to the future?Posted: May 5, 2011
An institute affiliated with Oxford University is studying the future with the goal of making some fairly rational predictions of where humans might be in hundreds of thousands, millions and billions of years from now––not an easy task to be sure with no real guarantee that humans, at least as we know them, will continue to exist. An interesting article which sketches some possibilities can be found here, but first read the quotation below:
Only 0.01 percent of all species that have ever existed continue to do so. We happen to be one of them, for now. When Rees looked at the myriad ways in which the present is more perilous than the past in his 2003 book “Our Final Hour,” he set the odds of human extinction in the next century at 50 percent.
Bostrom, the Oxford philosopher, puts the odds at about 25 percent, and says that many of the greatest risks for human survival are ones that could play themselves out within the scope of current human lifetimes. “The next hundred years or so might be critical for humanity,” Bostrom says, listing as possible threats the usual apocalyptic litany of nuclear annihilation, man-made or natural viruses and bacteria, or other technological threats, such as microscopic machines, or nanobots, that run amok and kill us all.