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Doomsday study gives humanity better survival chances

A recalculation of the humanity’s survival chances, according to the ‘Universal Doomsday Argument’, improves the odds of our long-term survival. On top of that, if we find a way to reduce existential threats, like asteroid strikes or nuclear wars, we can hope to be one of the long-lived civilizations of the universe.

It is not science fiction, but serious scientific research. According to the Doomsday Argument, we can calculate the total number of humans that will ever exist, based on the number of humans that have already existed. This simple calculation can predict how long we will survive in the future.

So far, the calculations drew a bleak picture. If 70 billion humans have already existed, then according to the probabilities, we are among the last 95 percent of the humans that will ever exist. Following this reasoning, the total amount of humans that will ever exist would be more or less 1.4 trillion. This means that we have only 10,000 years left as a race.

Don’t despair, though. Austin Geric and colleagues, from Oxford University, recalculated our chances using a different model, the “Universal Doomsday” argument. According to it, we are one among the many evolved civilizations of the universe and our chances to become a long-lived one depends on the number of existential threats and our countermeasures.

Gerig, and colleagues, developed a detailed analysis that takes under consideration the number of existential threats we will face. These include nuclear wars, pandemics, asteroid impacts and other threats we have not yet make movies about. This new approach improves the odds that humanity will exist in the future longer that it has existed in the past.


The probability our civilization would be long-lived as a function of R given N existential threats.

In their study, they also included the obvious actions we can take as a race to raise our survival chances. According to Gerig, “If there is a message here for our own civilization, it is that it would be wise to devote considerable resources (i) for developing methods of diverting known existential threats and (ii) for space exploration and colonization. Civilizations that adopt this policy are more likely to be among the lucky few that beat the odds.

Source: Physics arXiv Blog. Full report: here

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