Anthropogenic existential risks

Anthropogenic existential risks are existential risks arising from intentional or accidental human activity rather than underlying natural processes.

New technologies have played a huge part in the massive growth in human flourishing over the past centuries. However, they also pose some serious risks. Nuclear weapons, for example, may have created the potential for wars that result in human extinction. Other technologies may pose similar risks in the future, such as synthetic biology and artificial intelligence, as well as risks from fundamental physics research and unknown risks.

Because these risks originate in poorly understood and unprecedented technologies, there is essentially a large degree of speculation in their investigation. For this reason, it is useful to balance discussions of unprecedented technological risk, considering both the visible benefits and potential risks of research.

Further reading

Beckstead, Nick et al. 2014. Unprecedented technological risks.