Introducing the Subfield of Agential Riskology

The field of Existential Risk Studies has, to date, focused largely on risk scenarios involving natural phenomena, anthropogenic phenomena, and a specific type of anthropogenic phenomenon that one could term “technogenic.” The first category includes asteroid/comet impacts, supervolcanoes, and pandemics. The second encompasses climate change and biodiversity loss. And the third deals with risks that arise from the misuse and abuse of advanced technologies, such as nuclear weapons, biotechnology, synthetic biology, nanotechnology, and artificial intelligence. What I want to draw attention to is that any analysis of existential risks will be incomplete without a careful study of what sorts of people might want to use advanced technologies to initiate a catastrophe. The fact is that tools aren’t going to induce global disasters without some agents wielding them. (Although perhaps there…

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