Researchers identify 14 ‘evolutionary traps’ that could end humanity

Date:

A new paper from researchers at the University of Stockholm identified 14 “evolutionary traps” that could spell the end of humanity if mankind is unable to sustainably address those challenges.

The study – titled “Evolution of the polycrisis: Anthropocene traps that challenge global sustainability” – was published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B earlier this month. It identified 14 evolutionary traps, which are defined as dead ends that occur in an area following humanity’s initially successful innovations, such as becoming overly reliant on simplified agriculture production techniques.

“Evolutionary traps are a well-known concept in the animal world,” explained Peter Søgaard Jørgensen, an author of the paper and researcher at the Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University. “Just like many insects are attracted by light, an evolutionary reflex that can get them killed in the modern world, humankind is at risk of responding to new phenomena in harmful ways.”

Out of the total of 14 evolutionary traps identified by the researchers, 12 are considered to be in an advanced state that could make it difficult for humankind to get out of, and 10 were found to be trending negatively. The researchers also found that evolutionary traps tend to reinforce each other – making it more likely that society gets stuck in multiple traps.

OPENAI CO-FOUNDER WARNS ‘SUPERINTELLIGENT’ AI MUST BE CONTROLLED TO PREVENT POSSIBLE HUMAN EXTINCTION

The pair of less advanced evolutionary traps identified in the paper are technological automation using artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics, and digitalization leading to lost social capital.

Five traps are classified as global traps because they’re initiated by moves toward higher levels of social organization that in turn lead to efficiency and growth contributing to expanding resource requirements. They include:

  • Simplification and lack of response diversity contribute to specialization;
  • Pursuit of efficiency and growth at the expense of well-being;
  • Ecological overshoot due to expanding resource extraction contributes to scarcity, environmental change and ecological tipping points;
  • Impediments to global cooperation lead to a trapped state of global conflict and division; and
  • Greater interconnectedness leads to contagion through pandemics or other systemic shocks spreading around the globe.

MITIGATING ‘RISK OF EXTINCTION FROM AI’ SHOULD BE GLOBAL PRIORITY, INDUSTRY LEADERS SAY

Federal Reserve Jerome Powell climate protesters IMF

Another five evolutionary traps were identified as being technological in nature. Among those are the risk of locking into physical infrastructure due to sunk costs, as well as the health and ecological impacts of new chemical compounds and materials – both of which are considered to be fundamental outcomes of innovation cycles.

The study’s other three technological traps are considered to be late-stage side effects of advanced technology. These include the existential threat of powerful technologies, like AI, causing the extermination of humanity or autonomous technology not aligning with human goals, in addition to the risk of exponential growth in disinformation and misinformation through digital channels.

COURSERA CO-FOUNDER ANDREW NG ARGUES AI POSES NO ‘MEANINGFUL RISK’ OF HUMAN EXTINCTION: ‘I DON’T GET IT’

robot hand holding atomic symbol

Other traps identified by the researchers include a focus on short-term economic growth and technological quick-fixes posing a risk to long-term sustainability; a rising risk of overconsumption due to far-reaching global supply chains; reduced exposure to nature through urbanization obscuring signals of environmental degradation; and reduced face-to-face interactions reducing social capital and society’s capacity for collective action.

The researchers argued that despite the risks posed by these evolutionary traps, humanity isn’t doomed to extinction – but society has to actively work against those trends.

“It’s time for humans to become aware of the new reality and to collectively move where we want to as a species,” Peter Søgaard Jørgensen explained. “We have the capability to do that and are already seeing signs of such movements. Our creativity, and our power to innovate and collaborate, equip us with the perfect tools to actively design our future. We can break out of dead ends and business-as-usual, but for that, we must nurture the capacity for collective human agency and design settings where it can flourish.”

“A very simple thing that everybody can do is to engage more in nature and society while also learning about both the positive and negative global consequences of our own local actions. There’s nothing better than exposing yourself to what needs protecting,” he added.

Read the full article here

spot_img

Share post:

Subscribe to our newsletter

To be updated with all the latest news, offers and special announcements.

Popular

More like this
Related

UCLA anti-Israel protesters clash with police after blocking access to campus buildings

Join Fox News for access to this content Plus...

Today's mortgage rates rise for 30-year terms while 15-year rates hold steady | May 24, 2024

Our goal here at Credible Operations, Inc., NMLS Number...

CNN reporter struck by size of pro-Trump rally in 'one of the bluest counties in the entire country'

CNN correspondent Kristen Holmes told anchor Anderson Cooper...

USCCA Member Uses Gun In Self-Defense And…

Watch full video on YouTube