Hear This Idea
Hear This Idea
Sep 30, 2020
#16 – SJ Beard on Parfit, Climate Change, and Existential Risk
Play • 1 hr 35 min

Dr S. J. Beard is a research associate at the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk at the University of Cambridge, and an AHRC/BBC New Generation Thinker. With a background in philosophy, he works on ethical problems relating to the long-term future of humanity, as well as evaluating extreme technological risks.

In this episode we discuss:

  • [2:00] Existential risks defined in brief;
  • [4:45] SJ's background;
  • [12:30] What made philosopher Derek Parfit so influential;
  • [17:30] What is the repugnant conclusion?
  • [22:12] What is the non-identity problem?
  • [28:40] Meeting Parfit;
  • [34:20] Why SJ chose a career in existial risk research;
  • [36:43] What existential risk research looks like;
  • [45:58] How can we estimate the probability of catastrophes with no strict precedents?
  • [56:52] Under what circumstances could climate change cause a collapse of global civilization?
  • [1:07:52] Why SJ ran as an MP for the Liberal Democrats;
  • [1:17:25] Is academia broken? How can we fix it?
  • [1:23:23] Why SJ changed his mind about whether COVID is a potential global catastrophe

You can read much more on this episode's accompanying write-up: hearthisidea.com/episodes/Simon.

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