Milliongenerations:Criticism

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This page is intended for criticism of milliongenerations.org, its cause and its approach. Please don't hold back. Kindly don't delete the opinion of others, even if you don't agree (feel free to clarify or regroup, though).

If you do like something about it or think something should be done (very or somewhat) differently, don't bother expressing it here, just improve site or discuss the relevant pages.

Contents

Criticism of the purpose of milliongenerations.org

Please add what you think is wrong or unhelpful about the cause or purpose of milliongenerations.org, what you don't like, or warn about the unwelcome results this effort could lead to or why you think it would be better if this site did not exist. Some risks have been discussed and were dismissed. You might not agree with their dismissal and you might have identified additional risks.

N.B. If on you have ideas how to do improve the purpose of this effort, please express them, e.g. by discussing or improving the motivation, the purpose or the Main Page of milliongenerations.org.

  • It's not so clear that sustainability is the most appropriate frame. I think it suggests to people the question of how we can take what we have now and modify it so that it is indefinitely sustainable. But I think we need to keep the rocket engines on until we've reached escape velocity. Thus we may need to go deeper into a phase of unsustainability first in order to get to a different kind of sustainability at the other end (say rapidly outwardly expanding but inwardly sustainable multi-galaxy super-high-tech civilization with posthuman population size maybe billions of times greater than now...!) It is true that issues of sustainability can arise even in a context of posthuman super-technology (see e.g. Nick Bostrom's article on the future of human evolution and Hanson's paper on burning the cosmic commons). Yet it does cast the present challenge in a different light. I believe the current focus should be not be so much to get into the right kind of state but to get onto the right kind of trajectory. (27 Oct 2008)
  • I would tend to put a bit more weight also not just on sustainable civilization but on sustainable people. I don't see human persons as disposable so long as civilization survives. Thus, I'm interested in life extension, cryonics, etc. Moreover, I don't think success should be measured in the number of additional generations there will be. The number of additional quality-adjusted life-years would be closer to the mark, but still not exactly right, in my opinion. (27 Oct 2008)
  • You're wasting your time. As Stephen Hawking says “Our only chance of long term survival is to … spread out into space.” Abandon ship!
  • Some claim that civilization is the problem for survival of the species rather than a solution. Homides survived as hunter-gathers for millions of years. Daniel Quinn's in his novel Ishmael suggested that humans that detached themselves from nature when starting agriculture, thus forming civilization and creating unsustainable situations. The massive extinction of species is cited to make the point. It has been argued that population should once again be limited by reduced food supply. New tribalists, or adherents of Neotribalism consider returning to tribal lifestyles, technological or not.
    • (The following seems à response to critizism) Regarding the million-year horizon, prehistoric living conditions might indeed be a survival strategy, albeit for a severely reduced population and frequently in a fight for individual survival, and therefore probably not meeting what is understood as civilization in the context here. If technologies were abandoned, they might be hard to return to, as the resources consumed in recent times might prevent technological re-development for a long time, but is unclear how such societies could be prevented from becoming agrarian again. Given that the aspirations of the human who lived in those times brought us to where we are, it is not clear why we should prefer to return, nor how majorities could be convinced to do so. What is more, on the billion year horizon, events such as asteroids would be expected to extinguish any species not possessing advanced technology, so a non-technical solution is not in line with the assumption. Most of us seem to enjoy the results of civilization and the challenge to make it last should be met.
  • Humanity is unsuitable to realize sustainable civilizations. Man, as he/she is at the moment, generally is egoistic with very limited emotional horizon. It is untypical for man to make larger sacrifices for spacially, temporally or socially removed causes. Bees, or ants, or naked mole rats would be a different story. Man, we'd have to change or force to give up something of his ways for the goal of continued civilization... (11 and 25 Oct 08, summarized)
  • No chance, the competitive model is way too successful. (14 Oct 08)
  • million generations - this is a very long time; perhaps beyond our scope of thought... it would seem that a shorter horizon might be easier (21 Sep 09)
  • Future and environment are for people with children, I don't have children. (overheard 20 Oct 09)
  • Happiness is the wrong starting point. The pursuit of happiness leads to uncontained consumption and causes unsustainability. (been told in Jan 11)
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Criticism of the intent to engage everyone interested in a public discussion

Please add what you think is wrong or unhelpful about the intent of milliongenerations.org to ask everyone interested (e.g., rather than only experts) in a public discussion on the internet that is visible to all (rather than e.g., a closed discussion or peer review journal article). If you have suggestions on how to do it better, feel free to discuss or improve the respective topics directly.

  • It lets people express their views even if they are wrong or have bad intentions
  • electronic communities thrive when there is a shared purpose to their activities... the presence or absence of this purpose can make or break the community (2 Oct 09)
  • The desire to increase one's reputation (aka chances for reproductive success) is a major motivation. Requiring to publish ideas in a public forum can remove that motivation and might even "scorch the earth" as people will be motivated to pursue what they conceived themselves rather than already published ideas.
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Criticism of the perspective / the way of thinking imposed by milliongenerations.org

Please add what you think is wrong or unhelpful about the approach of milliongenerations.org to ask what follows from the assumption and to keep a firm focus on philosophical questions about the long term future rather than taking actions to change the present. If you have suggestions on how to do it better, feel free to discuss or improve the respective topics directly. If you want to take actions to achieve a sustainable civilization, please do so or engage with other initiatives.

  • Such thinking does not lead to practical steps. I'd rather do something. (May 08)
  • Thinking about the end of the earth is psychologically challenging, unpleasant. (11 Feb 09)
  • You want to maximize happiness on earth, but leave human nature out of the picture... (15 Aug 09)
  • The premise that "life is wonderful" seems to follow an ideology (16 Aug 09)
  • The perspective is antropocentric, or at least values life that can accumulate cognitive knowledge above other forms of life or existence. (Sep 10)
  • This is too abstract. No one is interested, so it doesn't reach anyone. (Jan 11)
  • The 'deductive exercise' imposed by the assumption seems like Russel & Whitehead's Principia Mathematica, you think you have something useful but someone will come along and find a fault, putting a hole in the the theory. (Jun11)
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Criticism of the environment / platform used by milliongenerations.org

Please add what you think is wrong or unhelpful about the environment of milliongenerations.org, the environment or the prize concept used or envisioned for the discussions. If you believe it can be improved, please discuss or improve the respective sites, e.g. on the environment.

  • The open to all wiki environment invites commercial use for unrelated purposes, spam and vandalism, it is expensive to maintain the focus. --Sysop 07:42, 13 May 2010 (UTC)
  • The system put in place recently seems to reduce spam, but put a much higher burden on users. If the question captcha is effective, couldn't one re-admit unregistered users (and unprotect pages)? --Anybody 22:07, 4 April 2011 (UTC)
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Criticism of the handling of the Foundation milliongenerations.org in its handling of this site

Please add what you think is wrong or unhelpful about the way the Foundation milliongenerations.org organizes or handles the site or communicates the existence and cause of milliongenerations.org. If you think it can be improved, please list or discuss what needs to be done and consider getting involved with the Foundation by making yourself available to be elected to the board. ContactFoundation.png

  • The questions are too abstract and boring. It doesn't interest people.
  • All this talk about "happiness", "vision" and "life is wonderful" is esoteric and appalling. (4Apr09)
  • 'open source think tank is an appalling title.' (15Jun11)
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Other criticism

Just add whatever criticism that doesn't fit anywhere else...

  • All this phony order and structure and imposing paternalism just drive me nuts!!!!!
  • Den ganzen Scheiß hier kann ich nicht lesen.
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