I just finished another good book. Tony Orb takes us to the precipice in a new book that explores existential risk. He looks at natural risks like asteroids, comets, supervolcanic eruptions, stellar explosions, brightening of our sun, and orbital dynamics. He then explores those risks stemming from human activity (anthropogenic). These include nuclear weapons, climate change, environmental damage, pandemics, unaligned artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, biotechnology, and back contamination (from space microbes). The remainder of the book focuses on quantifying risks and safeguarding humanity. I highly recommend the book for those looking well into the future and focused on humanity. I have added the book to my library. Here is the Amazon abstract.
This urgent and eye-opening book makes the case that protecting humanity’s future is the central challenge of our time.
If all goes well, human history is just beginning. Our species could survive for billions of years – enough time to end disease, poverty, and injustice, and to flourish in ways unimaginable today. But this vast future is at risk. With the advent of nuclear weapons, humanity entered a new age, where we face existential catastrophes – those from which we could never come back. Since then, these dangers have only multiplied, from climate change to engineered pathogens and artificial intelligence. If we do not act fast to reach a place of safety, it will soon be too late.
Drawing on over a decade of research, The Precipice explores the cutting-edge science behind the risks we face. It puts them in the context of the greater story of humanity: showing how ending these risks is among the most pressing moral issues of our time. And it points the way forward, to the actions and strategies that can safeguard humanity.
An Oxford philosopher committed to putting ideas into action, Toby Ord has advised the US National Intelligence Council, the UK Prime Minister’s Office, and the World Bank on the biggest questions facing humanity. In The Precipice, he offers a startling reassessment of human history, the future we are failing to protect, and the steps we must take to ensure that our generation is not the last.
2 thoughts on “The Precipice”
All never goes well. I share the hope for the future, and agree that, ” If we do not act fast to reach a place of safety, it will soon be too late.” I despair about humans ability to shift from protecting us against other humans to protecting us against the existential risks in the universe or even protecting us against ourselves. Our history has always been about identifying “the other” as a group of humans and protecting ourselves against them (or attacking them to gain resources).
I hope books like this put the existential risks “in the context of the greater story of humanity: showing how ending these risks is among the most pressing moral issues of our time.” At least we have a guide that “points the way forward, to the actions and strategies that can safeguard humanity.”
I hold out some hope that shifting the the “creation economy” soon will help change the outlook of most humans with the reduction or elimination of scarcity and allows us to focus on the larger challenges and risks. Our history does not make this encouraging.
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