Friday, April 07, 2006

The size of the human population

There was a lot of talk this week about Eric Pianka, who suggested that the planet would be better off if there were less people alive to enjoy it. This article is typical:

FBI Interested in Texas “Doomsday” Ecologist who said Ebola the Solution to Human Overpopulation

A quick summary of Pianka's statements from the article:The problem, of course, is that most of us have an aversion to dying. And we especially don't like someone else making plans to kill us.

I wonder if this problem won't solve itself, without having to resort to killing 5.8 billion people. The way that it would solve itself is by people happily and willingly deciding to discard their bodies so that they can permanently live in virtual worlds instead of the real one.

I am not sure why, but the book entitled The Day You Discard Your Body is starting to get more and more traffic recently, and it is generating some really interesting questions in email. The biggest question, obviously, is "when will the technology catch up with the idea so that people can actually do it?" But there are lots of others, like "how will people have children?" and "Will NASA ever send real astronauts to Mars, or will they actually send body-free astronauts as you suggest?"

Here is the TOC for the book:Speaking of the Mars mission, this article has an interesting take on the amount of money spent in Iraq on the war, pointing out other things we could have done with the money that has been spent. One of the ideas is two manned missions each to the moon and Mars, at a cost of $240 billion. Most of that, obviously, would be spent on the two Mars missions. It would be interesting to calculate the cost reduction if we were to send body-free astronauts.

Comments:
Imagine someone like this guy or a group like him modifying the bird flu to so this. Make sure there is a vacine available for those who can pay. Why need a war on terror when there are no terrorists left. And the media can claim the bird flu mutated. Coming soon to a third world near you.
 
He is crazy.. Even if he followed through on his ideas, he would find thatthe world needed 2 billion just to hold up the infrastructure.

I don't want anyone spreading the flu.. but I think it will naturally happen and we are overdue. It will kill two billion.

From a non moral sense, his arguements have been proven in history. the middle class happened after the plauge when the workforce became expensive and nobles had died and serfs took loans to buy their land.
 
Would killing 6 or so billion people end up contributing more carbon and greenhouse gases to the environment? Technically as long there are these people around, and the population keeps growing, we are locking carbon up in relatively stable and immobile forms.

Other than that this guy is a nutjob.
 
Pianka never advocated spreading ebola and killing 5.8 million people. He did say that over-population presented a real problem and that in every other life form over-population ends in a population crash. He think is it likely that we something like Ebola (it won't be AIDS because it is too slow) will cause this crash since humans look like nice substrates to bacteria and there are so many of us to feed off of.

Here is a first source link that has his views:
http://uts.cc.utexas.edu/~varanus/Everybody.html

Shame on you, Marshall, for spreading crappy information.
 
With oil heading towards $70 a barrel for no obvious reason (unless another a hurricane I hadn't heard of struck the Gulf Coast this week), and many metals prices also skyrocketing, the burden of proof about the state of the world's resources has shifted from the Dieoff Cassandras to the cornucopians.
 
I would discard my body in a heartbeat. How long will it take?
 
Hm; I thought I'd read that in technically advanced countries, there are population implosions.

The Dilemma Posed by Japan's Population Decline

The Population Implosion

A more generally useful resource is World Mapper: The World as you've Never Seen It.
 
Dangerous stuff when people saying that kind of things receive ovations...
regards
http://niquel757.blogspot.com
 
With oil heading towards $70 a barrel for no obvious reason (unless another a hurricane I hadn't heard of struck the Gulf Coast this week), and many metals prices also skyrocketing, the burden of proof about the state of the world's resources has shifted from the Dieoff Cassandras to the cornucopians.

Mark Plus, there's a big difference between $70 a barrel oil and mass extinction. The higher oil gets the better, because more research will go to alternative energy.The cornucopians may be full of crap, but that doesn't make dieoff eco-fascist nutjobs any more correct.
 
Marshall,
I respect your opinions, but your prerogative dissertation on `The Day You Discard Your Body` has flaws. I don’t want to feel like I'm living in the "Matrix." I pity the folks that will have to "support" the billions of souls living virtual lifestyles. These non-virtual folks will need their own governments, their own food, their need for energy, an environment they can live in, and a need to be human. Hell, over-time this non-virtual race might come to the realization that being a physical human being isn't so bad and un-plug us all. Commonsense, moderation, conservation, and innovation (which will not impede on human existence) seem much better options.

Best regards,
Adam Knight
Fort Lauderdale, FL
 
Mark Plus, there's a big difference between $70 a barrel oil and mass extinction.

I don't think you realize how much our agricultural system depends on cheap oil:

The Oil We Eat
http://tinyurl.com/6gmnu

Eating Fossil Fuels
http://tinyurl.com/yuwdz
 
Marshall, I can't wait until you release another major online work.

But I gotta tell you, while I would love to discard my body as much as anyone, it seems like operations involving disconnecting the human brain are really, really hard. Like, modern medical science is still pretty haphazard poking around, and we can't even get near that kind of complexity.

OK, I'm just bitter because it's been over a year since I first read your stuff, and the world doesn't seem that different yet. I'll be damned if I'm still manually piloting my car in 9 more years!
 
If they pull off anything like chapter 12, then its a done deal. Millions will sign up for Jasmine and her friends. Chapter 12 is HOT.
 
Some of the population explosion is fueled by US foreign aid. When we have to pay out massive Social Security payments, they will be scaled back.

Hence, those populations will slow down.

I think there will be another major war. What is happening in Iraq is nothing. I am talking Dresden level destruction.

Fresh water is the limiting factor and will cause these smaller countries and cultures to begin some serious fighting.
 
As far as discarding ones body it would be a mixed bag. You would have to have several generations of the technology before mass acceptance.

I see it as a "mark of the beast" technology. Okay serve me, now you can't die but I can give you am eternity of pain.

No thanks..

Some enhancements would be neat, but not the whole package.
 
Interesting interface to the brain. I'd love to give this a try:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060424/ap_on_sc/tongue_sight_1
 
Interesting interface to the brain. I'd love to give this a try:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060424/ap_on_sc/tongue_sight_1
 
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