Astronomical waste is the loss of potential value resulting from delaying the efficient exploitation of the universe's resources. The term and the concept expressed by it were introduced by Nick Bostrom in a seminal paper (Bostrom 2003).

The accessible universe is vast, and virtually all of it remains unexploited. The Virgo Supercluster contains  stars, and the energy of each star could power  computations per second. The human brain can perform about  computations per second. Assuming that the morally relevant properties of the brain—such as phenomenal consciousness—supervene on its functional organization, it follows that the universe could support, every second, an amount of value equivalent to that realized in  human lives. The moral costs of failing to actualize this potential thus appear to be enormous.

In relative terms, however, the costs may be quite modest. The cosmos has existed for about 10 billion years, so one should not antecedently expect cosmological processes to cause value to decay by more than 1 part in 10 billion or so per year. And the observational evidence appears to be consistent with this prior assessment. The finitude, expansion, and burndown of the universe seem all to be occurring at a slow enough rate as to be in line with the estimate based on the duration of the universe so far (Christiano 2013)....

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