20. Predictions from Philosophy? (1997)

By Nick Bostrom

The purpose of this paper, boldly stated, is to propose a new type of philosophy, a philosophy whose aim is prediction. The pace of technological progress is increasing very rapidly: it looks as if we are witnessing an exponential growth, the growth-rate being proportional to the size already obtained, with scientific knowledge doubling every 10 to 20 years since the second world war, and with computer processor speed doubling every 18 months or so. It is argued that this technological development makes urgent many empirical questions which a philosopher could be well-suited to help answering. I try to cover a broad range of interesting problems and approaches, which means that I won't go at all deeply into any of them; I only try to say enough to show what some of the problems are, how one can begin to work with them, and why philosophy is relevant. My hope is that this will whet your appetite to deal with these questions, or at least increase general awareness that they worthy tasks for first-class intellects, including ones which might belong to philosophers.

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