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June 23, 2012


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Aboc Zed

"why argue about anything anymore?"

Indeed, why people argue?

Are we an essencially identical copies of the same "design" and therefor should have no problems to agree?

Or are we unique "worlds" in themselves and therefore there is no way to agree?

If the answer is between two extremes is it in one particular point on a segment or are all the points equivalent?

Should we bother?

Robin Datta

Life emerged and evolved to produce consciousness.

The non-theistic religions, Buddhism, Jainism and non-dual Vedantic Hinduism assign primacy to consciousness: for each individual being, it is where awareness of perceptions begins and where all concepts are conceived. It is the sine qua non for everything else. 


In Zen, there is the notion of "consciousness unconscious of consciousness conscious of itself", i.e., "no-mind" or "no-thingness" or "the Void", which is perceived as the natural state of the human mind/consciousness undifferentiated from "this" or "that" or "Ten Thousand Things", i.e., the nature of thought to create illusory images in opposition to one another.

In this sense, thought (biochemical process of the brain) cannot perceive of its own ending or non-existence, i.e., thought must exist for there to be a thinker, a subject, thinking about some "thing", an object.

Therefore, to imagine itself surviving the demise of the biological process of the brain/body, thought constructs illusory images of itself existing after death, including Heaven and Hell, reincarnation, Paradise, and so on.

Whether they concede it or not, Transhumanist similarly desire for consciousness to survive the demise of the body, not in a eternal spiritual or religious sense, but in a terms of a "The Singularity" and merging with technology into a kind of "hum-achine" or biomachine consciousness.

I wrote the following in the previous thread/topic:

"Transhumanists believe that the so-called Singularity occurring in the years ahead will bring about the merging of human consciousness with biological machine sentience, which implies that the "hum-achine" consciousness could conceivable persist indefinitely, i.e., immorality.

Taking this scenario to the logical extreme, including further miniaturization of electronic (molecular/quantum) devices, one can envision a future point at which all human/biomachine knowledge and consciousness is merged and contained within one small device or perhaps a network of devices such that human biology or physiology as we know it no longer exists or will be perceived at a future point as a primitive form as we see single-celled organisms today. This consciousness could be undifferentiated as opposed to a human personality, devoid of a sense of time, fear, anger, pain, race/ethnicity/religion, boredom, desiring material wealth, purpose, etc.

IOW, this particular scenario for the evolutionary adaptation of the human species/consciousness could also be said to be one kind of extinction of the human species."

As one might infer from George's evolutionary trajectory, this could be perceived as one path of human/biomachine evolution beyond the bottleneck.


Allow me the indulgence to assert further that, were I a compassionate extraterrestrial from an advanced civilization with a clinical objective to ensure the evolutionary success of us human apes on this planet, I would devise one or more means by which to wipe out 90-99% of us as efficiently and as compassionately as possible to reset or reconstitute the next step in the evolution of the human ape species.

As megalomaniacal as this sounds, consider that evolution/Nature rewards the most adaptive. Therefore, who is more likely to survive, reproduce, and make the most efficient use of available resources than those who have the capacity to eliminate the competition en masse and the courage and self-selection bias to presume that they are worthy of succeeding the rest of us?

If so, the overwhelming majority of human apes are incapable of securing and marshaling the necessary net energy resources as individuals, groups, and institutions to succeed in overcoming the competition for resources, status, and reproductive success.

However, as a result of this realization, should one choose to recognize and internalize it, there is a great psycho-emotional release from the overarching biological imperative to compete for scarce resources and to couple and reproduce successfully. If one and one's progeny have no actual statistically significant probability of successfully surviving the bottleneck, then the imperative to seek out a mate, sexually reproduce, subject oneself to the withering competition of the division of labor and winner-take-all wealth and income distribution, and sacrifice one's life and capacity to secure resources is no longer the driving force of existence. One need not live to reproduce and see the offspring to adulthood. The end of the species in the context of one being unsuited to express one's genes is not a tragedy but a fitting release from the impossible odds against being able to do so in the post-bottleneck world.

I assert that there is sapience in this, even to the extent that deferring to those who would act to ensure proactively that their adaptive genes succeed at the cost of all others is perfectly logical from an evolutionary perspective.

That we humans have the capacity to analyze, discern, and rationalize such an act requires by definition that the vast majority of us submit to the act of the evolutionarily superior human apes dispensing with us. That we should appeal to them to do so humanely and compassionately is our prerogative but in now way a requisite act of the evolutionarily superior among us. That they can choose need not imply that they must choose to rid the planet of us in a humane and compassionate manner.


Aboc Zed


A number of your latest comments made me think that you have forgotten that what we observe in terms of 'current affairs' or 'human condition' is _NOT_ sapient.

We therefore have no basis of saying that 'wiping out the competition' can be an act of sapience.

If anything we can say at all about such a notion it would be that suggesting or contemplating such act would not be particularly sapient.

If I understand the notion of sapience correctly the thinking in terms of collaboration not competition would be in line with sapience.

The very fact that we are poor collaborators on the level of species indicates that we are not yet sapient species.

The bottleneck event will be selection event over which sapient sub group will emerge and the sapience will help it survive under extreme pressures of net energy downslope, climate change challenges, resource competition, damaged genetic laboratory of life and many others uknowns of which we have no way of knowing whether they exist or not.

I think you are attributing to the top of the pecking order structure the qualities it does not and cannot posses given our evolutionary history.

How the structure will evolve and at what level sapience will emerge is impossible to predict.

If we try we simply waste our time.

Bodhi Chefurka

More and more these days I find myself inclined to say less and less. Fortunately there are people to whom I can sometimes point and murmur, "What he said!" George, you are one such person. Thank you for everything you think.

Aboc Zed

Very often I find myself thnking that overpopulation is a very necessary and therefore good for evolution of life as a whole.

I often compare the each person to a neuron in a brain and think how brain absolutely needs this excess in numbers to be so helpful to the body in supporting survival long enough for the maturity to happen an sexual reproduction to reset the mutation counter and reassemble the life-form from the elementary building blocks into a complex whole.

Neurons have the language that is unambiguos. The "if/then" language. They grow connections. They are flexible and can learn new functionality if their neibours are out of commission. Neurons are just simply neural cells that respond to the chemical and electrical activity of the neighbours.

I wish people learned to be neurons.

I wish people learned that neurons are alive when they communicate.

I wish people understood that non-ambiguity is essential property of the language by wich neurons communicate.

I wish people understood that they need to become neurons in order for Gaia to get a functioning brain soon enough.

Anywhere But Here Is Better

George, may I first congratulate you on this series of clearly expressed postings that must rank among the most important revelations of knowledge and understanding ever published.

If you are able to 'crack the nut' of encoding critical knowledge for later self-extraction, you will be doing someone or some group a great service in the far future. I recommend a neo-Rosetta stone is included, as language is bound to evolve in leaps and bounds, as it has in the past.

As regards your central point that the end of our current civilization isn't necessarily a bad thing, I'm not sure that anyone with a real understanding of universal evolution could disagree. On the contrary, anyone who believes we Homo sapiens are the pinnacle of evolution and therefore have some special right to save ourselves from extinction (if evolution dictates this) is too anthropocentric to be taken seriously. Especially if we recognize that this extinction is largely being self-created or at least speeded up by us.

By this token, someone who asks you why you don't get depressed about The End Of Us has quite far to go in their learning about the ebb and flow of the universe.

One aspect of your writings continues to puzzle me. I can understand your reasoning for suggesting that sapient people who 'get it' might wish to start preparations to survive the bottleneck, but in my opinion this contradicts the concept of accepting the forward motion of evolution. If evolution results in a new species based on higher-sapient-man, won't this come about whether or not some groups force the issue by 'preparing' for it?

As an aside, I know I have a habit of making light of my own existence whenever I participate in your blog, but my serious point is that fear of death is one of the most useless of human emotions once we have procreated. I therefore have some personal difficulty with the notion of taking part in trying to 'save' our species. If I have come across as flippant in previous comments, I apologize.

Thanks again for taking the time to enlighten us so majestically. All the best, Oliver


The best estimate of world population going back to the 500-1000 BC is 50-100 million people, the period from which population grew at 0.086% per annum until the 17th century, which was a doubling time of 800 years.

Population began growing at a faster-than-exponential rate after the the Maunder Minimum (onset of warming), the European mass migrations to the so-called New World (escaping population overshoot and the associated challenges, as well as taking advantage of a shift in the direction of the Atlantic ocean currents), and the onset of the Fossil Fuel Age, Industrial Revolution, and the surge in agricultural production, culminating with the "Green Revolution" after the 1950s, the period since population has grown at a doubling time of 35-40 years.

World human population has now surpassed a double exponential growth trajectory (or having begun a second-order tetration?) above the long-term exponential trend line.

Had world population continued growing at the very long-term exponential rate from 1000 BCE to the 17th century, the world population today would be less than one-tenth its current size. For the current population to "catch down" to the long-term exponential trend, it would require no human population growth until the year 4746.

Human population growth is the greatest bubble in history. All bubbles burst ("anti-bubble") and return to the point at which the faster-than-exponential growth commenced.

Current best estimates of the decline in net crude oil energy per capita (US$ trade-weighted terms) since Peak Oil is 7-10%, which is a halving time of 55-60 years. If one includes the net decline in debt-money per capita available with net crude and real GDP per capita decline, the overall net decline in available crude, debt-money, income, and gov't receipts in price terms is almost 3% per year, which is a halving time of 25 years.

The 7 billion people on the planet have 25-60 years of inexorable decline and halving of net real available crude, debt-money, incomes, and gov't spending per capita ahead of us. No economist, politician, CEO, Wall Streeter, or financial media influential is telling us this. Few are living their lives preparing as if it were happening or will happen.

Of the 215 countries in the world, 70-75% of the countries' populations live on half of the income per capita (IPC) in PPP terms as that of the US; two-thirds have an IPC of one-third that of the US; half live on 10-20% of US IPC; one-third receive less than 10% of US IPC; and 20% receive $1,000 a year or less (the effect is worse given the skewed income distribution to the top 1% in the countries in the bottom 20-50%).

The top 10% of US households receive half of US income, whereas the top 1% receive nearly 25% of all US income or $2.5 trillion or an average of $2.2 million per household per year.

Those humans at the bottom 70-75% do not have far to fall from the current level of per-capita energy and other resource consumption. Those at the very top can afford to give up a large per-capita share of resources. However, those of us in the top 20% of the western world and top 10% of the world have a comparatively large per-capita share to lose.

What is the probability that those in the bottom 70-75% of world income distribution will be able to secure sufficient resources to survive, adapt, and reproduce to the extent that they have a better than negligible probability to produce a sufficient number of sapient members who survive the bottleneck and beyond?

What about the bottom half of the top 25% of the world population by IPC? The top half? The top 10%? Top 1%?

When we discuss human sapience and successfully transitioning the bottleneck, are we talking about people in the Congo? Rwanda? Borneo? Mindanao? Chad? Haiti? Jamaica? India? Iraq? The jungles and slums of Brazil? Chiapas? Compton in LA? East St. Louis? New Orleans?

This is a delicate question, but it frames the larger context of the challenges we face. Would sapient human apes today be spending their surplus (or anyone else's) from scarce resources providing aid and ongoing financial and food support to the bottom 50-75% of the world's population living in Africa, Asia, Central Asia, and the Americas so they can continue to reproduce and overpopulate their local ecosystems and then become so desperate as to desire to migrate to the English-speaking world and Europe? Is this sapient?

If not, what is the sapient alternative? Birth control and "education" (western Oil Age-era materialism) have been proposed and implemented, but is it not already too late to prevent the effects of overpopulation where constraints are already occurring with unpleasant but predictable results?

Given the virtual certainty of mass die-off in the decades ahead, particularly among the bottom 70-75% of the world population by IPC and the higher risk of same for the bottom 50-80% among the top 25-30% of the world's population, what would the sapients among the top 25-30% be doing right now to secure their survival, adaptation, and reproduction going into and beyond the bottleneck?

Why would the top ~6-12% (20-50% of the top 25-30%) bother concerning themselves with the well-being of the bottom ~90-95%?

This is generally how I suspect sapience and successful adaptation will self-select, consolidate resources, and insulate and protect themselves against the rest of us hereafter into and beyond the bottleneck.



Humanity is going to learn similarly to the way a single human learns.

The glimmers of sapience already exist but something needs to happen for it to catch on.

I am more wise than I was a decade ago. I am more wise now because of some serious screw-ups in my time.

Wisdom comes with experience. The trauma humanity is about to experience because of our addiction to fossil fuels will hopefully teach us a thing or two.

We are the universe about to learn from our mistakes.


Robin Datta

Perception (of the world) is subordinate to awareness; awareness is an object within consciousness; consciousness is subjective ("I"). What is beyond is not in the realm of the "I".


". . . [G]overnments and our political discourse must transcend the old right-left dichotomy characteristic of industrial age politics. The challenge ahead will be to creatively join conservatism and liberalism in search of a livable future. Interestingly, the necessary changes would blend the thinking of Edmund Burke, the founder of modern conservatism, with that of Thomas Jefferson, associated with modern radicalism. In different ways, each argued for the protection of future generations from “intergenerational tyranny.” The prospect of political change, however, is complicated and difficult, and there is no assurance that governments that are effective in the face of rapid climate destabilization will also be democratic.7 It is easier and perhaps more plausible to imagine a future of hyper-efficient, solar-powered, sustainable, and authoritarian societies than reformed and effective democracies."

The scale of challenges we face and the coincident increasing concentration of net energy, wealth, income, and political power to the 0.1-0.01% of the world's population virtually guarantees that popular democracy won't be part of the process of further evolution of the species; rather, a kind of hyper-efficient, systems-oriented, techno-scientific authoritarianism is far more likely (perhaps something akin to the Vulcan civilization from "Star Trek") with a population a tiny fraction of today's size.

To the highly disciplined, super-sapient, techno-scientific remnant elite generations hence, the progression from near extinction will be, well, perfectly "logical", as Mr. Spock would say with a raised eyebrow.


This is probably not new to most readers here, but Lovelock sees no more than a population of 1 billion "living the way we do", which fits with the very long-term trend trajectory, including mass die-off this century from the current double exponential growth and population overshoot.

If there are sapients and super-sapients among the most informed and techno-scientifically knowledgeable and skilled within the top 0.1-1% to 10% of the world's population, they most certainly understand the scenarios presented by Lovelock, Bartlett, et al., and thus they are inclined to expect mass die-off or assume it is inevitable.

Following this logic, one can argue that they enjoy a self-selected position of understanding and occupy the institutional and socioeconomic positions which permit them to contemplate such a scenario and thus be in the position to do something about it for themselves and their progeny. Those possessing a sense of obligation to the billions of the rest of us who have little or no chance to survive the bottleneck risk being a liability to those most equipped and inclined to do what is necessary for the most knowledgeable, skilled, and sapient to survive, adapt, and reproduce. Being inclined to a sense of obligation, however, does not mean that it follows that one must act on behalf of the rest of us destined for die-off. Thus, it will be critical that one develop an ability to subordinate one's socially conditioned moral or empathetic feelings to "do something" to "save humanity", as one's efforts are likely to be wasted many billion times over.

Simultaneously, one can perceive die-off of 90%+ of the population as inevitable and necessary and not want humans to suffer unnecessarily in the process.

But knowing that the overwhelming majority of humans will suffer terribly during a century-long mass die-off should move sapients to act to mitigate today the suffering in as efficient a means as possible, i.e., speaking to George's hospice notion.

What is the most efficient means to achieve this? Who should decide? Who is likely to decide? Irrespective, it will be decided or is being decided today.

The ecosystem or Gaia itself has no pressing timeline for when the mass of human beings are returned to constituent elements. But what about the needs of sapients and their post-bottleneck remnant population? One can argue that an imminent reset of the human ape population within a generation or so would be beneficial, if not an optimal outcome.

Some will charge racism, misanthropy, or some such silliness, but will "race" have any relevance in today's context to the remnant sapients generations hence?



Is evolution as a whole likely to take the shape of a Hubbert curve, with "peak complexity" or "peak communication" before heading down the curve towards heat death?

George Mobus


I posted the link to this SciAm article in the "How will people react" thread in answer to one of Bruce's points. I think it relevant to this question:
Why We Help: The Evolution of Cooperation. I've written a good deal about the tradeoffs between cooperation and competition in evolving systems. Cooperation won out when multiple bacteria began cooperating to form eukaryotic cells, and again when single celled organisms began cooperating to form multi-cellular organisms, etc. I have asserted that this is one of the characteristics of higher sapience - it represents the steps toward cooperation dominating competition in the formation and operation of social units in humans


Having practiced Transcendental Meditation and having dabbled in Vedantic teachings (though not Hinduism directly) I think I understand what these traditions call consciousness. Actually in the Vedantic tradition there is not one "higher" consciousness state (e.g. Cosmic Consciousness) but several, forming a hierarchy of greater and greater consciousness. My own view is that the experience of mental phenomena such as "oneness" and transcendence are the result of complex brain functions through the firing harmonies in neuron networks (there is a lot of current research pertaining to wave coherence in TM practitioners, for example). These conditions occur during meditation with some evidence that there are after effects carried over to activity. However, I also suspect that people who have never practiced meditation per se but have very high sapience still experience things like oneness quite spontaneously. Throughout history there have been individuals who have perceived the world through eyes (consciousness) that most people have failed to understand. Language, after all, requires commonly shared experiences in order to attach true meaning to words. I suspect that the various traditions that have been handed down to us represent murky visions of what a few seers have experienced and tried to convey to the less sapient.

In my working papers I describe sapience as second and a half-order consciousness. First order C is awareness of other and self's experience of other. Second order C is awareness of self as a self. 2 1/2 order C is awareness of self-other-systemness - or, in other words, oneness, wholeness, and transcendence.

But that may just be my romanticizing!


My own speculation about compassionate aliens is that they would also be wise enough to recognize natural evolution taking place and would not deign to interfere. Evolution has a habit of producing the best choices without sentient decision making. My proposal is that we, having some insights into evolutionary processes and pathways, might simply nudge the outcome to favor our genus.

I assert that there is sapience in this, even to the extent that deferring to those who would act to ensure proactively that their adaptive genes succeed at the cost of all others is perfectly logical from an evolutionary perspective.

Well you and I have different views of what constitutes logic from an evolutionary perspective I guess. Also, I think you need to construct a working hypothesis re: what sapience IS and why your assertion holds (e.g. neurological/psychological evidence?)


You seem to have captured well the ideas I have tried to convey to Bruce. Thank you.


Thank you for the kind sentiment. But I do hope you will continue 'saying'. Your thoughts will enrich us all even if, like some of the things I've written, too many of the ears they fall on are deaf. There are those that aren't.


If evolution results in a new species based on higher-sapient-man, won't this come about whether or not some groups force the issue by 'preparing' for it?

I guess I never thought of these ideas as contradictory. First there needs to be a seed population with a higher proportion of high sapients in order for post-bottleneck evolution too have something of a head start. The twist that I have seen in that potential for future evolution is that we humans have discovered the nature of evolution and can enter into the process to a degree, hence calling for high sapients to prepare (and thus increasing the likelihood of a higher than average concentration of their genes in the post-bottleneck pool). As I see it there are two possible scenarios for humans to influence future evolutionary trends. The first is the "clever" route that attempts to "control" evolution by, for example, direct genetic manipulation, e.g. engineering greater intelligence or greater muscle capacity. Then there is the wiser route (in my humble opinion ;^) to simply provide another information feedback mechanism to assortative mating and let nature take its course. This latter way recognizes that we humans really are not generally wise enough or really know enough about evolution to take control (look what we've done to our planet having that attitude).

In truth I think I am more spinning a scenario of something that may already be happening, e.g. higher sapients seeking each other out and preparing. Some of my ideas actually come from knowing a few individuals who seem to me to have superior judgment (a sign of sapience) and are pursuing alternative lifestyles. That doesn't mean they have developed a comprehensive plan, they seem more to be responding to current conditions than planing for a bottleneck. But they are demonstrating what I think is a behavior that will be positively selected all other factors being favorable (e.g. they happen to live in a more stable climate environment).

In my way of looking at things human consciousness has become part of what Bruce (above) called the logic of evolution and is part of what actually makes that universal process progressive. Thus humans trying to influence the outcome is now part of the process and just as natural as a comet hitting the Earth! If time permits us the luxury of experimenting, I'm almost confident that someone will try genetic engineering as a response. My best guess is that that will be doomed to failure simply because it would involve complexities we have not taken into consideration. I think my idea is a bit more likely to have a payoff for Homo.

Hope this clears up the seeming discrepancy.

Bruce (again),

What is the probability that those in the bottom 70-75% of world income distribution will be able to secure sufficient resources to survive, adapt, and reproduce...

Here, again, you are equating survivability with the current view of "resources". Exactly what resources do you think the rich will secure that the rest of that statement follows?

If not, what is the sapient alternative?

Letting nature take its course, but doing essentially what the primitive mammals did >65 million years ago - hide.


All you say about "wisdom" is true. But it is not the case that sapience will be increased through learning lessons. Sapience is pretty much a genetic fixture. Wisdom comes from having enough native sapience to allow the capture and integration of life experiences that improve judgments and intuitions (wisdom). So, yes, wisdom does grow with age and experience. But my contention is that what is natively possible now is simply not enough to turn the tide of stupid decisions that have already pushed us past the critical tipping points. As a genus our only viable recourse is to biological evolution of the brain and a general improvement in native sapience.

In the meantime there is certainly nothing wrong with trying to improve everybody's wisdom.

Bruce (finally),

David Orr (whom I've met and discussed stuff with) is still in the camp of "if only we'd..., then we could be OK". His "bottleneck" is not the same thing as a biological/evolutionary bottleneck. I would label his version (one held by many environmentalists) as a cultural/social/maybe population bottleneck process. It assumes contraction but that we will develop some kind of social organization that will allow us to go on being essentially the same human beings (Homo sapiens).

The kind of bottleneck that William Catton and I are talking about (and actually so is E.O. Wilson) is a true evolutionary event that will result in a mass culling of the gene pool leaving a small seed population with more homogeneous genetic material at the start. I strongly suspect there will be no "evolution" of governance or any other transition process to some more "sustainable" system as Orr projects. We will simply "start over".


There is a great deal of debate about this. My own model (see: Economic Dynamics) suggests a much more rapid fall off after peak (oil, debt, wealth, whatever!).

The destination, however, is not heat death for all. It is just that the parts of the system that cannot be maintained on real-time solar energy input will decay.


Anywhere But Here Is Better

George, regarding the 'discrepancy', I understand it better now so thanks for that.

This whole scenario now reminds me of how cathedrals were built here in England. Canterbury Cathedral for instance took several human lifetimes to complete, and I was always struck by the fact that three or more generations of stonemasons worked on the construction. For the middle generation stonemason, he carried on where his father left off and then he died, passing on the task to his son. So this particular stonemason wasn't involved in the start or completion of the edifice. I now realize that what you have been advocating is similar - i.e. higher sapients should seek each out and provide seed for an evolutionary future that they themselves will not live to see (post-bottleneck).

My brain is now fizzing and I am considering the unthinkable after decades of rational pessimism* about my species - that we are actually worth perpetuating (in higher sapient form).

Thanks again for hosting this riveting debate and please keep posting when you have time.

[* This hasn't stopped me sharing my resources with a number of disadvantaged people I've encountered on my path.]



1) The current model of the universe is expansion and gradual death of all stars, so eventually evolution will have no "real time solar" to run on.

2) "I'm almost confident that someone will try genetic engineering as a response. My best guess is that that will be doomed to failure simply because it would involve complexities we have not taken into consideration."

To me it seems that much of the research in genetic engineering and medicine is motivated by fear of death and aging. I find there is something very creepy about guys over at the Singularity Institute who are so scared of the end of their individual existence that they'll pay enormous amounts of money to deep-freeze their brains for posterity. My vision of a future humanity is not a society of beautiful,disease-free athletes toasting each other with glasses of reservatrol. To me a hallmark of "sapience" would be the ability to override the built-in fear of death by realizing that what's important is not the future of my individual genes, but the collective consciousness of humanity. For that reason, I would probably not choose any transhumanists to be the progenitors of the future human race.


There's a great science-fiction book called "Lilith's Brood" that focuses on the very scenario you described - a group of extremely advanced and compassionate extra-terrestials who try to save humanity from itself and help it evolve into a wiser, kinder species.
I believe another sign of sapience would be respect for the autonomy of other living beings (human and non-human), so even though it might cause them pain to passively observe other species bringing about their own extinction by violent means, a group of sapient beings would not force euthanasia on a species. If their own resources were threatened, they would probably act in self defense, but I think a sapient response would be "Let's see if we can make do with less so that we won't be forced to kill in competition over resources". You only need a fraction of what modern people consume to survive and be happy, so as long as they had food, water and shelter, I don't think sapients would be inclined to squabble over resources. I guess being grateful for what you have, and being unattached to unnecessary material objects is another sign of sapience.


In reading these posts I have always been bothered by two things: 1. what comes out the other side of a bottleneck is the organism most able to survive the bottleneck not the most complex or sapient (think politicians) 2. Reading Native American writings and transcriptions, it sounds like they were on such a highly sapient path, though this could just be selection bias on the editors of these texts and me the reader. The problem is the Native Americans were almost totally wiped out by dare I say less sapient beings. So how does life get to the next level of sapience? I think I put together a mind model that works for me: Complexity arises in order to take advantage of energy flows and stocks. Human sapience (read high complexity) has been stifled once it rose the level necessary to use a huge easily accessible stock of energy in fossil fuels and high quality ores. Now that we have come to the end of those stocks, evolution will again be freed to create higher sapience to rise to the level to take advantage of the less available flows and stocks of energy and resources. Might I even suggest burying resources could slow down the progress in the future of higher sapience as evolution wouldn't be forced to work as hard at creating greater complexity while those buried resources are available. So what am I going to do, since my mental model leaves me with nothing to do but wait? I am going to ask WWSSD (what would a super sapient do) and live that way even though it might not make a lick of difference on the whole outcome of things. Thanks again George for the thought provoking post.

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