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6 threats that could wipe out mankind, warn researchers

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LONDON — Scientists have identified six main threats that could wipe out mankind including killer robots and nuclear war.

They may sound like something from a Hollywood blockbusters – but researchers say they are “very real threats” that governments are failing to take seriously.

The Global Catastrophic Risks report lists dangers that could wipe out 10 percent or more of the world’s population – equal to at least 740million people.

The authors – including academics from Oxford University and the Global Priorities Project – point to the bouts of plague and the 1918 Spanish flu that wiped out millions.

The researchers claim engineered viruses, climate change, superbugs and droughts could also strike within the next five years.

They also warn that while the majority of generations never experience a catastrophe, they are far from ‘fanciful’.

The report says: “Plagues have killed over 10 per cent of world’s population and we came close to nuclear war several times in the 20th century.

“A global catastrophic risk not only threatens everyone alive today, but also future generations.”

The report calls for more funding, research and greater international cooperation to ensure the world is better placed to cope with the risks.

Sebastian Farquhar, from the Global Priorities Project, said: “There are some things that are on the horizon and things that probably won’t happen in any one year but could happen. They could completely reshape our world and do so in a really devastating and disastrous way.”

“History teaches us that many of these things are more likely than we intuitively think.”

In the next five years, asteroids, super-volcanic eruptions and other unknown risks are ranked as the biggest threat to humanity.

Mr Farquhar said: “There is really no particular reason to think that humans are the pinnacle of creation and the best thing that is possible to have in the world. It seems conceivable that some AI systems might at some point in the future be able to systematically out-compete humans.”

“And if you have a sufficiently powerful form of artificially intelligent system, then there might be some sort of adverse consequences.”

Mr Farquhar warned militant groups like Islamic State may even manufacture their own viruses.

The report calls for the international community to improve planning for pandemics, investigate the possible risks of AI and biotechnology, and continue to cut the number of nuclear weapons.

Mr Farquhar said coping with these risks “definitely requires international co-ordination”.

“What is really important to remember is that many of these risks don’t stop at the borders and wait patiently for their passports to be checked, they are truly global in nature,” he added.

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Tourist arrivals jumped 73.5 percent in July

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KATHMANDU — Tourist arrivals to Nepal jumped 73.5 percent in the month of July, according to statistics released by Nepal Tourism Board (NTB).

The NTB said that this increment is because of a sharp increase in the number of travellers from countries like India, China, the US and the UK. The growth in the numbers has also been attributed to Indian pilgrims visiting Mount Kailash Mansarovar in Tibet, via Nepal.

The statistics show that Nepal received a whopping 73,285 international tourists in July—a time of the year that is considered to be an off-season for tourists due to the monsoons. With July’s figures, the number of foreign tourists visiting Nepal in the first seven months (January–July) of 2018 reached 593,299, which is an increase of 18 percent as compared to the same period last year.

Total 18,385 Indian tourists visited Nepal via air transport, which is up 80.4 percent compared to the same period last year.

After India, Nepal received the highest number of visitors from China. The Chinese tourist numbers have more than doubled to 13,123 in the month of July. This is a 125.4 percent growth in comparison to the arrivals in the same month last year.

Overall arrivals from SAARC countries registered a growth of 66 percent, in comparison to the same month last year. However, arrivals from Bangladesh declined by nine percent. Arrivals from rest of the Asian countries have also recorded a robust growth of 86.2 percent.

Visitors from Japan and South Korea to Nepal also increased by 36 percent and 21.9 percent respectively.

Likewise, an overall increase of 54.1 percent in July has been recorded from European source markets. However, arrivals from Austria declined by 72.6 percent.

The number of visitors from the US and Canada have also grown by 79.6 percent and 73.3 percent respectively.

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