Nick Bostrom’s latest book, “Deep Utopia: Life and Meaning in a Solved World,” delves into the profound questions of our civilization’s trajectory. In an exclusive interview, Bostrom discusses the urgency behind his work, the concept of living in a fool’s paradise, and the transformative impact of artificial general intelligence (AGI). As Bostrom explains, the superficial nature of our understanding of technological progress compelled him to publish his insights now, ideally before the singularity alters our reality irrevocably. His reflections offer a blend of philosophical musings and pragmatic foresight, making this a must-read for anyone intrigued by the future of humanity and technology.

Hi Nick, so why did you write this book… now?

Nick Bostrom : It seemed embarrassing that our thinking about where our technological civilization is trying to get to was so superficial.  

As for why now, well, it’s been in the works for many years.  I wanted to get it out before the singularity, ideally with a bit of time to spare so people have a chance to read it.

An extract from your book that best represents yourself?

On fools and paradises

People talk down the idea of living in a fool’s paradise. But when one consid-

ers the nature of humanity, might it not seem that such a destination would

be very suitable and desirable for us? I mean: If we are fools, then a fool’s

paradise would be exactly what we need.

Of course, being fools, we are not likely to recognize what is good for us. We

might be more likely to try to clamber into an eagle’s nest or onto some kind

of icy pinnacle of truth and glory, because it is “higher”. And then we would

sit there freezing our butts off to the end of our days. That would be the

sort of thing one would expect a fool to do when he could have been living

happily in a fool’s paradise.

The trends that are just emerging and that you believe in the most?

I think most trends are being overshadowed by the rapid progress we are currently seeing towards AGI.  However, I wouldn’t say that this trend is “just emerging”.  It has been going for a least a decade, and it was roughly predictable long before that – but one might perhaps say that it has only recently emerged on the global agenda and into the awareness of the general public.  Within this category, one could point to specific trends, such as the demand for ever-greater amounts of compute to train and run ever-bigger models.

In a nutshell, what are the next topics that you will be passionate about?

I have some tentative ideas about the nature of ethics and how this relates to the prospects of machine superintelligence, which I’d like to think about more.  I’m not sure I will be passionate about it – usually one can think more clearly when one is dispassionate.  Having just completed a six-year long book project, I also plan to open the apertures of my mind a bit and think and study without an initial definite aim – in my experiences, such periods of unfocused exploration can be important for developing new creative insights.

Thank you Nick Bostrom

Thank you Bertrand Jouvenot

The book : Deep Utopia: Life and Meaning in a Solved World, Nick Bostrom, Ideapress Publishing, 2024