climate, extinction 

humanity will go mostly extinct (climate change, etc) in:

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climate, extinction 

bleak? yep...

what are our priorities? this doesn't *have to* happen.

climate, extinction 

@dajbelshaw I hadn't heard that phrase! Neat.

There are ways in which I've been planning for "deep adaptation" in the network protocols I've been working on (more or less, continued secure communication amidst sneakernet systems) but I didn't have that term

re: climate, extinction 


I don't think we'll go extinct.

Totally unrelated: you know how Tyrannosaurus Rex evolved into the chicken? Well...

climate, extinction 

@cwebber I do not have the option “30% that we make it, now roll the dice.”

climate, extinction, more depressing 

@ArneBab @cwebber did WWI have any chance of ending humanity? No.

Feel similarly for climate change, though it might cause extinction, if tensions flare up causing nuclear war. And the knock-on effects are just too much. Even then, maybe not likely.. But i am sure it is utterly awful.

climate, extinction, more depressing 

@jasper @cwebber Do you mean humanity as a species or our current civilization?

I know than I would already have died four times if it weren’t for our current level of medicine.

Our supply chains and social structures are so brittle that they can get disrupted far too easily. And we’re already losing crucial knowledge, even though the funding for education did not have to be re-allocated to food production.

climate, extinction, more depressing 

@jasper @cwebber And it wouldn’t be the first time for an advanced human civilization to die due to self-inflicted climate problems:

@ArneBab @cwebber i meant the species, though WWI probably couldn't really end "civilization" either? (what "civilization" means is less clear tho)

climate, extinction 

@cwebber The majority of scientists don't think humans will go extinct in the near future.

The complete collapse of civilization, with a handful of deeply traumatized survivors living among the arctic tropics sure.

And if you're in an industrialized country keep pushing for smaller homes, more mass transit and walkability, renewable energy, and less consumer waste.

climate, extinction 

@cwebber It won't (even if the amount of surviving people will probably be drastically reduced). But we can lessen the effects. And we can probably make a lot of wars not happen

climate, extinction 

@cwebber I'm actually disinclined to say that we will go extinct anytime soon, even post-climate-change-induced-cataclysm. Humans are pretty hardy creatures.

Will our level of civilization decline over the next century? Very likely. Will millions of other species go extinct in the process? Almost certainly. But will humans, and life on Earth itself, cease to exist? Very unlikely, if the aftermath of the dinosaur-killing meteor is anything to go by.

re: climate, extinction 

@cwebber Given a poorly-constructed poll, my answer doesn't come close to reflecting my views.

There's a lot of range in calamity, between "this is fine" and "we all gunna dah!". And predictions are hard, especially about the future.

If you'd asked someone a few minutes after 9 am on the morning of 10 September, 2001, how long the World Trade Centre towers might remain standing, you'd likely have received a wide range of answers. If you'd asked precisely 24 hours later, you might have observed some convergence to the nearer term. Major catastrophies don't have clocks so much as they have triggers, and the WTC was manifeststly triggered on the 11th.

Catastrophe sufficient to wipe all instances of h. sapiens sapiens from the face of the Earth (or other nearby worlds, should there be a presence) within 2 generations (40 years) would be extreme. I find this unlikely.

But catastrophe sufficient to reduce populations by large amounts (double-digit percentages, potentially much more than half), and to render much of modern technological civilisation nonviable are more likely.

The way the poll is phrased, the most appropriate answer is "this is fine", though I do not in fact think that this fine.

The 1972 Club of Rome study of possible human futures still seems to suggest a "BAU" trend to collapse, according to a study being published by consultants KPMG:

(I've numerous other references and reading I could suggest, I'm trying to keep thsi short. But the poll framing is poor.)

re: climate, extinction 

@cwebber Another useful guide I've found is Paul Chefurka's Ladder of Awareness:

When it comes to our understanding of the unfolding global crisis, each of us seems to fit somewhere along a continuum of awareness that can be roughly divided into five stages:

Dead asleep. At this stage there seem to be no fundamental problems, just some shortcomings in human organization, behaviour and morality...

Awareness of one fundamental problem. Whether it's Climate Change, overpopulation, Peak Oil, chemical pollution, oceanic over-fishing, biodiversity loss, corporatism, economic instability or sociopolitical injustice, one problem seems to engage the attention completely....

Awareness of many problems. ... At this point a person worries about the prioritization of problems in terms of their immediacy and degree of impact. ...

Awareness of the interconnections between the many problems. The realization that a solution in one domain may worsen a problem in another marks the beginning of large-scale system-level thinking...

Awareness that the predicament encompasses all aspects of life. ... With this realization, the floodgates open, and no problem is exempt from consideration or acceptance....

re: climate, extinction 

I think the collapse of civilization is too good of a prediction. A more likely scenario is extinction.

re: climate, extinction 

@yuki Care to expand on reasons?


re: climate, extinction 

@dredmorbius @cwebber My position is that by 2100:

Best case: Massive population loss, some Humans upload/upgrade into AI, AI survives.
Mediocre case: AI is hostile, exterminates Humans.
Poor case: Massive population loss, no AI, Humans rebuild and repeat this in x,000 years.
Worst case: Massive population loss, no AI, Humans muddle along a while then go extinct.
Hilariously impossible case: More of this.

climate, extinction 

@cwebber I have to reject this framing.

Business as usual probably would lead to human extinction, perhaps in my lifetime if resource conflicts trigger e.g. nuclear war. But if we are aware of the likely results of our current course, we can and must change it.

I take inspiration from Sarah Connor in Terminator II. I have "no fate but what we make" permanently written on my whiteboard as a reminder that these predictions don't need to come true.

climate, extinction 

@cwebber To be clear, I agree with many of the people commenting here that human extinction is unlikely, because I cannot believe that we will continue with business as usual and make no changes.

The question is, will we have woefully inadequate responses that merely lead to the collapse of civilization? or more serious efforts at mitigation, adaptation and resilience that save lives and preserve some of what we value beyond mere survival

climate, extinction 

@dajbelshaw In response to that specific question, I don't think authoritarianism is societal collapse, although it might be worse than collapse. It's a little like asking, "is torture the same thing as death?" No, it's a classic example of something worse than death. Give me liberty or give me death!

Of course, you and I might disagree as to what authoritarianism is, just as I would disagree with the "founding fathers" who thought liberty meant the right to keep slaves.

What is your outlook on the future of human civilisation?

(Piggybacking off @cwebber's thread / poll)

#BigProblems #Civilisation #Collapse #TechnoOptimism #TechnoPessimism #Singularity #Transhumanism #Rapture #Resilience #TransitionTowns #TransitionMovement #Polls

@dredmorbius @cwebber

I'm most for "undermine capitalism to diminish damage."

@alienghic There are multiple mechanisms for that. Some more constructive, some more destructive.

Capitalism tends to react violently toward both, as I see it.


What is the present state of civilisation and challenges facing it?

(Piggybacking off @cwebber's thread / poll.)

Intent here is to focus on the relationship and scope of problems, not the specific problem(s) themselves, if any. Though I suspect some may wish to discuss that in comments....

#Poll #BigProblems #ExistentialThreats #Risk #ThreatPerceptions #PaulChefurka

Usual poll caveats 

Self-selected polls are all but useless in judging sentiment. At best they're a tool for getting some very rough idea of sentiment ranges.

Discussion of why given answers were chosen tends to be more substantial than the answers themselves.

I'm trying to be as objective as possible in framing Qs and responding to As. Typically I'll try to limit any indication of agreement/disagreement whilst a poll is active. I'll ask for reasons, whether I agree or disagree with PoVs.

That said, the two frameworks here are ones that I wish I'd thought to incorporate as polls / questionnaires earlier. I've found both useful for years.


Present state of civilisation and challenges facing it poll

Again, looking at responses, I'm surprised that there were no takers for #2: "There is one major problem".

I'd really be interested in what the rationales for #1 are, and what might constitute a major problem in the views of such respondants, as well as why any of a set of issues in heavy play in recent times don't qualify.

"Other" explanations are also appreciated.

The general trend to #4 & #5 (87% of responses) is pretty strong unanimity on an underlying complexity. Again, self-selected polling is not a good guide to general sentiments, though it speaks to this crowd.

(Maybe I need to diversify my contacts more?)


Answering "What is the present state of civilisation and challenges facing it?"

I'm very solidly in the "The predicaments we face are fundamental to and concern all aspects of life" camp.

As I just noted answering the other poll in this set: humanity's challenges are endogenous, self-created, self-imposed, and largely emergent from our present conditiona and intrinsic behaviours.

This makes addressing them rather a challenge as solutions tend to go against "human nature".

Which I suspect extends well beyond humans, to fundamental dynamics of complex adaptive systems.


@dredmorbius @cwebber
Other: some combinations of the community actions with lots of improvisations. No one answer.

@dredmorbius Most of humanity will be hit hard, with millions to billions of casualties; rich people – most in the global north – will be continue ignoring the problems, and succeed at least partially because of their wealth.

@jaranta Which problems do you see as being most significant / intractable?

@dredmorbius @cwebber
My "other" response: some combination of 5, 8. 10, and "I don't know".

@woozle Interesting. I'd long read you as more optimistic than that.

Unsatisfied with the present system, concerned, but ultimately hopeful.


@dredmorbius @cwebber

Well... "Together we will save ourselves" is in the mix, as is "Find / Rebuild communities / tribes on a scale that works".

I guess I just don't want to be complacent.

You'll note that "Hulk Smash System" was not in my mix :D

@dredmorbius @cwebber
Also -- the increasing degree to which some people are apparently willing to be led around nasally by someone who is so clearly and obviously not on their side is something I've found to be... kinda disturbing.

How much of humanity is even suffiently self-aware to grasp the necessity of introspection? Sometimes I wonder.

@woozle Excellent questions and points, though I'll leave my own discussion until after the poll closes.


@woozle Examples of the nasal-directors and/or directed?

Any insights as to why people might choose this?


@dredmorbius @cwebber

Examples of the nasal-directors and/or directed?

Directors: I was thinking of der Trumpsterfïhrer in particular, but take almost any GOP leader or right-wing TV personality (Shapiro, Carlson...)

Directed: people who agree with the above; participants in the Jan. 6 insurrection; self-identified "conservatives"; followers of fundamental religious sects; authoritarian followers.

Any insights as to why people might choose this?

My current theory is that it has to do with how the emotional need to escape fear (and seek comfort) conflicts with the use of higher reasoning.

It seems there's a range of ability when it comes to being able to reason in the face of fear. This is probably due to a mix of nature (wiring) and training (socialization, indoctrination) but I don't know the exact mix (research needed).

Some people are apparently emotionally triggered (amygdala hijack) by certain kinds of fears -- e.g. disorder, change, loss of authority/privilege -- to the point where their reactions to political ideas become primarily emotional, and they are much more willing to unskeptically believe someone who offers any kind of respite or escape from those fears.

Conversely, more factual information tends not to offer an escape, or at least not an escape that fits nicely into an emotionally-comforting narrative.

For example, it's much more comforting to believe

"poverty exists because some people are just lazy, and I'll be ok as long as I work hard"

than to believe

"poverty exists because the system requires and creates it in order to maintain the power of the powerful, and I could end up in poverty no matter how hard I work because of plain bad luck, and the way to be safe from poverty is going to require decades of coordinated action -- for which I will probably suffer, if I participate in it -- to effect systemic change."

In other words, the fair world fallacy is emotionally seductive, and some people are more seduceable than others -- some people are willing to listen to anyone who tells them they can be safe if they do X rather than experience the fear of understanding the reality that they are not safe.

In the event anyone wants an example of a case of "discussion trumps polling", see the above.

Woozle and I have gone back and forth on areas of agreement and disagreement for years. There's pretty much always food for thought even where we differ strongly.

@woozle @cwebber

@dredmorbius @woozle
So where do y'all disagree about those questions?

(But I see the difference between a poll and a discussion...)


@bhaugen Not a whole lot of daylight between us here, though I need to think and consider before replying.

@woozle @cwebber

Not necessary, I am not trying to manufacture an argument.
@woozle @cwebber

@bhaugen Manufacturing might be a stretch, but I could conceivably jury rig one from spare parts.

@woozle @cwebber

@dredmorbius @bhaugen @cwebber

Here at Hypertwin Manor, @Harena and I definitely prefer homebrew arguments over store-bought.

[insert joke which somehow analogizes starter yeast with sources of contention, don't ask me, I only work here, welcome to Argument Startbucks may I take your order]

@woozle On the nasally-directed:

I see times of uncertainty as points at which old frames and narratives are breaking and showing their holes. The problem is that even a bad world-model is useful in that it gives a way to rapidly discard excess information, cheaply (with little thought or regret), which when everything's going to hell, is useful, even if that information would have been useful.

There's also the obvious tribal-affiliation / affirmation element, including the idea that declaring a common allegiance to facts in opposition to observed evidence is a credible signal of group allegiance.

There's the us-vs-them mentality.

The left has its own forms of reality denial / following shibbolths, whether that's doctrinaire Marxism, some forms of minority ethnic identity, or neoliberal free-market fallacies. Their own tribes get sucked into these beliefs as well, though perhaps not quite so catastrophically as the extreme right seems to in most cases.

(Can anyone see how I manage to piss off everyone much of the time?)

Fears become operative, especially paranoia (again: information overload, no good models, black/white thinking & splitting).



@woozle The end-game seems to typically involve one or more of:

The in-group starts turning on itself (fears, jealousies, trust breakdown).
The out-group organises and attacks the in-group.
Actual true enemies or opponents recognise the fighting between factions and either join one side, attack both, or simply sieze effective control entirely. Divide-and-conquer.
Critical survival needs are neglected for too long and essentials of life / existence prove insufficient / disease & plague invade.
Some remote contender simply rises in significance and becomes a new centre of activity, development, progress, etc.



@dredmorbius @cwebber

[...] a way to rapidly discard excess information, cheaply (with little thought or regret), which when everything's going to hell, is useful [...]

"useful" in the broadest sense, I suppose -- like sanding down your tires for a smoother ride or removing your brake pedal so you become more unstoppable.

@woozle No, I mean genuinely useful.

In a situation in which an individual or group has too much infformation coming in, more than it can process, and enough that its decisionmaking cycle actively slows down or stops responding or processing, then what you must do is discard information.

And the best ways to do that are fast and cheap: they take little effort and leave no regrets.

Even bad methods can be useful *so long as they improve cycling times to the point that you arrive at justifiably-actionable decision points faster, so long as those decision points aren't themselves dead ends, e.g. you've boxed yourself into a corner.

A pursued fly or prey will often change directions at random. It's not informationally based behaviour, but it's useful in throwing off a pursuer.

There are many ritualistic actions which make no sense if they're considered as informed decisionmaking tools, but do if they're considered as unbiased ones --- that is, they produce an outcome without some inherent bias.

Mind that many of the group behaviours we're considering do have an obvious bias (and specifically counterfactual / reality-denying biases). That complicates the story, though broader explanations may fit.

The logic may be "just so" stories, though I suspect modeling and simulation could show where high-cost total-awareness information processing is inferior to cheap-discard / random selection methods. Note that in statistics, random sampling is exactly this technique, applied: discarding most information on an utterly random basis and exploring a small set of instances to form a general inference.


@dredmorbius @cwebber Not sure why all the above options look to a positive outcome.

@dredmorbius @cwebber I'm surviving at home having avoided a shop for over a year using the internet and still getting paid for work; we've sequenced the virus and used modified RNA bases to make a vaccine that we've given to billions of people; Tech/innovation/progress has done pretty well this year.

@dredmorbius @cwebber I have feelings about 7. but they're filed under impractical, because I think taking it all down fast and hard enough to do any theoretical good would in practice have knock-on effects driving the problem right back up, while undermining ability to adapt more than ability to continue down the harmful paths.

@dredmorbius @cwebber
My outlook is that one day people will look back on our time as a memory of the good old days, then they will look back on it as a tale of hubris, then they will look back on it as the deep and mysterious past, then they will not look back on it at all.

I view myself as part of the grand project of mathematics, which has survived multiple civilization-level collapses. My main responsibility is to keep the flame alive. Unlike 'saving civilization', that is something I can do.
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