Will mankind survive the death of the sun?

In reference to my Bloggingheads appearance, one loyal MR reader emails me:

you said don’t be certain, be 90-10 or 60-40 then [you] said 1-99 that humanity dies out when sun’s gone.

Yes, I believe the chance is very small that humanity survives the death of our sun or even gets close to that point.  I’ll give it p = .005.  But what’s the chance I think that is the correct p or even in the neighborhood of the correct p?  Maybe 60 percent.  Of course my p estimate could go either up or down and after I apply meta-rationality p = .005 is where I end up, for better or worse.  I expect that fragile estimate to undergo lots of revision as I age, read more, etc.  I just don’t know if it will go up or down, thereby satisfying one of Robin Hanson’s canons of rationality (or some approximation thereof).

Why am I skeptical?  The Fermi paradox, for one thing, plus I observe that humans aren’t very good at solving large-scale collective action problems.  Our environment may be more fragile than we had thought and that’s without even considering the impact of man.


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