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Existential Risks: Analyzing Human Extinction Scenarios and Related Hazards

edited January 2007 in World
Because of accelerating technological progress, humankind may be rapidly approaching a critical phase in its career. In addition to well-known threats such as nuclear holocaust, the prospects of radically transforming technologies like nanotech systems and machine intelligence present us with unprecedented opportunities and risks. Our future, and whether we will have a future at all, may well be determined by how we deal with these challenges. In the case of radically transforming technologies, a better understanding of the transition dynamics from a human to a “posthuman” society is needed. Of particular importance is to know where the pitfalls are: the ways in which things could go terminally wrong. While we have had long exposure to various personal, local, and endurable global hazards, this paper analyzes a recently emerging category: that of existential risks. These are threats that could cause our extinction or destroy the potential of Earth-originating intelligent life. Some of these threats are relatively well known while others, including some of the gravest, have gone almost unrecognized. Existential risks have a cluster of features that make ordinary risk management ineffective. A final section of this paper discusses several ethical and policy implications. A clearer understanding of the threat picture will enable us to formulate better strategies. - link


  • Humanity has always suffered multiple extinction risks. As the human race matures we are just more aware of them. Of course, as we develop, we are more capable of adding to these risks....or trying to reduce or mitigate them. Please check out this website ...
    Its a bit wordy but promotes understanding of the Universal Extinction Constant (UEC) and the value of continuously measuring the Extinction Threat Level (ETL) to humanity. Used as a common measure, ETL could engender positive, aspirational and challenging goals, providing a vision for a better and sustainable future for us all.
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