Civilizational collapse

Discuss the wiki-tag on this page. Here is the place to ask questions and propose changes.

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Civilizational resilience is humanity's capacity to recover from civilizational collapse.

I expect many people would use that term to also include civilisation's capacity to withstand shocks without collapsing in the first place. To quickly check, I googled the term, chose one of the links at random, and indeed slide 5 has a more inclusive definition of resilience.

Thanks. I've edited the sentence. In the future, we may want to note explicitly that sometimes, especially in EA circles, 'resilience' is used narrowly to include only humanity's capacity to recover from, rather than to resist, civilizational collapse (or global catastrophes more generally). See footnote 2 in Cotton-Barratt, Daniel & Sandberg 2020.

I think we may as well cut the c-risk term, because:

  • I'm not aware of it being used anywhere other than that one post
  • "collapse risk" or "risk of collapse" aren't super long phrases anyway
  • We probably don't want to have an endlessly expanding list of letter-risk terms; stopping at x-risk, s-risk, and GCR seems fine to me
    • Having a large list of such terms (especially if introduced in blog posts and used only within our community) might seem kind-of gimmicky to people who we'd like to take what we say about collapse risk seriously

Fair enough—I removed it.

I think it'd be good to change the first sentence so that it acknowledges there are many different possible definitions, that we might want to call something "collapse" even if there's only a decline on some rather than all of those dimensions (e.g., massive loss of population and GDP, but with tech and political systems intact), and that population is another key dimension.

Have you stumbled upon a definition or characterization of 'civilizational collapse' that we could adapt?

I looked into this briefly last year, and wrote:

A civilizational collapse is essentially “a drastic decrease in human population size and/or political/economic/social complexity, across essentially the entire world, for an extended time.” This adapts Jared Diamond’s definition of collapse in order to focus it on particularly widespread collapses, by replacing “over a considerable area” with “across essentially the entire world.”

That's still the definition I personally favour (though I wouldn't be surprised if someone could convince me to favour something else).

Great, I've updated the article with your proposal (I made minor changes; feel free to revise).