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Is humanity doomed?

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  • #76
    Originally posted by ThanosShadowsage View Post
    I am shocked, really I am... everyone I know says I'm an extreme pessimist but your post EA seems excessively pessimistic to me. I want to make it clear that I'm not actually trying to debate your points. You've raised some interesting and accurate ones in each of your posts. Most of what you're saying I completely agree with.

    I'm sorry TS - I only just spotted this reply or I read it then forgotten all about it... but better late than never! :)

    Of course it's just opinion and I'm more than happy to admit that I could be wrong (and I'm happy to debate... that's how we test our own hypotheses), but my opinion is that we (human being, especially Western human beings) are far too prone to consider our technologies, infrastructures and civilizations to be the new norm... but I'm not convinced. I think a more likely hypothesis is that this, in the greater scheme of things, is just a blip... basically that our current position and apparent trajectory is unsustainable and soon normal service shall be resumed. I think there's a lot of data to back this assumption up, but I'm happy to concede that I'm as prone as anyone to preferentially listen to data that backs up my own beliefs... another human frailty I'm afraid...

    Let's take the two main solutions you mention to the super-volcano catastrophe scenario (just one of many): bomb-shelter and space migration. Well, I see massive problems with both as solutions to a super-volcano. For a start a super-volcano is unlikely to give you many years ()not even weeks) to prepare and human civilizations, especially I'd argue democratic ones, are very poor in long term planning, especially if that plan is for something that might not happen in tens of thousands of years... Baring in mind the Cold War mind-set that supposed that nuclear Armageddon was an almost certainty, how many of the bunkers that we've science seen (many have since been opened to the public) look like they could sustain humanity through a nuclear winter? None. And a nuclear winter is exactly the kind of conditions that the Earth would be exposed to...

    Again, your second solution couldn't be achieved as a quick fix to a catastrophe and would need long term planning... There's obviously a lot of willing to space exploration, yet the economic realities of it have so far limited us to a few dozen individuals floating about Earth's orbit and unmanned probes and satellites... Hardly the stuff the Foundation trilogy is built upon... TBH I think we probably do have the technological know how to achieve a permanent base on Mars right now if we pushed at it a bit, but is there the economic will? I really don't think so... and a pertinent scientific or even mining base on Mars or the asteroids is one thing, but a self-sustaining one that had the carrying capacity to save the human race... that's another matter! Certainly both of these solutions would leave billions to die and die slowly.

    But the question is: will we last long enough to get there? David's alt-hypothesis: "the longer we carry on the more likely it will be that we'll end up destroying ourselves" is very true... statistically speaking it has been suggested that the human race is approximately halfway through its existence. Okay, this is just a theory and not one my point is wedded to... but it is interesting and it does go to show that David's point is a fair one. One things for sure, a lot of animal species have gone extinct and as humans are just an animal species, we shouldn't consider ourselves uniquely placed to save ourselves.. indeed we might just accelerate a rush to the extinction event. There's many explanations for the great silence or the Fermi Paradox, but we certainly shouldn't rule out the simpler hypothesis, that there's no intergalactic civilization to be found because there's no intergalactic civilizations... thus maybe we should ask why that might be... Maybe the super-volcano hypothesis is the wrong one, but maybe it ain't...

    The other possibility for a technological solution to our one planet vulnerability is that the nature of humanity might change dramatically... maybe a cybernetic-AI/human that is no longer reliant upon organic bodies or a virtual existence might allow us to transport our intelligences off-world at a fraction of the expense... although it might be arguable if we could still be considered human at this point as our 'selves' would very likely be very different to any human 'self' we have known up to this point...

    But regardless of the end point, here on Earth or in space or in a AI hive mind in some asteroid, surly it has to be conceded that an end point will come eventually? After all, even if we survive the heat-death of the universe, we'll surely struggle at the point that atoms start to break down into base protons and then even they break down into nothingness and the universe has zero mass and even time ceases to exist...

    But yes, I am a absolute pessimist. Indeed, I don't really see any particular reason for humanity to even want to save itself. Existence is driven by insatiable desires and profound suffering... Conscious intelligence just makes us aware or partly aware of these gnawing factors... As Voltaire suggests there is no escape from this existential position other than blind faith in optimistic outcomes or constant distraction through work or whatever - both equate to the effective renouncement of intelligent thought IMO.

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    • #77

      "I hate to advocate drugs,alcohol,violence or insanity to anyone,but they've always worked for me"

      Hunter S Thompson


      • #78
        EA, While I agree with a lot of what you said, I am a bit of a fan of Heidegger, esp what he says about the existential crisis. Namely, there are 2 responses, flee back to the every-day or through to the other side and "authenticity".
        salt according to taste.