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The existence of different subcategories of human

Plants and Animals Other ways humanity could end are more subtle. Not those who will live 200 years from now, but 1,000 or 10,000 years from now. These risks are not just for big disasters, but for the disasters that could end history. Not everyone has ignored the long future though.

Human condition

Mystics like Nostradamus have regularly tried to calculate the end of the world. HG Wells tried to develop a science of forecasting and famously depicted the far future of humanity in his book The Time Machine. Other writers built other long-term futures to warn, amuse or speculate. We are in a more privileged position today. Human activity has been steadily shaping the future of our planet.

  1. Under this scenario, human populations do not have equal amounts of local variability, but rather diminished amounts of diversity the further from Africa any population lives. Being smart is a real advantage for people and organisations, so there is much effort in figuring out ways of improving our individual and collective intelligence.
  2. Humans are also bad at doing anything about problems that have not occurred yet partially because of the availability heuristic — the tendency to overestimate the probability of events we know examples of, and underestimate events we cannot readily recall.
  3. Climate change, no matter how scary, is unlikely to make the entire planet uninhabitable but it could compound other threats if our defences to it break down.
  4. Mystics like Nostradamus have regularly tried to calculate the end of the world. Challenging a millenia-old notion that intelligence is a single kind of human capacity does not necessarily win one friends among the intelligent.

And even though we are far from controlling natural disasters, we are developing technologies that may help mitigate, or at least, deal with them. Future imperfect Yet, these risks remain understudied. There is a sense of powerlessness and fatalism about them. People have been talking apocalypses for millennia, but few have tried to prevent them. Humans are also bad at doing anything about problems that have not occurred yet partially because of the availability heuristic — the tendency to overestimate the probability of events we know examples of, and underestimate events we cannot readily recall.

If humanity becomes extinct, at the very least the loss is equivalent to the loss of all living individuals and the frustration of their goals. But the loss would probably be far greater than that. Human extinction means the loss of meaning generated by past generations, the lives of all future generations and there could be an astronomical number of future lives and all the value they might have been able to create.

If consciousness or intelligence are lost, it might mean that value itself becomes absent from the universe. This is a huge moral reason to work hard to prevent existential threats from becoming reality. And we must not fail even once in this pursuit. But there are caveats that must be kept in mind, for this list is not final. Over the past century we have discovered or created new existential risks — supervolcanoes were discovered in the early 1970s, and before the Manhattan project nuclear war was impossible — so we should expect others to appear.

Also, some risks that look serious today might disappear as we learn more.

  • But that is not enough to make it an existential risk;
  • Philosophers have provided many perspectives;
  • And even though we are far from controlling natural disasters, we are developing technologies that may help mitigate, or at least, deal with them;
  • The silence in the sky might be evidence for this;
  • Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence Bodily kinesthetic intelligence is the capacity to manipulate objects and use a variety of physical skills;
  • The bottom chart illustrates isolation by distance.

The probabilities also change over time — sometimes because we are concerned about the risks and fix them. There are some risks we cannot do anything at all about, such as gamma ray bursts that result from the explosions of galaxies.

But if we learn we can do something, the priorities change. For instance, with sanitation, vaccines and antibiotics, pestilence went from an act of God to bad public health. Nuclear war While only two nuclear weapons have been used in war so far — at Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II — and nuclear stockpiles are down from their the peak they reached in the Cold War, it is a mistake to think that nuclear war is impossible.

In fact, it might not be improbable. The Cuban Missile crisis was very close to turning nuclear. If we assume one such event every 69 years and a one in three chance that it might go all the way to being nuclear war, the chance of such a catastrophe increases to about one in 200 per year.

Worse still, the Cuban Missile crisis was only the most well-known case. The history the existence of different subcategories of human Soviet-US nuclear deterrence is full of close calls and dangerous mistakes. The actual probability has changed depending on international tensions, but it seems implausible that the chances would be much lower than one in 1000 per year.

A full-scale nuclear war between major powers would kill hundreds of millions of people directly or through the near aftermath — an unimaginable disaster. But that is not enough to make it an existential risk. Similarly the hazards of fallout are often exaggerated — potentially deadly locally, but globally a relatively limited problem.

Cobalt bombs were proposed as a hypothetical doomsday weapon that would kill everybody with fallout, but are in practice hard and expensive to build. And they are physically just barely possible. The real threat is nuclear winter — that is, soot lofted into the stratosphere causing a multi-year cooling and drying of the world.

Modern climate simulations show that it could preclude agriculture across much of the world for years. If this scenario occurs billions would starve, leaving only scattered survivors that might be picked off by other threats such as disease. The main uncertainty is how the soot would behave: Bioengineered pandemic Natural pandemics have killed more people than wars. However, natural pandemics are unlikely to be existential threats: Evolution also does not favor parasites that wipe out their hosts, which is why syphilis went from a virulent killer to a chronic disease as it spread in Europe.

Unfortunately we can now make diseases nastier. One of the more famous examples is how the introduction of an extra gene in mousepox — the mouse version of smallpox — made it far more lethal and able to infect vaccinated individuals.

Recent work on bird flu has demonstrated that the contagiousness of a disease can be deliberately boosted. But as biotechnology gets better and cheapermore groups will be able to make diseases worse. Most work the existence of different subcategories of human bioweapons have been done by governments looking for something controllable, because wiping out humanity is not militarily useful.

But there are always some people who might want to do things because they can. Others have higher purposes. For instance, the Aum Shinrikyo cult tried to hasten the apocalypse using bioweapons beside their more successful nerve gas attack. Some people think the Earth would be better off without humans, and so on.

The number of fatalities from bioweapon and epidemic outbreaks attacks looks like it has a power-law distribution — most attacks have few victims, but a few kill many. Given current numbers the risk of a global pandemic from bioterrorism seems very small.

But this is just bioterrorism: And as technology gets more powerful in the future nastier pathogens become easier to design. Superintelligence Intelligence is very powerful. A tiny increment in problem-solving ability and group coordination is why we left the other apes in the dust.

Human genetic variation

Now their continued existence depends on human decisions, not what they do. Being smart is a real advantage for people and organisations, so there is much effort in figuring out ways of improving our individual and collective intelligence: The problem is that intelligent entities are good at achieving their goals, but if the goals are badly set they can use their power to cleverly achieve disastrous ends.

There is no reason to think that intelligence itself will make something behave nice and morally.

9 Types Of Intelligence – Infographic

In fact, it is possible to prove that certain types of superintelligent systems would not obey moral rules even if they were true. Even more worrying is that in trying to explain things to an artificial intelligence we run into profound practical and philosophical problems.

The Five Biggest Threats To Human Existence

Human values are diffuse, complex things that we are not good at expressing, and even if we could do that we might not understand all the implications of what we wish for. The reason is that it may scale in different ways from biological intelligence: Should such a jump occur there would be a large difference in potential power between the smart system or the people telling it what to do and the rest of the world.

This has clear potential for disaster if the goals are badly set. The unusual thing about superintelligence is that we do not know if rapid and powerful intelligence explosions are possible: But there are good reasons to think that some technologies may speed things up far faster than current societies can handle. Similarly we do not have a good grip on just how dangerous different forms of superintelligence would be, or what mitigation strategies would actually work.

It is very hard to reason about future technology we do not yet have, or intelligences greater than ourselves. Of the risks on this list, this is the one most likely to either be massive or just a mirage. This is a surprisingly under-researched area. Maybe they did not take their predictions seriously, but more likely is that they just saw it as a remote future problem.

  • Not knowing math you may not calculate the rate at which the universe is expanding, but you are likely to have the skills to find the right person who will;
  • But there are good reasons to think that some technologies may speed things up far faster than current societies can handle.

Nanotechnology Nanotechnology is the control over matter with atomic or molecular precision. That is in itself not dangerous — instead, it would be very good news for most applications. The problem is that, like biotechnology, increasing power also increases the potential for abuses that are hard to defend against. That would require clever design for this very purpose.

  • Interpersonal Intelligence Interpersonal intelligence is the ability to understand and interact effectively with others;
  • The "out of Africa" theory originates in the 19th century, as a tentative suggestion in Charles Darwin's Descent of Man , [34] but remained speculative until the 1980s when it was supported by study of present-day mitochondrial DNA, combined with evidence from physical anthropology of archaic specimens;
  • Similarly the hazards of fallout are often exaggerated — potentially deadly locally, but globally a relatively limited problem;
  • This is much lower than the nuclear-war risk, which after 70 years is still the biggest threat to our continued existence;
  • Meteors could certainly wipe us out, but we would have to be very unlucky;
  • For example, computer analyses of hundreds of polymorphic loci sampled in globally distributed populations have revealed the existence of genetic clustering that roughly is associated with groups that historically have occupied large continental and subcontinental regions Rosenberg et al.

It is tough to make a machine replicate: Maybe some maniac would eventually succeed, but there are plenty of more low-hanging fruits on the destructive technology tree. Weapons can also be small, precision things: Also, there might be ways of getting nuclear proliferation and climate engineering into the hands of anybody who wants it. We cannot judge the likelihood of existential risk from future nanotechnology, but it looks like it could be potentially disruptive just because it can give us whatever we wish for.

Unknown unknowns The most unsettling possibility is that there is something out there that is very deadly, and we have no clue about it. The silence in the sky might be evidence for this.

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Is the absence of aliens due to that life or intelligence is extremely rare, or that intelligent life tends to get wiped out? We do not know about any such threats none of the others on this list work like thisbut they might exist.

In a remarkable paper Max Tegmark and Nick Bostrom show that a certain set of risks must be less than one chance in a billion per year, based on the relative age of Earth.

You might wonder why climate change or meteor impacts have been left off this list. Climate change, no matter how scary, is unlikely to make the entire planet uninhabitable but it could compound other threats if our defences to it break down. Meteors could certainly wipe us out, but we would have to be very unlucky.

The 9 Types of Intelligence

The average mammalian species survives for about a million years. Hence, the background natural extinction rate is roughly one in a million per year. This is much lower than the nuclear-war risk, which after 70 years is still the biggest threat to our continued existence.

The availability heuristic makes us overestimate risks that are often in the media, and discount unprecedented risks.