University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Existential Risk Seminar Series > Will We Cause Our Own Extinction? Natural versus Anthropogenic Extinction Risks

Will We Cause Our Own Extinction? Natural versus Anthropogenic Extinction Risks

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How will humanity go extinct? Is it more likely to be from natural causes such as an asteroid impact or anthropogenic causes such as a nuclear war? Using the fossil record, we can place a rough upper bound on the probability of human extinction from natural causes: all natural causes put together have less than a 1% chance of causing human extinction each century, and probably less than 0.1%. In contrast, it is very difficult to put upper or lower bounds on the chance of extinction from anthropogenic causes.

In this talk, Dr Toby Ord advance an argument that anthropogenic causes currently produce ten or more times as much extinction risk as the natural causes, and shows how this suggests that we should prioritise the reduction of anthropogenic extinction risks over natural ones.

This talk is part of the Existential Risk Seminar Series series.

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