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View Global Catastrophic Risks

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Global catastrophic risks are risks which would have seriously damaging effects on global human civilization. Global catastrophic risks are not necessarily Existential risks, but many global catastrophic risk scenarios could pose or have the potential to pose an existential threat.

Global catastrophic risks are numerous and diverse. Global catastrophic risks can include: Pandemics, supervolcanoes, Global warming, Climate chaos, other forms of environmental degradation such as loss of biodiversity, Extraterrestrial threats, gamma ray bursts, large asteroids impacts, a Space war, Nuclear war, Cyber war, cutting off power grids, genocide, an unfriendly-Artificial general intelligence, aging, global totalitarianism, global economic collapse, the massive Structural unemployment that may result with increasing automation, and the misuse of Emerging technologies, including nanotechnology, molecular manufacturing, Biotechnology, and synthetic biology, as well as many other categories of risks and unknown risks.

Assessing Probabilities of Global Catastrophic Risks
Calculating the probability of global catastrophic risks poses a number of significant challenges. Humanity has a history of not identifying serious risks and focusing instead on insignificant problems. In addition to developing technologies that pose new risks, the number of natural global catastrophic risks recently identified would suggest that there may be significant unidentified risks. The very fact that civilization has survived to this point biases our estimates of whether an event such as a nuclear war or a major asteroid impact will occur. Further complicating assignment of probabilities is the fact that if a disaster such as nuclear winter occurs shortly, that precludes most possibility of another disaster such as an unfriendly AGI developing in the time after nuclear winter.

Dealing with very low probability, global catastrophic risks presents another challenge. If a scientific paper assesses the probability of a given global catastrophic risk as a one in a million event, then the exact number isn’t very useful, as a high number of scientific papers turn out to be inaccurate and as such the probability of the paper being mistaken is of more significance than its actual estimate.

Psychologist Philip Tetlock has shown that even expert’s predictions about the future are no better than chance. Furthermore, humans are subject to numerous cognitive biases when assessing global catastrophic risks. For example, the availability bias means that after seeing an event depicted humans will tend to assign a higher probability to its occurring, even if there is no reason for them to do so.

Increasing Civilizational Resilience
Global catastrophic risks are diverse and difficult to predict, but fortunately, they have many common causes and effects. As such, increasing Resilience and Civilizational resilience is an important step for limiting the probability of catastrophic risks and mitigating their effects if they occur. World federalism would help to provide consistent policies and Regulation to limit the chance of many global catastrophic risks, and create the tools to respond effectively if they occurred.

External Links:
Global Catastrophic Risks Website

Global Catatrophic Risks: An Overview, and Caution about Risk Assessments
Global Catastrophic Risks: Building a Resilient Civilization