Today’s headlines from the political left and right form a striking diptych that surely tells us something about the future of the human species.
From Truthout comes this article, The March of Anthropogenic Climate Disruption, providing the sombre and sober truth about the state of the environment on planet Earth. While most of us do our best to ignore them, the signs of catastrophic climate change are all around us. This article does a good job of detailing several of the most recent signs and driving home the point that we are probably long past the point of no return in avoiding climate chaos.
At the same time, Fox News presents this surreal discussion on the question “Should we embrace the rise of robots?” Their answer seems to be yes, we should embrace the machines, even try to become one with them–as long as the government is not involved in it–because it is inevitable. After all, technological progress is a force no one can stop and, besides, we don’t want to go back to living in caves, do we?
Reading between these lines, the message that one is left with seems to be this: the environment on the planet Earth is becoming unfit for human civilization at the same point in history that machines are surpassing humans in intelligence and every other useful characteristic. Most importantly, unlike humans, machines will not be bothered much by rising temperatures and increasing concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere. It’s hard to see it as coincidental that the planet is becoming unfit for humans at the same time that machines are flourishing. A more likely explanation is that we are witnessing the unfolding of the evolutionary process: the emergence of non-human species better adapted to the environment on planet Earth. The future of the human species is bleak indeed.
Perhaps this should come as no surprise. Ernst Mayr pointed out long ago that the average life span of a species is about 100,000 years, and it just so happens that the human species is about 100,000 years old.
Should we lament the extinction of the human species? There are days when the answer to that question is not so clear. Consider this for instance: