The great good movement to destroy humanity 10

 

A bunch of eminent professors and kindly persons who love nature want the human race to be extinguished. Wiped off the earth. Never to arise again.

“Would human extinction be a tragedy? ” asks Professor Todd May in the New York Times.

“Our species possesses inherent value, but we are devastating the earth and causing unimaginable animal suffering.” he says.

Todd May is a professor of philosophy at Clemson University.

He does not speak of those animal species that depend absolutely on humans for their existence. Or those whose lives have been much improved by human care. Or the suffering that animals cause other animals. Nor does he notice that natural forces cause animals to suffer. Humans are cruel to animals. Human existence causes animals to suffer. Ergo humankind must go.

There is good news for him from an academic colleague.

Eminent Australian scientist Professor Frank Fenner, who helped to wipe out smallpox, predicts that humans will probably be extinct within 100 years, because of overpopulation, environmental destruction and climate change.

Fenner, who is emeritus professor of microbiology at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra, said homo sapiens will not be able to survive the population explosion and “unbridled consumption”, and will become extinct, perhaps within a century, along with many other species.

Fenner told The Australian he tries not to express his pessimism because people are trying to do something, but keep putting it off. He said he believes the situation is irreversible, and it is too late because the effects we have had on Earth since industrialization (a period now known to scientists unofficially as the Anthropocene) rivals any effects of ice ages or comet impacts.

If the burning up of the earth because of human beings’ dirty ways does not destroy the human race, perhaps through starvation, our species can be wiped out by disease. Professor Eric Pianka of the University of Texas has picked the best disease for the purpose: ebola.

“The Texas Distinguished Scientist of 2006, University of Texas ecologist Eric Pianka told a meeting of the Texas Academy of Science that 90 percent of his fellow human beings must die in order to save the planet. A very disturbed Forrest M. Mims III — Chairman of the Environmental Science Section of the Texas Academy of Science, writing at The Citizen Scientist — reported”:

Professor Pianka said the Earth as we know it will not survive without drastic measures. Then, and without presenting any data to justify this number, he asserted that the only feasible solution to saving the Earth is to reduce the population to 10 percent of the present number.

He then showed solutions for reducing the world’s population in the form of a slide depicting the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. War and famine would not do, he explained. Instead, disease offered the most efficient and fastest way to kill the billions that must soon die if the population crisis is to be solved.

Pianka then displayed a slide showing rows of human skulls, one of which had red lights flashing from its eye sockets.

AIDS is not an efficient killer, he explained, because it is too slow. His favorite candidate for eliminating 90 percent of the world’s population is airborne Ebola (Ebola Reston), because it is both highly lethal and it kills in days, instead of years. However, Professor Pianka did not mention that Ebola victims die a slow and torturous death as the virus initiates a cascade of biological calamities inside the victim that eventually liquefy the internal organs.

After praising the Ebola virus for its efficiency at killing, Pianka paused, leaned over the lectern, looked at us and carefully said, “We’ve got airborne 90 percent mortality in humans. Killing humans. Think about that.”

“An Oxford philosophy professor who has studied existential threats ranging from nuclear war to superbugs says the biggest danger of all may be superintelligence.”

Superintelligence is any intellect that outperforms human intellect in every field, and Nick Bostrom thinks its most likely form will be a machine — artificial intelligence.

There are two ways artificial intelligence could go, Bostrom argues. It could greatly improve our lives and solve the world’s problems, such as disease, hunger and even pain. Or, it could take over and possibly kill all or many humans. As it stands, the catastrophic scenario is more likely, according to Bostrom, who has a background in physics, computational neuroscience and mathematical logic.

“Superintelligence could become extremely powerful and be able to shape the future according to its preferences,” Bostrom told me. “If humanity was sane and had our act together globally, the sensible course of action would be to postpone development of superintelligence until we figure out how to do so safely.”

Bostrom, the founding director of Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute, lays out his concerns in his new book, Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies. His book makes a harrowing comparison between the fate of horses and humans:

Horses were initially complemented by carriages and ploughs, which greatly increased the horse’s productivity. Later, horses were substituted for by automobiles and tractors. When horses became obsolete as a source of labor, many were sold off to meatpackers to be processed into dog food, bone meal, leather, and glue. In the United States, there were about 26 million horses in 1915. By the early 1950s, 2 million remained.

The same dark outcome, Bostrom said, could happen to humans once AI makes our labor and intelligence obsolete.

“It sounds like a science fiction flick, but recent moves in the tech world may suggest otherwise. Earlier this year, Google acquired artificial intelligence company DeepMind and created an AI safety and ethics review board to ensure the technology is developed safely. Facebook created an artificial intelligence lab this year and is working on creating an artificial brain. Technology called “deep learning,” a form of artificial intelligence meant to closely mimic the human brain, has quickly spread from Google to Microsoft, Baidu and Twitter. …

“There are maybe six people working full time on this AI control problem. We need to add more brilliant brains to this technical work. I’m hoping my book will do something to encourage that. How to control superintelligent AI is really the most important task of our time — yet, it is almost completely ignored.”

Those who look forward to the extinction of the human race can join like-thinkers in a group called The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement (VHEMT). According to Wikipedia it is “an environmental movement that calls for all people to abstain from reproduction to cause the gradual voluntary extinction of humankind”.

So the question confronts us. How valuable is human life?

Valuable to whom?

It is an unanswerable question.

You cannot measure the value of human life. Human life is itself the measure. It’s like trying to measure the saltiness of salt or the wetness of water.

Without human life, human consciousness, there is no such thing as “value”. There is no “clean” and “dirty”, no “right” and “wrong”.

It can even be said that there is no “planet earth”, no “universe”.  Sure there are things out there, energy in innumerable multifarious forms. There are even forms of consciousness, but as far as we know there is nothing other than the human mind that names anything, nothing that ascribes value to anything.

Oh wait! Yes, many believe there is a human-type MIND presiding over this universe. They believe it created matter out of nothing. In that human-imagined MIND the value of human beings can be measured. Is measured. Weighed and found wanting. Our good, our bad, how well we fulfill our purpose (which is to worship the Creator MIND), is alleged to be under its constant surveillance. But they who believe all this believe without reason.

How afraid should we be? Will the earth destroy us with the heat we ourselves obstinately go on generating? Will we all starve to death? Will ebola be deliberately spread among us? Will intelligent machines ruthlessly kill us? Is voluntary abstention from reproduction likely to become so general that those living now are the last generations?

We hope not. But we do see something at work that really could destroy us all. It is not global warming. It is not starvation. It is not disease. It is not robots. It is not chastity – the most unlikely of all.

It is stupidity.