Global Risk Issues
Global catastrophes can happen. There have been several mass extinctions of species in Earth's prehistory. Asteroid impact is thought to have killed the dinosaurs. A large asteroid or cosmic ray burst could do the same to us.
The good news is that natural mass extinctions don't happen often. We cannot say the same for mass extinction caused by human activity. We have only recently developed technology with the potential to kill our species. We have not had a global nuclear war yet, and global warming has not yet run away, but such things might happen, and we are hoping to develop marvelous new technologies like artificial intelligence and nanotech with some potential to run away. In his book Our Final Hour, Sir Martin Rees lists many potential extinction risks. He estimates that our chance to survive this century is only 50%.
There is no simple and sure solution. However, we can think about potential problems, and we can develop, vet, and advocate for potential solutions. Such activities are appropriate due diligence, and they improve our odds. Even a small improvement of our odds has enormous expected value. Expected value is the probability of each potential outcome multiplied by the value of that outcome. It is widely used in business and gambling to evaluate choices. The expected value of a tiny improvement in our odds of survival is worth a lot in terms of expected value because the value in the equation is 7.6 billion human lives plus all future lives. Members of this group have already tweaked the odds by at least a tiny bit. A tiny bit can be worth thousands of lives in terms of expected value. Perhaps we will get lucky and do more. Even if not, it is an interesting hobby.
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