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AI & futurism

This article was published on January 20, 2022

EVERYBODY PANIC! The Doomsday Clock is close to the hour of our self-annihilation

It's not too late to turn back time

EVERYBODY PANIC! The Doomsday Clock is close to the hour of our self-annihilation
Thomas Macaulay
Story by

Thomas Macaulay

Writer at Neural by TNW — Thomas covers AI in all its iterations. Likes Werner Herzog films and Arsenal FC. Writer at Neural by TNW — Thomas covers AI in all its iterations. Likes Werner Herzog films and Arsenal FC.

It’s been a tough couple of years, but things may soon get a lot worse: the Doomsday Clock just struck 100 seconds to midnight — the hour of humanity’s self-annihilation.

The new time was set on Thursday by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, a nonprofit focused on global security issues.

While the time hasn’t changed, the prognosis remains bleak.

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“Steady is not good news: in fact, it reflects the judgment of the board that we are stuck at a perilous moment,” said Sharon Squassoni, a research professor at the Bulletin.

The non-profit warned that arms races, the climate crisis, and COVID-19 have left us no more time to waste.

The Doomsday Clock is an iconic symbol of humanity's fragility.
The Doomsday Clock is an iconic symbol of humanity’s fragility.

The clock has ticked towards catastrophe since 1947, when the greatest threat to civilization was nuclear weapons.

The Bulletin launched the project to warn the public about how close we are to destroying the world with dangerous tech.

The furthest it’s been from midnight came at the end of the Cold War in 1991. When the US and the Soviet Union agreed to deplete their two strategic nuclear weapons arsenals, the clock was set to 23:43.

The closest it’s got to midnight was 100 seconds, a time set two years ago that we’re still stuck at today.

The current time could serve as an urgent call-to-action: we need to make radical changes before it’s too late.

Unfortunately, we’re more likely to hit the snooze button.

There may be one other ray of hope: we still have minutes left to make time travel possible.

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