Vinay Gupta on systemic risks to civilization and responses

Notes for the session 1 of collapsism study circle

Threat Models

  scope severity complexity source odds
Spilled Milk kitchen table no use crying over it point risk humans uncommon
Crime individuals theft to murder point risk humans uncommon
Asteroid Strike national to global destruction point risk physics low
Plague human race substantial mortality systems risk other species common in the past
Climate Change global severe disruption systems risk humans ongoing
Financial Collapse global economy serious disruption systems risk humans ongoing?

Main Groups

Managing Risks

  1. Detect
  2. Avoid
  3. Mitigate
  4. Recover

State in a Box

unity of effort without unity of command

  1. Municipal functions (water, power generation) are pushed down to the household level wherever possible.
  2. State functions (identity databases which generate passports, issuing currency and so on for example) move up to international level.
  3. This leaves a greatly simplified State


  1. Identify the systems that keep you alive
  2. Identify threats to those systems
  3. Avoid threats and mitigate risks
  4. Repeat until your are of concern is safe enough


  1. Isolation
    • you control very little of what you need to live
  2. Competition
    • systems are centralized, efficient, cheap, brittle
  3. Permission
    • status quo is mandated by same orgs failing to provide safe systems
  4. Priority
    • guns or butter? cf solar panels or hospitals?

VUCA: Volatile, uncertin, complex, ambiguous problems

SCIM: Simple Critical Infrastructure Maps

Identify the actors

The vast majority of the complexity of the global system is used to produce barbie dolls


“collapse of civilization” actualy means “death of AIAC”


not a very precise tool, but an easy tool