Existential Risks

While very unlikely, human civilisation is always prone to extinction. It is fair to admit that extinction of the whole Homo sapiens species may happen only within coincidental conjunctions of catastrophes, and events that would lead to a disruption of global affairs universally. Existential risks may thus be single events, as these events alone may cause enormous destruction that could contribute to a cessation of existence of the human race. Other existential risks are deemed to be combinations of various threats to our existence. The onset of these disasters is supposed to be gradual and chronological in order for the damage to be apocalyptic, leaving humanity in a dystopian reality. Given these factors, estimating the probability of such destruction should not be deemed as necessary to counteract, as it is improbable. However, that does not imply that we should not be prepared for a sudden deterioration of current affairs. Progress in this regard does not merely signify rapid developments and new innovation, but also the prevention of large-scale catastrophes and the mitigation of crises that trigger or stress the worst of outcomes.

Generational wisdom

Among our major responsibilities as a species, preserving wisdom and knowledge generated throughout our existence is a vital measure to preserve mankind. Most individuals are taught to value such knowledge from an early age, and throughout their life, they are working to improve this knowledge and innovate existing, as well as introduce new ones. Following this system we may find ourselves at the pinnacle of civilisation which we are indefinitely striving to. An unprecedented catastrophe may disrupt this cycle altogether. As a result, our civilisation may not fulfil its purpose in guarding and preserving all milestones of progress made by humanity in the past and deprive future generations of their contributions. It is not only the whole of mankind that is at stake upon emerging civilisational threats, but all the previous generations. At the point of a catastrophe, previous generations may as well not have existed, since all their efforts that lead to global prosperity would be at the point of vanishing completely.

What is within humanity’s control

Individuals find themselves at the pinnacle of their potential once placed in a socioeconomic, ethnic, religious, or an another social group. The cohesive entity that humanity is, is represented by cooperation. Hence, it is questionable how we can individually powerful enough in front of an existential risk. In truth, once faced with a lethal natural disaster, humans are helpless and alone, unable to rely on habitual systems. Our globalised society, while resilient, is unable to withstand global catastrophically that produce unbearable catastrophes. As in Thomas Hobbes’ state of nature, we may find ourselves as helpless as in the dawn of civilisation. How is it then possible to alleviate large-scale destructive events? Naturally, as much as humans aim to control our environment, some geological processes cannot be monitored and the forthcoming events cannot be accurately determined. However, given the recent development in science during the last century, some discoveries made a man-made life-threatening event ostensibly more likely. Biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons have possess the potential to contribute to the extinction of our species more than floods, volcano eruptions, earthquakes. Furthermore, man-made crises like wars, pandemics( COVID-19?) and genocides, persecution, authoritarian regimes, and hunger. have claimed countless lives throughout our history. As such, given the potential for the disruption of our civilisation to pre-dawn times that these factors carry, global policy makers, as always, should be responsible for mitigating risks, resolving international tensions and conflicts, and fund the healthcare system. As for most of the natural disasters, humanity has mostly encountered relatively small-scale natural disasters that, while lethal, have not claimed as many lives as man-made disasters. As a result, one of the most valued ethical principles of our civilisation is self-preservation in a prevention of conflicts and preserving our environment. As our technological progress is increasing, our capabilities to cause disasters may leave us no option for safety than self-limitation. Wide conflicts and a limitless exploitation of resources in abundant quantities can no longer be afforded merely for the interest single nations. Instead, it is the globalised society that is responsible for the repercussions of unwise decisions. This globalised society is then in charge of preventing everything man-made.

Effective Altruism and Existential Risks

Effective Altruism provides useful examples of the potential of existential catastrophes. Toby Ord has compiled a table that contains the probability of catastrophic events that would endanger the existence of multiple species on the planet. Among these, hypothetical scenarios including human activity indicates are more probable, and their potential for destruction is just as great. An armed conflict that includes a global exchange of nuclear missiles might lead to the same outcome as a volcanic eruption leading to cessation of existence for many species. But since the probability of many of the natural disasters is comparatively low, then the conclusion of the higher potential of human-made or human-influenced disasters becomes evident. EA provides insight in the potential of disasters and they the ways with which they may be overcome. This leads to a global network of new independently developed ideas. EA consists of multiple other projects and companies that bring further knowledge into the risks associated with human activities. It is the critical assessment of our current situation that gives remarkable insight from different perspectives that is useful within Effective Altruism.

As such, it is necessary to use facts, information, and data wisely to envision the potential for crises. Effective Altruism as an organisation may have an important role in this endeavour, and look for reasonable solution that could alleviate global concerns.





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