Can We Prove Steven Hawking Wrong?
Extinction is the rule. Survival is the exception.
Carl Sagen 2007
Steven Hawking is arguably the smartest man in the world. The British theoretical physicist is noted for his work in gravitational singularities, relativity and quantum mechanics. Now when a guy like that expresses serious doubts that humanity can survive another 100-years we should all be very concerned. Not that long ago, preparedness advocates and survivalists were considered paranoid extremists, but today some of the most intelligent people on earth are saying what we have been saying for decades. Hawking is not a politician trying to gain power or a survival goods salesman. He is a scientist and a mathematician who has done the math. Our extinction or at least the dramatic decline in civilization is a mathematical certainty. Political leaders are franticly trying to postpone economic, social and environmental collapse while covering up the truth. The “normalcy bias” is a strong psychological affect that supports denial of danger and bad news in spite of obvious trends and events. Most people believe any good news about “recovery”, unlimited fuel supplies, peace, etc. and try to ignore dangers and threats until it’s too late. However the constant barrage of disasters, economic problems, war and chaos are forcing more and more thoughtful and responsible citizens into preparedness, survival education and sustainable living programs.
One of the dangers that Steven Hawking is primarily concerned about is the population explosion that will inevitably use up all of the natural resources resulting in wars, famine and massive depopulation. He and other noted scientists have predicted that the population at the end of this century will be reduced to what it was at the end of the 19th century. The destruction, misery and death involved in that transition is horrible to contemplate. That’s not a fear mongering emotional prediction. It is a mathematical calculated result.
Another one of his concerns is the rise Artificial Intelligence simply dehumanizing and replacing civilization as we know it. Again, this is pretty smart guy not a conspiracy nut! Let’s face it, we are already fighting a losing battle to control the internet and the digitalization of everything we do. This pervasive dependency (read helplessness) has weakened newer generations and shifted power and wealth upwards. Our privacy and therefore our freedom is virtually non-existent. Constant networking and reaction to incoming messages (often computer generated) eliminates in-depth thinking and creativity. A recent study concluded that, thanks to smart phones, the human attention span is down to seven seconds. That’s one second less than a goldfish! Computer power and intrusion grows exponentially while human intelligence has been shown to be declining for decades* Do the math.
Recently Bill Gates joined Hawkins in predicting that a serious epidemic would ravage humanity in the not-to-distant future. Gates rates the chances of a widespread epidemic in his lifetime as 50-percent and estimated the death toll as high as 33-million. The political and economic impact would be staggering. We have had plenty of near-miss epidemics in the past few years. Our luck is bound to run out.
As I write this, California is in the grips of the longest drought in history, while Texas recovesr from a drought with enough rain in one week to cover the entire state to a depth of eight inches. Thousands are dying in India from record high temperatures and it’s only May. In Alaska it’s in the 80’s and 90’s in May. Yes I said Alaska. More frequent and severe tornado groups hit every year. Boston is recovering from almost 90 inches of snow in one month. Various diseases, floods and droughts are ravaging food supplies, animals and crops throughout the world driving prices upward. California and India have nearly exhausted the water in their underground aquafers. Fuel prices have come down due to increased pumping and last ditch (high cost) drilling. This is like spending your last savings. It feels good, but only hastens resource bankruptcy. States and nations are going bankrupt almost weekly with riots and demonstrations that achieve nothing. Let’s not even start on the Middle East.
Unfortunately there is not much chance of averting some combination of runaway technology, overpopulation, environmental extremes, economic deterioration and world epidemics taking a huge toll on human life and civilization as we know it. These are not things that could happen or might happen. They are things that are happening already.
Hawking’s concern is about the survival of “humanity” not “humans”. It’s hard to conceive a disaster or sequence of disasters that would totally wipe out every last human being on earth, but we can easily see how the above circumstances could reduce “humanity” to something less than human. Artificial intelligence is a clear and present danger to our independent thinking and our ability to act as free human beings. The fear and desperation brought on by disasters and disintegrating social structures often results in the rise of the worst human traits. Predators, dictators and demagogues thrive on such conditions. In the past humanity has been able to flee form oppression, disease, famine and disaster, but there is nowhere left on earth to run.
If “humanity” is to survive all that lies ahead, it is up to us. The growing preparedness, survivalist, self-reliance, sustainable living movement must grow faster and be stronger than the already growing trends towards submissiveness, despair, chaos and confusion. It must be our mission to preserve and strengthen individual and family self-reliance and guide good people through the challenges to their physical and moral survival.
Sometime in the twenty-second Century your surviving children and grandchildren will live in a world that your efforts and values created. They may survive as desperate, violent, and wretched people living off of the remnants of a past civilization or they may be free, happy and productive citizens still masters of an improved and recovered society. Live Free USA has always maintained that there is much more to survival than just staying alive. Let’s hope we are smart enough to prove Steven Hawkins wrong.
* Scientists postulate that with the comforts and security of the 20th Century the survival struggles that required higher intelligence no longer existed and so we started to get dumber. Now computers do the thinking. Guess where that leads.
* Hawking has argued that computer viruses should be considered a new form of life, and has stated that "maybe it says something about human nature, that the only form of life we have created so far is purely destructive.