August 11, 2010
Here’s Stephen Hawking, commenting on humanity’s future:
…Our genetic code still carries the selfish and aggressive instincts that were of survival advantage in the past. It will be difficult enough to avoid disaster in the next hundred years, let alone the next thousand or million. Our only chance of long-term survival is not to remain inward-looking on planet Earth, but to spread out into space.
I’ve never much liked this argument. If it’s true (and I’m not sure it is) that we’re doomed to destroy ourselves because “our genetic code still carries the selfish and aggressive instincts,” wouldn’t we just carry our dysfunctional habits with us to the moon and Mars? What would we gain?
Here’s another plan: Let’s work on curbing our selfishness and aggression (a Grand Challenge for 21st Century sociology?) so that the six billion of us left on Earth have a better chance of preventing/surviving a catastrophe, whether natural or self-inflicted. If the world ends, it won’t be much consolation to me (or probably to them) that 100 people survived on a moon base.
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