Science Insurance instead of Precautionary Principle

Perhaps we should have "science insurance", instead of the "Precautionary Principle".

"You want to do a nuclear fission chain reaction experiment - but you don't think it will *really* destroy the world? OK, we set the potential damages at $1 x 10^16, and an independent panel of experts reviewing your research sets the probability that you are incorrect at around 1 x 10^-8 - so pay $100 million up front."

"No refunds if you're correct - the money will be spent on amelioration (e.g. efforts to get humanity off the planet)."

"Your biological experiment would only cause $1 x 10^12 in damages? We agree with your projection of 99.9999% certainty it won't. So pay $1 million and go ahead."

"What's that? You say you can add some controls that will reduce the chance from 1 in a million to 1 in a hundred million? OK, if you can do that, the cost drops to $20,000. Why not $10,000? You should have come up with better safety controls before bringing your research to the insurance board - now we have to review your proposal again."

There should also be rewards for reducing risks.

"You want to set up an asteroid monitoring program that reduces the chance of an asteroid destroying all human life on Earth by 90%, by giving us 20 years warning to do something about it? OK, we calculate that to be worth $1 x 10^9 a year, except that 90% of that value is already provided by various efforts we're funding to get humanity off the planet and in a position to do something about asteroids. So you get $100M a year."


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