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jerryking : extinction   3

How to save the human race from extinction
March 19, 2020 | Financial Times | by James Crabtree.

** The Precipice: Existential Risk and the Future of Humanity,  by Toby Ord
** Apocalypse How? Technology and the Threat of Disaster, by Oliver Letwin, 
** Notes from an Apocalypse: A Personal Journey to the End of the World and Back, by Mark O’Connell,
How Everything Can Collapse, by Pablo Servigne and Raphaël Stevens (translated by Andrew Brown)

If coronavirus doesn’t kill us, climate or AI could. Why we must get serious about saving the world.

Visions of post-apocalyptic collapse are familiar from disaster movies, or novels such as Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Ord’s concern is more with what he calls “existential” risk: an apocalypse in which there is no “post”; just the end of all of us. Hence his calculations of the chance of human life ending entirely during this century: one in six.......Ord's book tallies up various apocalyptic scenarios, from asteroid strikes to the one in 1,000m chance of a “stellar explosion” in space taking the Earth with it. More alarming are the man-made “anthropogenic” threats, specifically climate change, broader environmental collapse, nuclear war, biotechnology and artificial intelligence. These risks are new, coming together in the latter 20th century to create an era that Ord dubs “the precipice”, meaning one in which total human collapse remains alarmingly likely........Ord worries most of all about “unaligned artificial intelligence”, giving odds of one in 10 to the notion that future intelligent machines might wipe out their human underlings — a scenario that has also alarmed the likes of the late scientist Stephen Hawking and entrepreneur Elon Musk.....Pandemics are his second-biggest fear......The real risk here, however, is man-made, specifically a bioweapon or lab-mutated virus......Chaotic hospital scenes in Wuhan and Lombardy make such risks easier to imagine.......Oliver Letwin’s Apocalypse How? sketches out just one scenario, in which a fictional freak “space weather” magnetic pulse knocks out Britain’s internet, electricity and other vital networks on New Year’s Eve 2037, causing chaos and tens of thousands of deaths.......
Letwin's bigger argument concerns the rising vulnerability of sophisticated industrialised societies, given the complex interlocking technological networks that already underpin almost all of our social systems....“If the electricity grid and the internet go down in the late 2030s, and if we have not taken very particular precautions, it is likely that life as we know it will close down too,”.......Pablo Servigne and Raphaël Stevens'  How Everything Can Collapse......focuses on "collapsology” which covers plenty of ground, from the risks of fossil fuel-dependent energy systems to instability in international finance.....their concern is primarily ecological, namely the overburdening of the Earth’s natural systems, from the climate crisis to the collapse in biodiversity.....Five mass extinctions have scarred our planet’s 4.5bn-year history, the most recent wiping out the dinosaurs 65m years ago........contemporary potential disasters share a common feature — they result at some level from the intersection of globalisation and technology......Globalisation has brought huge benefits, but also levels of human interconnection and environmental strain that make now truly global catastrophes much easier to imagine.......Today’s visions of collapse are more gradual, be that a spreading pandemic or the remorseless warming of our planet. “Today, climatic and environmental catastrophes are less spectacular, but they have actually started,” Servigne and Stevens suggest.........How should we prepare for such a possibility? Some take matters into their own hands, the subject of Mark O’Connell’s Notes from an Apocalypse, a delightful peek inside the world of “preppers” gearing up for imminent disruptions to our social or political order......begs the question of what sensible measures should be taken to prepare instead, especially when politicians find it so hard to focus on risks that are low-probability and complex, or those, such as climate change, whose full effects will not be felt for decades......Existential destruction would, by definition, be unprecedented. Yet our world is still littered with the ruins of once-thriving civilisations that did at some point come to an end, mostly for reasons that modern societies are in a position to prevent.
Apocalypses  artificial_intelligence  bioterrorism  book_reviews  books  catastrophes  COVID-19  disaster_preparedness  Elon_Musk  existential  extinction  globalization  H5N1  human_race  humanity  network_risk  pandemics  power_grid  risks  societal_collapse  Stephen_Hawking  threats  viruses  vulnerabilities 
8 days ago by jerryking
Fossil Site Reveals Day That Meteor Hit Earth and, Maybe, Wiped Out Dinosaurs
March 29, 2019 | The New York Times | By William J. Broad and Kenneth Chang.

The Chicxulub impact and the global disaster it wrought are sometimes held up as the death stroke for the dinosaurs. But many scientists argue that an array of other factors, including volcanic eruptions and climatic disruptions, contributed to the demise of the giant reptiles.
asteroids  dinosaurs  disasters  evolution  existential  extinction  fossils  meteorites  meteors  natural_calamities  paleontology 
march 2019 by jerryking

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