In a building somewhere, tucked away in a forgotten corner, there are four clocks. Each is marked with a symbol: the first with a paperclip, the second with a double helix, the third with a trefoil, and the fourth with a stormcloud.
As you might expect from genre convention, these are not ordinary clocks. In fact, they started ticking when the first human was born, and when they strike midnight, a catastrophe occurs. The type depends on the clock, but what is always true is the disaster kills at least one in ten.
The times currently remaining on the clocks are:
Since there are many clocks, ticking somewhat randomly, they can be combined to estimate how long until at least one strikes midnight. 40 seconds of humanity.
These numbers were calculated using the Metaculus community median predictions of the probability of 10% of people dying from each of the causes from the Ragnarök question series.
I took those values as a constant probability of extinction over a period of 81 years (sort of like what I brought up in my previous shortform post), and calculated the mean time until catastrophe given this.
I mapped 350,000 years (the duration for which anatomically modern humans have existed according to Wikipeda) to 24 hours.
It is of course possible for human activity to push on the hands of these clocks, just as the clocks can influence humanity. An additional person working full time on those activities that would wind back the clocks could expect to delay them by this amount:
And these were calculated even more tenuously, by taking 80,000 hours' order-of-magnitude guesses at how much of the problem an additional full-time worker would solve completely literally and then finding the difference in the Doomsday clock time for that.
I really like seeing problems presented like this. It makes them easier to understand.