Christian Long

Nick Bostrom: Our Biggest Problems

In TED Talks on May 23, 2010 at 12:04 am

Reflection by ALEX D.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Nick Bostrom:  Our Biggest Problems

I wholeheartedly disagree with this Talk. It seems fitting that my final TED talk should be about death.

All living beings avoid death. It’s a touchy subject, and one that I unreasonably fear. But Bostrom covered only the high death tolls, and seemed to avoid the topic of over-population altogether. In a world and time when cities are overcrowded, death should almost be seen as a gift to Mother Earth. Sure, neither of us wish to die, and we wouldn’t ask for it, but it’s necessary. Our ecosystem and resources are being destroyed on a daily basis, and it’s all thanks to the large population. Species are constantly going extinct… Who is to say we’re not next?

As soon as an organism is born, as soon as they are given life, they are doomed. We are all doomed, because no one can, or will escape death. Bostrom kept reminding the audience that death is a BIG problem. It’s actually a BIG solution. The 150,000 people that die everyday lessens the impact the birthrate has on the planet’s population. Each new birth means a new mouth to feed, which doesn’t help the famine problem. Now, I don’t want to be another Thomas Malthus, who gave solutions to the growing population, yet personally did not follow his own suggestions. He actually started a family, and added to the birthrates. Other humans can also sit behind a computer screen and argue that death is necessary, but if they themselves confronted death, would panic and cling on to their own lives, which is completely natural.

Should people stop having so many children? Should there be a regulated system of birth control? That is for the individual to decide, and the government should have no control over having children, aside from enlightening the public about the rapidly increasing population, and the rapidly diminishing living space. This Talk shines no light on the high birthrates, and offers very general solutions to incredibly tacit questions.

Now, I cannot say whether or not humanity will survive the century. I can’t see the future, but I do believe in evolution. Humans have adapted and evolved in order to live, and we will continue to. That is also apart of dying: progressing to a stronger species. On the other-hand, I see humanity itself as a living being. Once humanity began, it was destined to one day fall. I offer no solutions, but only know we must delay the end. The dawn of humanity will eventually see nightfall.

Lastly, Bostrom discussed why life can’t always be perfect. That is a ridiculous question. Life cannot always be perfect, life can NEVER be perfect. Once we achieve what we see as perfection, we will eventually wish to supersede what we have experienced. I do agree with Bostrom when he says that today, perfection is superficial. We can’t always be happy. We will not always be depressed. Our human nature offers a balance of the good and bad. Those good days really do seem quite lovely after having experienced a terrible one.

I found this population clock on the web. It’s an approximation, and most likely has no evidence to back it’s calculations, but I thought it was interesting.


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