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Risk of Human Extinction Underestimated


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#1    Bracket

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 10:46 PM

www.theatlantic.com said:

Unthinkable as it may be, humanity, every last person, could someday be wiped from the face of the Earth. We have learned to worry about asteroids and supervolcanoes, but the more-likely scenario, according to Nick Bostrom, a professor of philosophy at Oxford, is that we humans will destroy ourselves.

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#2    and then

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 11:50 PM

Yes and wouldn't it be really funny if the answer actually WAS 42?  We've come to a place in our evolution where we begin to see too many possibilities for our end and it scares the crap out of a thinking person.  Until you accept that there is exactly nothing to be done to stop such an eventuality.  Hell, just hang on and enjoy the ride.

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  for what could be, the darkest age...
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#3    aquatus1

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 12:09 AM

Honestly, the situation really has not changed all that much.  Like and_then mentioned, it is simply that we have a better understanding of it, but the situation itself is the same as it has been.  I am not going to go all the way to say that nothing can be done (I just don't consider humans to be anywhere near that unstoppable a force), but I will say that the matter will have to be directly addressed with a bit more focus than it currently is.


#4    Soul Kitchen

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 02:05 AM

It is popular for cynics to believe that humans will inevitably destroy each other.
I think that we had a good a chance as we'll ever have in the cold war, and we kept on just fine, because nobody WANTED an apocalypse.

As social creatures, humans are instinctively cooperative. There's a reason why the human race got to where we are now, and if we were nearly as vulnerable to destroying ourselves as cynics like to believe, we wouldn't have.

Life is too short to waste on responsibilities. :)

#5    and then

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 02:25 AM

View PostSoul Kitchen, on 07 March 2012 - 02:05 AM, said:

It is popular for cynics to believe that humans will inevitably destroy each other.
I think that we had a good a chance as we'll ever have in the cold war, and we kept on just fine, because nobody WANTED an apocalypse.

As social creatures, humans are instinctively cooperative. There's a reason why the human race got to where we are now, and if we were nearly as vulnerable to destroying ourselves as cynics like to believe, we wouldn't have.
The only problem I have with that is that we are such inventive creatures as well.  Gases, bombs, missiles, fun new viruses...and the list goes on.  Point is that the margin for error is thinner than it ever has been and a true man made extinction event IS possible now.  And it could happen due to a simple miscalculation by a few people during a time of great stress.  I don't happen to believe we will become extinct but I very much believe we will come right up to the edge of it.

  We've cast the world, we've set the stage,
  for what could be, the darkest age...
“This is like playing poker with a guy who cheated you twice before. You know who does that, a moron.

#6    socrates.junior

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 05:32 AM

So a group that exists because they believe humanity will destroy itself is saying that humanity will destroy itself. Well,in other news, Democrats are Democrats and the Pope is Catholic. It's a miracle.

A geophysicist is a person who passes as an exacting expert, on the basis of being able to churn out, with prolific fortitude, infinite amounts of data, gathered to micro-metric precision by persons of questionable I.Q. and mentality with the aid of very expensive "black box" machines of dubious integrity based on incomplete experiments for the avowed purpose of confounding Geologists, who are already on the lunatic fringe of society. -Author Unknown

#7    harleyquinn

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 10:08 AM

Agreed. War is tearing our humanity apart. I'm not saying life is sugar and rainbows, but we don't have to be bombing eachother every three seconds for someone to listen. All the constant fear of being under war if we make one wrong move is a bad feeling and not how we should be living.


#8    Arbenol

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 11:24 AM

View Postharleyquinn, on 07 March 2012 - 10:08 AM, said:

War is tearing our humanity apart.

The last 60 years have been some of the most (relatively) peaceful years humans have had. It feels worse because we see every conflict in all it's visceral detail on TV. I don't see a time when there will be no more war, but even during the cold war both super powers (except on a couple of occasions) did little more than pull faces at each other.

But this kind of fear mongering sells books and makes for good Discovery Channel docos.


#9    reggie2011

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 12:56 PM

that is a very very cool post ,i thorghly enjoyed the read :)loved this part..

Can you explain the simulation argument, and how it presents a very particular existential risk?

Bostrom: The simulation argument addresses whether we are in fact living in a simulation as opposed to some basement level physical reality. It tries to show that at least one of three propositions is true, but it doesn't tell us which one. Those three are:
1) Almost all civilizations like ours go extinct before reaching technological maturity.


2) Almost all technologically mature civilizations lose interest in creating ancestor simulations: computer simulations detailed enough that the simulated minds within them would be conscious.

3) we are almost certainly computer simulations ....

Edited by reggie2011, 07 March 2012 - 12:58 PM.


#10    reggie2011

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 12:59 PM

View Postreggie2011, on 07 March 2012 - 12:56 PM, said:

that is a very very cool post ,i thorghly enjoyed the read :)loved this part..

Can you explain the simulation argument, and how it presents a very particular existential risk?

Bostrom: The simulation argument addresses whether we are in fact living in a simulation as opposed to some basement level physical reality. It tries to show that at least one of three propositions is true, but it doesn't tell us which one. Those three are:
1) Almost all civilizations like ours go extinct before reaching technological maturity.


2) Almost all technologically mature civilizations lose interest in creating ancestor simulations: computer simulations detailed enough that the simulated minds within them would be conscious.

3) we are almost certainly computer simulations ....



#11    Zaphod222

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 02:20 PM

What is the time frame? In the very long term, the "risk" is 100%. Period.


#12    Mikami

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 02:45 PM

This wouldnt be the first time I've heard this theory....


#13    wingyflam

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 04:31 PM

Humans, the most dangerous animals on the planet.


#14    questionmark

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 04:32 PM

Risks are always under or overestimated, depending on the side of the fence. If you have an interest in the "world ending" you tend to overestimate, if you are afraid of croaking to underestimate the risk of the whole species going extinct.

But I agree with the prof. there is a far more substantial risk than what we think or what scientist calculate. Some of the factors (like medication resistant germs created by mass animal husbandry) are so gross underestimated that it is scary.

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#15    questionmark

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 05:00 PM

View Postwingyflam, on 07 March 2012 - 04:31 PM, said:

Humans, the most dangerous animals on the planet.

Two planets meet, seez the first one: How are you?
The second answers: well, looks like I caught a skin disease.
Oh? seez the first, what is it called?
Humans.

Edited by questionmark, 07 March 2012 - 05:00 PM.

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