EP08: Embracing Catastrophe


EP08: Embracing Catastrophe

To take on the existential risks we face we have a lot to overcome. It is to our great misfortune that those of alive today are finding ourselves facing threats to our very existence. Because existential threats are not like any other threats we’ve ever faced, we’re not really equipped at this point in human evolution to easily deal with them. They require us to think several steps further ahead than we’re used to. We tend to grossly underestimate the magnitude of these threats. And we tend to over rely on techno- optimism – the belief that we can invent our way out of any problem. All of this is to say that we are our own worst enemies when it comes to what it will take to deal with existential risks. Because the threats they pose can be triggered by a single accident or act, every nation on the planet will have to go along with whatever strategy the world collectively comes up with to deal with existential threats. But if the global coordination effort to take on climate change has taught us anything, it’s that getting everyone to see eye-to-eye will be near impossible. That’s a problem: The effects of the existential threats we face are far greater than the worst that climate change can bring. (Original score by Point Lobo www.pointlobo.com.)

Interviewees:

  • Nick Bostrom, Oxford University philosopher and founder of the Future of Humanity Institute
  • Toby Ord, Oxford University philosopher
  • Anders Sandberg, Oxford University philosopher
  • Sebastian Farquahar, Oxford University philosopher
  • Eric Johnson, University of Oklahoma professor of law

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