The Debt. Nuclear bombs. Widespread terrorist attacks with WMDs. Biological weapons. Asteroids. These are not threats that anyone should take lightly because they have the potential to do almost incalculable damage to our nation’s future. However, there are other major concerns that have the potential to break our country (and many other Western nations) that you don’t hear much about.
1. No more babies
Did you know sperm counts are dropping all across the Western world?
Researchers assessing the results of nearly 200 studies say sperm counts among men from North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, seem to have halved in less than 40 years. …Dr Levine, from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, found a 52.4% decline in sperm concentration, and a 59.3% decline in total sperm count in men from North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. The study also indicates the rate of decline among men living in these countries is continuing and possibly even increasing.
The scariest thing about this? No one knows exactly why it’s happening. Sure, there’s lots of speculation about chemicals and changing diets, but nobody can definitively point to what’s causing this problem. Wouldn’t it be ironic if our world didn’t end with a nuclear exchange or an enormous asteroid hitting the planet, but rather with no more strollers, cribs and children?
2. Automation replacing jobs
As computers become ever more sophisticated, there will be more and more jobs they can do. Wal-Mart has started experimenting with using a robot to scan shelves. Burger joints are using automation to order food. Companies are already experimenting with driverless cars and artificial intelligence. The consequences for the human workforce could be staggering:
Up to 800 million global workers will lose their jobs by 2030 and be replaced by robotic automation, a new report from a consultancy has found.
The study of 46 countries and 800 occupations by the McKinsey Global Institute found that up to one-fifth of the global work force will be affected.
It said one-third of the workforce in richer nations like Germany and the US may need to retrain for other jobs.
….In the US alone, 39 to 73 million jobs may be eliminated by 2030, but about 20 million of those displaced workers may be able to easily transfer to other industries, according to the McKinsey report.
If we consider that we already have 80 million adults not working as is with a hot economy and then potentially add another 73 million that have difficulty finding jobs, we’d be approaching the point where literally half of the adult population wouldn’t be working. You can nibble around the edges at a problem like that with retraining or legislation, but if we were to end up with 150 million people on some version of long-term government assistance without hope for the situation to improve dramatically, it wouldn’t bode well for society. Aside from the crime, rioting and disorder that would inevitably result from that many idle hands, it would dramatically undermine the incentive to work for the rest of the population.
3. Artificial Intelligence
It’s easy to laugh this one off. “What, is Clippy going to take over the world? HAHAHAH.” Rudimentary artificial intelligence is hard to take seriously, but most people fail to see how quickly AI is advancing. Some of the smartest people in the world think there will be even smarter machines soon:
Masayoshi Son, the CEO of Japanese tech conglomerate Softbank, has been preparing his company for this scenario for quite some time.
Now the tech exec thinks robots will not just outsmart humans, but will have an IQ of 10,000 in the next 30 years.
…In March, Google’s Director of Engineering Ray Kurzweil said that by 2029 “computers will have human-level intelligence.”
For his part, (Masayoshi Son, the CEO of Japanese tech conglomerate Softbank) has repeatedly said it will happen in the “next 30 years or so.”
Yes, there are a myriad of ways that an advanced artificial intelligence can make life better for human beings, but once AI reaches a certain point, we’ll be sharing the planet with an intellect greater than our own. It takes a lot of arrogance to believe we can control that intellect and use it as a servant. Depending on how we use it, our lives could be revolutionized by that AI, but at a terrible risk.
Elon Musk explains the potential danger:
I think we should be very careful about artificial intelligence. If I were to guess like what our biggest existential threat is, it’s probably that. So we need to be very careful with the artificial intelligence. Increasingly scientists think there should be some regulatory oversight maybe at the national and international level, just to make sure that we don’t do something very foolish. With artificial intelligence we are summoning the demon. In all those stories where there’s the guy with the pentagram and the holy water, it’s like yeah he’s sure he can control the demon. Didn’t work out.
4. An EMP Attack/Solar Storm
This one has gotten more attention over time, but most people seem entirely unaware of the dire ramifications. An EMP blast would be caused by a nuclear weapon detonated at high altitude over our country while a solar storm would consist of a massive cloud of plasma ejected from the sun. In fact, a large solar flare just missed us in 2012:
While you didn’t see it, feel it, or even read about it in the newspapers, Earth was almost knocked back to the Stone Age on July 23, 2012. … If the solar storm had hit Earth back in 2012, the total economic impact is estimated to be around $2 trillion, or 20 times the cost of Hurricane Katrina. It’s not just about money, though: As I covered in our feature story The Machine Stops, it would take time to fix up the world’s power grid. You can’t just magically replace dozens of giant transformers and substations. There are only so many diesel generators to fill the gap. If a giant solar storm hit the Earth, large parts of society could be without power for months or years.
So what would theoretically happen if a powerful solar storm or EMP were to hit the United States? Well, because there are some prominent conservatives like Newt Gingrich pushing this as a potential threat, there are quite naturally liberals saying it’s nothing to worry about. Maybe they’re right. Of course, a lot of knowledgeable, serious people think they’re wrong and if so, the consequences would be devastating:
A new congressional report contends that a North Korean electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack on the U.S. would ultimately wipe out 90% of the population.
…“The U.S. can sustain a population of 320 million people only because of modern technology,” said Pry. “An EMP that blacks-out the electric grid for a year would [decimate] the critical infrastructure necessary to support such a large population.”
In three days, the food supply in local grocery stores would be consumed and the 30-day national food supply in regional warehouses would begin to spoil, says Pry. In one year, he contends that up to 90% of the population could perish from starvation, disease and societal collapse.