Nick Bostrom — PhD Faculty of Philosophy, Oxford University, appointed Director of the newly created Oxford Future of Humanity Institute
Max Tegmark — Associate Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he belongs to the scientific directorate of the Foundational Questions Institute
Numerous Earth-destroying doomsday scenarios have recently been analyzed, including break-down of a metastable vacuum state and planetary destruction triggered by a “strangelet” or microscopic black hole. We point out that many previous bounds on their frequency give a false sense of security: one cannot infer that such events are rare from the the fact that Earth has survived for so long, because observers are by definition in places lucky enough to have avoided destruction. We derive a new upper bound of one per 109 years (99.9% c.l.) on the exogenous terminal catastrophe rate that is free of such selection bias, using planetary age distributions and the relatively late formation time of Earth.