Sapiens author says the uncoupling of intelligence and consciousness means the end of humanity


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/08/29/sapiens-author-says-the-uncoup.html


#2

War is increasingly obsolete; famine is rare; disease is on the retreat around the world.

And yet we have Iraq and we have climate change and we have anti-vaxxers.


#3

I wish I lived in that guy’s world.


#4

It is not the end of humanity. It is simply that how we define humanity changes over time. Humanity 100,000 BC =/= humanity 1,000 BC =/= humanity 2,000 AD =/= 3,000 AD. Humanity has already ended countless times, it always does. Do those who worry about it mourn the loss of Homo erectus?


#5

First they came for the anaerobic bacteria, but I said nothing, because I was not anaerobic …


#6

“The evidence of our power is everywhere: we have not simply conquered
nature but have also begun to defeat humanity’s own worst enemies. War
is increasingly obsolete; famine is rare; disease is on the retreat
around the world.”

None of these things are true, in fact, the complete opposite seems to be true :confused:


#7

I thought this was going to be about how other species are conscious but not necessarily intelligent, and it meant that we should treat them nicer.


#8

No kidding!!!
But a quick google search can actually confirm these things. But as we know numbers don’t lie, but people do. There are likely many ways these things can be counted, but it seems as though we are much closer to famine, disease, and war than we are removed from it.


#9

We’re also destroying the planet rather than “conquering” it :smiley:


#10

I might be misinterpreting what you are saying here. But we are farther from all of these aspects than at an prior point in our history. War? We have minor conflicts in out of the way locations. They seem near because of media. Violence, per capita, is at an all time low. Your likelihood of dying by another person is very, very low compared to the past. Famine? Lowest rates in history. This is not to say that there aren’t hungry people. But seriously, 8 billion people does not mean that food is a huge concern for most of us.

That leaves only disease. Of which the greatest is heart disease and cancer. And how terrible it is that these strike down so many people. In their 60s and 70s…

Can we do better? Theoretically, yes. History doesn’t provide any actual evidence that we can, but we can dream. When you say “Better”, you have to compare it to something. We don’t have any other worlds, we only have ours at certain points in history. And almost all of those points are, by almost every metric, worse. Can we do worse than now? Oh, yes. History is more than ready to provide evidence that we, as a world, can do so much worse.


#11

Steven Pinker’s “The Better Angels of Our Nature” tracks how war and violence have actually declined in modern times, especially after World War 2. It is a pretty convincing argument with statistics and facts to back him up.

Regarding humanity changing over time, I have heard the idea that humanity is domesticating itself the same way we domesticate other animals. We breed animals so that they get along with us and with each other. Dogs don’t maul sheep. If they do, we put them down. Cows/Steer/Bulls are manageable. Horses put up with us riding on their backs etc. These traits were selected for over thousands of years.

Humans have been selecting other humans to live relatively peacefully with others. Thousands and millions of people can live more or less peacefully together and very violent people are segregated or put to death. People with poor self control (generally) get penalized in life. Over time people who get along tend to do OK if not excel in life. We are making changes to our gene pool filtering out violence and the inability to cooperate.


#12

Interesting. Does @bit’s arrival mean the end of Happy Mutants?


#13

seems to be true… and is that because of a bias in the way we understand our world, maybe?


#14

We have less world war, but loom under the pressure of of planetary destruction. Is that really transcending past war?
Has famine really been solved? Or has science just given us a temporary decline?


#15

Ouch! I agree in general with what you are saying, but I don’t think those locations seem out of the way if you live there. I am sure they are positively right in the fucking way.

I think the thrust of this idea is that we’ve had a very long break between major conflicts between powerful nations, but that is something I would not want to get complacent about.

The US, Russia and China are all beating the drum at a slow, steady pace.


#16

well, we have flew past the end of history almost quarter of a century ago and there’s been no existential dread since then whatsoever…


#17

Stopped reading right here.

Out of the way for who?


#18

Totally biased, but there’s also a can-do arrogant tone to saying we’ve conquered everything that ails the world and fuck nature because we got that on lockdown. I take issue with how that sentence is written and i don’t buy into the idea that war, hunger and disease are a quaint thing of the past.

It’s a very specific thing for me to nitpick and i’m aware of it. I do think that the author brings up some good points for what follows that opening paragraph.


#19

Out of the way of the people that matter, clearly. Like the writer of this book.


#20

I’ve often advanced this idea: You know those idiots that say the progressive social change in our world are bringing about the end of civilization? Actually, they’re right. Or rather, they’re right in that the definition for civilization which they use is effectively ended by these chances, at least in the long run. From my perspective, this is, of course, a good thing. A thousand years ago, humanity may not have been a trait the group of people in your neighborhood was willing to apply to the group of beings over the next hill. (Hell, for a lot of people, this is true now, even if that hill is more metaphorical than physical.)

A scant few centuries from now, possibly in even less time, I sincerely hope we aren’t restricting the idea of “humanity” to mere humans. Ah, but that time in between should be rather interesting, shouldn’t it?