2013 Starship Congress Speaker Announcement – Heath Rezabek and Nick Nielsen: “(Xrisk 101) Existential Risk for Interstellar Advocates: Space and Time for Understanding and Action”

Library Futurist Heath Rezabek and author Nick Nielsen have been announced as co-presenters for Icarus Interstellar’s 2013 Starship Congress, with the following talk: (Xrisk 101) Existential Risk for Interstellar Advocates: Space and Time for Understanding and Action.

Heath Rezabek is the Texas Ambassador for the Open Knowledge Foundation, and is Icarus Interstellar’s Outreach and Collaborations Coordinator for the 2013 Starship Congress. He has strategic oversight of several technology literacy grant initiatives at the Austin Public Library.

Mr. Rezabek’s concern with Xrisk and our interstellar prospects had its debut in 2012, when he proposed a framework for the very-long-term preservation of cultural and biological records in his 100 Year Starship Symposium session, “Vessel Archives: A Strategic Approach to Existential Risk, Human Survival, and the Future of Earth-Originating Life.”  This architecture, designed for eventual transport via interstellar vehicle as a reflection of Earth’s heritage, was also designed to help ensure the long-term capacity of humanity to achieve its full potential even in long-term cases of catastrophic risk. The Vessel Archives initiative synthesized the pivotal work of Gregory Benford’s “Library of Life” proposal with the concept of Existential Risk as set forth by Nick Bostrom at the Future of Humanity Institute.  

Mr. Rezabek’s paper is available in preprint at: http://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.157109. (Xrisk 101) includes an expansion and update of his proposal. 


Nick Nielsen the author of two books, Political Economy of Globalization and Variations on the Theme of Life. At the 2011 100 Year Starship Symposium he presented “The Moral Imperative of Human Spaceflight” and at the 2012 100 Year Starship Symposium he presented “The Large Scale Structure of Spacefaring Civilization.” In addition, he authors two blogs (http://geopolicraticus.wordpress.com/ and http://geopolicraticus.tumblr.com/) primarily concerned with the future of civilization and the philosophical implications of contemporary events. Mr. Nielsen is a contributing analyst with Wikistrat, an online strategic consulting firm. 


Following is the abstract for the talk (Xrisk 101) Existential Risk for Interstellar Advocates: Space and Time for Understanding and Action:

Existential Risk (the risk that Earth-originating life may not endure long enough to achieve its full potential) is a concept whose importance will grow over the next 20-50 years.  It is increasingly seen as a motivating imperative in connection with space-related efforts, from near-term asteroid surveyal to future interstellar prospects.  How is Existential Risk defined and what is our stake in it?  Why does popular culture tend to envision its subtypes (Permanent Stagnation and Flawed Realization)?  What can a film like Elysium teach us about our messaging and priorities? Co-presenters Heath Rezabek and Nick Nielsen offer a primer on Xrisk and a look at its implications for interstellar efforts.  Mr. Rezabek will review the Vessel Archives proposal, and detail work on the Open Vessel Framework (a basis for preserving the traces of Earth-originating life, whether on Earth or on board). Mr. Nielsen will map our contemporary view of Existential Risk to the historical scope of civilization, and its possible future(s) in the light of Xrisk mitigation.  Relevance to concrete interstellar priorities and strategies will be highlighted throughout.


     Heath Rezabek


     Nick Nielsen