Current Events

The future of humanity

Tyler Cowen of Marginal Revolution has an interesting post about his conversation wtih Nick Beckstead regarding perspectives on existential risk and other long-run issues for humanity.  Existential risk?  Is that really an issue?  Humans dominate the globe!

Well, that is the case now but it may not always be the case.  For instance, in recent years, the population of drug-resistant bacteria has grown.  NBC News reports that:

Germs that defy antibiotics are now a major global health threat, causing near-untreatable cases of diarrhea, sepsis, pneumonia and gonorrhea, the World Health Organization said Wednesday.

Overuse and misuse of antibiotics are to blame, and the WHO’s been warning about the problem for years but it keeps worsening, says Dr. Keiji Fukuda, WHO’s Assistant Director-General for Health Security.

“We are really seeing the emergence of this all over the world,” Fukuda told a news conference.

“What it means is that all of us, all our family members…when we are most vulnerable and in need of these medicines there is simply the chance that they are not available,” he added.

One problem is that antibiotics are overused. For instance, most colds are caused by viruses and using antibiotics not only has no added value to the patient, but it also increases the risk of drug-resistent bacteria. Much of the antibiotics are being used in meat production. However, the FDA is phasing out antibiotic used for livestock.

Another issue is that when people take antibiotics, they do not complete the course of therapy.

Perhaps worst of all is when people don’t take a full course of antibiotics — leaving a half-treated population of bacteria in their bodies to thrive and spread.

Is humanity safe? For now. However, there is no guarantee that humans will be around forever.


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