10 People Who Could End The World
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10 People Who Could End The World

10 People Who Could End The World 10. Larry Page So… this whole Google thing has gotten pretty
big. I know right, who thought it’d catch on? As a result, the actions of its head honcho,
or rather its parent company Alphabet’s head honcho, could have major impacts on the
world. There are a lot of ways Larry Page and Alphabet
have made their mark, but for now, let’s look at Deepmind: the company’s flagship
Artificial Intelligence software that you probably know best for Alphago, which taught
itself to defeat a world champion Go player in 2015. More recently in 2017, Deepmind engineers
devised an exercise where two iterations of the AI were pitted against each other in a
virtual apple gathering game. Less advanced versions would collect the apples
fairly evenly then co-exist peacefully. But more advanced versions learned that attacking,
subduing and sabotaging each other would ultimately gain THEM more apples. While there are probably some lessons you
could take about human nature there, there’s also a serious risk if these traits are allowed
to flourish. It could lead to some quite dangerous outcomes
if Page and co keep pushing for artificial intelligence became a presence in human life. Robots showing aggression has never tended
to end particularly well. Skynet anyone? 9. Biohackers Technology is progressing at an unprecedented
speed in the current day and age, becoming more accessible than ever before. That’s often acknowledged when it comes
to stuff like finance and 3D Printers. But one phenomenon you don’t hear quite
so much about is biohacking. Around the world, there’s an increasing
movement of ordinary people making use of DIY biotech, even in their own garages like
it’s brewing your own horrible beer. Sometimes it’s fairly innocuous stuff like
body implants, but it’s even making use of cutting edge techniques like CRISPR gene
editing. There have already been examples of biohacks
going wrong, like the case of Josiah Zayner injected himself with a bunch of fiddled-with
DNA on a livestream to make himself more muscular. It did not work. Even more seriously, Tristan Roberts, an HIV
positive biohacker, used an untested gene therapy treatment on himself. That treatment actually INCREASED his viral
load. But much worse than a botched treatment is
a DIY disease. Researchers at the University of Alberta have
already shown that it’s possible to recreate extinct Smallpox strains from mail-order DNA. So there’s every possibility that a biohacker,
either by accident or with mal-intent, could unleash a serious threat to humanity. 8. Nuclear Delegates Traditionally, we think of the people with
their “finger on the button” as singular heads of state with the lonely burden over
nuclear annihilation, or perhaps megalomaniacal movie villains with no regard for human life. But the truth is actually very far from either. In a way, it’s actually scarier. In fact, there are literally THOUSANDS of
people who have the ability to fire nuclear weapons delegated to them. Generally, these are nameless functionaries
in the militaries of nuclear nations, so we won’t name them in their entirety here. But regardless there are chains of people
with the technical capability to fire nukes – right up to the heads of state who hold
the ultimate authority. But if you think about it, that HAS to be
the case. Otherwise, one well-timed assassination could
completely eliminate any chance of nuclear retaliation. For example, let’s say something devastating
happened to Moscow, and the Kremlin was unable to launch a nuclear counteroffensive. Due to the “dead hand” system, missiles
could still be launched from the Ural Mountains with ease. OR to prove my point in a kind of reverse
way, it was only because a Russian nuclear submarine commander had the ability but REFUSED
to launch a nuke that the Cuban Missile Crisis didn’t escalate into a full-blown nuclear
war. 7. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei Right now, one of the most pressing threats
global security is the prospect of growing instability in the middle east. While there are quite a few players that make
the whole thing so precarious, Iran is certainly one of the most concerning. For decades, evidence suggests the country
has sought to develop nuclear weapons. So naturally, preventing that from happening
has been a priority for the international community, which is why the steps taken to
end of the Obama-era nuclear deal in recent years have been so controversial. But why exactly is this so dangerous? Y’know, beyond the obvious. Well, Iran is notorious for its inflammatory
comments, particularly in regards to the US and Israel. As recently as May this year, supreme leader
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told supporters that the youth would see the “demise of Israel”. And while I should add that follow-through
is pretty unlikely, especially nuclear, real consideration needs to be given to what Iran
could do. Say a nuclear attack did happen, whether by
the Iranian state or a terrorist group by proxy. That would likely drag in the US and NATO,
in turn, Russia, and uh… you can probably see where this is going. Should that happen, I can only hope you’ve
been practicing that wasteland life on Fallout. 6. Epidemiologists Part of protecting the world against potentially
lethal epidemics is testing the limits of what dangerous pathogens can do. Because of that, it’s not uncommon for ‘super
viruses’ to be developed with the express purpose of studying their biology. However, that of course comes with the risk
of transmission outside of the lab and into the wider world. A nightmare scenario, but guess what? It’s happened PLENTY of times before. For example, there was a swine flu outbreak
in 1977 whose genetic makeup suggested that it most likely came from a 1950s strain tested
in a laboratory. More recently, lab workers became infected
with Sars in 2003 and Ebola in 2004. In fact, it’s common enough that the journal
PLoS estimates a 20% chance of a worker contracting a superflu and transmitting it to the outside
world over the next decade. Given the historical precedent of the 1918
flu pandemic, it’s possible that tens of millions of people could die from an outbreak. Perhaps a lot more, maybe even on an apocalyptic
scale, if something worse than flu escapes. 5. Nanotech pioneers A defining feature of the modern day is the
frankly absurd rate at which technology is progressing, which can turn into a pandora’s
box pretty quickly. One of the biggest unknowns in that pandora’s
box is nanotechnology. That term refers to devices with dimensions
less than 100 NANOMETERS, or a 10 millionth of a meter, which companies around the world
are racing to pioneer. Right now, very little is understood about
how robots so small that they could pass through our bloodstream would act if they actually,
y’know… passed through our bloodstream. That said, studies have suggested that carbon
nanotubes, one of the most common types of nanotechnology, could cause similar or even
worse lung damage than asbestos. That’s probably not world-ending on its
own, but there is the matter of so-called “gray goo”. First theorized by John Von Neumann all the
way back in 1948, this is the idea that a self-replicating nano-machine could be made
for a good purpose, like to clear up oil spills, but eventually devour all life on earth out
of a glitch in its programming, consuming LITERALLY everything. Despite being kind of out there, it’s a
risk worth considering. Bill Joy, founder of Sun Microsystems, argues
that nanotech has far more destructive uses than constructive ones, even to the point
that someone so-inclined could make a genetically targeted weapon – AKA genocide. 4. Lobbyists Speaking of cheery subjects: climate change
– the evidence for which is pretty overwhelming at this point. In fact, as of 2019, the scientific consensus
for its existence has surpassed NINETYNINE percent. Not only that, but the evidence suggests that
it’ll destabilize and maybe even end the world as we know it in the next century. So the obvious question is “why aren’t
we solving this, like, y’know… right now???” Well the answer there, apart from apathy in
the general public, is that the steps which need to be taken to curtail climate change
are generally pretty bad for business. Y’know, new production processes, expensive
sustainable materials and generally just selling less unnecessary crap. As such, it’s pretty common to see lobbyists
pushing Washington lawmakers away from climate-friendly policies. For example in 2009, the Chamber Of Commerce
told Congress that a 3 degree global temperature increase would be BENEFICIAL to humans it
wouldn’t. And in 2017, the National Union of Manufacturers
convinced President Trump to begin leaving the Paris Climate deal. All in all, lobbying efforts against climate
change action top $200 million per year. Not sure if the return on investment there
outweighs the apocalypse though. 3. Donald Trump Now hold on a second before you start scrolling
down to the comments. This isn’t a leftie liberal pot-shot at
the president, I promise. If anything, this is just really obvious. I’m just saying that as the president of
the United States, the guy is really, REALLY, powerful. Just like Obama or Reagan or Nixon, who famously
said: “I can go into my office and pick up the telephone and in 25 minutes, 70 million
people will be dead.” Weird flex, but ok. The fact of the matter is that the U.S. president
commands the world’s largest military, and despite congress being needed to formally
declare war, the POTUS CAN still launch military attacks unilaterally. In light of recent tensions with Iran, that’s
become a source of consternation in Washington, with representatives arguing over whether
Trump should be allowed to risk a conflict that could dwarf the Iraq war. And of course, the president has the ultimate
authority to launch nuclear weapons – if that’s not world-ending power, I don’t know what
is. 2. Vladimir Putin Of course, it takes two to tango, or I suppose
in this case, it takes a duo to decimate. So in time-honored fashion, the most likely
counterpart to the US president in the world-ending event is probably going to be Vladimir Putin. As home to the second-largest nuclear arsenal
in the world, Russia certainly has the capacity to retaliate in kind if there was an existential
threat from the US – or fire the opening salvo for that matter. And judging by the words of the man himself,
the risk is ramping up. In his annual end-of-year address in 2018,
Putin warned of the “destruction of civilization as a whole and maybe even our planet.” Happy new year to you too. That was on account of the U.S.’ sheepishness
about renewing multiple nuclear treaties, which Putin called “the breakup of the arms
control system.” Of course, it’s probably not a good idea
to take a potentially hostile power at face value, but it’s a salient point. With US-Russia relations their weakest in
some time due to Ukraine and Syria, there’s a risk that without sufficient Nuclear arms
control, tensions could spiral out of control. 1. Xi Jinping As you saw earlier, Climate change is up there
as the most likely candidate to actually cause a global catastrophe. So it’s worth mentioning the man who has
the biggest burden to bear in solving it. As of right now, China is the biggest contributor
to climate change in the world. It’s responsible for close to 30% of the
world’s emissions – a figure which has risen sharply in the 21st century. And worse still, emissions are actually INCREASING,
still, and they’re set to do so until at least 2030. That’s partly due to Chinese Premier Xi
Jinping’s decision to relax restrictions on building new coal power stations. On top of that, Chinese firms are building
as many as 300 new plants abroad. According to Climate Action Tracker, we could
see a FOUR degree celsius increase in global temperatures by the end of the century if
major action isn’t taken. That’s two point six times the manageable
target increase, which could plunge the world into serious food scarcity and displace tens,
perhaps hundreds of millions of people worldwide. In those kinds of conditions, there’s a
real risk of resource wars emerging, and we’ll have Xi to thank.


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