Sunday, May 13, 2007

The Beginning of the End for Life as We Know it on Planet Earth?

The world ten million years after the Jurassic crash was radically different than the world of the dinosaurs. The world after the Holocene extinction event, the one we are in now, will be as radically altered and most likely one of the species that will not survive the event will be the present dominant species -- the human species.

In a way, the Holocenic extinction event could also be called the "Holocenic hominid collective suicide event."

After all, we Homo sapiens are the last survivors of the hominid line, a group that has been on its way out for some time. The beetle family, for example, has some 700,000 species by comparison. Odds are many of the beetle species will survive the event, whereas we will not.

(Via Reality Carnival.)


Anonymous said...

"After all, we Homo sapiens are the last survivors of the hominid line, a group that has been on its way out for some time."

Really? I just thought we were smarter, more agressive, and/or ate the residual competition. And, what about crypto-t's? If they exist, I would guess they, too, would have derived from some early branch of the hominid geneological tree.

Ah, well, we just may have "outsmarted" ourselves, perhaps as a result of creation of the technologies we are now so dependent on and have begun to realize, belatedly, have also outstripped our ability to regulate within the population increase's hyperbolic upward curve and in co-evolutionary harmony with the finite resources and resiliancy of our planet's biosphere. Or, maybe not.

Mac--what about doing a poll (using pollhost or other) about whether or not and how many people think we may already or will soon to be, in Kevin Kelly's titular phrase, chaotically "out of control" or not?

The future, as grim as we may seem to try to predict or speculate about at times, given current trends, is still unwritten, I hope, although aspects of recent research in quantum mechanics may challenge that desire, also, spacetime-wise.

We may need to create our own self-realized biomechanical 'deus ex machina' to get out of this one. And then, of course, we would face a whole new host of even greater complexities and challenges to survival.

"Hey, Rocky, wanna see me pull a rabbit outta my hat?" --Bullwinkle
[pulls rhino out of hat, both moose magician and horned beast looking rather surprised at the result]

Bring on the biogenetically self-leveraging cyborgs and/or A.I. synergistic species sucessors! We need a "sustainable singularity" within the next few generations.

Maybe this is a "natural" consequence of organic evolution and hominid genetics.

I have an amusing graphic on my trusty coffee mug that shows a little gray with large-lensed sunglasses, saying "Save the Earth. We hope to colonize it someday."

[I sometimes wonder if the shape-shifting humanoid alien impersonators in the movie "The Arrival", with Charlie Sheen, don't actually work for Exxon/Mobil, et al, in sub rosa cooperation with their minions in the Bush administration.]

Too cynical?

Ha. Ha. Ha. @^/

Anonymous said...

I've often wondered about the pessimism bias among scientists. I'm not saying that bad things can't happen, but I tend to consider both doomsday scenarios (ecological doom, pole shifts, asteroids, etc.) and pollyanna scenarios (the singularity, etc.) as being equally unlikely. Things like that rarely happen. Given that both of these possibilities are equally unlikely, why is it that so many institutional scientists are so heavily biased toward pessimism?

The only hypotheses I can come up with are:

1) It's political; fear is a good way of getting peoples attention and getting funding, recognition, media space, etc.

2) It's a result of growing up smart in an average world. When you have an IQ that is in the top 25th percentile, the world feels like a monkey cage. It's hard to understand how a bunch of dumb, aggressive, sleepwalking people could manage to "muddle through" the complex and difficult problems facing the human species.

In response to #1... well... fear does in fact work as a strategy for getting attention, so I guess there's nothing to say there. Why do you think the "worr on terr" is so popular among politicians? As for #2, all I can say is that living systems (even dumb ones) are surprisingly robust.

Anonymous said...

"...why is it that so many institutional scientists are so heavily biased toward pessimism?"

Hmmm. By so many, do you mean the majority, or a relatively large proportion thereof? I worry that some kinds of scientists may be a bit too "optimistic," in ways.

Can you cite sources or quantify your sentiment in some manner?

Perhaps "hubristic" is a better word, as to the long-term consequences of some of their activities. Such as bioengineers and weapons scientists, for example.


Did you actually mean, top 1/25th _of_ a percentile? Because that would be very intelligent, "IQ-testing-wise" that is, indeed! Above "standard" genius-level.

The Mensa "minimum requirement", which is the upper 2% of the bell curve of IQ distribution, is about an IQ of 130, depending on the form of testing used.

Which is, technically/arbitrarily, where real intellectual "gifted-ness" is 'supposed' to begin.

OTOH, the top 25%, in general, is not, unless you are referring to the upper percent of that broad range, which is unclear, as it's not explicit how you meant to use the term, "the top 25th percentile".

Maybe I'm too dumb, even though I supposedly could join Mensa, if I wanted to.

What mean you, "whiteman"? --Tonto

The world doesn't feel like a monkey cage to me, btw. It's alternately exciting, horrifying, beautiful, ugly, and all the shades of the spectrum of human grey in between. At least on Thursdays...