The Road to Hell: Existential Threats and Mass Delusion


Humanity is frail and has a finite lifespan. Fragile, fickle and inherently destructive, as well as inventive en resilient, we are doomed, possibly by our own doings and omissions or by events beyond our control. The how, why, and when of our inevitable demise is unknown, just as no human being knows when his or her life will end. Moreover, humanity has (obviously) never experienced its own extinction, making such an event as unpredictable as unimaginable. But that the end is coming, needs no doubt.

Using complex computations, Australian philosopher Toby Ord recently concluded that humanity has a 1-in-6 chance of reaching the next turn of the century – an unfortunate outcome in a game of Russian roulette. Martin Rees, the British Astronomer Royal and head of Trinity College at Cambridge University, is less optimistic still, estimating our chance of collective survival up to the year 2100 at just about 50 per cent.