A new study from an esteemed university outlines the many ways in which humanity could suffer a catastrophic event both in the distant future as well as sometime soon.
Titled 'Global Catastrophic Risks,' the report comes from a panel of experts at Oxford University in England and looks at scenarios where ten percent of the human population could be wiped out.
The group specifically cited supervolcanos and asteroid strikes as the biggest potential disasters which may occur in the next five years.
Looking ahead to the future, they suggest that the emergence of artificial intelligence poses a particularly worrisome development for humanity.
They note that the scenario of a sentient evil robot uprising is not actually necessary to cause the type of widespread damage to civilization that would be considered a catastrophe.
To that end, simply having a sufficiently intelligent machine with its own goals that do coincide with society's values could prove to be unmanageable and devastating for the planet.
Similarly, the report argues that humanity, itself, may ultimately set the stage for its own demise via nuclear weapons and biological warfare, which topped the list of most potent threats facing the planet in the distant future.
As technology improves and genetic manipulation becomes more commonplace, the ability for nefarious forces to manufacture their own pandemic becomes increasingly possible, the report cautions.
In order to prepare for these challenges, the report recommends greater cooperation among world governments and serious discussion about how to safeguard against unexpected and dangerous outcomes which could spring from new technologies.
While the report is a sobering look at how humanity may be on the precipice of a planet-altering event, we have a nagging feeling that it will do little to stop the eventual doomsday which increasingly looms on the horizon.
Source: Oxford Times