Now, when we’re exploring these possible futures, we will be proceeding dialectically. Going from one end of the spectrum to the other, and attempting to sift the truth from each shift.

So, for starters lets examine the two polar opposites of possibility: all bad, and all good.

And so…

World 1: All best cases. This is essentially the vision of the future put forth by transhumanists and extropians like ray kurzweil, hans moravec, etc. Not because they actively concern themselves with population, climate, and energy, but rather that their vision of technological determinism assumes that all these things go well, without really speaking of it, or they inflate the power of technology to the point where it trumps everything else, which, historically has tended to be true, so it’s a fair assumption to at least argue from.

Technology makes unlimited energy possible, and the associated economic progress causes population growth to subside. If carbon dioxide or methane are an issue, genetically engineered biorgs, or nano-factured carbon sinks offset the problem. Everything eventually becomes so efficient and powerful, we need not burn fossil fuels or toxify the environment any further. The only limitation left for us is our own psychology.

Cue the music from 2001: A Space Odyssey…

World 2: All worst case. This is the brainchild of the most wildly paranoid primitivists and even they don’t really take it seriously.

The world sails off a thermodynamic cliff, but technology manufactures just enough low grade foodstuff to keep an ever increasing population alive at an extremely meager subsistence level, and little else besides. Some sort of cheap engineered seed of an extremely resilient type, or a nanotech device for creating lots of nitrogen phosphate makes this possible. Either that or soylent green.
Quality and expectancy of life plummet. These pressures are compounded by climate collapse, as a diaspora onto the open oceans or inland begins, and hurricanes wreck what’s left of the energy infrastructure.  The rolling blackouts apply pretty much everywhere except the pockets of technology that are developing targeted bioweapons, swarming killer drones, and tactical AI’s to fight resource wars.

Eventually the earth turns into an apocalyptic wargame for posthuman intelligences who devastate the earth in attempts to eliminate each other. This lasts until energy constraints bring the thing to a standstill, and the biosphere devolves into a hellworld of killer transgenic monstrosities, wretched starving people and permanent darkness in a frothing ecological super-storm. There’s no way for anyone to get to safety because with the vast throng of people and shrinking landmass, there’s no where left to go. Eventually the cascading combination ( an engineered pandemic amongst a tightly packed global population of 12 billion or so, and no particular medical infrastructure or pharmaceutical industry left, is  a likely candidate) wipes us out below replacement level and we go extinct. The AI’s eventually break down and undergo their own entropic collapse, and fail to outlive us by long. Some exceptionally virulent engineered killer takes our place at the top of the food chain, and begins their slow trek towards intelligent folly. The End.

3 thoughts on “In a world called extremity

  1. Comments on these recent posts have been light, probably because everyone is both speechless and impressed at your tolerance as well as ability to employ sound argument against No Spacebar Man… though let it be said that I’m certainly enjoying this series of posts. I hope you keep it up.

    * * * *

    Looking at the past (human world cosmic evolution), I sometimes have trouble imagining it even being possible for things to have ended up any differently. It is easy enough to imagine that “things could just as easily been different,” , sure, but part of me cannot help feel that we’re observers stuck in predetermined motion (the course of which we don’t know until it has passed us). From this view, I guess the best thing we can hope for is that our path takes us down a road leading to radical rebirth, glory, and all of that… while we sit in the theater, watching the movie that is our life and stuffing our face with buttery popcorn.

    But I try not to hang around in this mindset for too long.

    Moving my thinking onward with regard to the undetermined future, then, I then find myself full of wonder about a “critical point” in personal or collective history where all of this is determined… ie, a key moment where the train either takes this track or that track. Will this critical point ever happen? Has it happened already?

    And of course, my conclusion tends to be that this point is indeed happening all the time, at each moment, for me (or each of us) in our individual lives. This means taking responsibility, which isn’t easy, and it also means acknowledging the fact that I or we might fail, which is something I struggle to fully grasp (ie, I might not achieve my grandest goals; We might not make it to the future we want for ourselves).

    So then it’s time to buckle in and get down to serious business, bringing things around to practice and action… the prospect and demand of which makes me glad the Systematic for the People-ish content you provide has been shared with us. The example you lead by is a good one. Thanks again for this and all of that.

  2. well, sound argument apparently doesn’t count for much in that world, but tolerance is always usefull, wherever you go. I’ll chalk it up as research for a new podcast.

    on a related note, I am apprently the #1 search item in google for ‘the truth behind satanism’, even though that article has nothing to do with satanism as it’s normally thought of…

    as for the rest; I’ve come to think, as you seem to have, that every moment is a critical moment, and the sum of all our critical moments add up to the what the world will be. if we all changed our minds today, tomorrow would be much much different. which makes it all the scarier when so many people think that changing your mind is impossible, even when it’s clear that they changed from something else already to get that attitude( what we call a pre-formative contradiction) .

  3. hell, it might have taken you, jeff wells, me, and other internet wackos years to blow the top of the Real Satanic Panic, but it looks like our work was not unnoticed. who knows what strange mutation this will take. i will repost my crap maybe even aftere i finish the current facelift.

    skip, you’ll go bonkers trying to work out the causal chain.

    oddly enough, I listened to a podcast today by, of all people, the morons at Financial Sense interviewing a former WSJ reporter who thinks that there’s a huge possiblity to get something like a “hydrogen economy” going, what with using gas-biowaste blends, basement fuel cells, hybrid diesel motors that make 95% of their trips using electricity only, using just technology available now, and he’s pointed out that the oil companies are “their own worst enemies” because they don’t advertise for the cleaner tech they actually are pouring money into.

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