A global catastrophic risk is a hypothetical future event with the potential to seriously damage human well-being on a global scale. Some events could destroy or cripple modern civilization. Any event that could cause human extinction is also known as an existential risk.
Researchers experience difficulty in studying human extinction directly, since humanity has never been destroyed before. While this does not mean that it will not be in the future, it does make modelling existential risks difficult, due in part to survivorship bias.
Global catastrophic vs existential
Philosopher Nick Bostrom classifies risks according to their scope and intensity. He considers risks that are at least "global" in scope and "endurable" in intensity to be global catastrophic risks. Those that are at least "trans-generational" (affecting all future generations) in scope and "terminal" in intensity are classified as existential risks. While a global catastrophic risk may kill the vast majority of life on earth, humanity could still potentially recover. An existential risk, on the other hand, is one that either destroys humanity entirely or prevents any chance of civilization recovering. Bostrom considers existential risks to be far more significant.
Risk is the potential of gaining or losing something of value. Values (such as physical health, social status, emotional well-being or financial wealth) can be gained or lost when taking risk resulting from a given action or inaction, foreseen or unforeseen. Risk can also be defined as the intentional interaction with uncertainty. Uncertainty is a potential, unpredictable, and uncontrollable outcome; risk is a consequence of action taken in spite of uncertainty.
Risk perception is the subjective judgment people make about the severity and probability of a risk, and may vary person to person. Any human endeavor carries some risk, but some are much riskier than others.
The Oxford English Dictionary cites the earliest use of the word in English (in the spelling of risque from its Arabic original "رزق" ) which mean working to gain income gain and profit (see Wikipedia Arabic meaning ) as of 1621, and the spelling as risk from 1655. It defines risk as:
Risk is an uncertain event or condition that, if it occurs, has an effect on at least one [project] objective. (This definition, using project terminology, is easily made universal by removing references to projects).
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