Existential risks: analyzing human extinction scenarios and related hazards

J Evol Technol 9 (1) (2002)
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Abstract

Because of accelerating technological progress, humankind may be rapidly approaching a critical phase in its career. In addition to well-known threats such as nuclear holocaust, the propects of radically transforming technologies like nanotech systems and machine intelligence present us with unprecedented opportunities and risks. Our future, and whether we will have a future at all, may well be determined by how we deal with these challenges. In the case of radically transforming technologies, a better understanding of the transition dynamics from a human to a "posthuman" society is needed. Of particular importance is to know where the pitfalls are: the ways in which things could go terminally wrong. While we have had long exposure to various personal, local, and endurable global hazards, this paper analyzes a recently emerging category: that of existential risks. These are threats that could case our extinction or destroy the potential of Earth - originating intelligent life. Some of these threats are relatively well known while others, including some of the gravest, have gone almost unrecognized. Existential risks have a cluster of features that make ordinary risk management ineffective. A final section of this paper discusses several ethical and policy implications. A clearer understanding of the threat picture will enable us to formulate better strategies.

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Nick Bostrom
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References found in this work

Superintelligence: paths, dangers, strategies.Nick Bostrom (ed.) - 2014 - Oxford University Press.
The posthuman.Rosi Braidotti - 2013 - Malden, MA, USA: Polity Press.
Reasons and Persons.Joseph Margolis - 1986 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 47 (2):311-327.

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