Last year, we helped write a paper about the future of global governance. As we researched and brainstormed ideas for that paper, we found ourselves continually confronted with a deceptively simple question: Why don’t the countries of the world cooperate more?
Tag: existential risk
What are the necessities of an existentially independent offworld colony?
Self-sufficient human colonies beyond Earth are necessary for humanity to survive into the distant future. Building them will not be easy, as many scientific and technological challenges still remain. Here we will focus on what is needed to create an offworld society that is capable of surviving and thriving on its own. We’ll use Mars […]
Why humanity must build independent colonies beyond Earth
Humanity faces multiple existential threats that are planetary in scale. Currently, most threats are from nature, but in the near future we’re likely to create new risks. Most of these disasters could directly affect everyone on the Earth, but their destructive power cannot reach out across the void of space. A hypothetical independent human colony […]
Know yourself: Cognitive biases undermining the study of existential risks
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 […]
Know your enemy: Saving the world requires humble diligent thought
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 […]
The moral imperative of averting existential risks
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 […]
How much do humans need to cooperate in order to survive?
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 […]
Cooperate or perish: Minimal levels of collaboration needed to save the world
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 […]
Occupy heaven: The vast potential of humanity if we can safeguard our future
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.
Humanity must flourish to survive
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 […]
Our unfriendly universe: Risks of human extinction by nature
Nature poses many risks to humanity. We examine the most dangerous natural disasters and estimate the likelihood that they will cause human extinction.
How likely is human extinction due to a natural pandemic?
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. […]
What will cause human extinction: Natural disaster or human folly?
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. […]
The difference between existential risks and global catastrophic risks
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.
What is an existential risk?
An existential risk is a possible future event that could potentially cause the extinction of humans or the permanent destruction of our ability to thrive. Studying them is very challenging, but given what is at stake, existential risks need to be studied with great care and intensity.