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The Fable of the Dragon-Tyrant [by Nick Bostrom]

dragon-tyrant-fableThe Fable of the Dragon-Tyrant is a 10 minute animated adaptation of Nick Bostom’s philosophical parable about death.

The story recounts the tale of a vicious dragon, with ever-growing appetite, who started with tens and, eventually, went on consuming hundreds of thousands of people every day.

The fable recounts the enormous human suffering and economic toll that the dragon-tyrant was exacting on humanity and the countless heroes who perished trying to sleigh it. Eventually people concluded that the dragon was invincible and came up with numerous justifications and teachings that we all ought to embrace the dragon as an inevitability. So, when a sage old man proposed that technology would eventually make it possible to build a contraption that could kill the dragon-tyrant, most experts not only dismissed it as a possibility but also as a worthy goal altogether:

“Getting rid of the dragon would deflect us from realizing the aspirations to which our lives naturally point. I tell you – the nature of the dragon is to eat humans. And our own nature is truly and nobly fulfilled only by being eaten by it.”

You can see the video below to find out what happens next or go and read Professor Bostrom’s original text here.


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  • Excellent! Thank you! 🙂

  • You’re welcome Juan, I really enjoyed the fable myself – just one among many reasons to get Nick Bostrom on Singularity 1 on 1. 😉

  • Diego Delgado

    Off topic, but I’d really like to hear from Geordie Rose or Suzanne Gildert from D-Wave quantum computers. They’ve both spoken at H+ in the past on the topics of life extension and AI through quantum computers, and with D-Wave really taking off now with its support from Lockheed, the CIA, Google ect it seems like an interesting time to get them on the show.

  • I will see what I can do Diego!

  • Diego Delgado


  • Lu Lu

    Interesting news. Thank you for telling us about this news.

    I knew that Suzanne Gildert is a physicist and transhumanist (link to her excellent blog http://physicsandcake.wordpress.com/ ) , but I did not know that Geordie Rose (founder and CTO of D-Wave Quantum Computer) is also interested in transhumanism.

  • Lu Lu

    This story is reminiscent of a quote of Eliezer Yudkowsky: “If, from now on, people will all be hitted by a baseball bat in the head once everyday, people will soon come up with reasons on why being hit by baseball bat once a day is a good thing.”

  • Bostrom has had this on his site for sometime. Unfathomably brilliant dude. Death to the dragon-tyrant.

  • Totally agree Greg!

  • Pingback: If Death Is Natural Then Why Are Some Immortal?()

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