Global Catastrophic Risks

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2011-08-01
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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A global catastrophic risk is one with the potential to wreak death and destruction on a global scale. In human history, wars and plagues have done so on more than one occasion, and misguided ideologies and totalitarian regimes have darkened an entire era or a region. Advances in technology are adding dangers of a new kind. It could happen again. InGlobal Catastrophic Risks25 leading experts look at the gravest risks facing humanity in the 21st century, including asteroid impacts, gamma-ray bursts, Earth-based natural catastrophes, nuclear war, terrorism, global warming, biological weapons, totalitarianism, advanced nanotechnology, general artificial intelligence, and social collapse. The book also addresses over-arching issues - policy responses and methods for predicting and managing catastrophes. This is invaluable reading for anyone interested in the big issues of our time; for students focusing on science, society, technology, and public policy; and for academics, policy-makers, and professionals working in these acutely important fields.

Author Biography

Nick Bostrom, PhD, is Director of the Future of Humanity Institute, in the James Martin 21st Century School, at Oxford University. He previously taught at Yale University in the Department of Philosophy and in the Yale Institute for Social and Policy Studies. Bostrom has served as an expert consultant for the European Commission in Brussels and for the Central Intelligence Agency in Washington DC. He has advised the British Parliament, the European Parliament, and many other public bodies on issues relating to emerging technologies.

Milan M. Cirkovic, PhD, is a senior research associate of the Astronomical Observatory of Belgrade, (Serbia) and a professor of Cosmology at Department of Physics, University of Novi Sad (Serbia). He received both his PhD in Physics and his MSc in Earth and Space Sciences from the State University of New York at Stony Brook (USA) and his BSc in Theoretical Physics was received from the University of Belgrade.

Table of Contents

Foreword, Sir Martin J. Rees
Introduction, Nick Bostrom and Milan M. Cirkovic
I Background
Long-term astrophysical processes, Fred C. Adams
Evolution theory and the future of humanity, Christopher Wills
Millenial tendencies in responses to apocalyptic threats, James J. Hughes
Cognitive biases potentially affecting judgement of global risks, Eliezer Yudkowsky
Observation selection effects and global catastrophic risks, Milan M. Cirkovic
Systems-based risk analysis, Yacov Y. Haimes
Catastrophes and insurance, Peter Taylor
Public policy towards catastrophe, Richard A. Posner
II Risks from Nature
Super-volcanism and other geophysical processes of catastrophic import, Michael R. Rampino
Hazards from comets and asteroids, William Napier
Influence of Supernovae, gamma-ray bursts, solar flares, and cosmic rays on the terrestrial environment, Arnon Dar
III Risks from Unintended Consequences
Climate change and global risk, David Frame and Myles R. Allen
Plagues and pandemics: past, present, and future, Edwin Dennis Kilbourne
Artificial Intelligence as a positive and negative factor in global risk, Eliezer Yudkowsky
Big troubles, imagined and real, Frank Wilczek
IV Risks from hostile acts
Catastrophe, social collapse, and and human extinction, Robin Hanson
The continuing threat of nuclear war, Joseph Cirincione
Catastrophic nuclear terrorism: a preventable peril, Gary Ackerman and William C. Potter
Biotechnology and biosecurity, Ali Nouri and Christopher F. Chyba
Nanotechnology as global catastrophic risk, Chris Phoenix and Mike Treder
The totalitarian threat, Bryan Caplan
Author's biographies

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