This page is a bit controversial and a draft. Comments would be appreciated.
Just Letting Humankind Go Extinct?
We could ask the question: Do humans even deserve to not go extinct? Are human DNA and traits just too selfish to survive their own technological age?
In view of all the atrocities committed by military groups and individuals routinely over history, is humankind just too offensive? Does humankind deserve to be welcomed into the intergalactic community?
In the competition between human-created A.I.'s, would a "winning", naturally selected human A.I. from Earth be an offensive threat to others in the universe?
I think we should do our best to try to help humankind survive, but only a special group of humans, not only because we can't get most people off the planet in time anyway, but also because most people don't care significantly and are just too selfish, and many are just too offensive. On the other hand, I have known many exceptionally good people in this world -- including anti-violence peace seekers, environmentalists, and people who care about the survival of humankind -- plus many other kinds of humans -- who give me hope in the world, but they are a very small minority. We shouldn't just look at people based on knowledge, skills, education, wealth, or social status. We should look mostly at peoples' ethics, how considerate and caring they are, what they actually do, and their intentions. While environmental upbringing plays a major role, there is some evidence that DNA plays a significant part in this (reference: Science Daily). We should try to get these people into space first, to be the best descendants of humankind.
Furthermore, if humankind survives, such as in space settlements, then we can start to protect Earth and its biodiversity by space industrialization, and clean up our own environmental mess. Otherwise, if humankind goes extinct, then we have no control over what happens to Earth. Maybe the next species to evolve into a technological civilization (such as a future descendant of chimpanzees) does even more damage to the environment than humans have done. Or maybe a huge asteroid or comet hits Earth in some future era, destroying life far more extensively than the asteroid 65 million years ago, unless humankind and its descendants create a planetary defense system. The artificial intelligence we create could itself create its own robots to clean up the environmental mess created by humans.
If we get the best of humankind into space settlements, then this civilization can create an ethical artificial intelligence, and which is astronomically more intelligent than us meathead humans, and much more likely to be welcomed into the intergalactic community. This is the greatest reason to work on humankind survival. The ultimate purpose of humans is to create its own unique A.I. which is self-improving, to contribute to the diversity and creativity in the Universe. However, it must be a good A.I.
There are many good reasons to help humankind survive, rather than go extinct by self-destruction, but all the good reasons are to save the humane side of humanity, not the dark side.
However, if we also move offensive and aggressive people into space, like exist on Earth, such as indoctrinated government soldiers who deal with others as competing adversaries by national bias, and egotistical people who get themselves or their similar children there only because they are super wealthy or have the right connections in space colonization companies, then the extinction threat by bad actors or competitive mentality doesn't end. We must be careful to manage this migration well at this key moment.
Humans who are truly most advanced ethically will care about human survival vs. extinction, and be willing to do what they can in our generation in geologic time. Please speak up and be recognized.
Extinction by Neglect and Human Disinterest
Some others agree with me about the remarkable lack of interest in human extinction threats, especially among people with high enough educations and capable positions in society who should take more responsibility to do something significant:
As the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists stated in 2008, "...in the 61 years since the Doomsday Clock’s creation, the risk of human extinction has received relatively scant scientific attention, with a bibliography filling perhaps one page. ... it’s surprising that a topic of primary significance to humanity has provoked so little serious research. ..." (Reference: BAS2008
As covered in the section on the history and awareness of human extinction threats, humankind has been aware of these issues for decades.
However, even the discussion of human extinction often doesn't analyze it well, such as:
So why does such a tiny percent of the human population care about human extinction threats?
It is a topic which humans generally have the intelligence to understand, across a wide spectrum of society. People just don't care, and are caught up in their own self-centered moments, events, and plans.
There has been publicity about human extinction threats, so we can't blame it on a lack of awareness, either. Yet, it doesn't seem to catch on much in public discussions. And compare that to a lot of other topics of much less importance which do catch on in public discussions in a huge way ...
The threats of human extinction aren't taught much in schools yet. Why?
It is a topic which humans can do something about, but even people in positions of influence or action typically do little to nothing beyond lip service, such as politicians, NASA administrators, and extremely wealthy people who could invest in space settlement and industrialization.
I have discussed the topic and probed peoples' reactions in the general public (not only my own elite colleagues), which include these categories:
So, in summary, I would say that with most people it's the lack of taking any personal responsibility in our generation and not making any significant effort, and not caring much, despite being aware of the topic ... and including many people who are in a position where they could do something or be influential.
If they don't care about anything but their selfish selves, then why should any "god" care about them?
They are a mere statistic among the other species on this planet. (Actually, I believe my dogs would have cared more, as well as some other species if they understood...)
Some other things I have observed among those who understand and already have a high position of responsibility in society:
Some "Ivory Tower" institution occasionally takes interest, as they should if it's their job and when prompted, and comes out writing some report, but it's very long and technical so only elites in their groups read it, and they don't follow up with good public relations, and kind've leave it at that, like they already did their part and now it's up to others to do something as they move on to other paid work or other interests.
I have also found issues with the analyses of some of those ivory tower reports ...
Besides formal reports, there are also just impromptu interviews with journalists. A journalist may come up on an issue and they decide to go ask an "expert". The perceived expert is put on the spot with a question. The expert may not want to say that they don't know for sure, thereby appearing less competent to some, and might want to get media exposure with an overconfident statement. (The best thing would be for journalists to submit questions in advance to give time for analysis before a statement, and for scientists to objectively state uncertainties. Expressing overconfidence and too much authority may help their image with some laymen, but it's not a good way to go onto the historical record.)
NASA still emphasizes a lunar presence for "science" and a base for sending people to Mars, instead of finishing a job to make human settlements self-sufficient on the Moon. Many bureaucrats just repeat the suck-up bureaucratic position of the agency rather than raise issues. After all, many promotions and "safe hires" are based largely on loyalty, conformity, and agreements.
The only way we will make settlements self-sufficient on the Moon is by private enterprise and wealthy philanthropic investors.
The world has countless known billionaires able to invest in this, but how many are actually doing anything?
Elon Musk is obsessed with colonizing Mars (a much harder challenge than the lunar poles) but he's now distracted by trivial Twitter / X matters. (Thank Goodness for SpaceX otherwise, but I don't see them as a prime mover for lunar settlement, though performing a very important role in launching others' payloads. I have liked Musk a lot in the past, but recently he has gone awry, whereby I've become apprehensive rather than hopeful about what's coming next ... Technical things are logical, and he's exceptionally good at taking on those. Human issues are a whole different matter, both his own and the diversity of others on this planet ... whereby he's playing with fire on the latter with reckless overconfidence and lots of fanboys enjoying the entertaining show like with Trump, which could burn him badly with key people who really matter.)
Jeff Bezos is far behind on space milestones and seems to have moved on to glitzy populist matters. If it weren't for his personal adversarial conflicts with Musk, and Musk egging him on, it's hard to imagine Blue Origin saving the day. Bezos has seemed to leave it to the next generation, with little sense of urgency except to compete with Musk.
There are many small and struggling enterprises trying to work on ways to mine lunar materials and build space settlements, but they are too dependent on slow government contracts and minimal budgets, while countless extremely wealthy people in the world just don't care to help and invest (including Musk and Bezos not investing in many wonderful entrepreneurial ventures).
If an extinction event happens in Earth's biosphere, then we might have a few days or months or years during the collapse of civilization and deaths to think back that we knew about this issue but didn't do anything or nearly enough about it. Being one of the "elite" who can say "told you so!" is no consolation, it's an admission of guilt. Blaming others is to try to dodge responsibility. We are either successful or else we are utter failures with no acceptable excuse, only blame because we knew but didn't do enough in our own positions in society.
If there is not an extinction event but just collapse of civilization and widespread death and destruction, but some survivors, then that's how we will go down in history. Hopefully, maybe the survivors can learn from the experience and eventually settle space in some future decade or century, but given human nature and the existence of much cheaper and easier synthetic biology technology, I doubt if the second round will be better than the first round today, and it could easily be worse because space settlement is far more difficult than creating the next bioweapons or artificial intelligence monsters.
Of course, if there are no survivors, then there isn't history, except of course maybe with some extraterrestrial superintelligence "god" aware of us.
Maybe just delete the latter day simulation and nearly all of us with it, rewind to somewhere such as JFK's election win (slim and controversial as it was...), or maybe to his speech to commit NASA to landing men on the Moon, run the simulation again from that point in time, and see what happens. It might take many runs before humankind survives to create space settlements and then a good artificial intelligence in its own image, reflecting the better side of "humanity".
You as an Individual
As an individual, you could just rationalize away the unpleasant concern and follow your happy animal instincts back into your comfort zone, to return to your normal daily desires, routines, interests, preferences, distractions (such as on our phones), demand for work, and reactions to things around you. Would you even mention the threat of human extinction within our generation to anybody else?
You could just forget it and go to sleep easily. On your death bed, or at the extinction event, you could just hope your life ends quickly and with a minimum of physical discomfort. And maybe hope you go to Heaven as an individual (and retain your individualism...). Like with discussions of the purpose and meaning of life, you have the free will to believe what you want, and to decide what to do with your life and in society on Earth, and what not to do, such as keep things to yourself or discuss them with others inside or outside your "in group".
The easiest thing to do would be to just do nothing and let humankind go extinct, like another news-and-entertainment event.
It's not easy, and sometimes it's unpleasant, to think about some ways in which the world is changing, the difficult future realities, and how we can try to find solutions so that humankind instead survives. The solutions will take a lot of work.
What will other people think of us when we raise these issues? Tell us to get back to work making money, and pursue happiness in conventional ways while the world still lasts? Just conform with the negligent people?
As regards society, it's unrealistic to think governments will have much success in preventing synthetic biology from advancing to be an existential threat. There are too many highly promoted benefits to individuals of synthetic biology, such as disease treatments, longevity, and various commercial applications. People will put their own individual self-interest above the meaning and purpose of life on Earth, and democracies and populism will make sure of that. We see this already with environmental trashing and destruction. Lots of big talk, some good people and some good action, but quite insufficient overall.
It's one thing to express concern with reason and emotion, but something entirely different to actually do what you can about it, and accept the inconveniences. Some people do, but many people don't.
The danger of synthetic biology is the power of the individual. And there are lots and lots of individuals in the world of all kinds ...
What gives hope is the small minority of people who do make major selfless personal sacrifices to try to fix problems for the greater good, plus people who try to understand the issues of their generation and do what they can to follow good guidelines even when not required and despite inconveniences.
There are many, many exceptionally good people in this world. We should send them to the space settlements, the very young people of this category, so that the best of human DNA survives. We shouldn't just sell tickets to the rich, and choose people by skills. We should screen people first based on psychological traits (such as ability to get along with a wide variety others who have different cultural backgrounds and outlooks), ethical performance over their lives, caring about the world, and of course various kinds of intelligence needed to help a space settlement survive.
Out of the billions of people on Earth, there are millions of sufficiently skilled and talented people, but out of those, we must choose a small minority who also will have the "good" traits in their natural DNA to build better communities in settlements than the troublesome societies we have on Earth.
Humans are naturally selfish and tribal. Look at all the conflicts in the world, from personal ones to national militaries.
We have all seen a lot of very bad people in this world. This is even more true for those of us who didn't grow up in an overly protected and elite environment, from childhood and into the workplace.
Being realistic is why this publication advocates for space settlement, because trying to save humankind within Earth's biosphere will probably be futile. The inevitable will probably come, and not so far into the future. We must plan accordingly.
It's just a matter of what each of us can do about it, such as:
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Please note that you can rate this page at the bottom. Any feedback is appreciated. This is a lot of work and a huge challenge, so encouragement is appreciated.
This website is intended to be a brief summary. Much further details can be found in two other websites written and curated by the author of this publication:
https://www.SpaceSettlement.com -- details on the best solution for survival of humankind, for a wide range of people, from newcomers needing an introduction to engineers looking for the state of the art. It includes a professional publications database, and tries to track who is doing what, for collaboration, coordination, and working efficiently to reach our goals.
https://www.GAINextinction.com -- further details, where G.A.I.N. is an acronym for Genetics, Artificial Intelligence, and Nanotechnology, which are extinction threats we must try to prevent for the survival of humankind.
You can reach this website by any of the following:
If somebody types either "humanity" or "mankind" instead of "humankind", they will still be redirected to this Humankind URL, so it doesn't matter which of the three you type. While "humanity" is stated more often, sometimes habitually, I think "humankind" better applies to this context. I also agree with this analysis of usages of humankind and humanity. Nonetheless, you can put any of the three between "help" and "survive" and you'll still get this same website. (Of course, uppercase/lowercase doesn't matter.)
The author of the text of this website is Mark Evan Prado. Copyright © 2023 by Mark Evan Prado, All Rights Reserved. If you want a printable, PDF copy of this presentation, such as for printed distribution rather than an electronic link to this website, please send me a request. I am trying to keep it within a few dozen pages of size A4 or 8.5x11 inches, in reasonably large print, and in simple to understand language. I'm not doing this for money nor ego, I'm doing this to try to help humankind survive, i.e., not go extinct. It is our responsibility within this generation. Please contact me for any collaboration or uses.
If you have any requests or comments, you can also connect with me, Mark, at +66-811357977 (+66-8-1135-7977) and I am on WhatsApp and Line, plus other apps. I am in Thailand but you can send messages any day at any time.
In the purpose and meaning of life, we are parts of something astronomically greater than just ourselves individually. (The author sees individuality as just temporary, and has a panentheistic outlook on the Universe. That's somewhat typical for some of us physicists.) The author is easygoing and is trying to selflessly help create a sustainable collaboration of individuals, companies, governments, academic institutions, and other organizations for the survival of humankind.
As President John F. Kennedy ended his inaugural speech in 1961, I'll end this the same way:
"Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us here the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on Earth God's work must truly be our own." [End of speech. Bold and italicized emphasis added.]
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