Part 5: Existential Risk
“If we drop the baton, succumbing to an existential catastrophe, we would fail our ancestors in a multitude of ways. We would fail to achieve the dreams they hoped for; we would betray the trust they placed in us, their heirs; and we would fail in any duty we had to pay forward the work they did for us. To neglect existential risk might thus be to wrong not only the people of the future, but the people of the past.”
- Toby Ord
Human extinction would destroy our potential, ending all hope of a bright future.
If we want to do as much good as we can, and create better lives for our descendants, we should consider ways we could destroy ourselves — and figure out how to stop that from happening.
In this sequence, we'll define "existential risk"; examine why addressing these risks might be both important and neglected; and explore strategies for doing so.
Organization Spotlight: Future of Humanity Institute
The Future of Humanity Institute (FHI) is a multidisciplinary research institute working on big picture questions for human civilisation and exploring what can be done now to ensure a flourishing long-term future.
Currently, Their four main research areas currently are:
Organization Spotlight: Nuclear Threat Initiative
The Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) works to prevent catastrophic attacks of a nuclear, biological, radiological, chemical or cyber nature. Alongside other projects, they work with heads of state, scientists, and educators to develop policies to reduce reliance on nuclear weapons, prevent their use, and end them as a threat.
Photo credit: Tim Rüßmann