General, Research, Technology

Doomsday theorem: how and when will humanity disappear from the face of the Earth?

Representatives of the species Homo Sapiens dominateEarth over the past 200,000 years. During this time, we managed to build cities, create complex language systems and even send robots to other planets. Agree, it's not so easy to imagine that someday all this will come to an end. And yet 99% of all species of living things that have ever inhabited our planet have become extinct, including our hominid ancestors. In 1983 British cosmologist Brandon Carter formulated the Doomsday Argument, a probabilistic reasoning about what the end of human civilization might be. According to the argument, the chances of being one of those who will witness the Day of Judgment are highest when the largest number of witnesses are around, so now is not such a bad time for the end of the world. Judge for yourself - violent human activity is negatively affecting the state of ecosystems, and scientists suggest that the sixth mass extinction of wildlife has already begun.

Someday our planet will be empty. But how can this happen?


  • 1 Doomsday theorem
  • 2 Existential risks
    • 2.1 Recognized risks
    • 2.2 Underestimated Risks: Natural Disasters
    • 2.3 Underestimated Risks: Technogenic Disasters
    • 2.4 Underestimated risks: psychological and social factors

Doomsday theorem

The reality is that human activitycauses irreparable damage to the planet and wildlife. Thus, at least one million species of animals and plants are under threat of extinction. Moreover, according to recent studies, our civilization can sink into oblivion due to the extinction of insects, which is becoming more widespread. And given the instability of the modern world, the looming climate crisis and the threat of a nuclear war become quite uncomfortable.

Although some scholars believethe end-of-the-world theorem is unreliable, a study published in the A Journal for Philosophy of Culture in 2020 offers a fresh look at this highly controversial argument. Note that already at the beginning of the 21st century, the study of "existential risks" that threaten our civilization became "a growing area of ​​rigorous scientific research." In general, the likelihood of anthropogenic extinction of mankind in the next hundred years is the subject of active discussions in the scientific community.

Someday all that remains of us will also sink into oblivion.

Bayes' theorem - one of the leading theorems of the theory of probability, allowing to determine the probability of an event, provided that another statistically interdependent event has occurred.

Astrophysicist and cosmologist Brandon Carter usingBayes' theorem, proposed a mathematical formulation that predicts the likelihood of human extinction. Considering that today there are almost eight billion people on the planet, and you and I are among all people who have ever lived on Earth, he suggested that there is an approximately 5% chance that we will disappear from the face of the Earth within a couple of hundred years and 95% chance that a completely human civilization will die in about seven to nine thousand years, which, you see, is not so bad. In other words, if all people living today are in a random place on the timeline of human history, then we are closer to extinction than not.

Existential risks

Almost three decades ago, a Canadian philosopherJohn Andrew Leslie has identified the current global problems of humanity. Interestingly, Leslie starts her list with already well-known risks, and then presents risks that often go unrecognized in society, focusing on (A) natural phenomena, (B) man-made disasters and (IN) philosophical and psychological dangers.

    Recognized risks</ p>
  • Nuclear war
  • Biological weapons
  • Chemical weapon
  • Depletion of the ozone layer
  • Greenhouse effect
  • Pollution, environmental degradation and demographic crisis
  • A pandemic of naturally occurring diseases in the world

The COVID-19 pandemic and wildfires pose a serious threat to our civilization.

See also: Mathematics of the end of the world: can scientific progress lead to the death of mankind?

    Underestimated risks: natural disasters</ p>
  • Volcanic eruptions
  • Falling asteroids and comets
  • Extreme Ice Age due to passing through an interstellar cloud
  • Supernovae and solar flares
  • Other massive space accidents
  • Something we don't know yet
    </ p>

    The melting of glaciers is one of the main drivers of global warming.

    Underestimated risks: man-made disasters

  • Reluctance to raise children (for example, declining populations in rich countries)
  • Disasters due to the use of genetic engineering
  • Disasters due to the use of nanotechnology
  • Computerization and its consequences for humans
  • Disasters in other branches of technology
  • Physical experiments that provoke a global catastrophe (for example, creating a new Big Bang in the laboratory)
  • Alien invasion and subsequent destruction of humanity
  • Something We Don't Know Yet That Came From Human Intervention

Environmental pollution poses one of the most serious threats not only to wildlife, but also to us.

    Underestimated risks: psychological and social factors</ p>
  • Threats related to religions and ideologies
  • Nihilistic pessimism
  • Ethical doctrines and norms that can be misleading, denying human values
  • Refusal to cooperate between individuals and entire nations (for example, the prisoner's dilemma)
  • Blind revenge for justice, when no tangible benefit comes from it (for example, nuclear

This is interesting: What will a world with a population of 10 billion be like?

While some of the above risks seem simpleincredible, if not far-fetched, overall they have a rather disturbing effect. While Leslie identified the risks decades ago, his predictions continue to hold true today as he foresaw many of the potential planetary threats we face today. So if we are serious about existential threats, especially climate change, then we simply have to take steps to mitigate them and prevent a future catastrophe by changing the balance of probabilities.

Let me remind you that in addition to the Doomsday Theorem forassessing the existential risks facing our civilization, the attention of the general public is also drawn to the Doomsday Clock - a metaphorical clock, at which midnight symbolizes the beginning of a nuclear war. Learn more about how many minutes, according to scientists and 18 Nobel laureates, there are only 100 seconds left until midnight. How long do you think our civilization is left and what can bring its end? We will wait for the answer in the comments to this article, as well as in our cozy Telegram chat.