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What Really Smart People Worry About At Night

What do you lay awake at night worrying about? Are your worries different than those far smarter than you? Perhaps.

John Brockman of Edge magazine asked what the world's most intelligent brainiacs - including Physics Nobel laureate Frank Wilczek, technologist Tim O'Reilly, musician Brian Eno, The Black Swan author Nassim Nicholas Taleb - about their professional worries and got a lot of responses.

One hundred and fifty distinct worries, in fact. Thankfully, VICE's Motherboard blog has summarized it for us:

1. The proliferation of Chinese eugenics. – Geoffrey Miller, evolutionary psychologist.

2. Black swan events, and the fact that we continue to rely on models that have been proven fraudulent. – Nassem Nicholas Taleb

3. That we will be unable to defeat viruses by learning to push them beyond the error catastrophe threshold. – William McEwan, molecular biology researcher

4. That pseudoscience will gain ground. – Helena Cronin, author, philospher

5. That the age of accelerating technology will overwhelm us with opportunities to be worried. – Dan Sperber, social and cognitive scientist

6. Genuine apocalyptic events. The growing number of low-probability events that could lead to the total devastation of human society. – Martin Rees, former president of the Royal Society

7. The decline in science coverage in newspapers. – Barbara Strauch, New York Times science editor

8. Exploding stars, the eventual collapse of the Sun, and the problems with the human id that prevent us from dealing with them. -- John Tooby, founder of the field of evolutionary psychology

9. That the internet is ruining writing. – David Gelernter, Yale computer scientist

10. That smart people--like those who contribute to Edge--won’t do politics. –Brian Eno, musician

11. That there will be another supernova-like financial disaster. –Seth Lloyd, professor of Quantum Mechanical Engineering at MIT

12. That search engines will become arbiters of truth. --W. Daniel Hillis, physicist

13. The dearth of desirable mates is something we should worry about, for "it lies behind much human treachery and brutality.” –David M. Buss, professor of psychology at U of T

14. “I’m worried that our technology is helping to bring the long, postwar consensus against fascism to an end.” –David Bodanis, writer, futurist

15. That we will continue to uphold taboos on bad words. –Benhamin Bergen, Associate Professor of Cognitive Science, UCS

Humanity, start worrying! Or, you can just accept it all, like Terry Gilliam of Monty Python, who said:

I've given up asking questions. l merely float on a tsunami of acceptance of anything life throws at me... and marvel stupidly.

Read the original post over at Edge: Link | Summary at Motherboard blog


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