The Singularity

For all of you, who like this author, somehow completely missed The Big Event: the world has slipped quietly into the age of the Singularity

It was only because a February issue of TIME caught my eye, that I was brought to task about this potentially radical departure from what we historically have known forever as the Human Era. And after reading the article, researching some other sources, combined with some of my own soul searching, what ultimately makes this so compelling, fascinating, daunting and haunting, is not only is there a good chance we will all literally become this movement, but we will, and are now, the architects of our own demise – at least for awhile anyway.

Apparently,there is an emerging organization afoot – the Singularitarians – that give a fairly persuasive argument that not only will computers be able to replicate the total human thinking process, but these new breed of super computers could, in the not to distant  future, decide we are an archaic phenomenon that needs to be redone, rebooted, replaced, or simply deleted if you will – therefore putting to bed the final phase of the human Information Age. 

Many of you might of thought that AI represented artificial insemination, but you will be forced to modify your vocabulary, although one could argue that Artificial Intelligence, the new AI, could be portrayed as eventually not being all that far away from the original.

The author, culprit and figurehead for this movement is Raymond Kurzweil, who I’m afraid looks to be a good deal smarter than not only the average “Joe” on the street, but most likely 99.9% of the rest of us. His visions move way beyond the linear cognitive thinking that most of us are cursed with, into the world of exponential growth and curves. For those of us math-challenged that means everything moves in multiples of two with doubling times that increase rates of change to an unimaginable degree.

An example from Kurzweil will help: the average cell phone today is about a millionth the size of, a millionth the price of, and a thousand times more powerful than the computer he had at MIT 40 years ago! Does that start to get your attention? 

If not this will: he predicts that by 2015 computer power will accelerate past the brain of a mouse, by 2023 it will accelerate past the brainpower of a single human, and by 2045 will exceed all the brainpower of everyone on earth. You should now be fully awake. 

Want more? How about being functionally immortal. Just scan, implant, inseminate your conscious being into an ultra-intelligent Cyborg and you have just played God. Kurzweil believes that there are people alive today who will most likely not be bothered with the angst and frustrations of aging and death. Everything can and will be translated and transformed into the mind-twisting world of mega-digital AI.

My guess is that all those corporate “suits” or “torn Levis and Crocks”, if you will, from Apple, Microsoft, Google and Facebook are taking this a little bit more serious than you are at the moment. Want to bet whether Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Larry Page and Mark Zuckerberg have picked up the check for lunch with Raymond Kurzweil in the last few months? I’m going to guess that the AI champion also knows his way around both Silicon Valley and Wall Street pretty darn well, and all the digital and financial moguls are listening when he enters the room.

But before you start shouting with glee and giving a huge sigh of relief at your fortunate rondevous with destiny, there are just a couple of things to be considered before breaking out the champagne and caviar. If Kurzweil’s predictions seem somewhat feasible to you, and his impeccable credentials and previous endeavors look, shall we say, spectacular: 

  • Do you really think we (they) are going to need nine billion human beings on the planet in 2045?

If he is correct, we will, over the next years and decades, slowly but dramatically become the most downsized and unwelcome flotsam inhabiting this world. 

Other than eventually being the laughing stock of the Cyborg generation for allowing the world of AI to drive us to the point where we have created our own self-devouring machines, what possible scenario do we fit into? Absolutely none, because we have let ourselves become so vulnerable to digital imperialism that technology has evolved into our surrogate economic, political and spiritual master. In essence, it is our only hope for our day to day necessities, while promising a future for us that seems less and less clear as more time passes.

Now, I know there are those out there thinking:

Yea, but that will never happen! We’re too smart, too dominate to let technology overwhelm us. We would never let something like that control our lives, be completely dependent on an automated economy, let a corporate culture so easily manipulate our every moves with their message of mindless materialism, and then knowingly participate in the wounding and destruction of our ecosystem until circumstances drive us to the point of no return.

Well doubters, I would only say to you: Look around for God’s sake! 

Kurzweil, as brilliant a visionary as he is, will not and cannot save us. Technology is written, as much as human history is written. It is a Pandora’s Box. We have breached its warnings, and any attempts at this late date to return those lessons are unrealistic and impossible for a slew of reasons.

What is not written though is the pace of technology. Technology has always been driven by numbers, those numbers being you and me and everyone else. Our population numbers have moved, and will continue to do so, in direct proportion to the many stages of mankind’s development, including the Information Age and beyond. The basis for all major changes in the world’s civilizations has been the advent and miraculous development of technology, driven hand-in-hand by dramatically increasing populations. 

Unfortunately, we have moved from cultivating technology with all its labor saving benefits, medical wizardry and whiz-bang creations, to being totally dependent on it. But we could make a significant difference by slowing the demand for more and more of this increasingly omnipotent science. That is something we can do, and that would slow the spiraling momentum of our destiny. We would be foolish and shortsighted not to control demand by choosing to reduce population pressures and realize more time for contemplation and introspection. 

  • Raymond Kurweil could be wrong, but if he is right we are moving into a world that would have been inconceivable just a decade ago
  • And that world could very possibly be one that does not include us  
  • So keep in mind we may be no-shows at any future celebrations, at least not in any form we would recognize today 

The problem is not simply that the Singularity represents the passing of humankind from center stage, but that it contradicts our most deeply held notions of being.

Vernor Vinge

 Remember: A Billion people = 1000 Million people

Thanks to Author: Lev Grossman – TIME: February 21,2011

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Overpopulation Quotations 3_11

  • These Quotations are presented here in the spirit of discussion and dialogue. 
  • They do not necessarily represent the views of Overpopulation Insights
  • A selection of links is available for further information and study


Empowering Women

When it is her only opportunity in life, a woman will become a Mother many times over. But with access to opportunities to run companies, influence society, advance politically women tend to have fewer children — by choice. This observation does not require a fancy degree or long, expensive ‘study’. We only have to look at developed countries to see this playing out very clearly. A Mother’s access (not only a woman’s access) to financial independence and political empowerment will do far more to curb population growth than a million other ‘solutions’ dreamed up by those who are not connected to the realities of creating new human beings.


Education and Women

Education is one the primary ways to escape poverty and improve the quality of life. According to a recent article in TIME Magazine, one additional year of secondary education can increase salaries for girls by 15-25%. In general, educating girls has a profound effect on reducing overpopulation and child marriage. Girls educated for seven or more years, on average, marry four years later and have 2.2 fewer children as per data from the Girl Effect.

Jolkona Foundation


Paul Ehrlich and Technology

The Scientist: It’s hard to dispute that resources will become scarcer if the human population continues to grow. But there’s a pervasive optimism that ingenuity and technology will result in more efficient ways to use, recycle, or find replacements for these resources.

Paul Ehrlich: They’ve been saying that ever since I’ve been in this game, which is now 60 years, roughly. In 1968 they were saying we could easily support five billion people. Well, we’ve got seven billion now, and we’re not supporting them. What I’ve always said in response to “technology will take care of it” is: why don’t we see technology take care of the people we have today, before we talk about how easy it will be to take care of more people?

No person who can count up to 20 without taking off their shoes doubts the basic premise that a population can outgrow its resources. If you continue growth at today’s rate, there will be more people than elementary particles in a few thousand years. There’s no question at all that there are limits to growth. The issue is: what are they? The Hall and Day paper basically revisits some of the earlier data and suggests, as does everything in the world that is happening today, that not only are we reaching the limits, but we’re already past the long-term carrying capacity of the planet.



Why Civilizations Collapse

Zen masters are known for being practical, honest and direct. That Murphy fits that profile was obvious in his responses when I asked for comments on the 12 key elements in “ The coming Population Wars: 12-bomb equation ,” my column on evolutionary anthropologist Jared Diamond’s 2005 Pulitzer prize winner, “Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed.” In it Diamond paints a dark scenario:

“One of the disturbing facts of history is that so many civilizations collapse,” warns Diamond. So many “civilizations share a sharp curve of decline. Indeed, a society’s demise may begin only a decade or two after it reaches its peak population, wealth and power.” Diamond’s 12-part equation reflected the Pentagon’s 2020 global warfare scenario: “More people require more food, space, water, energy, and other resources,” resulting in “warfare defining human life on the planet,” the end of economic growth and capitalism, even civilization.

Murphy is one of those obsessed souls, like McKibben, who refuses to accept Diamond’s seemingly inevitable scenario. Instead, Murphy keeps fighting to change the course of history, in his work as a biotech expert and as a high-tech farmer. We expected something special from Murphy and we’re not disappointed. Here are his blunt remarks, beginning with this powerful admission that could have been made by Diamond: “We are long past the point that technology or biotech can prevent a significant die-off.”

Paul B. Farrell, Market


Fear and Overpopulation

Global Population Speak Out has become necessary because for too long there has been a taboo on discussing overpopulation. And when someone does bring it up, knee-jerk reactions frequently kick in to squelch intelligent discourse on the subject. During the month of February most of the world should get a chance to learn what’s true and what’s false. And we’ll have the opportunity to get over our fear of discussing this critical subject. Let’s toss the excess baggage out the window and have some honest, open, intelligent discussion of the problems and the solutions.

Dave Gardner, Filmmaker


New Novel

The massive growth of humanity’s population is straining the Earth’s resources and climate, and one scientist is working to counter it with a ruthless plan while another examines whether urbanized people can adapt to the wild.That’s the scenario in The Next – An Omen, an apocalyptic novel written and self-published in December by R.T. Douse of Palo Cedro. He even shot the cover photo, the moon setting behind Lassen Peak, from his back porch.

His book details the work of the two scientists, Allan Plover and Samuel Morrison, and Kelly Mason, a young woman with a unique sixth-sense.

Both scientists have noticed and fear the coming problem of overpopulation — too many people straining the Earth’s resources.

The Record Searchlight:


Sustainable Growth: An Oxymoron

You say that sustainable growth, when applied to material things, is an oxymoron. Can you explain that again?

Here’s the problem: when we talk about ‘sustainable,’ we mean ‘for an unspecified long period of time.’ Next, we must acknowledge the mathematical fact that steady growth (a fixed percent per year) yields very large numbers in modest periods of time. For example, a population of 10.000 people growing at 7% per year, will become a population of 10.000.000 people in just 100 years. From these two statements we can see that the term ‘sustainable growth’ implies ‘increasing endlessly.’ However, the finite size of resources, ecosystems, environment, and the Earth, makes it impossible for a material quantity to grow endlessly.

Professor Albert Bartlett: Be Fruitful and Don’t Multiply


Three Strands

Think of the global predicament as a rope made from three colossal strands. Because overpopulation, overproduction and overconsumption activities by the human species are occurring synergistically and on such a gigantic and soon to become patently unsustainable scale, taking hold of one of the strands will not change the course of events. All three strands will have to be simultaneously grasped carefully, skillfully and humanely somehow. What appears before us is a super ordinate challenge, unlike anything seen in the course of human history, I suppose.


Bogus Democracy?

The entity called state cares very little for the opinions of the common person – it only pretends to care for the sake of preserving social order. One doesn’t have to look far beyond the bogus “democracy” that the Western world favors: whilst the parties of the political class claim to be different in their platforms that they tout during the elections, the policies they make differ very little in practice. One need only look at the results of the “hope” and “change” campaign launched by the presiding head of Executive branch of the U.S. government for a painful reminder of this fact.


A Community Without Men

Herland is a philosophical novel which questions the basic “rules” of behavior and a woman’s place in society. Gilman imagines what a community might look like without male influence and paints a picture of a society where there is no war, no negative impact on the environment, no overpopulation, no judgment of a punishing God, no hatred, no sadness, no jealousy, no poverty, no wants or needs left unfulfilled. In Gilman’s society all is good, all are educated, and even sex is seen as unneeded. Herland is a sanitized society which is only threatened when men arrive on its soil. Within the pages of her utopian novel, it is easy to see Gilman’s belief that women had a large role to play in the the betterment of society, and that only when women take it upon themselves to be independent can society be improved.


Remember: A Billion people = 1000 Million people



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7 Billion People:The Consequences


Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.

Martin Luther King Jr.

It’s all over?

Twenty years ago, after another particularly grievous and barbaric cycle of events in the world, I was off on some inane summation concerning the perilous state of civilization in general. A friend of mine listened silently for awhile and then turned to me and said like he was teaching a man-child that would simply not acknowledge reality, “It’s all over.”

Although at the time I did not fully comprehend the indelible implications of such a statement, it has become increasingly clear over the years the complete futility that such a statement implied:

It seems no matter what actions governments or individuals undertake, no matter what governments and individuals think we should do, no matter what governments or individuals plan for the future, none of it will matter in the end. We are doomed to follow the path that biological determinism and mankind’s long suffering history and events have created for us. 

The Earth’s population will reach Seven Billion people sometime in 2011 and most likely Nine Billion or more by 2045.

Is it simply too late?  Is it really just all over? By running through the numbers today and then extrapolating out from the populations which will present themselves in the very near future, hope is not a word that comes easily to mind. For those not willing to confront the reality of more and more people, Martin Luther King Jr. would again be useful as a credible witness when he described overpopulation as a “modern plague” and not because we are not aware, but because we lack a “universal consciousness” – code for moral discipline. That was in the 1960’s! 

And here we are today with half the people in the world – not to say a significant part of our own population – living in a litany of shambles and disarray.

Are we so naive as to try to hold onto the tired old economic arguments from the wealthy minions that “trickle-down” economics and corporate led growth economies will miraculously turn chicken shit, Seven Billion people into chicken salad, Nine Billion people”? Recent decades have certainly proved those economic forecasts miserable failures. So you don’t have to be a gloom and doomer to picture what 2045 might look like.

The only thing that has kept us upright up till now is the advent of the “green revolution”, meaning farmers over the years have poured an avalanche of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides on farms, which have increased crop yields dramatically. On the other hand that which at first was seen as salvation has turned into more of an evolving disaster by polluting the waters and ecosystems that we depend on even more for our survival. Besides, how long can we really expect to get away with the fertilizer-pesticide trade-off when available tillable acreage is already maxed out and steadily losing ground to the new mega-cities and the ever-spreading suburbs?

Still, the estimate is One Billion people go hungry everyday, and that unfortunately is a very conservative number depending on what your definition of hungry is. The much more likely figure approaches two billion, and another billion living in what can generously be described as squalor. 

But agronomy only explains the reason we have been able to attempt to feed Seven Billion people. That does not explain the fundamental cause of  the population explosion. The precipitous increase in populations – in 1930 there were only Two Billion people in the world and today it has more than tripled – is due to the ongoing marriage of technology and medical science. In a very short time period of 80 years we have moved from an average life span of 59 to almost 80 for both men and women in developed countries such as the United States, and even longer life spans in some European and Asian countries. We have the ability to actually extend a substantial number of people’s lives out to 100 years old, and that is with just a minimum of preventative health meaures during a lifetime. 

In other words: lay off the food, alcohol, cigarettes, get off the couch and at least walk around the block on a regular basis. And when, and it is only a question of when, we finally find a cure for the majority of cancers there will be another explosion of people able to live well into their 90’s and 100’s! Now that is a predicament fraught with more than its share of moral ambiguity.

Have we even considered that eventuality? Have we even done one iota of planning for that eventuality? Of course not. None of us believe we are going to be the ones warehoused in some nursing home – the new phrase of choice is assisted living facility. For those of us lucky enough to not have had the experience of caring and visiting our mothers, fathers, family and friends in such facilities, here is the daily routine for your later years:

  • Sleep 12 hours at night
  • A staff person will help you dress and move you to your wheelchair
  • A staff person or two will then take you to the toilet or change your soiled Depends. If you are too heavy they will have to lift you with a “cherry picker” and wheel you to the toilet
  • A staff person will then wheel you down to one or two dining rooms for breakfast: one is for people that can still feed themselves and the other is for the more aged or disabled who cannot feed themselves – a liquid pureed diet is the norm at this point
  •  A staff person will then wheel you back up to your double room after breakfast.  For many of the patients they will be either undressed and put back to bed, or a few will rest or read if they still have their eyesight, or watch a blaring television if they can both see and hear to some degree
  • Any conversation will revolve around the “lousy food” or “lousy care” – which is mostly completely undeserved – but at that point in your life you have completely reverted back to the child centered I, and consequently, you live in a fantasy world of your own making
  • The above routine will repeat itself twice more for lunch and dinner, and then it’s time for bed
  • You will do that 365 days a year until you die
  • Anybody care to volunteer for early duty in the nearest Assisted Living Facility

This is all happening now, not sometime in the future. Does anyone truly believe that our final years will be better with Nine Billion people on the planet?

But what about the argument that the population explosion is slowing in rate of increase. In the end who knows whether that will really happen or not. It hasn’t happened yet and the years between now and 2045 offer plenty of opportunities for further blips in fertility- replacement rates. Our sociopathic obsession with sex and bringing into this world more children than most people can either care for or afford seems unending. Certainly the unrelenting corporate baby marketing cartel is always going full steam, and not likely to give in to logic and common sense anytime soon. 

Lastly, according to National Geographic, in 2030 the largest generation of adolescents in history will then be entering their childbearing years. That is less than 20 years from now. And the NG article adds a sobering conclusion to that undeniable event: IF each woman has only two children, populations will continue to increase under their own momentum for another 25 years.

That is a very important if. The combination of less than 20 years and the largest generation of adolescents is not likely to bring the desired results, especially if what we are churning out of high schools right now is any indication.

So, is it all over? What stands between us and nine billion people? Probably nothing! All we can do is hope it will be no more than nine billion and begin the process of planning for such an eventuality that will hopefully be the zenith. But that will only happen if we begin to take measures now that will guarantee that dramatically falling fertility-replacement rates are in place well before 2045.

One can only imagine what world fertility-replacement rates that are RISING at mid-century would bring with them.

Environmental degradation, overpopulation, refugees, narcotics, terrorism, world crime movements, and organized crime are worldwide problems that don’t stop at a nation’s borders.

Warren Christopher

Remember: A Billion people = 1000 Million people

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