By the way, there’s a real chance of human extinction in the next few centuries.
We stand a real chance of destroying ourselves, or at least setting back human civilization permanently. And I think it would be more accurate (and more useful) to err on the side of believing that there’s a >80% chance we will destroy ourselves in the next few centuries.
When I first thought about this probability deeply, I found that I had implicitly assumed that it was less than 5%, but now I think I was way off.
Because to believe anything else about how our species might die is to be ever-optimistic, until we can no longer exist to be optimistic. Expect the worst, and then prepare for it.
Of everything that threatens our species, I think extinction is most likely to be our fault.
It’s most likely to either be something something we did directly to ourselves, or otherwise something that we failed to prepare for. Either way, our fault. (And the aggregate risk of the things we can’t prepare for are small.*)
We could be doing a lot more to protect our species from ourselves.
See more about reducing existential risk to humanity. Recently I’ve become much more confident that this is incredibly important.
For example, this list is much too long!
But let’s try our best to mitigate the risks of self-annihilation at least until we find respectable aliens, OK?
If all lives are of equal value, then doesn’t that include future lives, too? In the case that we don’t destroy ourselves, we will eventually expand to the stars, and population should flourish exponentially. So the vast majority of humans that ever could exist live in the future. Shouldn’t they get a vote? If all lives have equal value, shouldn’t we be working to protect them?
Short-termism seems to be rampant in America, at least.
2020 October 30 (posted) - 2020 November 14 (updated)