[ExI] Existential Risks might be underestimated

BillK pharos at gmail.com
Thu May 28 17:21:33 UTC 2015

On 28 May 2015 at 13:33, spike wrote:
> Ja.  I have a hard time getting worried about unknown unknowns when we have
> such an enormous known known existential threat right before us: energy availability.
> If we fail to figure out a way to transition to renewable energy sources in time
> (which looks likely) it isn't so much that humans will face extinction, but our
> modern way of life would become extinct.  We could die back to leave mostly
> those who have not mastered or eschew modern technology, such as the people
> in the Australian outback, the Amazon jungles, the Inuit people of the frozen north,
> the Amish, the African tribesmen and so forth, the segments of society which are
> or have been in technological stasis or have suffered retrograde technology.
> This future of humanity haunts me, not only because it is the end of every dream, but
> that its outcome is so easily foreseeable: all we have to do is stay on our present course.

As you say, strictly speaking this is not an existential threat as
some small groups of humans still remain. Though it might be many
centuries before they develop technology. And with little fossil fuels
left in the ground, technology might not ever be developed again.

Torres points out that although this is not counted as an existential
threat, with only small groups of humans left, it would only take,
say, a bird flu epidemic or a drought to finish humanity off.
That is his cumulative existential risk idea.


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