How Humanity Discovered Its Extinction

Lezing / Debat

This event is a collaboration with AIR – Architecture Institute Rotterdam and part of the Rotterdam Architecture Month.

From forecasts of disastrous climate change to prophecies of evil AI superintelligences and the impending perils of genome editing, our species is increasingly concerned with the prospects of its own extinction. Less and less does the end of humanity’s future on this planet seem an area of lurid fantasy or remote speculation. But how did this come about? When did our obsession about the end start? And what does tracing back this history teach us about our current predicament?

As renowned historian Thomas Moynihan (Cambridge University) shows our growing concern with human extinction itself has a history. One that is a surprisingly new and thoroughly modern idea. In recollecting how we first came to care for our extinction, Moynihan reveals how today’s attempts to measure and mitigate existential threats are the continuation of a project initiated over two centuries ago. And that realizing that homo sapiens might disappear – and the physical universe could continue without us – is one of the most important discoveries humans have ever made.

Moynihan will be joined by Dutch philosopher Lisa Doeland. In her recent book Apocalypsophy she claims that the extinction of humanity is not just imminent, but that it has already started, and that there is little point in denying that.

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