A global catastrophic risk is one with the potential to wreak death and destruction on a global scale. In human history, wars and plagues have done so on more than one occasion, and misguided ideologies and totalitarian regimes have darkened an entire era or a region. Advances in technology are adding dangers of a new kind. It could happen again.
In Global Catastrophic Risks 26 leading experts look at the gravest risks facing humanity in the 21st century, including natural catastrophes, nuclear war, terrorism, global warming, biological weapons, totalitarianism, advanced nanotechnology, general artificial intelligence, and social collapse. Global Catastrophic Risks also addresses over-arching issues – policy responses and methods for predicting and managing catastrophes. This is invaluable reading for anyone interested in the big issues of our time; for students focusing on science, society, technology, and public policy; and for academics, policy-makers, and professionals working in these acutely important fields.
Sir Martin J. Rees: Foreword
Nick Bostrom and Milan M. Ćirković: Introduction
- Fred C. Adams: Long-term astrophysical processes
- Christopher Wills: Evolution theory and the future of humanity
- James J. Hughes: Millenial tendencies in responses to apocalyptic threats
- Eliezer Yudkowsky: Cognitive biases potentially affecting judgememnt of global risks
- Milan M. Ćirković: Observation selection effects: the Fermi paradox, the Doomsday argument and the simulation argument
- Yacov Y. Haimes: Systems-based risk analysis
- Peter Taylor: Catastrophes and insurance
- Richard A. Posner: Public policy toward catastrophe
Risks from Nature
- Michael R. Rampino: Supervolcanism and other geophysical processes of catastrophic import
- William Napier: Hazards from comets and asteroids
- Arnon Dar: Influence of supernovae, gamma-ray bursts, solar flares, and cosmic rays on the terrestrial environment
Risks from Unintended Consequences
- David Frame and Myles Allen: Climate change and global risk
- Edwin Dennis Kilbourne: Plagues and pandemics: past, present, and future
- Eliezer Yudkowski: Artificial Intelligence as a positive and negative factor in global risk
- Frank Wilczek: Big troubles, imagined and real
- Robin Hanson: Catastrophe, social collapse, and and human extinction
- Joseph Cirincione: The continuing threat of nuclear war
- William Potter and Gary Ackerman: Catastrophic nuclear terrorism: a preventable peril
- Ali Nouri and Christopher F. Chyba: Biotechnology and biosecurity
- Chris Phoenix and Mike Treder: Nanotechnology as global catastrophic risk
- Bryan Caplan: The totalitarian threat
"This volume is remarkably entertaining and readable [...] It's risk assessment meets science fiction."
- Natural Hazards Observer
"The book works well, providing a mine of peer-reviewed information on the great risks that threaten our own and future generations."
"We should welcome this fascinating and provocative book."
- Martin J. Rees (from foreword)