Humans tend to make mistakes when thinking about existential risks. Part of the problem is that risk assessment is very difficult when risks are complex and far in the future. However, even if we acknowledge that difficulty and begin to diligently work towards averting risks, we still have to learn to think clearly. This turns […]
The end of humanity is difficult to contemplate. Merely having a coherent discussion about existential risks requires that we arm ourselves with effective habits of thought and cultivate a resilient disposition. Let’s muster our courage and talk about a few of the main challenges we humans face when we try to confront the problem of […]
Existential risks are bad. Stopping human extinction is good. Without getting too deep into philosophy, let’s talk about why we believe these things. Most people would agree that human life is a good thing, and that the death of a human is a bad thing. In case you don’t hold this belief, I recommend these […]
Existential risks are thorny problems. They generally can’t be solved by one person working alone. Success will almost certainly require deep cooperation among all countries. In fact, existential risks can be categorized according to how much cooperation is needed to avoid them. Mass cooperation without an explicit structure might work for some types of risk […]
One way to quantify the danger posed by an existential risk is to examine how much countries will need to cooperate in order to avoid it. Since successful avoidance of an existential risk can be considered a public good (something that benefits the well-being of all members of a society) we can borrow some terminology […]
If we can travel to other stars, there may one day be billions of times as many humans alive at one time as there are today. If we can travel beyond our galaxy there may one day be trillions of humans alive at one time for every one of us today. In case the sheer number of living humans wasn’t overwhelming enough, consider the fact that these civilizations could persist for many billions of years.
We live in a universe that is very hostile to life as we know it. The only habitable place we’ve found so far is the place we grew up: a thin layer atop the surface of the Earth. This is an incredibly small fraction of all volume in the known universe. Even if we make […]
A pandemic is the rapid spread of an infectious disease across a large region. Global pandemics will likely occur in the future, but their danger is very hard to estimate. So far, pandemics have received far more attention than other natural existential threats and our analysis below indicates that this level of attention is appropriate. […]
Existential risks can be divided into two groups: those that are caused by nature and those that are caused by humans (also known as anthropogenic risks). Natural risks come from the physical processes of the Earth, sun, and universe at large. These events have always been a danger to all life on Earth, including humanity. […]
A global catastrophic risk is a possible future event that would cause severe harm to humans on a global scale. An existential risk is a global catastrophic risk that has a chance of rendering humanity extinct.