Re: Why bother (was Re: Introducing myself)

From: James Higgins (
Date: Sat Jun 22 2002 - 15:19:02 MDT

Hi Even. I haven't posted in a LONG time, but I had a few comments...

At 11:03 AM 4/7/2003 -0700, you wrote:
>----- Original Message -----
>From: "Carlo Wood" <>
>To: <>
>Sent: Sunday, April 07, 2002 7:11 AM
>Subject: Re: Why bother (was Re: Introducing myself)
> > Actually, apart from the singularity (which was a new idea to
> > me recently), I've always been convinced that humanity will
> > die unless we manage to get away from this planet and
> > colonize other planets. If not because there is a high risk
> > of putting ALL our genes (and everything we every accomplished)
> > on one planet together with atom bombs and polution, or because
> > soon we'll run out of materials, energy and destroy our environment
> > behond the point where we can survive, then because the sun
> > will burn up (or explode) in the end.
>That's several billion years from now, and I think we'll be able to handle
>that, or be long gone before then. The rest of this is just bogus.

The sun is almost certainly irrelevant, yes. However, to say that
everything else "is just bogus" is not a fair (much less nice)
statement. "Putting ALL our genes ... on one planet" is very risky. There
are real dangers that could potentially cause major harm, or annihilate,
the human race. A few obvious examples would be nuclear holocaust,
bio-weapons, killer asteroids, etc. All of these are completely
plausible. Nano-Technology, once developed, will add even more
possibilities. It makes me nervous having the survival of Humanity tied to
the Earth.

> > If you look at the way the whole industry has evolved till now
> > then it isn't reasonable to expect we will change anything until it
> > is too late (poisoned atmosphere, more humans then the earth
> > and feed and a civilisation that is fragile and will break
> > down totally when we don't even get MORE people, MORE pollution
> > and MORE raw materials; which is impossible at some point).
>The atmosphere is a lot cleaner now than it was even 20, let alone 50 years
>ago. The population in the developed world is already below replacement
>level, and the rest of the world is showing signs of leveling off as well.
>As I said, bogus.

Environmental problems are the least of our worries and very unlikely to
wipe out humanity. We don't even know for certain if we're causing global
warming or if it is a natural long-term trend causing it. Heck, have we
even proved global warning is happening (haven't bothered keeping up to
date on that sort of stuff). However, population growth does have a
reasonable chance of outstripping food (and other required supplies) within
decades. That could cause major problems if we don't find a way to stop or
deal with it (singularity, possibly nano-tech, space colonization, etc).

> > Whether you like it or not, the progress that humanity is
> > making (and is needed for the Singularity), like the computer
> > market (and needed research fundings) and internet is going
> > to fall down when America, or Europe or Japan etc turns into
> > an area like Libanon or Irak. Humanity is constantly on the
> > edge of Not Making It. Perhaps there will not be total self-
> > destruction, but surely we won't get another chance to colonize
> > other planets, or initiate the Singularity.
>U.s. turning into something like Lebanon or Iraq? Where's your evidence for
>this nutty statement? Yes, nutty. I stand by my description.

Unless one or more catastrophic events occur it is unlikely this will occur
within the next few decades. I actually find it very unlikely that the
United States could backslide that much given virtually any amount of time,
barring extraordinary circumstances (catastrophic events).

> > Intelligent people realize this.
> >
>You mean that anyone who doesn't see things the way you do isn't

The way it looks to me is that your both playing that game. Both of you
have valid and plausible points, so play nice. ;)

> > Some react with depression.
> > Some react by starting to party and drink alcohol.
> > Some react by putting all their energy into initiating the Singularity.
> >
>I never said, nor would I say, that people should not invest their energies
>in advancing the singularity. (Although I don't think it will really affect
>the arrival date one iota.) I was simply asking Eliezer why he thought so
>much effort was necessary to advance something that is already advancing
>quite rapidly, and why he seemed to think humanity was toast if it didn't
>come off.

If a large group of highly talented scientists, engineers, etc. were to
start contributing much of their effort towards the Singularity I don't see
how it wouldn't effect the arrival date. Well, unless there really is such
thing as pre destiny and the Singularity has a fixed arrival date. But
that's about as unlikely as it gets, in my opinion (I don't believe in
astrology either).

The reason why Eliezer believes so much effort is required is because he'd
like to see it happen tomorrow instead of in ~2021. It remains to be seen
if he will actually have much effect on the end result, but at least he is

I also think "humanity is toast if it [doesn't] come off", btw. Well,
unless galactic colonization becomes readily available in the not so
distant future. Given just the many, many ways we can easily annihilate
ourselves (skipping natural catastrophes for the moment), which is
constantly growing, eventually something or someone will give and there
will be major destruction. Espicially as it becomes easier and easier to
acquire devastating technology. If we can't solve the problem by the time
teenagers can build weapons of mass destruction (whether nano, nuclear or
bio is irrelevant) I'd say we are definitely doomed.

> > Buy us some time Evan and use some Love and Understanding
> > in your life - that way the next World War might be delayed
> > a bit.
>I think I might have more 'love and understanding' than you have, because I
>think better of humans in general than you seem to. I'm not expecting a
>"next" world war. I do not believe we are always on the verge of not making
>it, or at the edge of a precipice, or any other doom clichae - eve of
>destruction, gotta get that one in. I recognize problems, but my outlook
>isn't the bleak one you seem to have. If I was really that down on the
>future, I would have packed it in decades ago. Fortunately, I and others -
>though I admit we're an unfashionable minority - are a little more hopeful
>about the human and transhuman future.

I think you could both show a little more tolerance, if not "love and
understanding" towards each other's opinions. After all, they are ALL just

James Higgins

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