Before the prospects of an intelligence explosion, we humans are like small children playing with a bomb. Such is the mismatch between the power of our plaything and the immaturity of our conduct. Superintelligence is a challenge for which we are not ready now and will not be ready for a long time. We have little idea when the detonation will occur, though if we hold the device to our ear we can hear a faint ticking sound.—Nick Bostrom, Superintelligence (2014)

I firmly believe that before many centuries hence, science will be the master of man. The engines he will have invented will be beyond his strength to control. Some day science may have the existence of mankind in its power, and the human race commit suicide, by blowing up the world.—Henry Adams, Letter to Charles Francis Adams, Jr. (April 11, 1862)

We are as gods and HAVE to get good at it.—Stewart Brand, Whole Earth Discipline (2009)

We are ourselves creating our own successors; we are daily adding to the beauty and delicacy of their physical organisation; we are daily giving them greater power and supplying by all sorts of ingenious contrivances that self-regulating, self-acting power which will be to them what intellect has been to the human race. In the course of ages we shall find ourselves the inferior race. Inferior in power, inferior in that moral quality of self-control, we shall look up to them as the acme of all that the best and wisest man can ever dare to aim at.—Samuel Butler, “Darwin Among the Machines” (1863)

Thus far the chief purpose of our military establishment has been to win wars. From now on its chief purpose must be to avert them. It can have almost no other useful purpose.—Bernard Brodie, The Absolute Weapon (1946)

In this world there are calamities and there are victims, and… we must, as much as possible, refuse to side with the calamity.—Albert Camus, The Plague (1947)

A computer program that could ‘beat’ a grandmaster in chess is about as interesting as a bulldozer than can ‘win’ the Olympic weight-lifting competition.—Noam Chomsky, Powers and Prospects (1996)

If we have learned one thing from the history of invention and discovery, it is that, in the long run—and often in the short one—the most daring prophecies often seem laughably conservative.—Arthur C. Clarke, The Exploration Of Space (1951)

The problem is not merely man against man or nation against nation. It is man against war.—Dwight D. Eisenhower, Letter (April 4, 1956)

We are living in a period of the world’s history when the mingling of thousands of kinds of organisms from different parts of the world is setting up terrific dislocations in nature.—Charles S. Elton, The Ecology of Invasions by Animals and Plants (1958)

Let an ultraintelligent machine be defined as a machine that can far surpass all the intellectual activities of any man however clever. Since the design of machines is one of these intellectual activities, an ultraintelligent machine could design even better machines; there would then unquestionably be an “intelligence explosion”, and the intelligence of man would be left far behind. Thus the first ultraintelligent machine is the last invention that man need ever make, provided the machine is docile enough to tell us how to keep it under control.—I.J. Good, “Speculations Concerning the First Ultraintelligent Machine”

The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking and thus we drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.—Albert Einstein, Telegram (as quoted in “Atomic Education Urged by Einstein,” The New York Times (May 25, 1946)

The new Pandora’s boxes of genetics, nanotechnology, and robotics are almost open, yet we seem hardly to have noticed. Ideas can’t be put back in a box; unlike uranium or plutonium, they don’t need to be mined and refined, and they can be freely copied.—Bill Joy, “Why the Future Doesn’t Need Us” in Wired (2000)

Everything that we formerly electrified we will now cognitize. This new utilitarian AI will also augment us individually as people (deepening our memory, speeding our recognition) and collectively as a species. There is almost nothing we can think of that cannot be made new, different, or interesting by infusing it with some extra IQ.—Kevin Kelly, “The Three Breakthroughs That Have Finally Unleashed AI on the World” in Wired (October 27, 2014)

Our progress in the use of science has been great, but our progress in ordering our relations small.—John F. Kennedy, White House Memo on the Twentieth Anniversary of the First Man-Made Nuclear Chain Reaction (1962)

Our problems are manmade—therefore, they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings.—John F. Kennedy, Speech at American University in Washington (1963)

So let us not be blind to our differences, but let us also direct attention to our common interests and the means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s futures. And we are all mortal.—John F. Kennedy, Speech at American University in Washington (1963)

Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.—John F. Kennedy, Speech at the Paulskirche in Frankfurt (1963)

We cannot stand idly by and expect our dreams to come true under their own power. The future is not a gift; it is an achievement. Every generation helps make its own future. This is the essential challenge of the present.—Robert F. Kennedy, Speech at the Seattle World’s Fair (August 7, 1962)

Assuming no important wars and no important increase in population, the economic problem may be solved, or be at least within sight of solution, within a hundred years. This means that the economic problem is not—if we look into the future—the permanent problem of the human race.—John Maynard Keynes, “Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren” (1930)

Let me suggest first that if we are to have peace on earth, our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective. No individual can live alone, and as long as we try, the more we are going to have war in this world. Now the judgment of God is upon us, and we must either learn to live together as brothers or we are all going to perish together as fools.—Martin Luther King, Jr., “A Christmas Sermon” (December 24, 1967)

It may seem impossible to imagine that a technologically advanced society could choose, in essence, to destroy itself, but that is what we are now in the process of doing.—Elizabeth Kolbert, Field Notes from a Catastrophe (2006)

There are no passengers on spaceship Earth. We are all crew.—Marshall McLuhan (1965)

A superintelligent AI might thus become quickly superior to humanity in harvesting resources, manufacturing, scientific discovery, social aptitude, and strategic action, among other abilities. We might not be in a position to negotiate with it or its descendants, just as chimpanzees are not in a position to negotiate with humans.—Luke Muehlhauser and Nick Bostrom, “Why We Need Friendly AI” (2014)

The universe is probably littered with the one-planet graves of cultures which made the sensible economic decision that there’s no good reason to go into space—each discovered, studied, and remembered by the ones who made the irrational decision.—Randall Munroe, XKCD (May 2, 2011)

“The very spark that marks us as a species—our thoughts, our imagination, our language, our tool-making, our ability to set ourselves apart from nature and bend it to our will—those very things also give us the capacity for unmatched destruction.”—Barack Obama, Remarks at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial (May 27, 2016)

We live during the hinge of history. Given the scientific and technological discoveries of the last two centuries, the world has never changed as fast. We shall soon have even greater powers to transform, not only our surroundings, but ourselves and our successors. If we act wisely in the next few centuries, humanity will survive its most dangerous and decisive period. Our descendants, could, if necessary, go elsewhere, spreading throughout this galaxy.— Derek Parfit, On What Matters (2011)

You have to watch out for engineers: it starts with the sewing machine, but it ends with the atomic bomb.—Marcel Pagnol, Critique des critiques (1949)

There are no such things as limits to growth, because there are no limits on the human capacity for intelligence, imagination, and wonder.—Ronald Reagan, Remarks at the University of South Carolina’s Convocation Ceremonies (1983)

Preservation of our environment is not a liberal or conservative challenge, it’s common sense.—Ronald Reagan, State of the Union Address (1984)

People of the Soviet Union, there is only one sane policy, for your country and mine, to preserve our civilization in this modern age: A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. The only value in our two nations possessing nuclear weapons is to make sure they will never be used. But then would it not be better to do away with them entirely?—Ronald Reagan, State of the Union Address (1984)

Cannot swords be turned to plowshares? Can we and all nations not live in peace? In our obsession with antagonisms of the moment, we often forget how much unites all the members of humanity. Perhaps we need some outside, universal threat to make us recognize this common bond. I occasionally think how quickly our differences worldwide would vanish if we were facing an alien threat from outside this world. And yet, I ask you, is not an alien force already among us? What could be more alien to the universal aspirations of our peoples than war and the threat of war?—Ronald Reagan, Address to the 42nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly (September 21, 1987)

What happens here on Earth, in this century, could conceivably make the difference between a near eternity filled with ever more complex and subtle forms of life and one filled with nothing but base matter.—Martin Rees, Our Final Hour (2003)

There lies before us, if we choose, continual progress in happiness, knowledge, and wisdom. Shall we, instead, choose death, because we cannot forget our quarrels? We appeal as human beings to human beings: Remember your humanity, and forget the rest. If you can do so, the way lies open to a new Paradise; if you cannot there lies before you the risk of universal death.—Bertrand Russell, “The Russell-Einstein Manifesto” (1955)

Love is wise, hatred is foolish. In this world, which is getting more and more closely interconnected, we have to learn to tolerate each other. We have to learn to put up with the fact that some people say things that we don’t like. We can only live together in that way, and if we are to live together and not die together we must learn a kind of charity and a kind of tolerance which is absolutely vital to the continuation of human life on this planet.—Bertrand Russell, Interview on Face to Face (1959)

The global consequences of nuclear war is not a subject amenable to experimental verification—or at least, not more than once.—Carl Sagan, The World After Nuclear War (October 31, 1983)

Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. The Earth is the only world known, so far, to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment, the Earth is where we make our stand.—Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot (1994)

The possibilities of history are far more various than the human intellect is designed to conceive.—Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Speech at the JFK Presidential Library and Museum (November 27, 2006)

Because we find new lodes, invent better production methods, and discover new substitutes the ultimate constraint upon our capacity to enjoy unlimited raw materials at an acceptable price is knowledge.—Julian Simon, “Resources, Population, and Environment” in Science (1980)

We are the most dangerous species of life on the planet, and every other species, even the earth itself, has cause to fear our power to exterminate. But we are also the only species, which, when it chooses to do so, will go to great effort to save what it might destroy.—Wallace Stegner, This Is Dinosaur (1955)

The human race’s prospects of survival were considerably better when we were defenceless against tigers than they are today, when we have become defenceless against ourselves.—Arnold Toynbee, Speech to the World Food Congress, (1963)

A planet is the cradle of mind, but one cannot live in the cradle forever.—Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, Letter (1911)

“We are on the edge of change comparable to the rise of human life on Earth. The precise cause of this change is the imminent creation by technology of entities with greater than human intelligence.”—Vernor Vinge, “The Coming Technological Singularity” (1993)

I have told my sons that they are not under any circumstances to take part in massacres, and that the news of massacres of enemies is not to fill them with glee. I have also told them not to work for companies which massacre machinery, and to express contempt for people who think we need machinery like that.—Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five (1969)

The world of the future will be an ever more demanding struggle against the limitations of our intelligence, not a comfortable hammock in which we can lie down to be waited upon by our robot slaves.—Norbert Wiener, God & Golem, Inc. (1966)

The AI does not hate you, nor does it love you, but you are made of atoms which it can use for something else.—Eliezer Yudkowsky, “Artificial Intelligence as a Positive and Negative Factor in Global Risk” (2008)

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