From Daily Weather Forecasts to the Doomsday Clock:
With chances increasing for Nuclear War, Sentient AI Drone Wars, and Global Societal Entropy: Can we predict Humanity's survival to the year 3024? #ExistentialRisks #GlobalChallenges #FutureCrossroads
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From Daily Weather Forecasts to the Doomsday Clock: With increasing chances over time for Nuclear War, Sentient AI Drone Wars, and Global Societal Entropy: Can we predict Humanity's chances of survival to the year 3024?
Someone asked "What do you think humanity will look like 1000 years in the future?"
I replied "It's difficult to predict whether or not humanity will still exist in 1000 years. The odds of a nuclear war happening that destroys all life on earth, or an AI war happening that destroys all human life is just too high for comfort."
Someone else asked "How are you calculating the odds on events that have never happened and with no comparable events?"
Predicting weather beyond two weeks remains a significant challenge for even the most powerful computers and skilled meteorologists. Weather patterns are inherently chaotic, meaning small changes in initial conditions can lead to drastically different outcomes. This butterfly effect makes long-term forecasts highly sensitive to any errors in data or assumptions.
Predicting the world's state in 1000 years is significantly more challenging than forecasting weather two weeks in advance, for several key reasons:
Scale and scope: Weather systems operate on local and regional scales, with relatively well-defined physical laws governing their behavior. Predicting the world in 1000 years involves complex interplay between numerous factors across global scales, encompassing social, technological, political, economic, and environmental dimensions. Each of these facets is intricate and unpredictable in itself, let alone their dynamic interactions over centuries.
Complexity and non-linearity: Weather systems, while chaotic, have relatively well-understood underlying physical principles. The future of the world, however, hinges on countless, often unpredictable, human decisions, technological breakthroughs, and unforeseen events. These factors contribute to non-linear dynamics, where small changes can have cascading and disproportionate effects, making long-term forecasting inherently inaccurate.
Limited data and models: Compared to the vast and continuously updated weather data used in forecasting, information about historical societal trends and future projections is sparse and prone to biases. Models attempting to predict global trajectories are necessarily abstract and limited, struggling to capture the full spectrum of potential pathways and contingencies.
Lack of universal laws: Unlike physics governing weather, no definitive set of laws dictate the course of human history. Social and cultural evolution, technological advancements, and political landscape shifts are governed by diverse factors and human agency, making them less amenable to precise prediction using scientific laws.
Now to explain the other part of what I said:
"The odds of a nuclear war happening that destroys all life on earth, or an AI war happening that destroys all human life is just too high for comfort."
Think about this concept "On a long enough timeline, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero." quote via Fight Club 1999.
Imagine that that there is a probability of disaster each day, and each day the probability is re-rolled, so that each day represents the attack surface for a world ending disaster, an extinction level event for Humanity, from an AI War, Nuclear War, Biological War etc... with more days the attack surface grows literally, the probability of disaster compounds, such that by 1000 years the probability is massive.
1. Eventual Entropy: From a purely physical perspective, it's a statement about the fundamental principle of entropy in thermodynamics. All closed systems naturally tend towards disorder and eventually reach a state of maximum entropy, also known as heat death. In this sense, the survival of any complex system, including life on Earth, is guaranteed to end eventually due to the inevitable decay of the universe.
2. Existential Threats: In the context of our discussion, it highlights the ever-present risk of existential threats that could wipe out humanity, particularly the ones we've been discussing like nuclear war or extreme climate change. While the odds of any specific event happening in any given year might be low, the sheer number of potential threats and the vastness of time make their eventual occurrence statistically probable.
3. Exponential Growth of AI Capabilities: AI advancements are happening at an unprecedented pace, with breakthroughs in areas like machine learning, natural language processing, and robotics. This potential exponential growth in AI capabilities raises concerns about potential scenarios where AI surpasses human control and poses existential threats. While an AI war might not be the only such scenario, it's one potential outcome under some hypothetical scenarios.
4. Expanding Attack Surface: With each passing day, the potential vulnerabilities and ways in which existential threats could manifest can indeed increase. Technological advancements, societal changes, and the evolving landscape of global challenges create new attack vectors and potential tipping points. This can create a sense that the "target" for a disastrous event is continuously growing, making it feel like the odds are stacking against humanity.
5. Cumulative Probabilities: If we assume a constant, non-zero daily probability of a disaster occurring, then over time, the cumulative probability (the chance of it happening at least once) will indeed increase linearly. Even with a very low daily probability, over a thousand years, the cumulative probability becomes significant. This can further solidify the perception of an ever-growing risk.
6. Non-Linear Catastrophes: The analogy of a daily probability doesn't fully capture the complex nature of potential existential threats. Many of these events, like an AI singularity or a runaway climate change scenario, don't unfold through incremental daily occurrences. They could be triggered by specific tipping points or sudden breakthroughs, making the timeline more nuanced than a simple linear progression.
7. Cyberwarfare and digital sabotage: Growing reliance on interconnected digital infrastructure creates vulnerabilities for cyberattacks. Disrupting vital services or manipulating information flows could cripple economies and societies, potentially increasing the perceived utility of nuclear deterrence for safeguarding critical infrastructure.
8. Resource scarcities and competition: Increased global demand for limited resources like water, energy, or strategic minerals can exacerbate existing tensions and lead to resource wars. In extreme scenarios, competition for vital resources could outweigh the benefits of interdependence and push nations towards using nuclear weapons as a tool for securing access.
9. Rising nationalism and populism: The increase in nationalistic and populist sentiments can undermine international cooperation and make compromise on vital issues like nuclear disarmament less likely. Prioritizing narrow national interests over global security could weaken the collective resolve to prevent nuclear proliferation and war.
10. Divergence in values and systems: Increasing ideological and political polarization between nations can make reaching consensus on global challenges like nuclear security difficult. Differences in values and governance systems can hinder constructive dialogue and joint action, potentially leaving nuclear arsenals as the only perceived tool for asserting national interests.
11. Loss of trust and legitimacy: Persisting mistrust and accusations of hypocrisy in enforcing international norms can erode the legitimacy of existing governance structures. Failures to address concerns about unfairness or double standards could diminish the effectiveness of global cooperation in mitigating nuclear risks.
12. Emergence of new threat vectors: Rapid advancements in new technologies like hypersonic missiles, autonomous weapons systems, and cyberwarfare tools could create new and destabilizing security dilemmas. The increasing speed and complexity of potential conflicts may leave traditional deterrence strategies ineffective and increase the risk of accidental escalation.
13. Nuclear proliferation disguised by civilian programs: Advanced technologies like dual-use nuclear materials and technologies can make it harder to distinguish between civilian nuclear programs and clandestine weapons development. This can increase suspicions and mistrust, potentially triggering preemptive strikes or accidental escalation.
14. Evolving nature of warfare: The blurring lines between traditional and digital warfare, coupled with the rise of non-state actors, can make it harder to attribute attacks and deter aggression. This ambiguity could create dangerous scenarios where nuclear retaliation is perceived as the only viable response to ambiguous threats.
15. Increasing Number of Nuclear Powers: Proliferation of nuclear weapons among more countries raises the number of potential actors in a conflict and creates more complex geopolitical dynamics. Each new nuclear power creates additional possibilities for miscalculation, accidental escalation, or regional crises spiraling out of control.
16. Deterrence Erosion: The logic of mutual assured destruction (MAD) that deterred the US and USSR from direct conflict during the Cold War might become less stable over time. Technological advancements, changes in leadership, or internal political pressures could erode trust and confidence in existing deterrence mechanisms, increasing the risk of miscalculation or preemptive strikes.
17. Lack of Robust Safety Measures: Currently, there's no universally agreed-upon framework for ensuring the safety and alignment of AI with human values. The focus on optimizing for specific tasks without adequate safeguards against unintended consequences or malicious manipulation could potentially lead to AI systems with harmful goals or capabilities.
18. Misaligned AI Goals: Depending on how AI systems are designed and trained, their goals and values might not always align with human values. This misalignment could lead to scenarios where AI systems pursue objectives that are detrimental to humanity, even if those objectives are technically "rational" based on their limited understanding of the world.
19. Economic sanctions and pressure: Interdependence can be weaponized as countries leverage economic tools for political gain. Imposing crippling sanctions or disrupting critical supply chains could trigger escalation in existing conflicts, pushing desperate actors towards nuclear threats as a last resort.
20. Global Societal Entropy: The inability to manage international tensions and competition for resources could lead to large-scale conflicts, including nuclear wars. Such conflicts, coupled with the destructive potential of advanced weaponry, could lead to catastrophic consequences for human civilization. In addition increasing societal complexity, coupled with challenges in managing global systems, could lead to a state of societal entropy. This would be characterized by diminishing returns in solving societal problems, leading to potential collapse of social, economic, and governance structures.
21. Climate change and the collapse of earth's life giving ecosystem. If current trends in environmental degradation continue unchecked, humanity could face severe consequences. This might include widespread ecological collapse, extreme weather events, and uninhabitable regions, challenging human survival on a global scale.
On the upside it's important to remember that probabilities are not destiny. While the odds of certain events happening seem high, it might feel better to emphasize the agency we have as individuals and communities to shape the future through our choices and actions.
Beyond the bleak possibilities, it's valuable to explore potentially positive or optimistic scenarios for the future. Discussing potential technological advancements, social progress, or innovative solutions can offer a counterpoint to the more dystopian visions.
Some of the risks I mentioned, like AI capabilities or resource scarcity, are complex and multifaceted. Exploring the nuances within these issues and acknowledging the ongoing efforts to mitigate them can provide a more balanced perspective.
While raising awareness about potential threats is important, it's equally crucial to discuss potential solutions and preventative measures. Highlighting existing initiatives or potential strategies to address existential threats can empower individuals to engage in positive action.
The evolution of humanity with technology.
Over the next millennium, humanity's evolution could be significantly influenced by advancements in technology. We might see a seamless integration of biotechnology, nanotechnology, and AI within human bodies, leading to enhanced physical and cognitive abilities. This evolution of humanity with technology could redefine the very nature of being human, offering new ways to adapt to environmental and societal changes.
Social restructuring may happen as a response to global challenges.
As challenges like climate change, resource scarcity, and global health crises intensify, societies may undergo major restructuring. This could involve the development of more sustainable living practices, global cooperative governance models, and innovative economic systems focused on resilience and equitable resource distribution.
We stand at the crossroads of the future, humanity's journey over the next thousand years will likely be marked by a series of pivotal choices and adaptations. Whether we evolve to become a more advanced and integrated species, adapt to new environments on Earth or beyond, or succumb to the challenges we face, will depend on our collective actions and decisions. The future, while uncertain, is a canvas for our aspirations, fears, and dreams, beckoning us to write the next chapter in the human saga.
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