Picture this: a prestigious crosscut of some of the best and brightest minds on Earth, each ensconced in his or her writing space cogitating about the assignment given them by the impresario John Brockman, publisher of Edge.org.: to identify what we really should be worried about.
Here you can read the conclusions of 150 thinkers who represent frontier areas of study such as evolutionary biology, genetics, computer science, neurophysiology, psychology, cosmology, and physics. Brockman states: "We worry because we are built to anticipate the future. Nothing can stop us from worrying, but science can teach us how to worry better, and when to stop worrying."
Here are some of the answers: philosopher Daniel Dennett on a long-term Internet blackout; biologist Seirian Sumner on synthetic biology escaping from a lab; physicist Max Tegmark on the rise of machines with superhuman intelligence; CEO Tim O'Reilly on the rise of anti-intellectualism and the end of progress; journalist William Poundstone on a Malthusian catastrophe; futurist David Bodanis on technology-generated Fascism; author Stuart Firestein on exaggerated expectations; author Keith Devlin on the death of mathematics; and scholar Nicholas Humphrey on fast-knowledge.
What good can come out of this kind of philosophical exercise? Psychologist Daniel Goleman hits the nail on the head: "Effective worrying focuses our attention on a genuine threat and leads to anticipating solutions." Well then, let's get going!