Monday, July 22, 2013
An existential risk narrowly refers to any factor threatening the existence of humanity. Existential risks may also broadly refer to any of the various risks that have the potential to destroy, or irreversibly cripple, human civilization; to lead to human extinction; or even to cause the end of Earth.
Severe events could cause the extinction of all life on the planet Earth, the destruction of the planet Earth, the annihilation of the solar system, to the annihilation of our galaxy or even the entire universe. Existential risks are distinguished from other forms of risk both by their scope, affecting all of humanity, and severity; destroying or irreversibly crippling the target.
While individual threats, such as those posed by nuclear war or climate change, have been intensively studied on their own, very little systematic work in the area of existential risks was done before the beginning of the 21st century.
A precise estimate of each individual risk may not be necessary when compiling the aggregate risk to mankind.