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Max Barry wrote the novels Syrup, Jennifer Government, Company, Machine Man, and Lexicon. He also created the game NationStates and once found a sock full of pennies.

Blog

Wed 29
Nov
2017

The World is Not That Doomed

What Max Reckons

Do you think the world is doomed in the near future?

Rose

Only in the sense that it will be a nightmarish hellhole by our standards. I’m sure it’ll be fine to the people who live in it. I base this on how young people seem happy all the time while old people complain that the world has gone to hell.

In fifty years, the world could be a desert scorched by permanent war between rival corporate city-states and people would still be like, “I would hate to live in 2017, when people got colds and just had to live with male pattern baldness.” You value the stuff you have and don’t miss what you don’t have, is what I’m getting at.

Also ethics are super malleable. I feel they misled us about this in school. Back then, I definitely had the idea that the future would be filled with difficult ethical decisions about which technologies we would pursue and which we would reject in favor of human decency and dignity. But in practice, what’s happened is anything gets to exist if it works and people like it. Like Uber. Before Uber, cities had all these rules about who could drive a cab and how, and for the most part they were eminently reasonable attempts to keep people safe and not ripped off. Then Uber came along like, “What if we DON’T have those rules,” and people liked it, so now we have that.

So the world is doomed in that way. But also full of promise, in that it will have things that I will personally dislike and not understand but which would have defined my life if they’d been invented when I was eight years old.

I’m optimistic that we will avoid destroying ourselves with nuclear weapons or runaway artificial intelligence. Not for any good reason. Logically, I can totally see that happening. But I have a good feeling.

Comments

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stanley becker (#5283)

Location: black hole
Quote: "DON"T JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER!!"
Posted: 18 days ago

Rose - you are completely wrong - the Rise and Fall of Civilizations does not apply ion our present "Fall" - the oceans are dying - no more fish - the land is poisoned and the potable waters is becoming scarcer through contamination - wake up Rose - this is not an historical ebb - this is the Final Days "End of Species" - one in two children will be born autistic by 2032 - 90% males - Mother Nature will revenge herself by rejecting our species as non productive - there is NO precedent for our present epoch - Zombie Mentality is the final flowering of our species - eating CRAAP and watching TV - and vaccinating pregnant mothers and new born babies with toxic filth which all the Modern Zombies welcome

1001.0010.0101 (#925)

Location: Turn left at your CPU
Quote: "How can something be deemed artificial if it is itself. e.g. A.I."
Posted: 18 days ago

The Optimism Bias is a great book. A cognitive neuroscientist proves that approx. 80% of humans are genetically 'wired' to be optimists. Fair enough too; it's how we got to where we are today. We believe things can be better. It also caused things like the GFC. Your 'good feeling' pretty much says you're an optimist by default.

We've already passed the 7.5 billion population mark when it seems like just yesterday we hit 7 (2011). 6 more years and it'll be 8 billion humans. Your daughter is part of the 1 billion added since 2005. So every day some 300K+ humans enter the world and that means more energy needed. Pretty much a new Canberra each and every day. Greenhouse gas reduction targets are eroded simply by population growth and demand for energy. It's a no brainer equation.

So in 2028 when your daughter has likely finished study and tackling the world stage, the logical energy requirements of your family will essentially be doubled as she's no longer in your house and needs her own supply. Energy efficiency will eventually plateau so demand will no longer be offset but current efficiency trends.

I'm part of the 20% considered to be slightly depressed because we don't fluff our own shit as much. I've got a great feeling that we're already totally fucked. Next year I return to engineering machine I.Q. I had working in 1993. My concern is for the planet and animals now .. we're certainly doomed and we're all responsible.


1001.0010.0101 (#925)

Location: Turn left at your CPU
Quote: "How can something be deemed artificial if it is itself. e.g. A.I."
Posted: 17 days ago

I'm sorry about swearing.

Brenda (#7217)

Location: Berowra Bushland
Quote: "entering your world via the book portal is awesome"
Posted: 17 days ago

I shed tears about what is happening NOW the information on corrupt banks, corporations, politicians etc is sometimes overwhelming. Then I look out of my window to the beautiful surrounding bushland and local caring community and rejoin the optimists.
All of the wrongdoing appears to be large entities driven by a few corrupt individuals with low moral fibre and their vision of utopia for themselves. I am older now with more time to reflect and I add my voice to the larger community of voices also driven by a few individuals with strong moral fibre and I join in their vision of what if .....

1001.0010.0101 (#925)

Location: Turn left at your CPU
Quote: "How can something be deemed artificial if it is itself. e.g. A.I."
Posted: 5 days ago

My bad. 220K+ new humans each day. Forgot to deduct the dead.

Yes Brenda, that small view is enough to restore optimism. I too wish for a better world.

Glass half full gets filled and then there's no room left. Glass half empty gets emptied, but there's always room to fill. The world is filling up Brenda. It's not just the corrupt people, it's all of us. Next time you take a shower or bath, have a good think about the effort and energy involved to bring you that water. But it's your right, isn't it. I look out my window and see ignorance; miles of isolated cells of ignorance taking what they believe is theirs to take without consequence. I'm as guilty as the next person and I'm embarrassed.

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