Humans have come a long way since we discovered fire and roasted our first woolly mammoth steak over it, but many of our traits and characteristics still date back to the stone age. Early humans had to be alert at all times, and faced threats from all sides, so a natural sense of paranoia was an essential survival mechanism. Today, this same mechanism manifests itself in our worries about an impending end to civilization as we know it. In fact, as we get more technologically advanced and discover more about the world we live in, we only find new and ever weirder threats to humanity, as these examples show.
A Robot Revolution
Robots featured heavily in early black and white sci-fi movies, and nine times out of ten they would run riot or turn against their human masters. Many people, including some very eminent scientists, believe that science fiction could be about to become science fact. Professor Stephen Hawking went so far as to say that “the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.” Hawking is possibly the greatest modern mind, but computing and robotics scientists are ignoring his warning and continuing to advance artificial intelligence. If robots learn to think for themselves, who could stop them from enslaving or eliminating us? Do we really know what a Roomba is thinking as it vacuums our floors?
We’ve all seen films of marauding aliens and their deadly ray guns, and yet it seems that they could one day bring down humanity with something as simple as a word. An academic study by world-leading physicians Michael Hippke and John Learned, reported on by TheBannerHerald.com, claims that an alien species could devastate our planet by sending a carefully worded message that will throw humans into panic and create such confusion in computer systems that they will be unable to function. On a more positive note, they say that such alien interaction could be good as well as bad, but can we take that risk?
It is widely accepted that an asteroid or meteor impact heralded the first ice age and wiped out the dinosaurs around two and a half million years ago, so what would happen if an asteroid impacted with our planet today? Our solar system contains thousands of asteroids, and every year, hundreds of them come scarily close to the Earth. NASA has warned that it’s a case of when an asteroid strikes us, not if, and a relatively small projectile could cause damage on a huge scale and force us into a new ice age. With global governments doing little to prepare for this threat, it seems that it’s time to stock up on thick jumpers.
Intelligent robots bearing a grudge, mischievous aliens sending a malicious message, or an asteroid that strays off course are just some of the ways that our planet could meet its end. Don’t panic yet though, there’s at least a fifty-fifty chance that we can all see this year out safely, especially as the Earth has taken all that’s been thrown at it for the last four and a half billion years.