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Risk of Human Extinction Underestimated

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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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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Posted (edited)

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

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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 ....

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

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

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Humans, the most dangerous animals on the planet.

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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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Posted (edited)

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

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Posted (edited)

I've got my Mr.Snippy gear... I'll be just fine.

EDIT - Oops, spelling mistake.

Edited by King Fluffs

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I've never been much interested in whether or not the human race will eventually render itself extinct since the Sun is eventually going to do that for us anyway. However, I read one article about this scientist guy who believes the human population will taper off round 2070 or so. I have always wondered about this, because it seems to me that only so much of the Earth's mass can be converted into human beings. Does anyone know more about this, because this scientist guy didn't really explain why to my satisfaction.

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Professor Bostrom is absolutely correct but its not a risk,its a FACT..!..and not very far into the future..War,Pestilence(cancer),Famine(We cannot feed some humans now,never mind 7/10 Billion,and Death,The 4 Horsemen,!! and the Earth will be pleased to get rid of us

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Overpopulation is a far greater threat than climate change.

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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.

That's right...It sucks why they made bombs..so on.

wingyflam

Humans, the most dangerous animals on the planet.

Agreed..

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Overpopulation is a far greater threat than climate change.

The one is, by extension, the cause of the other.

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yes, but . . . the 1% are making a buck in the meantime, so who's complaining? In a market economy, survival of the species has little value.

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Let's get into the environemental relam a bit. People generally don't want to talk about the real and serious risks that we are facing just because they don't want to accept them as true problems. Nobody wants to hear that we could be stuck in a global crisis before the end of the century.

A lot of people talking about it are often refered to as "alarmists" spreading fear and "catastrophism". Although I'm aware that such people do exist, we shouldn't, on the contrary, try to minimise the current situation and risks.

If nothing changes, T° could rise to as much as 6°C over average from now until 2100. We have to understand that such a fast rise in T° WILL inevitably be a MAJOR threath for hundreads of millions of people that would need to be re-located.

Also, keep in mind global warming is like a snowball effect. The more warming there is, the faster it's going to rise for multiple reasons such as ice melting (ice reflects sun irradiance), liberation of methane hydrate (higher GW potential), acidification of water resulting in less algae for instance thus less CO2 fixation and etc. etc. etc.

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Overpopulation is a far greater threat than climate change.

It's all tied in together. Here's a recent documentary by David Attenborough on human overpopulation. The title of video is the one question that politicians, developers and economists refuse to ask; How Many People Can Live on Planet Earth?

http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/how-many-people-can-live-on-planet-earth/

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Overpopulation is a far greater threat than climate change.

Not really. They are two very diffrent things. But they are both dangerous and affect eachother out.

From now on until 2100, if nothing changes, hundreads of millions people will have to be re-located. When that happens, then yes, our planet will even be MUCH more sensitive to overpopulation (more than it is already) because more and more places are going to be inapt for human establishment. Other places, though, are going to bloom with life, plants etc. and will offer us a possibility to move (northern places especially). But then again, that would mean building new cities, moving everyone etc. which would be a terrible mess. Especially considering the current economical situation everywhere.

Also, more people means more pollution unless we rapidly and majorly change our ways of consuming. I doubt we will make it in time. No matter how hard we are fighting for this, the energy lobby is too strong and will do everything to keep making money.

But still, overpopulation alone is also a threat. In 2050 we will be about 10 billions and by 2100 we could be 15 billions. Considering how bad our environemnt is getting, it is (in my opinion) inevitable that a doubling in current population + environmental crisis = major trouble ahead.

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