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VMW have been suggested prior to Bostrom's statement of it, though not defined precisely or analyzed rigorously. An early expression is arguably found in a 1945 address by Bertrand Russell to the House of Lords concerning the detonation of atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and its implications for the future of humanity (Russell 1945: 89). (Russell frames his concerns specifically about nuclear warfare, but as Toby Ord has argued (Ord 2020: ch. 2), this is how early discussions about existential risk were presented, because at the time nuclear power was the only known technology with the potential to cause an existential catastrophe.)
The vulnerable world hypothesis (VWH) is the view that there exists some level of technology at which civilization almost certainly gets destroyed unless extraordinary preventive measures are undertaken.
VMW was introduced by Nick Bostrom in 2019 (Bostrom 2019).