Brink Year

Which cascading threat are you afraid of, personally, as the end of the year crests the horizon? Cascading disease?

In a worst-case hypothetical scenario, should the outbreak continue with recent trends, the case burden could gain an additional 77,181 to 277,124 cases by the end of 2014.

Cascading militancy?

Turkey’s failure thus far to help choke off the oil trade symbolizes the magnitude of the challenges facing the administration both in assembling a coalition to counter the Sunni militant group and in starving its lifeblood. ISIS’ access to cash is critical to its ability to recruit members, meet its growing payroll of fighters, expand its reach and operate across the territory of two countries.

Cascading machine intelligence?

In a lot of these models [for the expansion of artificial intelligence], you have what amounts to a population explosion of digital minds, to the point where you drive down the wages to subsistence level. The subsistence level for digital minds would be a lot lower than for biological minds. Biological humans need to have houses — we need to eat, we need to transport ourselves. Digital minds could earn, like, a penny an hour. The wage level would fall; humans could then no longer earn a wage income. It looks very questionable, in this free-for-all competitive world, that we would find a niche for our small, stupid, obsolete minds…

Cascading environmental collapse?

It is a rare moment when scientists can point to an animal at the edge of extinction and predict when it might disappear forever. But it is happening here, under the golden waters of the desert-rimmed sea, where a small porpoise has almost vanished.

Cascading brands?

The world’s biggest beverage company will begin selling 12-packs of the sweet citrus drink on Amazon Monday, according to a statement, marking the first time Coca-Cola has sold a product exclusively online… “Future plans for the brand will depend on the level of excitement exhibited by fans across the country,” Wendy Clark, president of sparkling and strategic marketing for Coca-Cola North America, said in the statement.

This is really more a question of self-soothing: Which of these can’t you put out of mind with an “it’ll slow down, eventually” or a “what rises fast falls fast” or a “but think of the real estate opportunities” or an “if this was going to happen an alien civilization would have seen it through millions of years ago and the hyperintelligence would have already found and destroyed us?”