As technology continues to advance at an exponentially increasing pace, mankind becomes more and more vulnerable to terrorist attacks by a single person or small group that has mass casualties numbering in the thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions.
In 1995, Timothy McVeigh killed 168 people and injured over 600 people acting on his own beliefs that the US government was a bully taking people’s freedoms.
In 2001, a small group of 20+ jihadists launched a terrorist attack killing 2,996 people and injuring over 6,000.
Since then, many smaller terrorist attacks have occurred. Usually, these are very uncreative plots where an individual or small group brings guns and shoots as many people as they can or detonate small improved explosive devices.
Imagine if someone more intelligent than the average terrorist (someone of a McVeigh or Bin Laden or higher intelligence) were to plan a large scale attack now. Here are just a few options they could attempt in order of escalating scale:
- Get an ordinary gun (easy) and kill up to 60 or 70 people
- Create a large improved explosive device and kill hundreds in the right area
- Use attacks on infrastructure (water distribution, airplane transportation, trains, etc) to kill thousands or tens of thousands.
- Use chemical weapons to attack a major sporting event, killing as much as a hundred thousand
- A rogue nation (North Korea, Russia, Pakistan) could use a nuclear weapon on a major downtown to kill huge numbers.
- A scientist uses DNA manipulation techniques to combine existing diseases into something that our immune systems can’t handle. This could kill millions, hundreds of millions, or even billions depending on the infection rate and death rates.
- One of the giant organizations (Google, IBM, US government, Chinese government, Microsoft, etc) that is putting tens of billions of dollars into artificial intelligence actually succeeds and builds a general intelligence. Depending on how a true Superintelligence behaves, we might see the complete extinction of our species.