Thursday, February 4, 2021

Episode 49 - Existential Risk

Released: 4 February 2021

Duration: 58 minutes 44 seconds

Co-hosts Paul Carr and Daniela DePaulis are joined by author Thomas Moynihan. The subject is the idea of human extinction and how it evolved into our present day understand of Existential Risk.

Guest Bio:

Thomas Moynihan

I am a writer and researcher from the UK. In 2019, I completed a PhD at Oriel College on the history of human extinction. Currently, I am a visiting Research Associate in History at St. Benet's College, Oxford University, and I am working for Oxford's Future of Humanity Institute with a grant from the Berkeley Existential Risk Initiative. 
I am interested in the history of existential risk and of existential hope: that is, how people first came to understand the perils and promises that face us as a species. I see this as the central philosophical drama of the modern world: how we came to appreciate our position—and precarity—as intelligent beings within an otherwise seemingly silent and sterile universe. 
My goal is to reveal how contemporary research into global risks can be seen as part of the wider story of our ‘coming of age’ as a civilisation and a species.


Thomas Moynihan -

X-Risk at MIT Press:

Mary Shelley - The Last Man

Churchill - Shall We All Commit Suicide?

The Order of the Dolphin

Frank DrakÄ™: A Speculation on the Influence of Biological Immortality on SETI

Natural Selection of Stellar Civilizations by the Limits of Growth

The Jaws of Darkness

The Ethics of METI


Co-hosts: Paul Carr and Daniela De Paulis

Producer: Paul Carr

Music: Sun Ra and his Intergalactic Solar Arkestra, DJ Spooky

The Wow! Signal is released under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike license.


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  2. Nice that the author also considers the "existential chances". I was thinking about that, progress sometimes comes incredibly quickly. Like in the Dutch golden age with the VOC, how a small young country like ours became a world power so suddenly. We must have grabbed an existential chance there, did it coincide with the invention of the stock exchange?