Dec 17, 2010
The problem of mankind indestructibility in disastrously unpredictable environment
Concerning development of human race indestructibility roadmap
Kononov Alexandr Anatolievich, PhD (Engineering), senior researcher, Institute of Systems Analysis, Russian Academy of Sciences, member of Russian Philosophical Society of RAS, email@example.com
Many discoveries in astronomy and earth sciences, made within the past decades, turned to be the ones of new threats and risks to the existence of humankind on the Earth and in Space. Lending itself readily is a conclusion of that our civilization is existing and evolving in a disastrously unstable environment, which is capable of destroying it any time, and only a fortunate coincidence (luck) allowed our civilization to develop up to the current level. But this “luck” will hardly be everlasting.
Dangers of human race destruction
Following below are a list of main groups of threats of global catastrophes and several examples of the threats.
Disasters resulting from geological processes. Supervolcanos, magnetic pole shift, earth faults and the processes running in deeper strata of the Earth
Disasters resulting from potential instability of Sun. Superpowerful solar flares and bursts, potential instability of reactions providing for solar luminocity and temperature supporting life on the Earth
Disasters resulting from Space effects (asteroids, comets; a possibility of a malicious intrusion of an alien civilization cannot be ruled out either)
Engendered by civilization
Self-destruction. Resulting from the use of weapons of mass destruction.
Environment destruction. As a result of man-made disasters.
Self-extermination. The choice of an erroneous way of civilization evolution, say, the one limiting the pace of building up civilization’s technological strength. Given civilization existence in a disastrously unstable environment such a decision may turn to be a sentence of civilization’s self-extermination – it will simply have no time to prepare for the upcoming catastrophes. Many other theories, bearing upon the choice of directions of civilization evolution, also can, given a lop-sided non-systemic application thereof, inflict a heavy damage and prevent civilization from appropriately resolving the tasks, which would have enabled it to manage the potential disasters. Even the idea of civilization’s indestructibility, presented herein, carries a risk of justifying super-exploitation (sacrificing the living generations) for the sake of solving the tasks of civilization’s indestructibility. Hence, importance of the second part of this ideology – raising the culture of keeping the family and individual memory. Remarkably, this culture may act as a defense from a variety of other risks of dehumanization and moral degradation of civilization.
Provoking nature instability. For instance, initiating greenhouse effect and climatic changes.
Threats of civilization destruction endangered by new technologies and civilization evolution (civilization dynamics). These are threats which humankind must learn to handle as new technologies emerge and space developed (space expansion). For example, the emergence of information society gave rise to a whole industry handling security problems (cyber security) arising when using computer and telecoms technologies. The necessity of diverting huge resources for solving security problems associated with new technologies is an inevitable prerequisite of progress. It must be understood and taken for granted that solving the problems of security of each new technological or civilizational breakthrough (e.g., creation of extraterrestrial space colonies) may come to be many times as costly as the price of their materialization. But this is the only way of ensuring security of progress, including that of space expansion.
Threat of life destruction on a space scale
These are largely hypothetical threats, but the known cases of collisions and explosions of galaxies are indicative of that they may but be ignored. These are:
The presence of a huge number of threats to the survival of civilization makes civilization’s indestructibility to be the main task, and sooner, with regard to the scale and importance, the central supertask. The other global civilizational supertasks and tasks such as extension of human life, rescuing mankind from diseases, hunger, stark social inequality (misery, poverty), crime, terrorism largely become senseless and lose their moral potential, if the central supertask – civilization’s indestructibility – is not being handled. Ignoring this supertask implies a demonstrable indifference to the fate of civilization, to the destiny of future generations, thereby depriving the living generations of an ethical foundation because of immorality and cruelty (to the future generations, thus doomed to death) of such a choice.
So, what potential ways of solving this central supertask of civilization are available?
Generally speaking, the current practice of responding to the threats suggests looking for ways of guarding against each one of them. But the quantity and scale of threats to civilization destruction as well as fundamental impossibility of defending from them in any other way but only by breaking the dependence of civilization fate on the places where these threats exist, render a conclusion that a relatively reliable (in relation to other possible solutions, say, by creating protective shells or arks) solution of the task of civilization’s indestructibility can be provided only by way of space expansion. Yet, keeping in mind that there are no absolutely safe places in all of the Universe and, probably, across the Creation, the task of civilization salvation comes to a strive for a maximum distribution of civilization, maintaining unity, across a possibly maximum number of spaces along with possession of considerable evacuation potential in each one of them.
So civilization space expansion ought to imply surmounting civilization’s dependence on the habitats, which may be destroyed. And the first task along the line implies surmounting mankind’s dependence on the living conditions on the Earth and on the Earth fate. It may be solved by a purposive colonization of the solar system. That is by establishing technologically autonomous colonies on all planets or their moons, where this is possible, and by creating autonomous interplanetary stations, prepared for full technological independence from the Earth.
This must be accompanied by a gradual shift of manufacturing operations, critical for the fate of civilization and hazardous for the Earth environment, beyond the limits of our planet and distribution thereof across the solar system. The planet of Earth shall be gradually assigned the role of environmentally sound recreational zone designed for vacations and life after retirement
Solution of this task, i.e. establishment of colonies technologically independent upon the Earth and shifting critical operations beyond the Earth boundaries, can apparently take about 1,000 years. Though the history of the 20th century showed that humankind is capable of producing so many technological surprises within a mere 100 years! Note that this was done in spite of the fact that its smooth development, during the 100 years, was impeded by 2 world wars, disastrous in terms of their scale, numerous civil wars and bloody conflicts. Technological breakthroughs, given peaceful and goal-oriented activities, will probably make it possible to handle the tasks of severing civilization’s dependence on the fate of the Earth, solar system, etc. at a much higher pace than can be imagined now.
Try to define individual phases of potential space expansion, implying a marked upsurge in civilization’s indestructibility.
Upon surmounting the humanity’s fate dependence upon the fate of the Earth, next along the line shall come the task of getting over the dependence of civilization’s fate on the fate of solar system. This task will have to be coped with by colonizing spaces at a safe distance from our solar system. The expected time of accomplishment (given no incredible, from modern perspective, technological breakthroughs) spans scores thousands of years.
Then come the tasks of severing civilization’s fate dependence upon the fate of individual intragalaxy spaces and on the fate of Milky Way and Metagalaxy. The possibility of solving these tasks will, apparently, be determined only by a potential emergence of new technologies unpredictable today.
Same applies to solving the next tasks, say, doing away with civilization’s fate dependence upon the fate of the Universe. It seems now that solution of this kind of tasks will be possible through the control of all critical processes running in the Universe, or through discovering technologies enabling transportation to other universes (if any of these exist), or by way of acquiring technologies for creation of new universes suitable as new backup (evacuation) living spaces of civilization.
An absolute guarantee of civilization’s safety and indestructibility can be produced only by the control of the Creation, be it is achievable and feasible in principle. But it is precisely this option that any civilization in Cosmos must strive at so as to be absolutely sure of its indestructibility.
Assume that Humanity is not the only civilization setting the supertask of indestructibility. What will happen given a meeting with other civilizations setting similar tasks?
It would be safe in assuming, at this point of reasoning, natural occurrence of an objective law, which may be referred to as Ethical Filter Law.
Ethical Filter Law: it is only civilizations with a rather high ethical potential, barring them from self-annihilation given availability of technologies capable of turning into the means of mass destruction during intra-civilization conflicts, which can evolve up to the level of civilization capable of space expansion on interplanetary and intergalaxy scale.
In other words, civilizations with high technologies at hand but failing to learn to behave are either destroyed, as any inadequately developed civilizations, by natural disasters which they are incapable of managing because of the lack of appropriate capabilities, which they had no time to develop probably not least because of wasting efforts and allocated time on self-annihilation (wars).
Given two and more space civilizations, which strive towards indestructibility and which managed to get through the ethical filter, probably the most productive way of their co-existence can become a gradual unification thereof for solving the tasks of indestructibility of all civilizations, which managed to get through the ethical filter.
We may leave room for the existence of totalitarian civilizations capable of bypassing the above filter for they did not face a problem of self-annihilation because of their primordial unity. But, as is seen from historical experience of humankind, totalitarian civilizations (regimes) are more prone to undermining their own, nominally human potential due to the repressive mechanisms keeping them afloat, and are not capable of generating effective incentives for a progressive development, primarily technological one. That is, they are unviable in principle.
The potential specific principles of interaction with such totalitarian space civilizations must therefore be developed upon the emergence of this type of problems, if it becomes clear that they really can arise. Meanwhile we may treat the possibility of meeting such civilizations, which may turn to be hostile towards humankind, as any other space threat, whose repulsion will be dependent upon availability of sufficient civilization capacities required for handling this kind of tasks.
Qualities of indestructible civilization
Apparently it is the civilization keen to augment its potential for meeting threats and risks of its destruction that has more chances for becoming indestructible.
The indestructible civilization has policies stimulating responsibility of the current generations before the next ones. And vice versa, civilizations deeming it senseless to show a deep concern of their future and of the fate of upcoming generations are doomed either to a gradual self-extermination or to destruction upon the very first apocalypse.
Following below are only answers and conclusions, questions ipso facto:
Ø An indestructible civilization must strive to severing dependence of its fate on the fate of the place of its original and current habitation, i.e. to space expansion.
Ø An indestructible civilization must strive to increasing its own population and to a higher quality of life and skills of each individual. Apparently, given colonization of new cosmic outreaches, the bigger the population and capabilities or, conditionally speaking, civilization’s human potential, the bigger its capacities for handling the problems of progress, space expansion, ensuring its permanent prosperity and security.
Ø An indestructible civilization must strive to unity. All efforts towards civilization development and space expansion will be of no avail, should civilization disintegrate to an extent rendering it incapable of solving the evacuation tasks of rescuing those who happen to be in the area of disastrous manifestations of space elements.
Ø An indestructible civilization must strive to raising ethical standards of its development, for this will permit it: not to destroy itself upon getting hold of the ever new technologies (which can be used as the means of mass destruction) and maintain civilization unity, which will in its turn provide opportunities for handling mass transcosmic evacuation tasks, the tasks of transgeneration responsibility and other indestructibility problems.
One can ascertain the existence of objective threats to human civilization by turning, for example, to the materials on “Multiverse Dossier” site. Similarly, there are objectively existing civilization capabilities, which will enable it to counter possible catastrophes. Apparently, these capabilities must be controlled. That is, the tasks of their build up must be set, the factors augmenting these capacities be accounted for and promoted. There is need for scientific concepts and theories underpinning problems of civilization indestructibility potential control.
It is suggested to use the following concepts as the initial steps towards development of a scientific frame of reference relative to civilization indestructibility problems:
- civilization indestructibility potential;
- civilization competitiveness;
- competitiveness of social components making up civilization.
Civilization indestructibility capacities are defined as the qualities, achievements and characteristics of civilization enabling it, given the emergence of circumstances threatening its degradation or destruction, to counteract these developments and prevent civilization death or degradation.
There is a great deal of objective developments (threats, risks) which may, given a certain course of events, lead to civilization collapse, i.e. come to be stronger or, as is routinely said, higher than it. Yet, civilization is known to have certain capacities, qualities, capabilities which may enable it to counteract these circumstances. That is objectively, there are some relations (ratio) of potential forces. Let us refer to these relations as competition. Then it would be safe in saying that there is an objective competition between the developments, capable of destroying the civilization, and civilization’s capacities to counteract these circumstances and surmount them. It is precisely the civilization’s capacities to counteract potential circumstances (threats, risks), which may destroy or weaken it, that we shall refer to as civilization competitiveness.
Apparently, civilization competitiveness, just as any capabilities, may be developed by, say, building up competitive advantages (indestructibility capacities).
Now turn to the concepts of competitiveness of social components making up civilization.
Civilization is primarily its carriers. Humanity is, in the first place, people and social structures they are part of. The reality is that our civilization is made up of nations (state nations and ethnic nations). As is seen from history, civilization progress and well-being are largely dependent upon the progress and well-being of individual nations, on prosperity of societies, families and individuals.
Prospering nations push civilization forward. Living conditions of prosperous nations create conditions for their representatives to handle the tasks promoting civilization’s progress. At the same time, individual nations also face problems and circumstances, which may force these nations, along with the entire civilization, to regress, the circumstances leading individual nation to destruction.
It is therefore very important to understand that as there is, quite objectively, competition of civilization and circumstances, which may destroy it, so, as objectively, there is competition of each nation with the circumstances, which may weaken the nation and lead it to a state where it, instead of being one of the forces strengthening and promoting competitiveness of civilization at large, comes to be a factor weakening the civilization. The nation’s competitiveness in securing its permanent prosperity must therefore become a national idea of each nation, the adherence to which will enable it to incorporate in its life some objective criteria to be used in making any vital decisions by way of assessing their impact on competitiveness potential and competitive advantages of the nation securing its permanent prosperity.
Of course, as far as nation’s competitiveness is concerned, the point is of competitiveness of similar topics considered for civilization as a whole, i.e. of competitiveness with risks, threats, circumstances which may lead nations to catastrophes but by no means to competition with other nations, for this kind of competition is a way to destruction or weakening of the competing nations and civilization as a whole. In the final count, the correctly perceived idea of nations’ competitiveness must bring them to unification thereof for securing indestructibility of the entire human civilization. We are witnessing examples of a positive movement along the line in both collective space exploration on board the international space station and in the development of the European Union made up of countries which had been fighting with each other for centuries. In the majority of advanced countries, security, prosperity and permanence of nation’s prosperity have already become a national idea. In October last year, the nation’s competitiveness was declared a national idea in Kazakhstan. Take the speech of N.A.Nazarbaev, President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, at the 12th session of the Assembly of the peoples of Kazakhstan (Astana, 24 October 2006, http://www.zakon.kz/our/news/print.asp?id=30074242 ) where the nation’s competitiveness was just declared national idea. Then it should be noted that not a word was uttered about any competition with other nations, the point was only of the nation’s competitiveness in relation to challenges and problems facing the country. High rates of Kazakhstan development in recent years say for the fruitfulness of the choice of precisely this way of development.
Then, in considering social structure of civilization, it would be right to speak of family and individuals. No doubt, the family largely determines both the development and daily state and capacities of the individual. It would be only right, therefore, to speak of competitiveness of families and individuals, again using the term “competitiveness” in the meaning as it is defined above, i.e. not of competition between individual families and persons, which can in principle undermine ethical and other capacities of the nation and civilization, but only of competition with potential challenges, threats, risks, developments, problems.
Of course, the state and competitiveness of individual are dependent not only on the family but also on other social structures, which they may be involved with. What is more, with respect to some structures of this kind there is a traditional perception of their competitiveness implying competition precisely between this kind of structures, notably, competition between firms or any other for-profit organizations, competition between parties, etc. One cannot but admit that competitive struggle between such entities is one of the driving forces of technological, economic, social change of modern civilization. At the same time, introduction of an alternative perception of the terms “competition” and “competitiveness” as competition with challenges, developments, risks, threats, problems (which is envisaged under the frame of reference of theoretical civilization indestructibility) will probably promote a gradual formation of ethically more harmonious axiological base (values) underlying relationships of this type (commercial, political and the like) of organizations not accompanied by lower dynamics of civilization’s technological and economic change. That is the point is of that competition, in its traditional meaning, is civilization’s economic and technological driving force, but putting it mildly, does not promote development and strengthening of civilization’s ethical potential. And the point is of whether an alternative perception of competition, put forward by the theory of civilization indestructibility, can remove or mitigate the drawback of the traditional perception of the term “competition”, by improving the ethical component and introducing a refining ambiguity in the semantics of “competition” concept, simultaneously preserving the vital mechanisms of securing civilization development dynamics implied by this traditional perception?
Ray Bradbery described a “butterfly effect” in one of his stories. The hero of the story, while on excursion to the past, had crushed a butterfly, hence, the world he came back to turned to be much worse. Let alone the negative impact on humanity’s progress and competitiveness of the premature death of its representatives who could make contributions to its development and prosperity. This effect is quite correctly expressed by John Donne’s words “Do not ask for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee”. Any person deceased could well become precisely the one, who could save, for instance, cure, pull out of a critical situation, invent or create something which could, even indirectly, help the person who could, thanks to the help, gain an opportunity to save anybody or each one of us. But having died, he would no longer be capable of doing so. The death of each reduces the human potential of civilization – the major potential of its indestructibility.
Human potential constitutes a basis of competitiveness of both any nation and civilization as a whole. Also, one can put it differently: competitiveness of each is a foundation of competitiveness of civilization. Of that the greatest problems exist precisely in this area is evidenced, for example, by the fact that about 1 million people commit suicide every year in the world – the odds turned to be against them. Many more people die because of, mildly speaking, ethical imperfection of human relations – murders (including those in the course of military operations), violence, famine, non-delivery of adequate medical care and other assistance. In this connection, a new rethinking of the terms “competition” and “competitiveness” in the light of the concepts of humanity indestructibility theory (HUT), built in these terms, can provide hope for improvement of the current situation.
What else can theoretical development of the problems of civilization indestructibility produce? Note just two directions:
The importance of a set of objective indicators and criteria for decision making, taking into account the vital necessity of building up the potential of indestructibility and competitive advantages of civilization can be judged by at least from an example such as closing the Moon exploration programmes in the 1970’s. The bulk of the huge resources invested in the projects was, in the final count, just buried because neither the USA, nor the USSR had any sufficiently convincing motives for continuation of these programmes. As a result, several decades of space evolution of civilization were just lost. And the resources and funds which could be invested in space expansion were spent on satisfying the ambitions along the lines devastating for civilization, namely, US war in Vietnam and USSR war in Afghanistan.
The idea of the necessity of developing the culture of keeping family and individual memory of each person living on the Earth, being an integral component of HUT and a major defence mechanism against potentially incorrect, hence destructive application of the key concepts of humanity indestructibility theory is an example of systems solutions contributing to a higher competitiveness of civilization and its social components.
Modern digital technologies make it possible to keep memory of each person. Should there emerge and develop a culture of keeping and passing digital information (memory) of one’s self, one’s relations and friends over from generation to generation, then the best features of each can be remembered forever. Each one would be in a position to preserve one’s ideas and thoughts for good, keep the memory of the very interesting and important instants in one’s life, of the one he/she knew and loved, and who was dear to him/her. Thus, each one would be in a position to remain a fraction of human civilization memory for good. Nobody will leave this world vanishing into thin air, each will always be remembered.
It seems the culture of keeping family and individual memory may improve humanity’s competitiveness by providing for:
Ø Higher responsibility:
l of the living generations before the upcoming ones;
l of state leaders for the decisions made;
l people before one another;
Ø Better human relations:
l between representatives of different generations in the family;
l higher status of each person – each one will always be a part of human civilization memory;
Ø Defence mechanism:
l from political speculations like: “life for the sake of future generations”;
l from cruelty of authorities;
l from cruelty in interpersonal relations ;
Ø Mechanism of refining human nature and building up civilization’s ethical potential;
Ø Creation of a core, nucleus, root securing unity of civilization in its space expansion, when moving across the immense space;
In summarizing the arguments produced in evidence of the necessity of developing theoretical solution of the task of civilization indestructibility, it may be noted that the quantity of sub-tasks subject to solution for solving the main task can turn to be huge, and virtually each one of these places demand on construction of its paradigms, its theoretical elaboration. Therefore, at the first phase of developing the theory of civilization indestructibility it makes sense to speak of the general theoretical principles, of general theory of indestructibility, and only thereafter, as deeper solutions of individual, special and partial tasks are found, start building special theories linked to the requirements of development of individual capacities (technological, ethical, evacuation, etc.) and solution of the tasks of a higher competitiveness (in terms of indestructibility theory) of individual social components.
What must the statement of the problems of civilization indestructibility and space expansion give to the living generations of people?
Ø Alleviation of the risks of war – nothing undermines civilization indestructibility capacities as heavily as wars. MIC resources must be redirected to handling the tasks of and creating capacities for space expansion and Cosmos colonization.
Ø Justification of importance of higher living standards of people – for only the high living standards enable the possibly maximum number of people to master the sophisticated technologies, realize their talents on their basis, and contribute to the development of ever new and sophisticated technologies. The authorities will increasingly understand that the nations’ competitiveness is largely dependent upon living standards of people, and that social programmes are not wasting money but rather laying a foundation and an important prerequisite of a permanent prosperity and competitiveness of nations.
Ø Attaching new sense to human life. A more responsible attitude of people to their own and others’ lives, higher ethical standards of human relations, hence, lowering crime rate and terrorist activities.
Ø A major ideological justification for conflict resolution, unification of nations and civilization as a whole.
Ø New living spaces.
Ø New sources of raw materials.
Ø New employment sectors and jobs.
Ø New markets.
1. Lefevre V.A. Space Subject. Moscow, Kogito-Centr Publishing house, 2005, 220p.
2. Nazaretyan A.P. Civilizational Crises in the Context of Universal History. 2-nd ed. Moscow, Mir Publishing house, 2004, 367 p.
3. Hvan M.P. A Violent Universe: from the Big Bang up to Accelerated Expansion, from Quarks to Superstrings. Moscow, URSS Publishers, 2006, 408p.
4. Narlikar Jayant "Violent Phenomena in the Universe", Oxford UP, 1984, 246 р.
 This law is known in a somewhat benign definition, not associated with the problems of civilization space expansion and competitiveness, as a law of techno-humanitarian balance [Nazaretyan A.P., 2004, p. 112]: “the greater the power of productive and combat technologies, the greater the need for more sophisticated tools of cultural regulation for preserving the society”.