every moment matters

Wellbeing of the Future

Commitment to Life

Global Risk/Asset Management

Short-term versus long-term risk

When we evaluate the types of risk, we would be wise to distinguish the contexts in which risks occur.

We particularly want to beware of situations where we decrease short-term risk at the cost of long-term risk. For example, imagine a proposal to develop a new technology which has a (simplified) risk assessment of being able to save 100 patients a year, but with the side-effect of eventually allowing new types of terrorism that could further destabilise certain political regions.

A common response is to focus on the near-term benefits

The risks that are the most inexcusable (as well as the easiest to disregard) are the long-term risks
  • especially the risk of terminating large systems, e.g. risks to (in descending importance) Life, humanity, civilisation. When something terminates, the cost is all of the value that could have been created. Investing in technologies that increase the survivability of individual humans, but carry some risk of terminating large systems, are never acceptable. (but very seductive, because we can see those we care about suffering from a disease. But when an entire system is terminated, the could-have-beens don't suffer at all)

Cora, E. (2012, May 7). Short-term versus long-term risk.