A new report on existential threats from scientists at the University of Cambridge Existential Risk Research Center is intended to help governments better understand the ways in which we can destroy ourselves. All this is needed to prevent this destruction.
The report divides potential end-of-world scenarios into separate categories, beginning with ecosystem destruction and climate change.
The authors explain that the rapid melting of glaciers or the global destabilization of the weather could lead to “a lack of food, drinking water, and energy for survival”.
The next category is technological threats, with a particular focus on “the deliberate or accidental use of artificial intelligence for destructive purposes”.
Even well-intentioned artificial intelligence systems can one day develop the ability to set selfish goals and values. Machines that could autonomously pursue these goals could very well destroy humanity.
The report also highlights biological hazards, explaining to authors that bioengineering is becoming more sophisticated nowadays, making it possible for a rogue to produce pathogens and toxins that can spread quickly by air, food or water, and quickly destroy humanity.
Gene modification is also becoming increasingly complex and rapidly evolving. Researchers mention a scenario where a villain creates a biological weapon that affects only people with certain genetic characteristics, such as those of a particular race.
The nuclear war and natural disasters are also mentioned in the report. Researchers have identified 59 scenarios that now allow governments to better understand how they can be dealt with.