Human Extinction


Hey, Vsauce. Michael here.
Do you want to be infected with Ebola without having to leave your own home or
deal with other people? Well, you might be in luck. You can
already download an Ebola virus genome. Right here on the Internet, right now.
And if you’re willing to wait a few years for 3D bioprinting
technology to progress a little bit, you can just acquire one
then, submit the genome to it and ta da! All you can print Ebola. Or anthrax or whatever it is you wish to
mass-produce at home to wipe out humanity. Are humans going to go extinct soon? Will human extinction be anthropogenic? That is the result of human action. Or will it be one of the good old-fashioned kinds of extinction Earth’s history knows pretty well? The Global Catastrophic Risks Survey,
issued by Oxford University’s Future of Humanity Institute placed our risk of extinction before the year 2100 at 19%. Now, you might be thinking “whatever, blah
blah blah armageddon”. “It’ll be okay, humans are too smart to go extinct.” Maybe you’re right. But it’s difficult to predict the distant future with a lot of certainty. What’s really cool though is that if you embrace that uncertainty,
a simple argument can show that human extinction soon is actually more probable. It’s called the Doomsday argument. Imagine a giant urn that contains either 10 balls numbered 1 to 10, or a million balls numbered 1 to a million. Now, you don’t know which is the case, but you are allowed to pull out one ball. You go ahead and do that and it is ball number 4. That’s pretty strong evidence in favour
of the 10 ball condition because drawing a four from a set of 1 through 10 is a one in 10 chance. But drawing four
from a million different numbers is a one in a million chance. By analogy you are also a numbered ball. You are a human who knows approximately what your birth number is. It’s probably somewhere around 100 billion. That’s how many other humans were most likely born before you were. Importantly, you didn’t get to decide which birth number you would have. So, just like the number for a ball, you are a random sample from the set of all humans who will ever live. The Doomsday argument points out that from 200 billion people there’s a
50 percent chance that a randomly chosen person, like you, would be born in the first one hundred billion. Whereas if there will be 10 trillion humans, there’s only a one percent chance that any given human, say you, would happen to be born within the first 100 billion. Either you are special and lucky to be born so improbably
early in the story of humanity or your birth number is to be expected because there will not be tens of trillions of humans. Human extinction will be sooner rather than later. But before you become too convinced that the end is nigh, keep
in mind that the Doomsday argument is not uncontroversial. One problem it might have is a reference class problem. Are you really a random sample from the set of all humans who will ever be born? Well, if you believe that in the
not so distant future humans will be quite different than they are today. For instance, there’ll be full of more 3D printed organs. The mere fact that right now
there aren’t very many humans with that trait could be evidence that
you aren’t a random sample from the set of all humans, just from the set of all humans like you, like does around you. Those born earlier in human history. Also the Doomsday argument
doesn’t consider the likelihoods of actual threats or human advantages over those threats in the future. It just assumes that we don’t know which way the balance will lie; that human extinction soon and human extinction later are equally likely.
But maybe you don’t believe that. Maybe you are convinced that human ingenuity will always stay one step ahead of any extinction event thrown at it. You could be right, but there’s reason to doubt that optimism. For example, the Fermi paradox. If it is likely that intelligent
life forms in our universe are capable of living for billions and billions of years, where are they? Why are the skies so silent? Perhaps it is because extinction level threat events are just too common for intelligent life anywhere to ever catch up. So, does this mean we should just give up? The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement think so. Founded in 1991, its supporters believe that humans are a negative influence on Earth and always will be. Thus we have a moral obligation to just stop reproducing right now and fade away. But what would a computer do? In a way, that’s kind what Tom 7 did. He created a
program that plays video games. The program came up with novel
techniques and strategies for playing games and even exploited glitches humans didn’t know about, or at least hadn’t told it about. He also had the
program play other games, like Tetris, which I think is relevant to our question. The computer struggled to
figure out what to do. You see, the computer wasn’t programmed
to consider future repercussions far enough ahead to notice that stacking Tetriminos in
certain ways made a big difference. On one run, when faced with imminent demise, the computer did something eerie. Rather than lose, and receive a ‘game over’, it just paused the game. For ever. Tom 7 describes the computer’s reasoning like this: “The only winning move is to not play.” And that’s right. If you pause a game for ever you will never lose that game. But you’ll also never win that game or achieve a high score. Now, we might not know what achieving a sentient life high score in this universe means or whether or not we’re capable of
achieving one. We might also sometimes panic when the future looks bleak. But if we keep playing and keep learning, chances are we could eventually figure it out and start playing really well. So, thanks for continuing to play, for being here. And as always, thanks for watching.

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100 thoughts on “Human Extinction

  1. Honestly… If humans actually worked together, and not just for a few years and get on tech…. We'd honestly be able to explore other planets and continue to live. even other galaxies….. Stupid to think about but lets be honest… we are smart enough to progress, we're just to stupid enough to just keep fighting.

  2. do you guys think that and more advanced species than we are can find us with a thing like a radar which scans a whole galaxy for forms of life so they know where to went and they do that in every galaxy or solar system (galaxy is surely far fetched) and they will find us soon in time? O.o' or are aliens not interested in finding other aliens at all and are only interested in material and energy or other stuff like that? thx in advance

  3. If humanity could go extinct, I almost think that it would have already. Think of how many times we were so close, but there was one person or some coincidence that saved it all. Basically the whole cold war is full of this sorta thing

  4. All that I care about is that my kids, and their kids and maybe my grandkids kids, get to live long happy lives. I also care about making sure that if there is other life out there, they will know about us. (I think that we should send the bodies of people who donated themselves to space.) As long as all of this happens, I am satisfied.

  5. Michael, it’s been three and a half years and I am still unable to print the Bubonic Plague, I request you take this video down because it is spreading false information.

  6. I think part of the reason the universe isn't flourishing with intelligent life is because it has been a pretty volatile place until recently. The early universe probably had a lot more asteroids/meteors/comets etc smashing into things as well as a lot more gamma ray bursts and supernovae. Think about how many extinction level events have happened on this planet alone compared to how long it took for intelligent life to spring up on this planet. Also humans can be looked at as a negative thing for earth and the other creatures but without us everything on earth dies when our local star eventually turns into a red giant (probably before that). So we as humans are quite possibly the only intelligent life (at least in our galaxy), is it not our duty to survive? If not for our sake, but to save as many of the other life forms on this planet as well? Does the universe not deserve to be seen by those who can (at least partially) understand just how great and grand it is?

  7. The Doomsday argument is essentially a variation of the religious argument according to which intelligent design has to have occurred because without it, the chances of our existence would be too slim. That argument is obviously horse shit, for you can say the same thing about virtually anything when you look at it retrospectively, and the Doomsday argument actually sounds like a parody of it designed to expose its illogical and ridiculous nature.

  8. According to Greta Thunberg, we're going to be extinct by CO2-molecules. She can see them. And they probably talk to her, too.

  9. Don't worry the Lord will have a new world for us when this world is destroyed…

    BY a 13yr-old lv20 psycho that just killed a skeleton

  10. Beside what happened to education
    Education that’s free I mean, why don’t you make videos like the ones u used to do

  11. Its obviously fallacious since someone had to be the nth person born. The argument only makes sense if you retrospectively look at the unique nth person and ask the question. But every human is unique and every human is going to be a member of the sequence.

  12. Me: babe whats wrong
    Babe: nothing
    5 seconds go by
    Babe: Its just funny how……
    Me: Oh no… the doomsday argument

  13. I think the big filter (the main reason for the fermi paradox) is the creation of life and that we have already passed that so we will go on for a very long time

  14. Human will 100% be extinct! We find evidence on our planet and in the universe yet we still live like we are immortal, maybe life in the universe just destroy themself because they feel they don't beyond in a universe of giant rocks and why is it rocks? Whefe did these material come from hard to deny a creator when you see all these materials in the universe specially the laws

  15. Why no mention of Climate change..?After reading countless scientific literature on this I conclude we will go extinct or if not, only a remnant of remainers living in the Arctic by 2100!

  16. If we keep going the way we are, we could possibly see the end during our lives. Between stronger strains of illnesses that are immune to vaccinations, more people with immune diseases & cancer, illegitimate presidents putting us closer to a nuclear war & climate change due to our misuse of our planet, I believe we are way too close to our extinction. I'd rather not witness it nor my kids & grandkids. But the outlook is dim. I truly believe human extinction will be at the hands of ourselves. We may be intelligent, but we are the dumbest.

  17. Wow, i could have been born in any era of human history! This is a mind puzzle. I'm glad to have meet you guys!!

  18. that ending part really moved me I. really am thinking if I do matter that much and you Micheal reassured me I should thank you.

  19. The prove for early human extinction with the vases has nothing to deal with the thuth. The experiment with the vases does not tell us how may balls there WOULD be (if someone add the balls later) but it shows the assumption of how many ball there ARE in the vase at the momment.
    Transferrring this to the humanity issue the answer will be – YES: there is much more chances that at this momment the total amount of born people is less than 10 trillion. But at this point noone stops from "adding" new people "to the vase" after we did that assuption.
    So let us go and make more new people gyus 🙂
    Sorry for bad english as I am russian ^))

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