Existential risks: New Zealand needs a method to agree on a value framework and how to quantify future lives at risk

Policy Quarterly 14 (3):58-65 (2018)
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Human civilisation faces a range of existential risks, including nuclear war, runaway climate change and superintelligent artificial intelligence run amok. As we show here with calculations for the New Zealand setting, large numbers of currently living and, especially, future people are potentially threatened by existential risks. A just process for resource allocation demands that we consider future generations but also account for solidarity with the present. Here we consider the various ethical and policy issues involved and make a case for further engagement with the New Zealand public to determine societal values towards future lives and their protection.


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