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The War in Ukraine that started on February 24th has some important consequences for EA. Specifically, nuclear war within 2 years likelihood is still very low, despite Russian threats of nukes. On the other hand, long term the nuclear warfare existential risk has increased. This is because Russia invaded Ukraine and used it's nuclear warheads as a shield. This deals a significant blow to arms control creates a more unstable international order. It also will incentivize more states to take up nukes. What this means could be expanded though.


It puts the world in a tough spot when a nation like Russia brandishes nukes and we either have to call their bluff and risk nuclear warfare or back off which, among other undesirable consequences, incentivizes other nations to develop and brandish nukes themselves.

Improvements in technology will almost certainly make developing these weapons gradually easier over time (eg continued development of laser isotope enrichment techniques for uranium) and there is always some possibility of a major breakthrough. The goal of a world with zero nukes either acknowledged or hidden away as well as nations no longer possessing the means to quickly generate them is, I feel, extremely naive and I doubt diplomats who earn a living lying and being lied to on a daily basis would disagree (if they were being honest, that is). The allure of possessing nukes has perhaps recently been increased with the recognition of Ukraine as a country that disposed of its nuclear stockpile which likely permitted it to become the victim of a genocidal empire building campaign by its neighbour.

I think nations should take a more radical approach and heavily fund technologies conducive to countering nukes (eg anti-missile DEW defences on the ground and possibly in LEO) and detecting where they might be (eg sensor arrays for real time scanning of coastal waters where submarines might be).


My guess is I don't think the tech for nukes is dual use or easily hidden, unlike other existential risks because they require enrichment levels so high it's easy to distinguish them from peaceful uses and it's probably not going to be so easy that every state can make a nuke. That said, agree with the other parts of your comment.

Pascal's mugging, and why in the real world you should usually pay the mugger in real life, contrary to your intuition. (Not always.)

The biggest reason is that you need to survive, as a first priority, and then call your bank to stop paying. It is usually not worth it to fight over your money, especially if you can bound your losses by calling your bank and freeze your cards.

Link to the sources here:

Pascal's mugging has very little resemblance to someone holding you at knifepoint and demanding your wallet.

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