What is actually meant by systemic risks?
A system is a collection of elements which are linked to each other in a certain way. Planet Earth is a system, in which innumerable fine mechanisms interlock in a way, whose complexity exceeds our present knowledge by far. Nevertheless, through logical observations of this system, factors can be identified that interfere with its functioning. On this page, some of these disruptive factors are presented as system risks.
An increase of the global average temperature causes changes on the entire planet. Changes which are determined in their intensity by how high the temperature rises and in which time span this happens. It is not easy to scientifically prove the influence of climate change on certain changes on our planet. Changes that accumulate at the same time as the temperature increases do not have to be directly related to climate change. Nevertheless, with the help of the data and knowledge that mankind has already accumulated about climate and weather, many logical connections can be considered. These can serve as a basis for possible solutions. One thing is certain: the climate is changing, and it is essential for the protection of global infrastructures and the mitigation of great suffering that we humans invest great effort in researching possible climate mitigation strategies.
The interaction between the steady advance of humans into previously untouched natural areas, which are reservoirs for many hundreds of thousands of unknown pathogens, and ongoing globalization makes pandemics increasingly likely. The focus of attention is the ongoing deforestation of tropical rainforests, as they represent the most biodiverse regions on earth. On the one hand, this creates new interfaces at which pathogens can be transmitted to humans. But the resulting loss of biodiversity also significantly increases the potential for pandemics. Due to the loss of the originally preferred host organisms, pathogens switch, if possible, to other potential hosts. It is estimated that there are over 500,000 as yet unknown pathogens that can infect humans in addition to animal hosts. In addition to deforestation, wildlife trade also significantly increases the risk of pandemics. Globalization then allows pathogens to spread ever faster across the planet.
When the supercomputer "Deep Blue" won 4:2 against the reigning chess world champion in 1996, everyone who followed this historic event realized that it is possible to build and program computers that can solve certain tasks and problems better than a human being. However, "Deep Blue" is said to have won the game not by a higher intelligence, but by pure computing power. Since then, the computing power that a computer is capable of has multiplied significantly and the technical multi-tool has found its way into our everyday lives in many different forms. Without really noticing it, we have allowed "intelligent" computer systems to take over more and more work for us, take decisions in our place, and filter the information we receive about our environment. When it comes to the dangers of artificial intelligence, most people first think of human-like robots trying to destroy us. Yet many ignore the dangers that low-level artificial intelligences already pose. From the smart-phone to the smart-home, every new invention that helps to make everyday life more comfortable has been gratefully accepted without questioning by many people. Yet the greatest risk posed by artificially intelligent systems is our own unreflective use of them.