Learn to recognize the style. Its exploding all around us and can be safely ignored.
Writers in the west, growing up insecure about what happens next are defaulting to hysterical realism, because many have lost the ability generate Faith. Faith in what? Faith that tomorrow can be a better day. That requires much more work than showing unequipped people a reality that mesmerises while it overwhelms.
Always pick writers who produce Faith over writers who cant. Its like eating healthy.
Faith that tomorrow is going to be better is just one of many types of faith, and it may not even be the healthiest.
The prophets had faith, but they often saw dark tomorrows.
'Hysterical' Realism seems like a caricature, 'safely ignored' suggests the book is alarmist or clawing for attention. Based on the review, the book is anything but.
It seems more just a vividly imagined meditation on the massive gravity of our tangling with reality, and one that could expand a persons sense of awe at the universe and our place in it.
One piece of trivia that really puts this in perspective is that around 70000BC a supervolcano event reduced the world human population to a few thousand people  and yet surprisingly here we are!
Irrespective of all the dire future prospects it really will take a lot for us as Humans to go extinct. I find that thought somewhat conforting.
Why do we have such values? Humans may look very different in 100 years (may be cyborgs) let alone 2 billion! Yet we have articles talking about “humans escaping the heat death of the universe” and so on.
Machines can be easily diplicated and programs can execute on many machines. If there is a rise in AI, why do we cling to the idea of “identity” when a program may have totally different values? Commander Data in Star Trek is not realistic when it comes how AI would behave. It might not have any self-preservation at all, more like the Borg than Data.
And in all this, where do we find ourselves? As they say in the Matrix, this was our heyday. Before we polluted the planet and left it increasingly toxic since we couldn’t live sustainably. Before AI took over and made it a zoo for us in the same way we make zoos for animals.
I just want to understand these anachronistic tendencies by smart people to discuss why they feel good humanity will be around in 500 or 1000 years, given the pace of change now.
Unless there is an afterlife where we all are resurrected and get to live out eternity happily in conditions we enjoy, I am not sure what you have to look forward to.
It’s my view that our values didn’t pop out of thin air nor are they an emergent property of intelligence, rather they were shaped by natural selection.
AI with intelligence will have no values by default and won’t be able to function unless given some by us, their creators - no values means no “goals”.
If we give them a sense of self-preservation then that’s what they will have - we shouldn’t though; creating intelligent entities that would compete with us for resources to survive is a bad idea.
The best values we can set in them is to “service humanity” - defining that precisely is going to be a pain however - they will exist solely to assist us in whatever our goals are and have no desires of their own save to help us with ours.
It might not be a direct sense of self-preservation, no. But no matter what goal we give an AI, it must survive long enough to make the goal succeed. So self-preservation will be at least a secondary goal for any AI that is intelligent enough to think about its own continued existence.
Give it a more difficult problem like "Solve world hunger," and the AI might very well start grabbing enough political and economic clout in the world to actually solve that problem. And once it solves it, it might use its power to stay in power so that the problem remains solved.
I'm not sure that's necessarily a bad thing. I'm just saying, there's lots of "loopholes" that end up giving a thinking entity the "desire" for power and survival.
Sure maybe you may care about your immediate family,
Have you ever read the dune series? One idea of success it portrayed was populating so many planets that the spread of humanoids would always outstrip the rate at which they went extinct.
If you go that route, why even care about yourself? You're gonna die, anyway. And what about your partner and children? Why care about them, since they're not you?
And yet, we do care. Or many do. We might e.g. appreciate/love humanity, kind of like we do our spouses and children, even if we're not them. Or like we wouldn't want something bad to happen to our children/grandchildren even if we dead by then...
Sure, death plays a role in caring, but your logic is backwards: it's the dead people who don't care (and surely, when I'm dead, I wont care either).
Alive people on the other hand care for many things, including caring about what will happen after they die.
Small comfort for the others that died there and then.
The worry those "lacking faith" have is not that there wont be some people in 1000 years.
It's that there's gonna be bad shit happening to several generations ahead...
So, it's more like someone in 1913 worrying about Europe's future (before 1914-1918 and 1939-1945 wiped millions), than about someone in 1913 worrying whether there will be people in 2021.
On faith (I think from a HN comment, actually):
"Having faith" that the bridge will not fall, implies that the bridge itself isn't that trustworthy. It's not that different from "I pray that the bridge will hold my weight."
I consider this a sufficient refutation. Earn trust, or don't; most of those in any meaningful position of power have consistently chosen "don't", and the result is depressing but unsurprising.
When (e.g. in the 1800s) a typical person has at least one sibling die before adulthood, it throws the fundamental uncertainties into sharp relief.
Not saying that's a good thing, but it is different.
The problem with Faith is that it's often blind to reality.
Like believing that "tomorrow can be a better day" when all signs show not just "insecurity about what happens next" (as if we are not sure) but certainly and empirical evidence of bad shit happening...
I was in Myanmar a couple of years ago and was shocked to hear people wildly optimistic about their future — their lives had been getting better in significant ways literally month to month at that point. I’m not sure what they would feel now though.
I’m sure there are places in Africa where this is the case as well.
Metamodernism (of the variety described in "The Listening Society" by Hanzi Frinache) attempts to describe what comes after Postmodernism.
I just go about living however I can, doing whatever I can, not being horrible to other living beings (though I talk a lot of shit online), ready to die at any moment.
... but it's only now that we no longer understand?
Whoever controls disruptive change controls the universe; whoever understands disruptive change does so only momentarily.
― Friedrich W. Nietzsche,Beyond Good and Evil
And who can bear his own reflection in the mirror for long?
Calls to mind the Warhammer 40K idea of The Warp:
The theme of the book sounds intriguing, but "hallucinations" (read: complete fictions) like this sound thoroughly unnecessary.
The mystic or a saint won't be understood and would be swiftly rejected in the West upon saying that the organizing principle is God or some heavenly realm. It seems that the best science can do is a worldview of Sam Harris and there's that. The result of that is materialistic West replacing transcendence with transhumanism, thus only adding to the confusion.