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Do you ever wonder if in the future medication-resisting bacteria and viruses will cause an apocalypse type situation, someday, with something like half of the people where you live passing away? Or is this paranoia? Or maybe it's a matter of investing into medical services enough?

My instincts say that the disease risk to humanity alongside the AI risk to humanity are both serious and not at all a matter of paranoia but also are exaggerated, with there being less than 1/3 a chance of eventual human extinction. Maybe I'm just wrong?


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Yes, especially engineered/GoF pathogens.  AI can be used both offensively and defensively, but on net, it probably makes the risk much worse, since bad actors don't have incompetent, slow-moving regulatory bodies like the FDA slowing them down.


Sort of.
I'm not worried about naturally occuring ones so much. I think there's a lot of easy ways to avoid those.
But I am worried about another lab-made fare getting out, whether intentionally or otherwise.


There's something about intentionally scientifically-engineered viruses in particular that stands out mentally.

The ability to murder around a million people shouldn't inherently be this cheap. In relative cost terms. And involve such relatively little work.

It's kind of as if you went into a grocery store to buy some $1.75 ice cream bars and right next to that was a $1.95 ballistic missile.


To my basic uneducated understanding, the great risk is people not having proper medication available to fight of certain diseases, which makes them vulnerable to common bacteria, in case they are in a weakened state. Bacteria are generally probably still vulnerable to our own immune system.

Viruses generally won't become resistant to medication, since medication doesn't do a lot to fight viruses anyway.

So we'll just be in an arm's race to evolve our immune system against pathogens.
Vaccines may be useful to develop.

But yeah, every bit more, vulnerable people with weakened immune systems would be the greatest victims of superbugs.
until we get on an alternative way to develop antibiotics. Maybe bacteriophages or something. It would be like biological pesticide, but for disease control.


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What I'm more interested to understand is how you reason that such probabilities can even be calculated given how many other practically immeasurable and untrackable factors effect the possibility of either scenario.


Superbugs are relative. Mass deaths due to disease aren't anything new. There's little point in being more concerned than we already have been throughout history.


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I remember at some point it was fashionable to die of Tuberculosis.

I don't think apathy helps a lot in moving forward.


You know, looking at the details of that film again, the boxer clearly neither speaks nor understands English to where I almost like feel sorry for him since I highly doubt he wanted to sound that... villainous.


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It was. And I'd hardly call the level of concern throughout history, especially with the onset of germ theory "apathy."

Regardless, superbugs are still relative. I'm sure some populations will be more ravaged than others. Maybe to the point of being completely wiped out. Smallpox was cripplingly endemic in the old world and apocalyptic in the new world. New world diseases would obliterate new colonials.

In terms of population loss the human race isn't in a precarious position. If 90% of people outright died we'd be back at 18th century world population. Definitely awful but certainly not putting us on the brink. Extinction probably isn't in the cards even with such a horrendous death toll. A disease with that lethality would also be put under horrendous evolutionary pressure to decrease its lethality as hosts run out.

It's certainly a situation worth preparing for, but would it result in actual extinction? I kinda doubt.


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Most people fight off most bacteria on their own. The species wouldn't have made it very far without a functional immune system. Klebsiella shrugging off colistin isn't going to wipe out half of the human population. It's gonna make the practice of medicine a bitch for sure, but it's hardly an apocalyptic event. Really the only situation where MDROs are such a critical issue is in sepsis patients, and sepsis patients have really bad outcomes to begin with.

As for antibiotic resistant viruses, that is all of them. Some highly targeted anti-virals exist but they haven't been a routine part of care until quite recently and they don't really have any dramatic effect on outcomes the way antibiotics do.

Anyways there is an enormous amount of bug-drug work going on behind the scenes. Bug-drug people might overstate the danger posed by superbugs in the name of improving antibiotic stewardship, but really that's because healthcare is a fundamentally empathetic job and telling that 1/10,000 person that there is nothing that can be done is a situation that they try to avoid.


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A chiral-mirror version of cyanobacteria might lead to the extinction of most existing life on Earth...


I miss ebola..

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