Anthropic Shadow: Observation Selection Effects and Human Extinction Risks

  title={Anthropic Shadow: Observation Selection Effects and Human Extinction Risks},
  author={Milan M. {\'C}irkovi{\'c} and Anders Sandberg and Nick Bostrom},
  journal={Risk Analysis},
We describe a significant practical consequence of taking anthropic biases into account in deriving predictions for rare stochastic catastrophic events. The risks associated with catastrophes such as asteroidal/cometary impacts, supervolcanic episodes, and explosions of supernovae/gamma‐ray bursts are based on their observed frequencies. As a result, the frequencies of catastrophes that destroy or are otherwise incompatible with the existence of observers are systematically underestimated. We… 

An upper bound for the background rate of human extinction

Using only the information that Homo sapiens has existed at least 200,000 years, it is concluded that the probability that humanity goes extinct from natural causes in any given year is almost guaranteed to be less than one in 14,000, and likely to be under one in 87,000.

Putting out the dark fire : constraining speculative physics disasters

Various speculative physics disaster scenarios have been proposed, but most can be defeated by the observable lack of large-scale disasters they predict. However, this paper introduces the “dark fire

Assessing natural global catastrophic risks

The risk of global catastrophe from natural sources may be significantly larger than previous analyses have found. In the study of global catastrophic risk (GCR), one line of thinking posits that

Questioning Estimates of Natural Pandemic Risk.

The central argument in this article is that the probability of very large natural pandemics is more uncertain than either previous analyses or the historical record suggest, and assumptions in earlier Bayesian analyses are reconsidered.

Risks for Life on Habitable Planets from Superflares of Their Host Stars

We explore some of the ramifications arising from superflares on the evolutionary history of Earth, other planets in the solar system, and exoplanets. We propose that the most powerful superflares

Evaluating Methods for Estimating Existential Risks

  • B. TonnDorian Stiefel
  • Computer Science
    Risk analysis : an official publication of the Society for Risk Analysis
  • 2013
Evaluated methods that could be used to estimate the probability of human extinction include: simple elicitation; whole evidence Bayesian; evidential reasoning using imprecise probabilities; and Bayesian networks.

The astrobiological landscape : philosophical foundations of the study of cosmic life

Introduction Acknowledgements 1. Astrobiology: the colour out of space? 2. Cosmology, life, and duration of the past 3. Cosmology, life, and selection effects 4. Cosmology, life, and the archipelago

Value of Global Catastrophic Risk (GCR) Information: Cost-Effectiveness-Based Approach for GCR Reduction

In this paper, we develop and illustrate a framework for determining the potential value of global catastrophic risk (GCR) research in reducing uncertainties in the assessment of GCR levels and the

Existential Risks: Exploring a Robust Risk Reduction Strategy

  • K. Jebari
  • Computer Science
    Sci. Eng. Ethics
  • 2015
It is argued that this implementation of the engineering safety strategy safety barriers would be effective and plausible and could reduce the risk of an extinction event in a wide range of possible (known and unknown) scenarios.



Global Catastrophic Risks

Acknowledgements Foreword Introduction I BACKGROUND Long-term astrophysical processes Evolution theory and the future of humanity Millenial tendencies in responses to apocalyptic threats Cognitive

Evolutionary catastrophes and the Goldilocks problem

It is argued that observation-selection effects when applied to catastrophic processes make it very difficult for us to discern whether the terrestrial biosphere and evolutionary processes which created it are exceptional in the Milky Way or not.

Astrophysics: Is a doomsday catastrophe likely?

A new upper bound of one per billion years is derived for the exogenous terminal-catastrophe rate that is free of selection bias, using calculations based on the relatively late formation time of Earth.

Review of speculative “disaster scenarios” at RHIC

This paper discusses speculative disaster scenarios inspired by hypothetical new fundamental processes that might occur in high-energy relativistic heavy-ion collisions. The authors estimate the

A Critical Look at Risk Assessments for Global Catastrophes

  • A. Kent
  • Computer Science
    Risk analysis : an official publication of the Society for Risk Analysis
  • 2004
The case for the safety of the experiments set out by BJSW does not rely solely on bounds on the risk of a “killer strangelet” catastrophe scenario, but on theoretical arguments, which BJSW find sufficiently compelling to firmly exclude any possibility of catastrophe.

Supereruptions as a threat to civilizations on earth-like planets

micron atmospheric aerosols and dust. These eruptions may be capable of creating global climatic disturbances sufficient to cause severe problems for world agriculture and modern civilization.

Astrobiological Phase Transition: Towards Resolution of Fermi’s Paradox

A model of an astrobiological phase transition of the Milky Way, based on the concept of the global regulation mechanism(s), shows that the phase-transition model offers a rational motivation for continuation and extension of the present-day Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence (SETI) endeavours.


SUMMARY: The number and distribution of habitable planets in the Milky Way is one of the foremost problems of contemporary astrobiological research. We investigate the efiects of applying general

Evidence for cometary bombardment episodes

Evidence is found that large terrestrial impacts tend to cluster in discrete episodes, with characteristic separations 25‐30 Myr and durations of about 1‐2 Myr. The largest impactors are strongly