As technology advances, existential threats may increase. We face threats that threaten life on a global scale, and their scope and scale challenge our ability to comprehend and imagine.
Former representatives Brad Carson and Mike Rogers urge lawmakers to take more seriously events that seem unlikely but could have devastating consequences.
There is a tendency to dismiss exotic threats to the globe as highly unlikely or just too troubling to think about. The op-ed below by former lawmakers Brad Carson and Mike Rogers criticizes that argument as a fallacy that could seriously damage the United States if we don’t act now to prepare for the unthinkable.
In Global Trends 2040, the US National Intelligence Council explains:
As technology advances, existential threats may increase. We face threats that threaten life on a global scale, and their scope and scale challenge our ability to comprehend and imagine. Existential risks are both generated and mitigated by technology. There are several kinds of anthropomorphic risks, including runaway AI, engineered pandemics, nanotechnology weapons, or nuclear war. Such low-probability, high-impact events are difficult to forecast and expensive to prepare for but identifying potential risks and developing mitigation strategies in advance can provide some resilience to exogenous shocks.
In the bill, catastrophic hazards are defined as events or incidents that threaten to severely damage, delay or destroy human civilization on a global level.
Natural catastrophes can be unleashed by explosions of supervolcanoes, mega earthquakes, or an asteroid impact so large it can’t be detected or deflected.
Nevertheless, it can also be caused by anthropomorphic factors, such as global warming caused by pollution, AI rebellions, tailor-made pandemics, nuclear war, and even nanotechnology-style weapons.
The impact of these high-impact events, which are difficult to predict, can be mitigated by identifying potential risks and devising mitigation strategies in advance.
As a result, Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Gary Peters (D-Mich) introduced the Global Catastrophic Risk Management Act, which recognizes the urgency of these threats.
A second bill by Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) and Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nevada) intends to establish an “Interagency Committee on Global Catastrophic Risk.”
In order to assess the full threat landscape of global catastrophic risks to the US, the legislation would facilitate a wide-ranging, intra-government assessment.
As per Breaking Defense, the United States national-level resilience planning would benefit from this assessment as a first step to enhancing societal resilience beyond the known and anticipated risks.
“Natural and man-made risks, including hurricanes, earthquakes, terrorism, and others, have already been incorporated into our planning. In addition, we should also consider and plan for those occurrences that are very unlikely but can have enormous consequences,” explained Brad Carson and Mike Rogers.
This critical analysis internal to the government would be used to assess the continuity of operation and continuity of government planning (COOP/COG) to ensure that the nation will survive these risks.
The logistics of COOP/COG planning serve as a “last line of defense” during our darkest hour to ensure the basic functions and constitutional nature of our nation – everything from nationwide emergency communications to “doomsday bunkers”.
Without a thorough understanding of threats, we cannot defend ourselves. As a result of this bill, the Defense Department will be able to understand the scope of threats better. It will also be able to prioritize against other existential threats such as nuclear weapons.
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