How likely is an existential catastrophe?

An existential risk refers to any future event that would either trip our species into the eternal grave of extinction or irreversibly catapult us back into the Stone Age. Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom formalized this concept in 2002, and it has since become a topic of growing interest among both academics and the public.In the past few decades, the number of existential risk scenarios has risen, and it will likely rise even more this century. Consider that only 72 years ago, prior to the first atomic bomb exploding in the New Mexico desert, Homo sapiens faced only a handful of existential risks—all of them natural—including asteroid and comet impacts, supervolcanic eruptions, and global pandemics. Today the situation is quite different: Anthropogenic risks such as climate change, biodiversity loss, and nuclear…


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