We live during a time of living, real-time culture. Telecast, Spontaneous Tweet Stromes, Scene Streams, Rapid-Response Analysis, War Room, Clubhouse, Vlogging. We have to interact with the here and now, experience the realization of that action. It is a compulsion: we are outraged by the dangers that are frightening the whole planet.
Just last month, we saw Hurricane Ida along New Orleans and the east coast with some fierce winds in the Gulf of Mexico after Hurricane Katrina. In Kabul, daily videos and streams show the country’s minutes-long horror at the gates of chaos. The dangers are ubiquitous. These beans intersect from Talpapad to Amigadala for live coverage, and alchemy is our modern medium.
Still, watching live events is not live, and it cannot substitute for introspection of both our own condition and the health of the world around us. The dangers that pervade today’s headlines and Chiron are not the ones we should spend time thinking about. The difference between those real-time risks and Real Dangers have become widespread over time – and arguably humanity has never been closer to the severity of a true disaster, yet we are overwhelmed by disasters that rarely stay in the screen scroll on our phones.
Toby Ord, in his prophetic book The Precipice, argues that we do not see the dangers of existence that can actually extinguish and evolve human life. So he has delivered a rigorous guide and compass to help irrational human beings understand what really matters – and what we need to accept and move forward.
Ord’s canvas is cosmic, dating from the birth of the universe to billions of years into the future. Humanity is the smallest in the universal timeline, and the extreme wealth and progress of our culture is up to a few decades of contemporary life. Yet, how much progress we have made so quickly, and what progress we will continue to make in the next millennium!
If some of the risks today are not taken into account and corrected, all those possibilities can be destroyed. The same human progress that has given so much beauty and improvement has also democratized the means for abundant destruction, including destructiveness that could eliminate humanity or lead to the collapse of “only” culture. Ord’s top concerns include climate change, nuclear winters, designer epidemics, artificial intelligence and more.
There are plenty of books on survival threats. What makes Presipis unique is the passionate rationality of the effective philanthropic movement, of which Ord is one of its many leaders. This is not an excellent dystopic analysis of everything that could go wrong in the coming centuries, but a cold calculation of the risks and where society should invest its limited resources. Asteroids are awesome but this time, well studied and deeply in-depth is unlikely. Generalized AI is more open to horrific results, especially when we extend our analysis over decades and centuries.
While the book goes through a variety of dangers for people predicting the future from natural to ethnic, Ord’s main goal is to take humanity one step further and consider how we can accommodate the lives of billions – perhaps trillions – of future humans. Calculations on risk. The decisions we make today affect not only ourselves or our children, but perhaps even the thousands of generations of our descendants, not to mention other humans who call the earth home. In short, it requires the reader to take a bold leap to see the world in geological and astronomical times, rather than in real-time.
It is a mission that is spectacular, courageous, delightful and exciting at times, and sometimes at the same time. Ord knows that objections will come from almost every angle, and half of the book is made up of appendices and footnotes to remove the arrows of critics while making the understanding of the inquisitive reader or expert more ening. If you immerse yourself in philosophy and the rigorous mental architecture required to think through long-term and survival risks, Presipis can really awaken to how precarious most of our lives are and how intertwined they are. The past and the future are us.
Humanity is on the premise, but so are individuals. Each of us is on the edge of understanding, but can we take the leap? And should we?
Here the rigidity and rigor of the argument proves to be a little more elusive. There is no transition from our living, reality-based daily philosophy to predicting the dangers of survival in everything we do. You either observe the dangers of existence and try to reduce them, or you do not (or worse, you will see them and stop protecting the future of humanity). As Ord points out, that doesn’t always mean sacrifice – some technologies can reduce the risk to our survival, which means we must accelerate their development as quickly as possible.
Still, in a complex world full of daily crises and traumas of people, whose pain visions are engraved in our smartphone displays, it is challenging to isolate that emotional input for the deduction and reduction structure presented here. In this, criticism is not so effective on the book as on the vast field of effective philanthropy, which seeks to rationalize aid, as it often removes the greatest compulsion of human beings to help one another: they feel an emotional connection with one another. Is. Presipis already provides a logical moral framework for conversion, but only modest guidance to persuade anyone outside the tribe to join in its motion.
It’s a shame, because the message of the book is really prophetic. Published March 24, 2020, it discusses the risks of epidemics, work-benefit research, and modern virology મુદ્ issues that have shifted to the front pages from obscure academic journals. There are real survival dangers, and we really need to face them.
As shown last year, however, it is difficult for governments to increase their ability to handle even known and dangerous threats such as epidemics. Few men can spend their entire lives surrounded by events that occur once every 100,000 years, and some safety cultures can remain strong for the slow fall of vigilance that uses any defense that is never used.
Presipis provides an important and deeply thought-provoking framework for thinking about our future dangers. Yet, it is the lack of engagement with social media that will have the slightest impact on how we reduce our attachment to the risks we face. There is a long-term hardness, and the ticktock is always a tap away.
Presipis: the existing danger and the future of humanity By Toby Ord
Hatchett, 2020, 480 pages