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Not many people would oppose the opinion that we should protect the earth and yet human society has grown so complex, driven by market forces and global economy, that if governments do not take action, private enterprise sure as hell wouldn't. Selfishness of individuals triumph over long term global cause.

I am sad. Humans have achieved so much and yet there are large areas of neglect, abuse, misuse and misconduct. I have a strong feeling that if we go to mars, people will still have issues. Tribal instincts will kick in and we'll fight over what color flag to put it up there.

Take over of humans by AGI sounds like a better future.




My expectations for a human colonization in Mars are pretty grim.

As with any colonization, I would expect the stakeholders wanting to maximize their returns ASAP, and without the need to protect existing native life, environmental concerns are going to be greatly overlooked.

We will see all kinds of bad practices there, with industrial waste dumps, toxic spoils, mining tailings being disposed the cheapest way possible, aggressive utilization and appropriation of scarce resources (like frozen water), etc... that we can expect to contaminate large parts of Mars soon enough, in pursuit of faster/better returns.

Basically, it's going to be a free for all land, because technology evolves much faster than human society does.


IMO Mars is going to be an absolute bloodbath, in the same way every colony on Earth was a bloodbath. We should probably do it all the same. We've not yet even sorted out the colonies we have here (HK, for instance, I would consider a Chinese colony as it was a British colony until 1997).


Every colony on earth was blood bath because someone was already there, and didn't appreciate their land being taken by force.

Mars has no indigenous population, and seems to be plenty big enough for everyone.


Mars only doesn't have anyone there the first time.

What makes you think the interaction between the first and second wave of colonists wouldn't run into all the same problems that we had on Earth?

(Not that I believe there will be any waves of colonists. It'd be easier, and have a better social ROI to make the ocean floor, Antarctica, Mount Everest, or San Francisco hospitable to human life, than it would be to settle Mars.)


I think the motive for Mars colonization is more robustness than efficiency. It'd definitely be easier to colonize the ocean than Mars. However, many planetary extinction events that would spare Mars would still wipe out settlements on the ocean floor, Antarctica, Mount Everest, or San Francisco. Asteroid impact, worldwide plague, nuclear winter, global warming, Chinese dictatorship, Terminator 3, Waterworld, The Core, Interstellar, they would all wipe out Earth while leaving Mars untouched. Even scenarios like Independence Day, Battleship, and Transformers would give a Mars colony time to react while the aliens were busy wiping out Earth, which might mean the difference between human survival and extinction.


If you think that a Chinese dictatorship (or any of the other things you listed) will wipe out the Earth and leave Mars untouched, I would recommend reading fewer comic books. (And I'm a bit surprised that a zombie outbreak wasn't one of the listed threats.)


HK situation is on my mind as well, I just didn't want to mention it yet again.

At least whatever intelligence may explode in future (if it does), it will be hopefully pure logic with no strings attached as we, humans have - emotions, tribalism, sex, psychology, physical bodies to take care of, aging, racism, ridiculously low output bandwidth, so many things that AGI wouldn't have to deal with. I hope that it can optimize on a global domain and not get stuck in some local optima.


Everything that exists is there because it survived. Complex systems that do not prioritize survival tend to get eclipsed by those that do.

One very effective way to achieve survival is to build your "self" out of many independent competing subsystems, and select only those that themselves survive. An individual human does not particularly care if some of its cells die; the point is for them to die, such that the overall human remains healthy (when they don't, you get cancer). An individual cell does not care if some of its mitochondria die; this happens naturally at times of low energy use. An individual mitochondrion does not care if glucose molecules are broken down and reconstituted into ATP; that is its function.

On the other end of the spectrum, an individual corporation does not care if it ruins the lives of some of its employees by laying them off; such callousness helps improve the efficiency of the organization itself. A healthy economy does not care if the individual firms that comprise it go bankrupt, because this is the only way to free up inefficiently-used resources before they drain the whole economy of its vitality.

A lot of things that suck come from competing interests across the different levels. To the corporation, layoffs are a good thing, and the share price goes up when they happen; to the individuals laid off, they're a tragedy. At the species level, evolution is what gave us the richness of biodiversity we see; at the individual level, it gives us death and fruitless competition to pass on our genes.

If the machines manage to take over, it'll be because they manage to evolve this fractal competition within them, in which case they'll just replicate human foibles at the lower levels. (Won't somebody think of the poor software libraries, replaced by a shifting package.json?) If they don't evolve this, they will themselves remain tools, subject to replacement at the whim of their human masters.


That was a really insightful take on evolution, thank you.


Mars an absolute bloodbath? Whatever's going on @ Mars is going to be child's play compared to what'll be going on @ the vastly overpopulated and increasingly uninhabitable Earth we neglected while entertaining ourselves with diversions like Mars.

Earth has been in a continuous state of a global war in stasis for longer than I've been alive. The fire under that pressure cooker isn't diminishing as far as I can tell.


You seriously think that Mars will escape that? That the overpopulated proles on increasingly uninhabitable Earth will silently watch as constant resupply launches head for Mars? I think there have been a selection of movies along those lines. :)

If it's going to be child's play, how come none of the attempts to achieve an ongoing sealed biome have been successful? Nearest so far was the Soviets in the seventies during their lunar programme.


I'd expect a tiny population at a precarious outpost to be far more measured and disciplined in terms of their growth and resource consumption than anything we see on Earth.

What I was referring to re: "Child's play" was the nature of a worst-case scenario conflict @ early stage Mars in comparison to late stage Earth. Nothing whatsoever related to how challenging it is to sustain life there in the long-term. I fully expect it to fail, I just don't expect it will be anything I'd describe as a "blood bath".

Back on Earth with the many millions of people established and living on dwindling resources and vanishing coasts, that's going to be a blood bath.


I don't understand how leaving the planet is a solution. If people can live on mars then they can also live on a polluted earth.


It's not "leaving the planet". It's spreading out our foothold (as a species), so if something catastrophic happens we don't become extinct as easily.

eg increasing the resilience of our species


Honestly, that seems like a fool's errand. We would have to find a planet capable of supporting us stably (the "class M planet" archetype), which is likely to be nearly impossible given the size of the visible universe, how little of it we will ever be able to reach with subluminal technology and limited time and resources, and how hostile the universe seems in general. Our relationship with our environment is delicate and finely-tuned over millions of years of evolution, and we can't just hope to blindly stumble across a planet with a breathable atmosphere, hospitable climate and either no ecosystem, or an ecosystem which won't collapse with our introduction, and hope for the best.

We're certainly not going to thrive for a million years under a glass dome in an artificial ecosystem that requires constant technological maintenance and power, on a planet that might be amenable to terraforming over millennia .... and if we could, there's no reason to go out into space when we could just colonize and re-terraform Earth that way faster and more cheaply.

The whole idea of spreading ourselves across the universe to preserve ourselves is a fantasy that assumes there is anywhere else for us to go, and any ability to reach that place, as if space is just a bigger ocean. It isn't though, and chances are very high that this one planet is all we're ever going to get.


> ... chances are very high that this one planet is all we're ever going to get.

That seems defeatist, but you're welcome to your opinion. ;)


The odds remain what they are regardless of how optimistic one is, the math and the cosmos don't care about human determination and resolve. Hoping that spaceships will save us from ourselves is tantamount to praying for divine intervention, and likely to be as effective.


Don't forget that abusing the environment contributed to our achievements.


If every humans wants to protect earth and "Selfishness of individuals triumph over long term global cause" - how come selfishness doesn't fix this problem? Seems like a contradiction to me


As I read it, they are saying that the selfishness of individuals wins out over caring about a global cause. Not that selfishness allows us to triumph over a global cause. :)

Fixing it needs political leverage. To require the end of the coal mining, to ban certain fuels, processes, or packaging, to impose a carbon tax on global trade - as the EU are finally discussing. Years late, but maybe a last chance. The first real step in the right direction - if it gets past the vote. Selfishness of individuals can't do that. It can get you to switch to LED lighting to save a little cash.

Apparently enough wealth comes with enough self-belief that the laws of physics, ageing, climate and a host of others no longer apply to you. No surprise looking at celebrities and vastly wealthy over the years. So business and politics continues to mainly pretend it's not happening.


Don't worry, we are not going to go to Mars.




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