Issue 32: from COVID-timidity to Californian air wars

Catch-22, geo-engineering, mRNA revolution, smarter computers and air war California

Dear reader,

Welcome to this week’s issue of the Anti-Apocalyptus newsletter. Each week I send you five links about some of the most important challenges of our time such as climate change, weapons of mass destruction, emerging technologies, mass causes of death and great power wars. If you haven’t done so yet, feel free to subscribe at the button below, hit the heart button or share this email with anyone who could be interested.

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NY Times - Are We Much Too Timid in the Way We Fight Covid-19?

Great piece by Ezra Klein on the Catch-22 of government action during this pandemic. Throughout COVID-19 many governments delayed actions, and erred on the side of caution, whether it was on lockdowns, testing or vaccines. But that also implies a trade-off, because delays in necessary actions imply extra casualties. Yet there’s also issues with taking too fast government action: if it goes wrong public confidence collapses.

80,000 Hours - Kelly Wanser on whether to deliberately intervene in the climate

Interesting podcast about geo-engineering, or interventions into the earth’s climate to combat the effects of climate change. The interviewee is more on the side of endorsing such interventions, yet an interesting interview nonetheless.

The Atlantic - How mRNA Technology Could Change the World

Good overview of mRNA vaccines, and how they quite suddenly turned from pipe-dream into our secret weapon against COVID-19. Now researchers are aiming them at new diseases, like malaria.

The New Yorker - Why Computers Won’t Make Themselves Smarter

Fun article by science-fiction author Ted Chiang on the issue of AI’s that would replicate themselves, and in turn cause an explosion of the level of artificial intelligence. This idea is somewhat common in AI risk studies, but Chiang disagrees it’s very likely.

Speculative Friction -- Air War: California AD 2043

Newsletter post by journalist Kelsey D. Atherton about a recent article he wrote on autonomous tanker aircraft, and how, during research for it, he encountered a 2003 article in Popular Science about an insurgency in California that is squashed by heavy (drone) airpower. A fun read about (mis)conceptions on the future of war.

I hope you enjoyed this newsletter. Feel free to send me comments or remarks by responding to this email. If you haven’t done so yet, please subscribe at the link below, hit the heart button or forward this email to anyone who could be interested.