The following argument is perhaps one of, if not the most controversial theories based off of probability theory.
Randall Munroe, a former NASA physicist, once noted,"Almost everyone who hears this argument immediately sees something wrong with it. The problem is, everyone thinks it's wrong for a different reason. And the more they study it, the more they tend to change their minds about what that reason is. Since it was proposed in 1983, it's been the subject of tons of papers refuting it, and tons of papers refuting those
papers. There's no consensus about the answer; it's like the airplane on a treadmill problem
, but worse."
Now, what is this Doomsday Argument? It revolves around a few key ideas:
- humans will become extinct one day
- there have been around 100 billion humans who have ever lived
- it is very likely that everyone who is alive on Earth today is in the middle 90% of all humans who will ever live, as opposed to the first 5% or last 5% of all humans
Therefore, if our population levels out at about 9 billion, the Doomsday Argument suggests that humans will likely become extinct within about 800 years, and not more than 16,000.
Here is the original XKCD article if you are interested: https://what-if.xkcd.com/65/
What do all of you think about the Doomsday Argument? Personally, I believe in it and I think that some of the controversy surrounding this idea comes from the fact that humans don't like admitting defeat.