"Education has failed in a very serious way to convey the most important lesson science can teach: skepticism." --
David Suzuki

 

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9 August 2011

 

I agree with your fundamental arguments, and have voiced similar conclusions, myself. :)

There are a few points I would add, which may clarify possible outcomes. I\'ll mention each point, and if I get any email interest, I\'ll post details.

First, while evolution makes no promises of survival, and pressure for diversity over efficacy-of-fit ensures that species will generally devolve to their minimum necessary capacity, life as a whole has demonstrated remarkable fidelity.

Second, predictions of future behavior and events tend to be myopic, whether Ray Kurzweil is extrapolating his cherry-picked computation trends, or Francis Fukuyama is envisioning an \'end to history\'.

Humans evolved from predecessors through many cycles of expansion and contraction, and the Malthusian Collapse is part of the explanation for the fidelity of life.

Third, species adaptation only occurs along ontologically adjacent paths, and mutations create systemic, binary changes in the organism. We are rarely able to fill-in the mutations with incremental changes, however much a technocrat would like to \'nudge\' us.

Fourth, our genetic codes are full of genes in the \'off\' position, and these can be activated by environmental conditions, only to be seen in the \'\'offspring\'\'. This is the precursor to adaptation, because a population which fixates on one gene group for one set of fitness criteria will tolerate mutations in \'latent\' gene groups.

Fifth, a homogeneous, post-collapse population will have many more births than deaths as it repopulates, and this accumulates mutations which are the precursors to regional diversity. Parasitism, sweeping through the devolved population, isolates pockets for later speciation. Fixation on parasite-resistance lets a population tolerate greater mutation of form, until regional populations are mutually sterile (\'species\').

Finally, humanity is a remarkably homogeneous species, because of a population \'bottleneck\' following the Toba volcano eruption, 73,000 years ago. It is estimated that only 5,000 women survived, based on mitochondria mutation rates. We are still wandering back toward speciation, and predictions of human history are best modeled by the study of the speciation process in a homogeneous, recovering population.

 I\'ll leave you that analysis as a take-home problem.

   

10 August 2011

I'm not competent enough to make any kind of accurate estimate, but I can give some stipulations for collapse, as well as the branching outcomes which are most likely to follow any catastrophe.

I should mention, before getting into the risk of our own collapse, that life on Earth has recovered from multiple massive extinctions.

You mentioned the obligate anaerobe - a perfect case of nature evolving toward extinction. But, the anaerobe's relatives survived the shock, and the ecology recovered while creating new niches, supporting greater diversity and complexity. Collapse of that scale is difficult to achieve.

The Siberian Traps were a million-year volcanic eruption, and a tenth of all life still survived. I don't think humans have the capacity to cause rapid extinction on that scale, and our precarious economy will likely collapse before we can do any significant damage to the global ecology.

Even if we tried with all our might, we would go broke before we could destroy all humanity, let alone all life.

But! Large-scale collapse is very common, and we have a history of letting it happen, so I doubt we'll do anything to stop the next collapse.

Cyclic ice-ages, and depleted fossil fuels, will make it very difficult for us to return to our 'modern' lifestyle, even if a few of us do survive and recover. And, regarding the Toba eruption and resultant genetic bottleneck: we are uncommonly homogeneous, and homogeneity generates cyclic collapse, until diversity and devolution stabilize the population. We'll probably keep collapsing until we re-speciate, becoming too weak and stupid to mess things up again.

The process of re-speciation will take tens of thousands of years, at least.

On a more local timescale, our fossil fuel economy will collapse within this generation, so we can expect a massive drop in human population (perhaps 200 million survivors, as a semi-stable post-catastrophe population, oscillating between 50 and 500 million as other collapse cycles occur).

Within the next few hundred years, climate cycles will have a major effect on habitable zones and ecological stability, so local populations will tend to fragment and become cloistered. Technology as we know it will disappear, and survivors will be unable to organize new civilizations for a few thousand years.

None of those recovery cultures will be able to industrialize, lacking abundant mineral fuel.

This is were our future gets sketchy.

If our devolved descendants act like bees to a flower, milking herd animals and gardening for their basic needs, we will likely speciate into a co-evolving gardener niche like leaf-cutter ants who harvest fungus and yellow meadow ants, herding aphids. But, if we act more like a pride of lions, fixating around dominant members who produce most of the offspring, we can expect a long-lasting but vicious and marginal existence as a fringe scavenger, like racoons and bears.

The choices between these styles aren't made by the individual - no single member lives long enough to influence the course of these events.

Our genetic switches let us hop between neurochemical equilibria, radically altering the pattern of behavior in different regions, among different mutant subgroups.

Whichever subgroup displays dominance first, will become xenophobic toward the others. So, if our post-collapse world is amenable to scavenger chiefs, humanity will be replaced by a brutish ape. If pockets of gardener colonies recover first, we will tilt toward hive-like instincts and emergent intelligence between members.

Neither will look or act much like us, so I'd consider either result 'human extinction'.

While I'm certain homo sapiens sapiens won't last, I would like to see our offspring's phylogeny move toward symbiotic farming. :)

   

11 August 2011

Yeah, our chances aren't good. But social primates, or something like them, will probably keep popping up;

Earth's land connectivity creates enough biome boundary regions to support them.

They just won't know much about us, and likely won't feel the same way about things as we do. Most human behavior is a crude extension of our basal instincts, derived from our ancestors a few million years ago.

As best we can tell, our ancestors were social omnivores who, by initiating a sex-for-food social contract, created a demand for hands (to carry the flowers, chocolates, and wine) and communication (that swag love song).

Tool use came later, as did fire, and we're still not quite used to them.

I could see a few scenarios on Earth, over the next few million years:

1. Surviving homo sapiens groups speciate to their climate and lock-into whichever behavior was first to recover (xenophobic ideologies), either as dumb-but-friendly shepherd-gardeners, or unforgiving scavengers,

2. Our pet cats' ecological dominance, after our collapse, creates new large predator dynamics, slowly pushing the primate group out as the dominant form, until lion prides fill the top niches,

3. Climactic instability lowers over-all productivity of the Earth, creating a few million years of lag and genetic drift, before other species wander toward social omnivores. (Who knows, it might be the sloths this time!)


The dynamics of social contracts are very diverse, and it's unlikely that our replacement omnivores will have the same 'human nature'. Our relatives would grab more than they needed, to share and get laid.

Our greed and laziness are as much an expression of this as our enduring devotion to informal groups and laughter.

Lion prides wouldn't be so friendly. Bee hives might be dull.

Whatever takes over, though, will have a fundamentally different ethics, driven by its source behaviors.

Regardless of what those ethical norms are, the population will ALWAYS devolve to the minimum fitness necessary, maximizing diversity and sites for parasitism, until cyclic collapse causes pockets of speciation.

Life doesn't evolve toward intelligence; it just happens to be self-aware, at times.

Even in the midst of the cataracts, your head bobs out of the water now and again.

You're welcome to post my responses - thank you!

   

31 August 2011

Nominations of president by independent scientific communities [Editor- Suspect this relates to USA]

   

6 September 2011

I believe that the system above is, for the most part, very fair. There are a few variations when it comes to my idea however.

One twist would be that stating information that is not factual that will boost your, \"ratings,\" and/or lower another candidates, \"ratings,\" should be deemed illegal and doing such things should result in immediate disqualification from the electoral process and or imprisonment (being involved in politics should come with inherent risks that anyone who enters in the field should readily accept).

Another twist I would add is that each candidate should provide knowledge of the task they are volunteering for, in this example, this task is flying the plane, since if the plane is not being flown it would surely crash and the social issues will not matter if everyone is dead.

After each candidate shows their ability to fly the plane without crashing it then landing the plane is confirmed and those who cannot show these elementary things are eliminated, then the, \"Popularity contest,\" can reach its final stage.

The candidates (the only ones with knowledge of flying and landing a plane) can then attempt to win support in any way they choose, keeping in mind the punishment of fraud, slander, and lying to be absolute and utter discontinuation of their candidacy.

Promises can be made since the outcome cannot be considered lying until the candidate has achieved victory and the plane is already in motion, in which case it would be easy enough to overwhelm the current pilot, being the odds more or less (at least) 129:1, or simply ask the pilot to step down and let the second in the race continue for there out. If the current pilot has supporters; but, some people are still unhappy I guess it would then be a matter of cleverness as to how they could overthrow the current pilot without too much trouble.

Since goodness and evilness is perspective both sides are good and both sides would be evil simultaneously. The prevailing side (either simply smarter or more powerful) would then decide what is good and what is bad. Either way good wins, also, in either way the flight would end soon (assuming the arrival of the aircraft would not result in the death of the passengers) and the rebels could continue with their life soon enough without having to deal with the insufferable pilot.

   

5 October 2011

Use a usual job selection procedure, matching the abilities and character to the job at hand.

   

16 June 2012

Yep the most dumbass creatures I can imagine, what worries me though is that I\'m one. If I were to play God for a day though I would flip everything upside down and create a new world, one not of money but of development, learning and compassion. What a fukin mess we\'re in...:(FROM- another human)

   
 

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