X-Events: The Collapse of Everything

X-Events: The Collapse of Everything

John L. Casti

Language: English

Pages: 336

ISBN: 0062088289

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

“I am an assiduous reader of John Casti’s books. He is a real scientific intellectual.”
 —Nassim Nicholas Taleb, New York Times bestselling author of Fooled by Randomness

“Casti is at his best in presenting difficult philosophical ideas enthusiastically and lucidly, and in presenting everyday examples to illustrate them.”
New York Times Book Review

In his highly provocative and grippingly readable book, X-Events, author John Casti brilliantly argues that today’s advanced, overly complex societies have grown highly vulnerable to extreme events that will ultimately topple civilization like a house of cards. Like Nassim Taleb’s The Black Swan meets Jared Diamond’s Collapse, Casti’s book provides a much-needed wake-up call—sounding a fascinating and frightening warning about civilized society’s inability to recover from a global catastrophe— demonstrating how humankind could be blasted back into the Stone Age by a meteor strike, nuclear apocalypse, worldwide contagion, or any number of unforeseeable X-Events.

Mahlzeit: Auf 80 Tellern um die Welt

Buddha Is Hiding: Refugees, Citizenship, the New America (California Series in Public Anthropology)

The Darjeeling Distinction: Labor and Justice on Fair-Trade Tea Plantations in India

Window on Humanity: A Concise Introduction to General Anthropology

The Scramble for the Amazon and the "Lost Paradise" of Euclides da Cunha

Arbitraging Japan: Dreams of Capitalism at the End of Finance















subset of the other players and then processes this “local” information to come to a decision as to how to act (i.e., what rule to use). In most complex systems, the agents are like the drivers in a road-traffic network or traders in a speculative market, each of whom has information about what at least some of the other drivers or traders are doing—but not all of them. You might well argue that while a football game is an interesting little puzzle, it is of no great import when it comes to

nuclear strike, perhaps even an asteroid impact. The underlying motivation for such a vault rests with the industrialization of the global food supply. Big firms that dominate food production severely restrict genetic diversity by employing just a few varieties of plant seed, sometimes just a single variety. If a disease struck that particular variety, food production would be in big trouble, and the entire food-supply system could collapse. Hence, the Svalbard vault. Even though the Arctic

goal is to propose an answer to the question: How do we characterize risk in situations where probability theory and statistics cannot be employed? X-events of the human—rather than nature-caused—variety are the result of too little understanding chasing too much complexity in our human systems. The X-event, be it a political revolution, a crash of the Internet, or the collapse of a civilization, is human nature’s way of reducing a complexity overload that has become unsustainable. Each part of

see the object being questioned. What is relevant here is that for a race of robots to take over the world, they must have some way of processing information about the physical world received from their sensory apparatus. In short, they need a brain. The issue is whether technology has come to the point at which a brain sufficient for the job can be put together from the kind of computing equipment currently on offer or to be on offer soon. (Note: It is not required that the robot be able to

that in the brain will be readily available not later than around the year 2020. Putting the two hardware estimates together, we see that we’re within twenty years of being able to match the brain’s processing and memory capacity with a computing machine costing around one thousand dollars. Now, what about software? Matching the hardware requirements of the human brain is likely within the next decade or so. But the “killer app” arrives when we can match the computer’s speed, accuracy, and

Download sample


About admin