs to gather vastly more data as part of ever larger and more widespread scientific experiments, and make science and technology flourish in streets, fields, and homes as well as in university and corporate laboratories.”

Humanity+ Summit @ Harvard is an unmissable event for everyone who is interested in the evolution of the rapidly changing human condition, and the impact of accelerating technological change on the daily lives of individuals, and on our society as a whole. Tickets start at only $150, with an additional 50% discount for students registering with the coupon STUDENTDISCOUNT (valid student ID required at the time of admission).

With over 40 speakers, and 50 sessions in two jam packed days, the attendees, and the speakers will have many opportunities to interact, and discuss, complementing the conference with the necessary networking component.

Other speakers already listed on the H+ Summit program page include:

  • David Orban, Chairman of Humanity+: “Intelligence Augmentation, Decision Power, And The Emerging Data Sphere”
  • Heather Knight, CTO of Humanity+: “Why Robots Need to Spend More Time in the Limelight”
  • Andrew Hessel, Co-Chair at Singularity University: “Altered Carbon: The Emerging Biological Diamond Age”
  • M. A. Greenstein, Art Center College of Design: “Sparking our Neural Humanity with Neurotech!”
  • Michael Smolens, CEO of dotSUB: “Removing language as a barrier to cross cultural communication”

New speakers will be announced in rapid succession, rounding out a schedule that is guaranteed to inform, intrigue, stimulate and provoke, in moving ahead our planetary understanding of the evolution of the human condition!

H+ Summit @ Harvard — The Rise Of The Citizen Scientist
June 12–13, Harvard University
Cambridge, MA

You can register at

Jacob Haqq-Misra and Seth D. Baum (2009). The Sustainability Solution to the Fermi Paradox. Journal of the British Interplanetary Society 62: 47–51.

Background: The Fermi Paradox
According to a simple but powerful inference introduced by physicist Enrico Fermi in 1950, we should expect to observe numerous extraterrestrial civilizations throughout our galaxy. Given the old age of our galaxy, Fermi postulated that if the evolution of life and subsequent development of intelligence is common, then extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI) could have colonized the Milky Way several times over by now. Thus, the paradox is: if ETI should be so widespread, where are they? Many solutions have been proposed to account for our absence of ETI observation. Perhaps the occurrence of life or intelligence is rare in the galaxy. Perhaps ETI inevitably destroy themselves soon after developing advanced technology. Perhaps ETI are keeping Earth as a zoo!

The ‘Sustainability Solution’
The Haqq-Misra & Baum paper presents a definitive statement on a plausible but often overlooked solution to the Fermi paradox, which the authors name the “Sustainability Solution”. The Sustainability Solution states: the absence of ETI observation can be explained by the possibility that exponential or other faster-growth is not a sustainable development pattern for intelligent civilizations. Exponential growth is implicit in Fermi’s claim that ETI could quickly expand through the galaxy, an assumption based on observations of human expansion on Earth. However, as we are now learning all too well, our exponential expansion frequently proves unsustainable as we reach the limits of available resources. Likewise, because all civilizations throughout the universe may have limited resources, it is possible that all civilizations face similar issues of sustainability. In other words, unsustainably growing civilizations may inevitably collapse. This possibility is the essence of the Sustainability Solution.

Implications for the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI)
If the Sustainability Solution is true, then we may never observe a galactic-scale ETI civilization, for such an empire would have grown and collapsed too quickly for us to notice. SETI efforts should therefore focus on ETI that grow within the limits of their carrying capacity and thereby avoid collapse. These slower-growth ETI may possess the technological capacity for both radio broadcasts and remote interstellar exploration. Thus, SETI may be more successful if it is expanded to include a search of our Solar System for small, unmanned ETI satellites.

Implications for Human Civilization Management
Does the Sustainability Solution mean that humanity must live sustainably in order to avoid collapse? Not necessarily. Humanity could collapse even if it lives sustainably—for example, if it collides with a large asteroid. Alternatively, humanity may be able to grow rapidly for much longer—for example, until we have colonized the entire Solar System. Finally, the Sustainability Solution is only one of several possible solutions to the Fermi paradox, so it is not necessarily the case that all civilizations must grow sustainably or else face collapse. However, the possibility of the Sustainability Solution makes it more likely that humanity must live more sustainably if it is to avoid collapse.