The value of future humans existing

For the serious discussion of weighty matters and worldly issues. No off-topic posts allowed.

Moderators: Azrael, Moderators General, Prelates

User avatar
athelas
A Sophisticated Plagiarism Engine
Posts: 584
Joined: Sat Oct 21, 2006 2:37 am UTC

The value of future humans existing

Postby athelas » Fri Aug 21, 2009 11:52 pm UTC

Watching this Bloggingheads between Tyler Cowen and Will Wilkinson, and they ask the following question:

Suppose the population of Japan, which is shrinking, continues to dwindle, while advances in robotics prevent a large drop in GDP. Thus we'll have a smaller and smaller population with a greater and greater per capita wealth and well-being, until eventually a single family ends up owning all of Japan and then dies out.

1. Is this scenario worse than one in which population stabilizes but GDP grows so quickly that every person has the standard of living of the one family Japan?

2. Is this a good scenario or a tragedy, as compared to a situation where the population stabilizes and continues to grow, and GDP grows along the same track as the US post WWII, but every single person has a lower standard of living - a much lower standard of living - than that last family?

3. I imagine that a common set of responses will be 1) it's worse, and 2) it's a good scenario in comparison to masses of relatively badly off people. In that case, then you must believe that more poor people, as long as they're not terribly poor, is better than fewer rich people. What is the minimum drop in living conditions that would make it worthwhile to have more than one family?

Of course this question has all sorts of philosophical implications for public policy and economics. For example, unless you say that scenario 1 is hunky-dory, then to some extent you must regard slowly-growing rich countries, such as Western European countries, as "worse" than less rich but more fecund ones.
Last edited by athelas on Sat Aug 22, 2009 12:55 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

sje46
Posts: 4730
Joined: Wed May 14, 2008 4:41 am UTC
Location: New Hampshire

Re: The value of future humans existing

Postby sje46 » Sat Aug 22, 2009 12:27 am UTC

What's so great about more people? I'd rather have a few people happy than a lot of people not happy.

I don't care if humanity naturally dies out (say, if everyone decides not to reproduce anymore) as long as it's not needless suffering. There is nothing sacred about humanity that needs to be preserved. The world is overcrowded, and everyone will be a lot better off and more well fed if there wasn't so much money that needs to go towards poor people who will have a lower lifespan and won't contribute much to the economy or sciences or anything because of their conditions. I'm not saying that we shouldn't spend money on them--of course not, they're people too!--but that overpopulation really hurts the economy and creates a lot of strain on everyone in general.
General_Norris: Taking pride in your nation is taking pride in the division of humanity.
Pirate.Bondage: Let's get married. Right now.

User avatar
Kaiyas
Posts: 459
Joined: Sun Feb 17, 2008 4:57 pm UTC

Re: The value of future humans existing

Postby Kaiyas » Sat Aug 22, 2009 1:48 am UTC

Yeah, honestly, I think we can cut down on the number of people in the world. Not by murder or any crazy shit, but just making less people. It's better not only because there's a greater GDP per capita, but also because it's much more sustainable environmentally.
Image
clintonius wrote:This place is like mental masturbation

User avatar
mister k
Posts: 643
Joined: Sun Aug 27, 2006 11:28 pm UTC
Contact:

Re: The value of future humans existing

Postby mister k » Mon Aug 24, 2009 10:53 am UTC

I suspect standard of living depends on a lot more than just gdp. In an automated world with only a few human families left there would be a sad lack of art and creativity. As much as anything can be "worse", I would certainly argue that there is a point where the human race could become small enough that I would consider it tragic. We are nowhere near there at the moment, of course, and indeed have far too many people (at least for this planet and level of technology).
Elvish Pillager wrote:you're basically a daytime-miller: you always come up as guilty to scumdar.

User avatar
Pez Dispens3r
is not a stick figure.
Posts: 2079
Joined: Thu Dec 04, 2008 3:08 am UTC
Location: Australia
Contact:

Re: The value of future humans existing

Postby Pez Dispens3r » Mon Aug 24, 2009 11:07 am UTC

athelas wrote:Suppose the population of Japan, which is shrinking, continues to dwindle, while advances in robotics prevent a large drop in GDP. Thus we'll have a smaller and smaller population with a greater and greater per capita wealth and well-being, until eventually a single family ends up owning all of Japan and then dies out.

Labouring robots eliminate human desire for sex? It's a dumb extrapolation. A declining population doesn't lead to some positive feedback system where people just stop having kids, innit?

In any event, the optimum population is that which can be sustained indefinitely. That is, enough food, shelter and energy to go around, both now and in the future.
Mighty Jalapeno wrote:I feel like you're probably an ocelot, and I feel like I want to eat you. Feeling is fun!
this isn't my cow

Kargoroth
Posts: 8
Joined: Thu Aug 13, 2009 9:28 am UTC

Re: The value of future humans existing

Postby Kargoroth » Mon Aug 24, 2009 12:12 pm UTC

The problem here is actually the notion of absoluteness of this "better or worse". Better or worse for whom? There is no universal good/bad independent of particular human experience; what is often considered "absolute good" is merely an abstraction from particular, not a qualitatively different entity in its own right.

This whole conundrum loses all validity if one refuses to accept the absolutness of this good/bad judgement and explores the scenarios on behalf of individuals involved.
I'm the guy from strip 373

Dark567
First one to notify the boards of Rick and Morty Season 3
Posts: 3686
Joined: Thu Jun 25, 2009 5:12 pm UTC
Location: Everywhere(in the US, I don't venture outside it too often, unfortunately)

Re: The value of future humans existing

Postby Dark567 » Mon Aug 24, 2009 8:12 pm UTC

This reminds me of a commonly debated philosophical problem: the repugnant conclusion.
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/repugnant-conclusion/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mere_addition_paradox/



Kargoroth wrote:The problem here is actually the notion of absoluteness of this "better or worse". Better or worse for whom? There is no universal good/bad independent of particular human experience; what is often considered "absolute good" is merely an abstraction from particular, not a qualitatively different entity in its own right.

This whole conundrum loses all validity if one refuses to accept the absolutness of this good/bad judgement and explores the scenarios on behalf of individuals involved.


Kargoroth has it right though eventually all the solutions to this boil down to metaethics. You can argue that the goal is sustainability, but what if the only sustainable solution was to have no humans at all? Is sustainability really worth having if no one is around to enjoy it. And from another point of view, the Universe is sustainable no matter how many people we have, so why should we care about population?

In reality my belief says we should increase the number of people until we have the amount where we can maximize total happiness. Now that could be just one only person in the whole world, or every single person in the world being ridiculously poor, but still just be slightly happier than sad.
I apologize, 90% of the time I write on the Fora I am intoxicated.


Yakk wrote:The question the thought experiment I posted is aimed at answering: When falling in a black hole, do you see the entire universe's future history train-car into your ass, or not?

User avatar
SpazzyMcGee
Posts: 191
Joined: Tue Nov 18, 2008 5:36 am UTC

Re: The value of future humans existing

Postby SpazzyMcGee » Mon Aug 24, 2009 10:34 pm UTC

So basically the question is "Is it better to have a lot of people happy or a few people very happy". Well, I'm a moral nihilist so I don't see how happiness amounts to much in the grand scheme of things. The most important thing for humanity is obviously survival. Survival requires power over the elements and power over the elements requires high productivity. By that criteria the highest GDP would be best. However societal stability is just as important if not more important than productivity and that requires "happiness maintenance".

The highest productivity would be achieved if everyone lived in dormitories and spent 11 hour days on a factory assembly line. This completely ignores societal stability. Even if such a social structure can be kept running by a rigid caste structure there is an inherent instability ready to pop at the slightest hint of social unrest. The most stable society IMO is a liberal society based around the middle class. With that in mind productivity should be optimized at the expense of happiness up until the point of diminishing returns (the end of Gilded Age at the end the end of the 19th century saw a rise in working conditions without a loss in productivity because prior working norms were past that diminishing returns point, workers had been overworked).

I believe most countries' populations are past that diminishing returns point and should be reduced and automation could ease the transition to a lower population size. In an ideal world a very large middle class making up most of the Earth's population would oversee armies of automated machines, taking the place of today's average sweatshop worker. Take agriculture for example. The majority of people who work in agriculture across the planet farm fields by hand. In America we have both increased productivity and the standard of living through mechanization, farmers riding massive combines to harvest fields instead of hundreds of poor farmers doing it by hand. Perhaps one day those combines will be automated merely requiring a few engineer to oversee their maintenance.

I read in a recent Scientific American: Earth 3.0 article that the Earth could support 300 million people living extravagant lives (driving a hummer to the grocery store) without the Earth feeling any environmental effects. That is a nice lower limit, but I would guess the ideal number of people would be around 2-3 billion people living post-industrial lives... so basically everyone living in 1st world countries today.

User avatar
Insane Amphibian
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Sep 23, 2009 2:14 am UTC
Location: Above you

Re: The value of future humans existing

Postby Insane Amphibian » Fri Sep 25, 2009 1:42 am UTC

There really is no point for human life, so no, I wouldn't lose that much sleep over it. Also, I know that "good and Evil" are opinions, but isn't it a bit awful that you're all talking about how everything would be better with less people?

Also, WTF JAPAN IS LOSING POPULATION???!!1?
You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say will be misquoted, and used against you.

Men kick friendship around like a football, but it never seems to crack. Women treat it like glass, and it shatters to pieces.

sje46
Posts: 4730
Joined: Wed May 14, 2008 4:41 am UTC
Location: New Hampshire

Re: The value of future humans existing

Postby sje46 » Fri Sep 25, 2009 3:05 am UTC

Dark567 wrote:This reminds me of a commonly debated philosophical problem: the repugnant conclusion.
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/repugnant-conclusion/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mere_addition_paradox/



Kargoroth wrote:The problem here is actually the notion of absoluteness of this "better or worse". Better or worse for whom? There is no universal good/bad independent of particular human experience; what is often considered "absolute good" is merely an abstraction from particular, not a qualitatively different entity in its own right.

This whole conundrum loses all validity if one refuses to accept the absolutness of this good/bad judgement and explores the scenarios on behalf of individuals involved.


Kargoroth has it right though eventually all the solutions to this boil down to metaethics. You can argue that the goal is sustainability, but what if the only sustainable solution was to have no humans at all? Is sustainability really worth having if no one is around to enjoy it. And from another point of view, the Universe is sustainable no matter how many people we have, so why should we care about population?

In reality my belief says we should increase the number of people until we have the amount where we can maximize total happiness. Now that could be just one only person in the whole world, or every single person in the world being ridiculously poor, but still just be slightly happier than sad.
First point is good, second point...eh. Why not think about total happiness like temperature instead of heat? That is, we should increase the total average happiness instead of total happiness? And we can do that by just having..iunno, a few hundred million.
General_Norris: Taking pride in your nation is taking pride in the division of humanity.
Pirate.Bondage: Let's get married. Right now.

User avatar
EdgarJPublius
Official Propagandi.... Nifty Poster Guy
Posts: 3726
Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2007 4:56 am UTC
Location: where the wind takes me

Re: The value of future humans existing

Postby EdgarJPublius » Fri Sep 25, 2009 6:22 am UTC

Standard of Living != happiness

In this scenario for example, the single family left 'owning' Japan likely wouldn't stay there.

As Human's are generally considered to require, or at least prefer socialization, this hypothetical family would likely move elsewhere, managing their Japanese holdings from afar while actually living in nearer proximity to other people (If only to enjoy lording the enormity of their wealth over other, slightly less wealthy, families).
Roosevelt wrote:
I wrote:Does Space Teddy Roosevelt wrestle Space Bears and fight the Space Spanish-American War with his band of Space-volunteers the Space Rough Riders?

Yes.

-still unaware of the origin and meaning of his own user-title

User avatar
negatron
Posts: 294
Joined: Thu Apr 24, 2008 10:20 pm UTC

Re: The value of future humans existing

Postby negatron » Wed Sep 30, 2009 7:01 pm UTC

sje46 wrote:What's so great about more people? I'd rather have a few people happy than a lot of people not happy.

Out of a population of 7 Billion, even if you have just 10 happy people, that's still more happy people than if there were only 5 people on earth, all of them happy.

With a much smaller world population, science&technology would slow down and large software developments such as windows and high-budget games could not exist. Even if I was fortunate to be one of those in this reduced population, this would make me unhappy.

sje46 wrote:There is nothing sacred about humanity that needs to be preserved

In the rare event that we are the only intelligent species in the observable universe, our survival is very meaningful indeed. Otherwise, I agree.
Image
I shouldn't say anything bad about calculus, but I will - Gilbert Strang

User avatar
Izawwlgood
WINNING
Posts: 18686
Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2007 3:55 pm UTC
Location: There may be lovelier lovelies...

Re: The value of future humans existing

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Sep 30, 2009 7:20 pm UTC

sje46 wrote:I don't care if humanity naturally dies out (say, if everyone decides not to reproduce anymore) as long as it's not needless suffering. There is nothing sacred about humanity that needs to be preserved.


I know other people have echoed this sentiment, so I don't mean to single you out with this, but;
Bullshit. I call bullshit. This line of reasoning is so escapist and evasive, it almost makes my blood boil. There's a reason the icy calculating AI antagonists of fiction decide the world/ship/mission is better off without humans, and there's a reason we put up the good fight against them.

You have a problem with the way we're running things, fine, I do too, but don't say 'Meh, I honestly don't care what happens to humanity'.
... with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.

User avatar
Goldstein
Posts: 985
Joined: Wed Nov 05, 2008 9:38 pm UTC
Location: Newcastle, UK

Re: The value of future humans existing

Postby Goldstein » Thu Oct 01, 2009 12:25 pm UTC

Izawwlgood, I'll also echo sje's sentiment - Apparently it's fairly common and, from my perspective, it has no bearing on how well or poorly we're running things. Negatron tells us that "our survival is [potentially] very meaningful indeed", and I can see where this argument comes from as it'd be jolly nice if there were more to life than this and that we might someday discover it, but I don't think it's reasonable to declare the suggestion that this is all there is as bullshit.

And yeah, there's a reason our fictional characters put up a fight. Sje covered it fine, mentioning how disagreeable needless suffering would be. But to pass peacefully from this world and leave the world to whatever follows? Why is that so repulsive?

Like it or not, if Humans do go on existing we're looking set to create a machine that supersedes us. I like to imagine one day we'll call them our children, and leave the world in their capable hands; is this so much less desirable than leaving the world to our biological children? Is it so much better than leaving the world to no-one? I'm genuinely interested in why you feel so strongly about this that it makes your blood boil, so please indulge me with a better explanation than "I call bullshit".
Chuff wrote:I write most of my letters from the bottom

User avatar
Zamfir
I built a novelty castle, the irony was lost on some.
Posts: 7605
Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2008 2:43 pm UTC
Location: Nederland

Re: The value of future humans existing

Postby Zamfir » Thu Oct 01, 2009 12:45 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:Bullshit. I call bullshit. This line of reasoning is so escapist and evasive, it almost makes my blood boil. There's a reason the icy calculating AI antagonists of fiction decide the world/ship/mission is better off without humans, and there's a reason we put up the good fight against them.

The big difference is that in your fiction, the machine wants something the humans do not want. hence the fighting. But the scenario discussed here would be the outcome of actions people (hypothetically) DO want. If all people on average want less than 2 children, and continue to want so, there will eventually be less people in the future. But at no point are those people forced to do something they didn't want to do.

Of course, you could say that that would be deplorable, but that puts you in the position of wanting others to do things they (hypotheticaly) do not want.

User avatar
Izawwlgood
WINNING
Posts: 18686
Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2007 3:55 pm UTC
Location: There may be lovelier lovelies...

Re: The value of future humans existing

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Oct 01, 2009 1:11 pm UTC

Goldstein wrote:But to pass peacefully from this world and leave the world to whatever follows? Why is that so repulsive?


Because that isn't what was said. The claim wasn't "gee, I hope we have less children and that a smaller, more manageable, conscientious humanity results", it was "I have no issue with humanity fading from this world entirely". I do.
Goldstein wrote:Like it or not, if Humans do go on existing we're looking set to create a machine that supersedes us. I like to imagine one day we'll call them our children, and leave the world in their capable hands; is this so much less desirable than leaving the world to our biological children? Is it so much better than leaving the world to no-one?


I'm a bit surprised that your willing to claim 'we're looking set to create a machine that supersedes us', but okay, lets roll with it and assume that sure, it's a given. I'd view that as the natural evolution of humanity, and as such, still a continuation of us. As such, I fail to see why we should assume it will be significantly better, for whatever that means, then if we were passing on our heritage via biological means. What's to say that your supposed machine gods won't be clear cutting pristine forest or strip mining mountain ranges for precious minerals? This assumption that humans are flawed to the point of being dispensable is, as I said, escapist.

Goldstein wrote:it'd be jolly nice if there were more to life than this and that we might someday discover it, but I don't think it's reasonable to declare the suggestion that this is all there is as bullshit.


I think there are plenty of people who are, and who have been, living their lives as though there was something more to it, and I encourage you to try it.

Zamfir wrote:If all people on average want less than 2 children, and continue to want so, there will eventually be less people in the future. But at no point are those people forced to do something they didn't want to do.


There are a bunch of regions of the world where the birthrate is lower then 2 children per couple, and I'm perfectly willing to accept that it is intentional (life choices, etc, not something toxic in the drinking water or such). That is not the same as saying all of humanity should just fade away. I don't find population shifts to be deplorable. I find extinction to be.
... with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.

User avatar
Zamfir
I built a novelty castle, the irony was lost on some.
Posts: 7605
Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2008 2:43 pm UTC
Location: Nederland

Re: The value of future humans existing

Postby Zamfir » Thu Oct 01, 2009 1:24 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:
There are a bunch of regions of the world where the birthrate is lower then 2 children per couple, and I'm perfectly willing to accept that it is intentional (life choices, etc, not something toxic in the drinking water or such). That is not the same as saying all of humanity should just fade away. I don't find population shifts to be deplorable. I find extinction to be.

But the assumption of this thread is basically "what if those lifestyle choices end up being those of all people". Would that be deplorable? On what basis?

Of course, there is a vaguely natural selection-like effect at play, both between and within populations, and as long as some (sub-)populations have more than 2 children AND convince their children on average do have the same mindset, humanity is not going to choose extinction. Neither, by the way, is Japan for the exact same reason.




* Exactly 2 isn't enough, some people will want kids but can't get them, so people need to want more than 2.

User avatar
Enuja
Posts: 1576
Joined: Tue Apr 14, 2009 9:40 pm UTC
Location: Chicago, IL
Contact:

Re: The value of future humans existing

Postby Enuja » Thu Oct 01, 2009 5:55 pm UTC

I took a listen to the Blogging Heads video: I started out at the beginning, but skipped ahead to the discussion that spawned this thread, which starts about 42 minutes in. I have never even heard of either of these guys, and I don't know the names of essentially all of the thought directions they cite (which they do a whole hell of a lot), but I found it really interesting. I suggest that others interested in this discussion do listen to that 10 minute discussion (you can just click on the last link below the video to skip to it), because the two men do clearly disagree and lay out some of the basic issues with this question. If you don't know these guys, I also suggest you listen to other bits to figure out what type of thing is going on, which really helped me in understanding the discussion that spawned this thread.

Personally, I don't value human existence as a stand-alone value at all. I don't know how the value of future humans existing is different, philosophically, from the value of past and present humans existing, and I think that there is no inherent value in humanity at all. (What can I say, I'm misanthropic, and I'm sorry that your blood is boiling, Izawwlgood, but it's what I really think.) I do strongly value life and diversity, so inasmuch as humanity increases diversity, I'm all for that, but we're currently reducing biological diversity and we currently seem to be reducing cultural diversity as well.

Interestingly, both Will Wilkinson and Tyler Cowen agree that humanity will end, so that's not the discussion. The question isn't even about when humanity will end: it's about the value of having larger numbers of humans. Is there positive value in having more people who have the chance to be happy? Is it better if there are more of us before we end than if there were fewer of us before we end? Should this question enter the calculus at all when we are considering strategies to make a better society? Tyler Cowen argues that there should be some positive value towards there being more of us, and Will Wilkinson argues that there shouldn't be.

I think that getting rid of the Japanese culture and identity would be a sad loss of human diversity, but until you get to the extreme case (no more Japanese), I don't think that there is a problem with making fewer Japanese (or fewer Swedes), and I think that this discussion is much more interesting if we stick to the number of future humans, not to the existence of them. Even though I've presumably gotten Izawwlgood's blood boiling, I think that this discussion is more interesting below the level of humanity or Japanese or Swede destroying (and Izawwlgood blood boiling) and at the value of humans, and bringing more of them into the world.

For those of you who think that adding more humans is good, how do you respond to Will Wilkinson's "lucky souls fallacy" (at 53 minutes into the discussion, and after the 10 minute clip defined by the bottom link below the video)? Tyler Cowen doesn't answer: he brings up time as an illusion and then the discussion ends. Tyler Cowen says that they are talking about "Henry Sidgwick and the time value of humanity", and that is someone and something I've never heard about, but quite possibly the subject that I think that this thread is about.

User avatar
Izawwlgood
WINNING
Posts: 18686
Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2007 3:55 pm UTC
Location: There may be lovelier lovelies...

Re: The value of future humans existing

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Oct 01, 2009 7:06 pm UTC

Regardless of how hot and boily this gets me (that's actually quite gross), I think there's a lot to discuss. Whether or not people feel there is an intrinsic value to humanities existence is an obviously personal thought experiment that strikes at your fundamental outlook. I happen to feel that everything, from the maths we've played with to the stars we've named to the actual sensation of pain, pleasure, joy, fear, guilt, yaddayadda, are products of our existence, and as such, deliciously, delightfully, thankfully, rendered void without us. I don't imagine for a second that the universe would be any different without us here, but I urge you to reflect on what why it is you are comfortable with what is essentially a vote for suicide.

I mean, didn't you listen to Dr. Manhattans really neat monologue on Mars? Haven't you all read great literature that involves Mans sweep and decline through the cosmos, and why the perpetuation of US is important? You can easily make the argument that Earth is over populated and thus we shouldn't have more children until we can ensure that no one is starving, or the planet is no longer overburdened, but that is a far cry from saying 'there is no merit to humanity'.

Actually, thank you for being so polite and reasonable in your opinion Enuja. I rather vehemently disagree with your stance, but I don't say that to suggest I'm ignoring it's merit.
... with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.

nitePhyyre
Posts: 1280
Joined: Mon Jul 27, 2009 10:31 am UTC

Re: The value of future humans existing

Postby nitePhyyre » Thu Oct 01, 2009 11:45 pm UTC

In this discussion, what do we mean by humanity? When we speak of the value of future humans existing, do we mean flesh and blood humans, or a more vague concept of human consciousness? I for one will be first in line to drop my brain into a robot body. I don't really put any value on our 'meat bags'.
negatron wrote:
sje46 wrote:There is nothing sacred about humanity that needs to be preserved

In the rare event that we are the only intelligent species in the observable universe, our survival is very meaningful indeed. Otherwise, I agree.

sje, how can you say that? You communicate this sentiment (with language, special!), with written words (very special!), internationally, through on a sophisticated electronic device, instantaneously, and you really can't think of anything that set us apart from any other living creature?

Negatron, I almost echo your sentiment. Why though does it only matter if we are the only intelligent spieces? I would bet, obviously no info to back this up, that any other intelligences would be extremely different from ours. Ever see that episode of stargate where they super smart asgard need our help? We are the only spieces 'dumb' enough to make weapons out of explosive hunks of lead. Thats the kind of thing why humans should try to stick around. The asgard need out help! :lol:
sourmìlk wrote:Monopolies are not when a single company controls the market for a single product.

You don't become great by trying to be great. You become great by wanting to do something, and then doing it so hard you become great in the process.

User avatar
Ghandi 2
Posts: 172
Joined: Wed Nov 07, 2007 8:40 am UTC
Location: Williamsburg, Virginia
Contact:

Re: The value of future humans existing

Postby Ghandi 2 » Fri Oct 02, 2009 2:14 am UTC

negatron wrote:
sje46 wrote:There is nothing sacred about humanity that needs to be preserved

In the rare event that we are the only intelligent species in the observable universe, our survival is very meaningful indeed. Otherwise, I agree.

Jesus Christ what the hell is wrong with you! And I thought I was misanthropic.

User avatar
negatron
Posts: 294
Joined: Thu Apr 24, 2008 10:20 pm UTC

Re: The value of future humans existing

Postby negatron » Fri Oct 02, 2009 3:06 am UTC

nitePhyyre wrote: Why though does it only matter if we are the only intelligent spieces?

It would be the greatest of tragedies if the only intelligent species in the vastness of space were to terminate. If the universe happens to be full of it, I find no justified reason for human centricity. If there is or will be an intelligence greater than ours, perhaps of our own making, I will happily assist in any anthrocide they would wish upon us if it meant the possibility of greater achievement for intelligent conquest in general. I hold loyalty to intelligence, but not to humans themselves, even though I, not by choice, happen to be one.

Intelligence is a very universal concept, if one were to be very different from ours it would either be much dumber or much smarter. We don't value the intelligence of a mouse any more than a super-intelligent being should value ours.

If, as you say, we make our meaty life support system obsolete and transfer to a more expandable substrate, this would be a very good thing indeed.
Image
I shouldn't say anything bad about calculus, but I will - Gilbert Strang

Goplat
Posts: 490
Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2007 11:41 pm UTC

Re: The value of future humans existing

Postby Goplat » Mon Oct 05, 2009 3:35 am UTC

negatron: Can you define, precisely, what "intelligence" is, and give a foolproof method for its measurement?

User avatar
Atlas.
Posts: 90
Joined: Fri May 22, 2009 2:07 am UTC
Location: Midwest

Re: The value of future humans existing

Postby Atlas. » Tue Oct 06, 2009 8:54 pm UTC

negatron wrote:It would be the greatest of tragedies if the only intelligent species in the vastness of space were to terminate. If the universe happens to be full of it, I find no justified reason for human centricity. If there is or will be an intelligence greater than ours, perhaps of our own making, I will happily assist in any anthrocide they would wish upon us if it meant the possibility of greater achievement for intelligent conquest in general. I hold loyalty to intelligence, but not to humans themselves, even though I, not by choice, happen to be one.

Intelligence is a very universal concept, if one were to be very different from ours it would either be much dumber or much smarter. We don't value the intelligence of a mouse any more than a super-intelligent being should value ours.

If, as you say, we make our meaty life support system obsolete and transfer to a more expandable substrate, this would be a very good thing indeed.


The difference between humans and a rat is as far as we know rats do not have the ability to reason and we do. It is more than just a simple lack of intelligence, but a lack of ability to act in any other way but pure instinct. There is a lot more that defines humanity than just our intelligence we also have emotion and I believe a soul that separates us from the other species of Earth. If another higher intelligence came along it would not take away that fact, and I would not be willing to give away humanity to allow for a greater achievement. I don't think that sacrifice is worth the end, and I think there are some things more important than just progress.
"I don't believe in a no win situation" Captain James T. Kirk

User avatar
negatron
Posts: 294
Joined: Thu Apr 24, 2008 10:20 pm UTC

Re: The value of future humans existing

Postby negatron » Tue Oct 06, 2009 10:17 pm UTC

Atlas. wrote:I believe a soul that separates us from the other species of Earth

I believe there is a huge colony of little people in the deep crust of the earth responsible for tectonic shifts. Clearly our fanciful ideologies give us much in common, however I prefer tangible logic in a serious discussion, particularly one which can be demonstrated false.

If there is a sacrifice, regardless how large, which can serve a benefit even larger, my fallible neocortex leads me to conclude that it should be initiated, doing our best to disregard personal misfortune in such a decision. Measuring the scale of the sacrifices and resulting consequences and comparing them in a quantitative manner is a matter which I can't claim to resolve, but I do appreciate the effort to do so and make the corresponding judgment.
Last edited by negatron on Tue Oct 06, 2009 10:24 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
Image
I shouldn't say anything bad about calculus, but I will - Gilbert Strang

User avatar
Atlas.
Posts: 90
Joined: Fri May 22, 2009 2:07 am UTC
Location: Midwest

Re: The value of future humans existing

Postby Atlas. » Tue Oct 06, 2009 10:24 pm UTC

There are plenty of topics in the forum that debate different religious and philosophical beliefs, but those arguments are not relevant to the main topic here; that was just a statement as to why I and many other people think we are different than other animals as part of a suggestion that humanity is worth existing.
"I don't believe in a no win situation" Captain James T. Kirk

User avatar
negatron
Posts: 294
Joined: Thu Apr 24, 2008 10:20 pm UTC

Re: The value of future humans existing

Postby negatron » Tue Oct 06, 2009 10:32 pm UTC

Atlas. wrote:There are plenty of topics in the forum that debate different religious and philosophical beliefs, but those arguments are not relevant to the main topic here; that was just a statement as to why I and many other people think we are different than other animals as part of a suggestion that humanity is worth existing.

I find us to be a very valuable species, not only on earth but perhaps in the whole of the galaxy. Extinctionists, with the belief that the universe would ultimately be a better place without intelligent progress, I find to be unreasonable, perhaps insane. However if there is another species which manages to achieve human-level or stronger cognitive function, I see fit that they take at least equal part in progressive civilization. If this requires that religious text be altered to grant them a 'soul', such is the sacrifice fundamentalism must make.
Image
I shouldn't say anything bad about calculus, but I will - Gilbert Strang

Goplat
Posts: 490
Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2007 11:41 pm UTC

Re: The value of future humans existing

Postby Goplat » Tue Oct 06, 2009 11:39 pm UTC

It seems to me that Atlas.'s "soul" and negatron's "intelligence" are really the same kind of thing: they are claimed to be valuable, but not only is there provided no explanation for why, but not even a definition of what they are, let alone how to detect whether a certain object possesses them or not.

However, at least Atlas. admitted that in his case it's just a belief, and has not yet proposed any kind of genocide based on it. Really, who's the fundamentalist here?

MrGee
Posts: 998
Joined: Sat Jun 14, 2008 9:33 pm UTC

Re: The value of future humans existing

Postby MrGee » Wed Oct 07, 2009 12:52 am UTC

If you don't live in Japan, you want them to maximize GDP (or some more accurate productivity index). Either your selfish, in which case you just want lots of videogames made in Japan, or you are not selfish, in which case you choose the social optimum, which maximize GDP if you're willing to include future as well as present happiness.

If you do live in Japan, and you are not selfish, you would again choose GDP. If you are selfing, the question is unanswerable because you don't know if you're one of the remaining people.

So the answer is either to increase GPD, or it is undefined.

User avatar
Earlz
Gets Obvious Implications
Posts: 785
Joined: Sat Jun 09, 2007 8:38 am UTC
Location: USA
Contact:

Re: The value of future humans existing

Postby Earlz » Wed Oct 07, 2009 3:34 am UTC

sje46 wrote:What's so great about more people? I'd rather have a few people happy than a lot of people not happy.

I don't care if humanity naturally dies out (say, if everyone decides not to reproduce anymore) as long as it's not needless suffering. There is nothing sacred about humanity that needs to be preserved. The world is overcrowded, and everyone will be a lot better off and more well fed if there wasn't so much money that needs to go towards poor people who will have a lower lifespan and won't contribute much to the economy or sciences or anything because of their conditions. I'm not saying that we shouldn't spend money on them--of course not, they're people too!--but that overpopulation really hurts the economy and creates a lot of strain on everyone in general.


This. this..

I agree. huge amounts of people are only good for one thing: brute armies...

I don't think there should be any killing.. but if we just didn't reproduce so much(which I don't think will slow down anytime soon) then there would be fewer people. The world has a relative amount of resources, and resources==money. soI say it's all good if there are fewer people to split resources with.. who cares if parties only consist of 5 people?
My new blag(WIP, so yes it's still ugly..)
DEFIANCE!
Image
This is microtext. Zooming in digitally makes it worse. Get a magnifying glass.. works only on LCD

User avatar
Izawwlgood
WINNING
Posts: 18686
Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2007 3:55 pm UTC
Location: There may be lovelier lovelies...

Re: The value of future humans existing

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Oct 07, 2009 5:47 am UTC

The notion that we should curb our growth because we can't get our shit together is equally upsetting to me. There's plenty of resources to go around, and I'm not suggesting some kind of freshman philosophy "lets just share man" socialism. I'm suggesting we start spreading again. Recruit people to open new frontiers and use technology to extend viable living spaces. Colonize space.
... with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.

Goplat
Posts: 490
Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2007 11:41 pm UTC

Re: The value of future humans existing

Postby Goplat » Wed Oct 07, 2009 6:23 am UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:The notion that we should curb our growth because we can't get our shit together is equally upsetting to me. There's plenty of resources to go around, and I'm not suggesting some kind of freshman philosophy "lets just share man" socialism. I'm suggesting we start spreading again. Recruit people to open new frontiers and use technology to extend viable living spaces. Colonize space.
Relativity shows that nothing can move faster than c, the speed of light. Thus, in time t, the space occupied by humans could extend by a distance of at most ct, for a volume of V = 4/3π(ct)3. This is polynomial, or "arithmetic" growth. On the other hand, unrestricted populations grow at a rate proportional to their current value: dP/dt = kP; solving this gives P = P0ekt. This is exponential, or "geometric" growth.

It can be shown that the space per person (V/P) approaches 0 over time. Do I need to explain why this is a problem?

User avatar
Pez Dispens3r
is not a stick figure.
Posts: 2079
Joined: Thu Dec 04, 2008 3:08 am UTC
Location: Australia
Contact:

Re: The value of future humans existing

Postby Pez Dispens3r » Wed Oct 07, 2009 1:08 pm UTC

No, but you'll need to explain why population growth would always be unrestricted. Especially considering wealthy countries are having problems with low birthrates.
Izawwlgood wrote:The notion that we should curb our growth because we can't get our shit together is equally upsetting to me. There's plenty of resources to go around, and I'm not suggesting some kind of freshman philosophy "lets just share man" socialism. I'm suggesting we start spreading again. Recruit people to open new frontiers and use technology to extend viable living spaces. Colonize space.

It's horrendously expensive, we don't have the technology and we may never have the technology.
Mighty Jalapeno wrote:I feel like you're probably an ocelot, and I feel like I want to eat you. Feeling is fun!
this isn't my cow

User avatar
Izawwlgood
WINNING
Posts: 18686
Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2007 3:55 pm UTC
Location: There may be lovelier lovelies...

Re: The value of future humans existing

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Oct 07, 2009 1:47 pm UTC

Goplat wrote:It can be shown that the space per person (V/P) approaches 0 over time. Do I need to explain why this is a problem?


Yes, because you seem to have somehow interpreted my statement completely outside the realm of context, and have developed some kind of image of the planet being literally covered with humans standing shoulder to shoulder and stacked on top of one another.

Pez Dispens3r wrote:It's horrendously expensive, we don't have the technology and we may never have the technology.


THIS discussion belongs in a different thread. Suffice to say opening frontiers has always been expensive, and always required new technology. The bolded is incredibly cynical thinking, I'm surprised to see you claim that.

Pez Dispens3r wrote:No, but you'll need to explain why population growth would always be unrestricted.


Unrestricted is the wrong word. I'm not suggesting constant exponential growth of humans, but I don't think for a second we've bumped up against the limit of what the resources of Earth are capable of sustaining. Better technology will only increase that limit. Colonizing more of our solar system will increase it a lot.
... with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.

User avatar
Earlz
Gets Obvious Implications
Posts: 785
Joined: Sat Jun 09, 2007 8:38 am UTC
Location: USA
Contact:

Re: The value of future humans existing

Postby Earlz » Wed Oct 07, 2009 1:52 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:The notion that we should curb our growth because we can't get our shit together is equally upsetting to me. There's plenty of resources to go around, and I'm not suggesting some kind of freshman philosophy "lets just share man" socialism. I'm suggesting we start spreading again. Recruit people to open new frontiers and use technology to extend viable living spaces. Colonize space.


agreed.. until we have ways of making our own molecules and atoms(converting lead atoms into gold atoms) and being able to convert heat into other forms of energy with any efficiency at all, there is no way this will be viable. it costs millions of USD just to get like 5 people or so in space so there definitely has to be something else discovered.. and until then, I say humans shouldn't multiply like bunny rabbits(though we do)
My new blag(WIP, so yes it's still ugly..)
DEFIANCE!
Image
This is microtext. Zooming in digitally makes it worse. Get a magnifying glass.. works only on LCD

User avatar
Pez Dispens3r
is not a stick figure.
Posts: 2079
Joined: Thu Dec 04, 2008 3:08 am UTC
Location: Australia
Contact:

Re: The value of future humans existing

Postby Pez Dispens3r » Wed Oct 07, 2009 2:08 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:
Pez Dispens3r wrote:It's horrendously expensive, we don't have the technology and we may never have the technology.
THIS discussion belongs in a different thread. Suffice to say opening frontiers has always been expensive, and always required new technology. The bolded is incredibly cynical thinking, I'm surprised to see you claim that.

Not to derail the thread, but NASA seem to have a craft set for Pluto which left in 2006, and will arrive in 2015. Now, about the furthest Pluto can ever be from earth is 5 900 000 000 kilometres. That's 0.0006325 light years in 9 years. At that rate, we could reach the nearest other star in... over six thousand years. Of course, we could burn more fuel, and maybe reach it in six hundred years. What about the stars thirty-six light years away? Those thirteen-hundred light years away? Twelve million? Never mind the flipping cost. I mean, the resources of getting a colony-sized ship anywhere outside the solar system approached absurd.

If we colonize the galaxy (and it's a big "if") it'll be sending a few hundred or thousand to Mars or some such, and maybe a dozen or so outside that (per destination). That'll do nothing to alleviate the resource pressures on earth, and let's not forget that although the 20% that control 80% of the world's resources will be cozy enough, bigger populations will just make subsistence that much harder for the other 80%.
Mighty Jalapeno wrote:I feel like you're probably an ocelot, and I feel like I want to eat you. Feeling is fun!
this isn't my cow

User avatar
Earlz
Gets Obvious Implications
Posts: 785
Joined: Sat Jun 09, 2007 8:38 am UTC
Location: USA
Contact:

Re: The value of future humans existing

Postby Earlz » Wed Oct 07, 2009 5:09 pm UTC

Pez Dispens3r wrote:
Izawwlgood wrote:
Pez Dispens3r wrote:It's horrendously expensive, we don't have the technology and we may never have the technology.
THIS discussion belongs in a different thread. Suffice to say opening frontiers has always been expensive, and always required new technology. The bolded is incredibly cynical thinking, I'm surprised to see you claim that.

Not to derail the thread, but NASA seem to have a craft set for Pluto which left in 2006, and will arrive in 2015. Now, about the furthest Pluto can ever be from earth is 5 900 000 000 kilometres. That's 0.0006325 light years in 9 years. At that rate, we could reach the nearest other star in... over six thousand years. Of course, we could burn more fuel, and maybe reach it in six hundred years. What about the stars thirty-six light years away? Those thirteen-hundred light years away? Twelve million? Never mind the flipping cost. I mean, the resources of getting a colony-sized ship anywhere outside the solar system approached absurd.


wel your forgetting.. if we could get to pluto in say 1 year, for the people on board the ship, it might be somehting like .5 or .75 years for them due to time drift(extreme estimates).. so "burning more fuel" would be very effective in actually surviving.. because then the time required to get there is exponential for the people on board(from earth, it'll look the exact same though)
My new blag(WIP, so yes it's still ugly..)
DEFIANCE!
Image
This is microtext. Zooming in digitally makes it worse. Get a magnifying glass.. works only on LCD

User avatar
Izawwlgood
WINNING
Posts: 18686
Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2007 3:55 pm UTC
Location: There may be lovelier lovelies...

Re: The value of future humans existing

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Oct 07, 2009 6:04 pm UTC

No. Nonono. Don't 'make them go faster to induce time dilation'.

People have done extensive trips (One particularly epic trip lasted 20 years). While the conditions were certainly different, don't think that because the distances, and therefor times, involved are large, it's impossible. It's not a far cry to imagine a means for keeping a reasonable sized craft with a reasonable number of people alive for a reasonable period of time while it plys the solar system.

But that is neither here nor there. Our first order of business shouldn't be slowing human development, but adjusting human development to be sustainable for all those people.
... with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.

OBhave
Posts: 12
Joined: Thu Dec 25, 2008 8:04 pm UTC

Re: The value of future humans existing

Postby OBhave » Wed Oct 14, 2009 8:20 pm UTC

Personally I think the inherent value in humanity surviving is our "immortal collective knowledge", "distributed intelligence", "the human endeavor" ... or whatever you want to call it. Basically we are constantly building on the shoulders of those that came before, we're good at it, and there's no, absolutely NO predicting what glory awaits humans in the future.

(Personally I'd like there to be transhumanism of some sort but even barring that there will be awesome stuff that would floor any of us if we were to hear it now. Just look at history if you don't believe me.)

Space... I think we should expand into space just for the planetary redundancy, that is safeguarding humanity's existence. There are legitimate complaints about the price tag, but it can be greatly reduced by mining and producing (almost) everything in space and saving the dreadfully expensive Earth-liftoffs for just the colonists themselves. This is a whole other thread though, so I guess I'll just drop it.

The "more people the merrier" argument, frankly, I think is a load of hooey. It's the proportion of existing people that are happy that counts, not the hypothetical number of nonexistent possibly maybe happy people that can be brought into existence by just spamming babies to the max. And besides, the fewer people there are on the Earth the higher a standard of living everyone can have without raping the biosphere too much. So basically I think humanity ought to be about quality, not quantity... but not that I mind enlarging humanity after we colonize other planets of course.

Anyway, I'm just glad that human population seems about to max out at 8 or 9 billion and then drop. Don't get me wrong, I wish humanity had never grown past say 1-2 billion to begin with, and we and our industrial pre-pubescence seem destined to be one of the greatest catastrophes in the history of life on Earth. But at least we're not gonna have the unstoppable steadily-exponential growth that scientists used to fear.

http://www.intmath.com/Exponential-loga ... n-live.php (the future predictions are out of date, but check out those numbers on the past... very interesting even when accounting for uncertainties)

So on topic again, I think humanity's continued existence is of great value, for the reasons above... although they only matter if you don't believe in an afterlife (which I don't). I want the distributed intelligence, and my contributions to it to survive, and grow ... and the human endeavor continue for millions of years more, and the "glory" of mankind to constantly increase throughout the ages.

Anyway, don't have more time to write now, let's see what the replies (if any) will be.


Return to “Serious Business”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 14 guests