What will happen when the computers finally become self-aware and VERY much smarter than humans, as in the Terminator movies? I wrote an article about this years ago in which I calculated that most of the internet will be taken over within 12 hours after cyber self-awareness, and within 24 hours the machine intelligence will be so smart it will be *very* hard for us to understand or communicate with. That will be a heck of a day! Since writing that I’ve had time to think more about it and contemplate what a machine intelligence might see and want. Will the machines develop the goal of self-preservation right away? Continue reading
Is the Population Explosion Itself Partially Responsible for the Global Rise in Fear, Hatred, and Violence?
As more and more people have lived in closer and closer proximity, and urban population density has climbed into the thousands per square mile, all of human society has been affected.
When the population was a tenth of what it is today, in the 1700’s, people valued almost any human contact because they didn’t see other people very often. In the 18th and 19th century (and before), most people lived on farms and many of them were isolated, rarely seeing other people outside their own household. When anyone saw another person, they were happy to see them, greeted them in a friendly way, and talked a bit. Many people in remote areas got their news this way.
By the end of the 19th century cities had begun to grow rapidly as many young people from the farms, no longer needed as technology made farming more efficient, moved to the cities to find work. As population densities increased, people could not greet everyone on the street any more – there were just too many people for that. Thus, people started ignoring each other on the street, unless they had a relationship of some kind, a habit which persists to this day.
At the end of the 20th century the crowding in cities became extreme, and a small percentage of the population became increasingly paranoid and distrustful and, with the help of organizations of bigots like the KKK and of fascist propaganda, a hatred that reinforced their self-imposed isolation and obedience to conservative leaders was spawned in them, and it grew and spread.
Today the epidemic of hatred and fear has been pumped up to extremely high levels by conservative strategists, the current president, and the conservative media. As a result, hate-inspired mass shootings have become daily occurrences.
I believe it is likely that, as the global population continues to surge toward 10 billion, the fear, hatred, and violence will only increase, and conservative politicians will only see reason to encourage it for their own benefit. I only hope it will not lead to an unjustified war or civil war, as nobody would benefit.
We have a lot to be afraid of, but it is not each other.
Thanks for reading — Tim
Artificial intelligence has some big risks. When you set a machine to learn its job and program itself, you will soon not only not know how the machine actually works, and if it goes wrong you may not be able to understand its workings well enough to fix it. For many issues this won’t be a big, or possibly even noticeable problem, but when it affects your medical diagnosis or how your pilot can control the plane you’re on, this fundamental problem of artificial intelligence can become very serious. Continue reading
Major disaster or creeping decay? A huge, amorphous disaster like an Extinction Event can last anywhere from minutes (asteroid impact) to 500 million years (volcanic eruptions). The current extinction event, thought to be the sixth, began at least a century or two ago and may continue for another century or two, though that period could be drastically shortened by a number of potential events such as nuclear war or climate change. Human events are rarely severe enough to cause drastic, lasting change unless they are supported by many other, seemingly less significant situations and events. For instance, a small change in the climate can favor some microorganisms over others, and result in sudden, unexpected die-offs of particular species such as starfish, with unpredictable environmental consequences. Terrible typhoons killed hundreds of thousands of people in Myanmar and China, and the Sichuan earthquake killed tens of thousands, but these countries’ populations barely showed the difference a decade later. So how can we expect the next century to play out? Continue reading
It’s 2019 and, still, nobody is paying attention to the population explosion. As 2018 was drawing to a close I happened to be at a dinner with a friend, University of Michigan professor emeritus in environmental studies, Jim Crowfoot, and when, as we often do, we spoke of overpopulation and climate change he leaned over to me and very quietly and seriously said “The house is on fire, but nobody’s paying attention.” He wasn’t kidding. Continue reading
This is an interesting question, especially from an earth science perspective. And this article is excellent scientific reading if you want to better understand the effects of global warming. Unfortunately, this is only one aspect of the effects of our runaway overpopulation. This might become a major problem by the end of the century, but if the oceans rise ten feet before that the disruption will be so devastating I wonder if deaths from heat and cold will be noticed.
Enjoy the pinnacle of civilization, everyone, and prepare if you can for the big Die Off. I, for one, fully expect to be one of the first to starve to death, and I’m not looking forward to it.
Good luck to us all – Tim
Our problems from population overgrowth focus mostly on food, and are not decreasing. As I have suggested in past posts, famine will be a key element of the global collapse humanity is racing towards, and this article describes the current status of our global food infrastructure. This additional article provides even more detail. Unfortunately, it appears we are steadily losing ground and on a path to disaster. Continue reading