SK

Existential Risks

Date written Jul 5, 2020
Date updated Last updated: Dec 6, 2020
Filed under Metaphysics in phil

Contents
  • Risks
  • Books

An article on The Economist reminds that humanity, from time immemorial, has faced existential risks either natural or man-made. Black Swan events have dominated major progress in societies. I believe the paranoia associated with such events and ideas is overblown. Instead, these are opportunities to learn a lesson around designing robust socieities of the future and minimizing life's entropy. Protecting elitist institutions, racist ideologies and power are truly inconsequential in the larger scheme of things. This is especially a reminder to the ones still stuck in the means of the medieval ages.

Risks

I'm keeping an incomplete list of existential risks to humanity here and hoping to find opportunities to reduce entropy introduced by these events.

  • Coronal Mass Ejection (CME), The Carrington Event

  • Pandemics

    • Disease X
  • Supervolcanic Eruptions

    • Ash clouds
  • Hypernova Explosions

    • Gamma-ray bursts
  • Asteroids & Comets

  • Nuclear Winter

    • Dust accumulated in the stratosphere
  • Climate change

    • Runaway Greenhouse Effect

Sci-Fi

Some risks are still being evaluated largely from an anthropolgical impact perspective. These are perhaps more dystopian sci-fi risks, so far.

Books

The Precipice

by Toby Ord

The resources and appendix in this book are extremely rich. One of the quotes from the book is quite extraordinary, by Thomas Macaulay in 1830.

We cannot absolutely prove that htose are in error who tell us that society has reached a turning point, that we have seen our best days. But so said all before us, and with just as much apparent reason... On what principle is it that, when we see nothing but improvement behind us, we are to expect nothing but deterioration before us?

Succinctly said, the burden is on the pessimist to explain why now is the point things will fail. Climate change, for instance, is a prominent example in recent decades where the pessimists have had a hard time convincing the legislators and general populace Fortunately, the past decade has seen almost a 40% drop in demand. Nevertheless, this will remain a concern for every new realization of an existential risk.

The only thing that can change, however, is our receptiveness to such realizations with extreme consequences. Will we shun them only because they appear too unlikely, or will we fund their research to get to the truth? Yet again, the only thing that can save humanity is an open mind driven by the scientific method.