Humanity’s Future

If you are an individual who tends to live according to the aphorism, Carpe Diem (“Seize the Day”), and find the ideas/thoughts/opinions related to humanity’s future as not particularly interesting, then you probably won’t enjoy reading the article I’ve referenced below. 

However, for those who like to ponder events that may or may not lie ahead for humankind, I think you’ll find the contents very thought-provoking.

The topic is centered around “Longterminism” (the definition will become clear in the article) and starts out thus:

There seems to be a growing recognition that humanity might be approaching the ‘end times’. Dire predictions of catastrophe clutter the news. Social media videos of hellish wildfires, devastating floods and hospitals overflowing with COVID-19 patients dominate our timelines. Extinction Rebellion activists are shutting down cities in a desperate attempt to save the world. One survey even found that more than half of the people asked about humanity’s future ‘rated the risk of our way of life ending within the next 100 years at 50 per cent or greater.’

Be warned … the article in VERY long but, IMO, well worth your time and consideration. As always, I will be interested in any feedback you care to offer.

 Here is the link to the article. 

P.S. An abstract from the “survey” referenced in the brief above (a separate study):

Almost 80% agreed “we need to transform our worldview and way of life if we are to create a better future for the world” (activism). About a half agreed that “the world’s future looks grim so we have to focus on looking after ourselves and those we love” (nihilism), and over a third that “we are facing a final conflict between good and evil in the world” (fundamentalism). 

24 thoughts on “Humanity’s Future

  1. Great topic, sorry to say, very timely. Almost not timely enough!

    My perspective exactly. If we make it to 2100 it will be a miracle of some sort, since no matter how obvious the changes in the climate, oceans, air quality, etc., we still have leaders that flatly refuse to conform to them and act. This is how the super wealthy and the corporations are going to allow us to run right off the cliff. The evangelicals are going to tell us Jesus is coming and look at it with great joy. Obviously the recent climate change meeting in Europe didn’t exactly allay anyone’s fears.

    I’m sorry to say but humans just don’t have the collective intelligence to foment the kind of resolution and accord required to rise to such a challenge; they’d rather find someone to blame.

    If our children had any sense they would have killed us in our sleep.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Hello Nan. Wow you found someone who likes to use more words than Professor Taboo. In a way this is along the lines of the Fermi paradox, one part which says that maybe advanced civilizations reach a point where they destroy themselves before they gain the technology to travel far in space.

    To me the entire article was about human ego vs human fragility. The longtermism people / idea is humans are so important, so vital, that we have a duty to survive and spread no matter the cost to any other species, members of our own, or the ecosystems we destroy to do it. This tells me the people involved are afraid. They are afraid they are going to die, and all of humanity dying means they meant nothing. We are too important to die damn it! God appointed us. But … Who says the other life forms out there in the universe want us spreading like cockroaches all over everything?

    That lead me to my other thought, this is just like a religion in that everything must be sacrificed today to ensure a tomorrow that no one can guaranty will even come or will exist. But all we have today must be given up on to have what we are promised for the future. The saving bunkers or starships will be built with the money of the masses and will be used by the few elite leaders at the top.

    I think these people miss something I was told the first time I put in a wheelchair. “Quality of life is more important than quantity, but there is no reason not to try for both”. It is the journey that is important, that makes the person who ends up at the destination. We have no reason to think the human species is worth anything if we cannot see the intrinsic value in the life around us and the health of the planet we need right now for survival?

    Well Nan. Those are my quick thoughts from a fast read. I admit I am not impressed with the idea of longtermism and the idea of it in our government. It strikes me it could be used by those who want to reap even more profits from the resources of the planet with no thoughts to the consequences. Hugs

    Liked by 8 people

    • “everything must be sacrificed today to ensure a tomorrow that no one can guaranty will even come” — Exactly right. Individuals would be expected to sacrifice everything in order to achieve a goal that, ultimately, accomplishes nothing of any real benefit. People would be little more than hive animals like ants, where they are literally nothing but tools to be used to accomplish the goals of whoever is in control. And I would suspect that as soon as you are no longer useful in the achievement of those goals, you would be considered a burden on the system and would be discarded like a broken wrench.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Scottie, your remark — God appointed us? I didn’t get any kind of “religious” orientation from the article … and I’ve read it twice.

      Judging from some of the comments, I tend to think each of us is attaching our own biases to the subject. I also think some of us are not looking beyond the current state of humanity.

      In any event, thank you for at least doing a “fast read” 😊 and sharing your thoughts.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hello Nan. My comment was based on the ego of man thinking we are so important that we MUST survive into the future at any cost. It is the idea that humans are special, and why do most groups feel that humans are different and special, because we were made in the image of god. You are correct I also did not see any specific reference to a religious doctrine. Again I was talking about a mindset. Hugs

        Liked by 1 person

        • But why shouldn’t humans survive into the future? You add “at any cost,” but I don’t think that’s how these philosophers saw it. I think they were simply considering ways in which the human race could continue.

          I think we, as human beings, recognize the perils that face us (nuclear war, climate change, deadly disease/viruses, etc.) and know that any one of them could (potentially) end “our” earthly existence. Yet how many of us really consider our lives beyond a year of two into the future?

          On the other hand, these philosophers have taken a look at the entire species and pondered ways in which “we” might continue to exist. Whether any of their ideas have merit will obviously be decided (or not) in the future.

          Liked by 2 people

  3. This needs a longer, closer look. It looks like the beginnings of another religion. Or worse. When genocide is discussed as a positive tool for ‘improving’ our likely survival, we need to address this.

    Liked by 4 people

    • cagjr, I urge you to read the entire article because it addresses different opinions on the continuation –or the demise– of human presence on this earth.

      Here is a quote from the beginning of the article …:

      To understand the argument, let’s first unpack what longtermists mean by our ‘longterm potential’, an expression that I have so far used without defining. We can analyse this concept into three main components: transhumanism, space expansionism, and a moral view closely associated with what philosophers call ‘total utilitarianism’.

      I’m guessing you reacted to the mention of fundamentalism in the excerpt I included from the in-depth study of the survey. But much, much more is addressed in the article itself.

      Like

  4. There seems to be a growing recognition that humanity might be approaching the ‘end times’

    When has this ever not been the case?

    Effects of global warming (floods and fires) are certainly a concern, but a lot is being done around the world to curb global warming, even if the US lags behind. As for covid-19, the death toll has not reached even one percent of the population of any one country. Pandemics that killed off a tenth or a quarter of the population of whole countries or regions used to be routine. The relatively small problems of today seem like catastrophes to us because we no longer have the memory of what the world was like before modernity.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. A battle between good and evil? We are the only species — seemingly — who think good and evil are real. All other species go about their lives naturally, which contains both good and bad — eat or be eaten! That battle only exists in the minds of those who think nature can be controlled. I do not think it can be.
    As for our species being so important all others must bow to our needs, however that was put, another sign why our species will fail. In this world you are part of everything, with everything, or you are a cancer. We are a cancer on the face of nature. We should be cut out.
    If we cannot learn to live with all other living things, in peace and harmony, we are not worthy of being here.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You apparently picked up on the “survey” results but didn’t read the referenced article. There was much, much more discussed in the article. In fact, this is one of the beginning paragraphs:

      The ‘eschatological’ scenarios now being discussed are based not on the revelations of religious prophets, or secular metanarratives of human history (as in the case of Marxism), but on robust scientific conclusions defended by leading experts in fields such as climatology, ecology, epidemiology and so on.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’re right, I did not read the article, I was just responding to part of the brief. It was late at night, and I would have fallen asleep if I tried to read the whole thing. What struck me in the brief was the bit about the Good/Evil battle. I thought we had advanced past that ancient imagined conflict, but apparently not.

        Like

  6. “Longtermism”? Oh, my what a silly and amazingly awkward term. You would think that people who call themselves philosophers could come up with something better than that.

    I agree with the author, Torres. Indeed, I would even go farther and say that Bostrom and his ideas are one of the most horrific visions of the future I’ve ever seen. Basically Bostrom and those like him want the long term survival and expansion of the human race at any cost, and with absolutely no regard for the quality of life of individual persons. In fact, one could argue that this vision of the future of humanity results in the extinction of humanity because what he and others like him want to happen is to re-engineer the species so we aren’t even remotely human any more. We’d turn into some kind of, oh, hive animal of some sort where the individual members count as nothing as long as the hive itself survives.

    Spreading the human race through the entire galaxy? WTF? Seriously? These people have been watching too much Star Trek. They have absolutely no idea how hard and expensive and dangerous space travel is. Or how big space is. We “only” have to go five or six light years to get to the next star and then those people would build infrastructure there so their descendents would them jump to another star? Seriously? The Voyager space probe is out at the very edge of the solar system and what it’s finding out there is seriously scary in human survival terms. The Voyager is also one of the fastest human made spaceships out there, currently way out beyond Pluto. And even at the speed it is traveling at it would take it 73,000 years to reach the nearest star. Seventy Three Thousand Years.

    Upload our minds to computers? Again, they’ve been watching too much bad SF on television. The human mind is more than just a program running on a “meat computer”. The mind actually includes the entire human body because our entire perception system, how we interpret the world around us is based on millions of factors that are intimately linked with the human body. Our emotions, our perceptions, our thought processes, all of it is linked to our physical substance whether we like it or not. You can’t just somehow download a mind into a machine without losing, well, everything. A mind that is no longer connected to our physical being wouldn’t be a mind any longer. I’m not sure what it would be, but it would not be, well, us.

    These people are living in a fantasy world of their own creation that has no basis in reality.

    I’ve actually been thinking about things like this for some time because this is at least partly the basis for “The World’s Worst Novel” which I’ve been tinkering with for years now. In the book the human race is just barely recovering from a rebellion against exactly the kind of society these people are proposing. The Unification, it was called. Mindless expansion for expansion’s sake, human beings being little more than tools to accomplish the goals of the Unification. People genetically modified and otherwise “enhanced” to turn them into useful tools with no regard for anything except the goals of the aristocracy that controlled the Unification. The more I thought about a society like that and extended out what would happen in the distant future, the more horrifying it became.

    Liked by 3 people

    • THANK YOU, Grouchy! Your comments are clear evidence that you actually READ the article! This is what I had HOPED others would do because I felt there was much to discuss. Unfortunately, from the tone of the comments, few took the time or effort. (It was very long, after all.)

      In any case, your summary, along with your opinion/reactions, was very much appreciated!

      And your potential book sounds quite fascinating!

      Liked by 1 person

      • The problem with Bostrom and his ilk is that their vision of humanity is, when it comes down to it, inhuman. Human beings are social creatures, yes. But we are most definitely not hive animals, which is what these people seem to think we are, or should be. There is a huge difference between a society and a hive. A society is concerned about the society’s survival but it is also concerned about the welfare of the individuals that make up that society. A hive is concerned only with the survival of the hive. The individual members are not jut expendable, but their personal welfare, their mental and physical health, are utterly insignificant when it comes to the survival of the hive.

        As for the book – TWWN has been in the works for years now and occasionally gets erased and rewritten. It isn’t something I ever intended to publish. It is a way for me to, oh, explore ideas, concepts, social constructs, I suppose.

        Liked by 2 people

  7. Nan, we need to demand more from our leaders. In short, they need to stop trying to keep their job and do their job. We have far too many issues that are not being dealt with. We have far too many issues that are being addressed outside of government halls because too many inside are paid not to address them. But, the first demand needs to be simple – stop lying to us or get out. It is hard enough to solve complex problems with facts; trying to solve them by believing your own BS makes it nigh impossible. Finally, our elected officials need to be among our better angels, not our worse demons. If they cannot civilly discuss issues, then they need to get out. We have real problems and don’t need boorish and untruthful elected officials wasting our time and that includes the last former president and people who are still covering up his lies. Keith

    Like

      • Nan, I guess I was relating more to the comment we cannot even try to fix things if we don’t even talk about them. How many people can the earth sustain with its finite resources, eg. is the key question in my mind. We have a global water crisis which is not getting discussed at all in some places. We are in need of some paradigm shifts and yet we cannot even get folks to talk about climate change as just one example. Thanks for sharing the article. It is worrisome. Keith

        Liked by 1 person

  8. When I first read this (yesterday), I immediately thought of Trump and his narcissism. This idea seems to be narcissism on steroids.

    I guess I’m not surprised to hear that Elon Musk is associated with it. And then there is Peter Thiel, whose name seems to show up for every bad idea.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Glad you posted the article. I found it very interesting and thought provoking. I’m not as against this as a lot of folks are here.

    To me you have to look at the big picture and the long long term in time. I like the idea of humanity surviving into the distant future and perhaps spreading just a bit into the farther reaches of space. I mean someone has to do it. Why not us? Yes there would be a big price to pay in attrition and there is the notion of it being for the good of the few and not for the many, as is the usual case.

    I, for one, would like to think that humanity is so unique and capable of such complexity, learning abilities, survival and discoveries, that it would be ultimately worth it. Humans are in the early stages of growth now just short of caveman days with such potential for the far future, that I can see where these people are coming from.

    And btw, Bostrom also believes we are living in a simulation, not that it’s connected to this.

    Like

    • Mary, I appreciate your support! As I said, it was a VERY long article — and I don’t think very many took the time to really read and absorb it.

      In any case, I’m reading the one you referenced … and I think this statement towards the beginning is what many people fail to consider:

      … we think longtermism might well turn out to be one of the most important discoveries of effective altruism so far.

      Liked by 1 person

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