Saturday, 16 February 2019

Death, Taxes And Runaway Ai

There is a famous line from Daniel Defoe that the only things which are inevitable are death and taxes which means there wasn't an accountancy firm equivalent to whoever does Amazon's and Starbucks books in 17th Century England although death is unavoidable unfortunately.
What isn't inevitable is the way we join the choir invisible so the Center for the Study of Existential Risk have been looking up the biggest threats to humanity.
As a massive asteroid did for the dinosaurs, we face Volcanoes hurling ash into the upper atmosphere, an event that happened 75,000 years ago which led to a dramatic population decline in early humans.
The World Health Organisation and the World Economic Forum both list climate change and its effects as one of their top risks and recent UN talks heard climate change was already 'a matter of life and death for many regions' and the climate change threats keep coming from killer heatwaves, rising sea levels and widespread famines
Artificial Intelligence (AI) rates high enough to be of concern, whether from increasingly sophisticated cyber-weapons to autonomous robots running wild and there is still the ever present threat from nuclear weapons and even a combination of a growing integration of nuclear or conventional weapons and AI.
Global pandemics is yet another risk with increasingly dense and mobile human populations having the potential to see new strains of virus and disease easily spreading along the lines of the 1918 Spanish Flu outbreak which killed 50 million people.
To end on a happier note, the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk put the risk of dying from a pandemic at 1.5%, 0.6% for being killed by a nuclear war and 0.001% that a super volcano will erupt and blot out the sun so don't lose too much sleep over it, HMRC is far more scary especially if you missed the 31 January Tax Return filing deadline.

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