The inevitable end of the world has been explored in media for millennia, with more recent works, such as The Day After Tomorrow, generally attributing the apocalypse to environmental disaster. But will these works prove to be accurate depictions of the future?
While such information is impossible to know for sure, scientists have made several predictions regarding how Earth will meet its eventual demise.
An Asteroid Collides With the Earth
One of the most common projections concerning the apocalypse is that it will come as the result of an asteroid colliding with Earth. Such a thing has happened on a smaller scale before. For example, 66 million years ago, the Chicxulub asteroid crashed into the waters of present day Gulf of Mexico, triggering a massive tsunami and the release of a soot and dust cloud that obliterated 75% of Earth’s species.
According to NASA, an asteroid is set to barely miss Earth in 2029. While astronomers are assured in the safety of the planet, this close call just goes to show that an eventual asteroid collision is possible.
AI: A Tool or a Threat?
While some argue that chatbots like ChatGPT are merely glorified text processors, others believe that their advent is the first step in global takeover by artificial intelligence. (Think The Matrix or I, Robot.)
While such an event is most likely not imminent, many tech experts believe that eventually, humans will lose control of artificial intelligence and essentially become slaves to our own creations. Such predictions have led to over 1,000 tech tycoons—amongst whom was Elon Musk—signing a letter calling for the halting of the development of artificial intelligence.
Their concerns were validated in by Swedish-American physicist Max Tegmark, who in 2018 said the following:
“One option my colleagues would like to do is build super intelligence and keep it under human control like an enslaved dog. But you might worry that maybe we humans just aren’t smart enough to handle that much power.
“Also, aside from any moral qualms you might have about enslaving superior minds, you should be more worried that maybe the superintelligence could outsmart us.
“They could break-out and take over.”
A Nuclear Winter
Since the development of nuclear weaponry, fear of a nuclear holocaust has, for good reason, run rampant throughout the globe. While at the time of writing, the US has been the only country to ever utilize nuclear weapons, rising tensions between nations have led many to believe that it is only a matter of time before they are used again.
But just how would a nuclear winter lead to the apocalypse? Well, the launching of enough nuclear missiles could create a cloud of smoke that would block the sun’s rays, pushing temperatures below freezing and preventing the growth of oxygen-producing plants. This cloud could possibly even destroy the ozone layer.