If peak oil theorists believe we're rapidly running out of a major resource, the institute postulates that technology itself is advancing so rapidly that society will have an overabundance of it -- and an artificial intelligence is set to emerge that will not necessarily pursue mankind's best interests.
"We do think it's possible, if not probable, that it could actually lead to either the marginalization or end of humanity," said Anissimov.
Whereas religious and scientific apocalyptic subcultures converge and diverge on various points, there is one end-of-world scenario that manages to reflect all their anxieties: the zombie apocalypse.
The zombocalypse of popular culture has become something of a Rorschach test of apocalyptic fears. Depending on the point of view, zombies may result from an act of God, the irresponsible use of science, an environmental disaster, a cosmic event and so forth.
Scott Kenemore, author of "The Zen of Zombie" and a member of the advisory board of the Zombie Research Society, said the zombie apocalypse can represent a validation of sorts for people awaiting their particular extinction event.
Hall agreed that the pop-culture connection of zombies to apocalyptic groups is "a shared motif of a dystopian world emerging." He added that zombies are a stand-in for "The Other," an alien group, process or force that is "almost always" the basis for apocalyptic developments.
Zombies can be a substitute for a corrupt government, an oil-based economy, foreigners or even a Sodom and Gomorrah society itself.
"[H]ow you deal with the threat is an open question," he said.
Whatever route to the end (or new beginning), Hall thinks the very diversity of subcultures underscores the fact that we have reached an apocalyptic apex.
"In this moment, people are seeing the old ways of life recede," he said. "That's the occasion when all kinds of different people from all kinds of different directions come forward with one or another apocalyptic scenario."