Contributors to Existential Threats

Serious economic instability
Broad economic problems that occur can sometimes lead to human action that is more likely to be poorly planned, reactionary or desperate. Inequality and unemployment leads to social unrest and revolutionary discontent. Difficulty understanding and managing economic system leads to garden-hose economy.
Automation of various human jobs
Almost all human jobs will eventually be automated. Robotics outperform in physical jobs, AI in planning, technical and social jobs. Soft/vague disbelief of this is due to widespread lack of familiarity with these fields. People actually researchingĀ  or working in these fields overwhelmingly believe widespread replacement is a certainty, and only vary (considerably) on time-scale. All indications are that the resulting unemployment and poverty due that will occur if there no measures are taken. At the moment there appears only the adsurd option of make-work jobs, otherwise we will experience largescale civil unrest. New economic ideas will be required.
Resource depletion
A variety of minerals and fossil fuels are vital to all human industrial activities. However, many of these are limited, and some are projected to be largely depleted within a matter of decades, most notably oil. While recycling and synthetic generation of some of these resources is possible, the reduction in supply and ever increasing demand could potentially place massive strain on the world’s economy.
Overpopulation
Human resource usage increases with population, and so overpopulation increases the rate of resource depletion beyond what is sustainable, leading to eventual collapse. Increased population density may increase the probability of global instability, warfare over scarce resources, and other large-scale conflict.
Technological emotional mimicry
Imagine there was an animal or alien species of which you wished to manipulate the behaivour of individual members. One strategy would be to develop sytems that mimic members of that race, in particular emotional communication that members are hard-wired to respond to. Now imagine the target species was humans. The developed system would be very similar to various forms of virtual humans, AI and emotion provoking consumer products being developed now. This has the effect of destroying traditional structures of human relationships and communities, with difficult to predict consequences.
Division of labour-> division of culture-> conflict
Advanced economies have a division of labour. People specialise more, and have very different jobs. The difference in jobs leads to difference in worldview, culture etc.. Difference in culture leads to conflicts and poor communication.
Move from the technical to social intellect
Several factors are causing a cultural change where people’s intellectual priorities move away from technical and problem solving skills towards social influence, jostling and appearance management. These include a move to a “service economy”, mass media, and the nature of modern politics. The end result is a culture of poor decisions with a facade of competence.
Distorted perception of human social norms
Rather than a robust, working community being the garden of learning for new members of society, they will increasingly gain their ideas about social norms from new media which may be disconnected from consequence in the way that normal social action is, which may compete for attention through extreme exaggeration (such as of violence or sex), and become fragmentated into increasingly insular intellectual communities who filiter out information they do not wish to hear.
Rise of violent/extremist worldviews/ideology
Along with changes to technology we have also seen changes in religious ideas, worldviews, cults, philosophy and ideologies. Though some means of understanding the world is vital for humans, these things in combination with insular communities, stronger power structures, and disconnection with reality due to technology can create conditions where violent and aggressive views may create conflict severe enough to threaten large numbers of human life as well as justify bad decisions on behalf of human leadership.
Mutual escalation of military capabilities requiring increasingly rigid supporting social and economic structures
In the case of escalation of hostilies, national defence concerns require social and economic structures (defence policy is dependant on economics of country) that increasingly call for economic, social and cultural structures that support defence activties. This may negatively affect other aspects of human life. Again, even leadership that wishes to take care all citizens may be forced to create rigid structures to maintain proper defence of country.
Trickle-down of weapon capabilities
Over time, technology advances, becomes cheaper, and resultingly becomes available to larger groups of people. Weapons are no different. As destructive capabilities increase, the technology “trickles” down to more parties. Weapons originally in the hands of wealthy, stable countries are gradually proliferated to less stable countries, and eventually non-state actors. The capability for cults, unstable individuals and other dangerous parties to commit mass murder, genocide or other similar acts becomes greater.
Computerisation makes the source of attacks very difficult to identify
If an attack on a country or other group of people comes from a computerised system, it may be difficult or impossible to identify the source. This may decrease the consequences for an attacker, encouraging more aggression, and also increase the chances of misdirection being used, deliberately or otherwise, to cause conflict between parties that would not otherwise occur.
Widespread long-term accumulation of toxic substances
Large scale agriculture and industrial process brings with it risks of large scale output of harmful compounds. In extreme cases the build-up of toxins or other conditions that are hostile to life (eg. high salinity in farmland) may lead to . Biomagnification of toxic substances is also an issue.
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