Schloer Consulting Group

Overpopulation, Ethics and Technology

Hardy F. Schloer

Maslov’s hierarchy of human needs is a theory in psychology and human values.  Ultimately it is a theory of human perception. Perception however is mostly created and occupied by modern tools of ‘perception-engineering’ such as political campaigning, marketing, advertising and well funded special interest groups that are all vying to define the needs and wants we are supposed to have.  And let us not forget religion, which also shapes and influences the minds and behaviors of us individually, and our communities for desired outcomes.  Religion, arguably of human creation, is the most ancient tool that has been wielded to dominate human values since the dawn of civilization.

Within this context, I am afraid that the exclusive application of Maslov’s filter is an approach that poses a no win situation in terms of solving real physical human conditions within the context of the problems discussed here.  The global perception-engineering machine is powerful; funded and controlled by an elite few.  Its output is ridden with conflicting messages that leave people with no choice but to assimilate the illogical disparities, and often hypocrisy.  No conspiracy theories here.  This is just the way the system works; all by itself; this is what we have, for better or worse. It’s our evolution of human behavior and values.

There is a huge difference between the way Maslov intends to improve the world through better values and the brutal way reality has manifested itself.

Let me explain it by example:

A few years ago, I had a discussion with an American lawyer about human rights. He argued in a sort of sarcastic way, that a human life is totally worthless. He said: “any high school dropout can make a baby, but how hard is it to make for example a million dollars? Making money is hard; making ‘life’ is easy. Therefore, money has a much higher value in our society than life.  Money buys the right to live; poverty, the necessity to die.

This conversation took place some 35 years ago. Today this is much more the reality than at that time.

Now, let’s get to the discussion about overpopulation. From biblical times until about 400 or 500 years ago, we welcomed many children per household as an important contribution to our sustainability, and the continuation of our tribes. Children were a welcomed gift to expand our ability to work and create in the most prolific ways as a group. Labor forces and security (soldiers) needed humans to compete with other tribes, families or societies for strength and survival. But then things changed. The age of technological industrialization arrived. Technology has made humans increasingly unnecessary in nearly all aspects of practical life.  This trend is exponential. Here, traditional values and seemingly moral obligations dictate one set of behaviors – but in the praxis of the modern technological advanced world, it dictates another. Humans began to interact less with each other, and more with the system. We began to read about humans more in newspapers, or see them on television, more than actually talking to them. We began a age of synthetic social interaction, disconnecting from each other little by little.

The advent of the Internet has further eroded the human-to-human contact in the service industry, where most of our former services that were once carried out through human interaction now become intelligent web applications. We have become used to the fact, that technology serves us anonymously, and without any human contact.

Nevertheless, these new technologies were never defined or aimed to serve humanity, but only to make money, and fast. Technology therefore, as it is currently defined, is competing with the need of human existence. In an environment where we need or want less and less contact with humans, and where we become more and more weighed down by the existence of too many humans on this planet, the pressing question stands unanswered in the room: How do we get rid of the superfluous mass of human life on the planet, the large population that uses up all the resources, and brings no advantage otherwise?

We have totally flipped in our deep feelings about humanity. We begin to dislike humans, and love all synthetic reinventions of human contact such as Facebook, or an explosively rising number of ‘social and dating sites’ across the Internet, where we pretend to socialize endlessly with others, but without ever having to have actual contact with them in reality. We seem to reject with the very concept of humanity. America invented the ‘zero-tolerance-justice’, a fast spreading concept now, and probably we will soon demand death penalties even for minor offences such as ‘spitting on the sidewalk’.

The dawn of the technological age has brought a serious competition to human life in a most profound way. Technology will advance further, and faster. Humans will not; at least not at the speed of the machines we are now capable of building. When the Russian grand master in chess lost against the Big Blue Supercomputer of IBM a few years ago, a incredible realization did set in: the last domain, ‘human reasoning’, had been taken away from humanity by the evolution of the intelligent machine. This feast of technology by IBM was some time ago. Today we, the global community are building machines that are 1000s of times smarter and more observant than that, winning chess games against the human experts. Whoever followed the Watson project last year, when it competed in the game show ‚Jeopardy‘, knows now that the machine has already become smarter in a rational sense, than any human we can produce naturally. It’s a fact. No need for discussion here.

All this has not only been disenchanting to humans, but it has actually exposed brutally their weaknesses and made us understand that we can soon produce everything and anything without the need for human labor or human thinking, or the so-called human touch. Machines will soon produce themselves. In 20 to 30 years we will be able to build robots that can do completely everything humans can do, and better. They are doing it already now.

Humans become obsolete in terms of a necessity to maintain the flow of our world.  Maybe we will soon watch the Olympics of Robots. It will probably be more entertaining. We already retreated to the world of video games. In fact, conducting war is becoming now the ultimate video game, where human operators of tanks and planes will sit in bunkers, 1000s of miles away from the war zone to direct remote-controlled machines to do the killing for us, and sending us the real-time camera feed for good entertainment value, broadcast by CNN into every livingroom TV on the planet (remember the Gulf War?). We become disconnected from the action, from the killing, from humanity, from ethical conduct, from everything that could save us.

Humans are viewed as no longer active contributors to the system but mass consuming and resource destroying burdens to the system. Given the fact that there will be potentially 4 to 6 billion more people on the planet in 15 to 20 years from now, we will have absolutely no reason to worship human existence anymore.  Instead we will only be thinking in terms of how to get rid of as much human life as possible, without includeding ourselves as part of the group that will be eliminated.  We will hate everybody; we will embrace human-reducing global conflict as necassery and welcome relief. ‚Too many rats in the box‘.

This is not bad science fiction. This is reality, regardless if you are for it, or against it. This is where we are headed. This needs to be understood, and soon. As technology advances, and it will, we will think of how to make increasing portions of our human population disappear, and soon.

But there is an alternative! There is a solution to this nightmarish scenario.

We must look at technology as a solution to help us, humanity, to go on. We must first of all look at all technology collectively, and as a tool of sustainable community development, not as a tool for the few to rule the planet for personal or corporate gains. We must begin to instruct technology to serve the large human ‘family’ that has accumulated on this planet, and promote peace, sustainability, responsible resource management across all humanity in a fair approach, and therefore bring dignity for all.  And yes, we also need to solve the problem of overpopulation in terms of birth-rate management, and to begin to attack the problem from both sides. The ’no condom, no abortion‘ policy of some segments of our society will need some reevaluation soon, in fact, it’s long overdue.

It is about 1 minute before 12. Currently we are totally fed up with humans. We live in an age of artificial resource and money scarcity. Scarcity is good business, and that’s why it will drive humanity further into global conflict, and potentially reduce the overpopulation problem in this unethical way.  Global conflict is also good business. We have not much time to decide which road to take: profit and death, or life and sustainability.

We must choose to solve the human overpopulation problems, redirect technology away from putting the needs and wants of big business before that of humans collectively.  Technology must focus on serving humanity collectively first.  Technology must be applied to sustain and manage our global resources intelligently and equitably. The same machine intelligence we use today to decide stock trades, or map out how we can win war, can also be harnessed to find solutions to our collective human existence. We must partner with these machines, not compete with them, or humans will only lose.

Knowing the decisions humans are most likely to make, I am afraid the answer is pro-conflict. However, if we harness these intelligent machines to find a path to real and intelligent sustainability, then we can all exist in peace and dignity.  And then, once again, we can begin to value each other’s company.

One fact is clear: we soon begin to interface with the overpopulation problem; one way or another, conflict or intelligence, the decision time is now.

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