The theory of the apocalypse: does mankind really face extinction?


Since ancient times, people are afraid of the unknown. As early as the dawn of history, the primitive aborigines died in horror in their caves at night, imagining that hundreds and thousands of bloodthirsty creatures hungry outside their shelter, eager to eat their tasty organs.

Many years passed, we flew into space, sank to the bottom Mariana Trench, learned how to transfer the Internet through the air, and now they put twice as much cream in the eclairs as the test. In our technological age a person, it would seem, can all – including split the planet in half, if necessary. But! Put anyone in a dark corridor, add a little bit of obscurity (for example, remote child crying from nowhere) … Be sure, panic will envelop him.

Of course, everyone has different willpower and therefore everyone copes with this in different ways. But the fact remains: fear of uncertainty is in everyone.

Why? Because there, beyond our assumptions, any devilry can occur. In the piercing blackness of obscurity, all our fears await insidiously. They are patiently frozen, they are ready, they are waiting for a man with imagination – the key to their world, and suddenly he doubts for a moment that there is really nobody in the darkness as the door opens wide …

That’s why we still have not lost interest to such a terrible, but at the same time has become utterly boulevard topic, like the end of the world. Mercilessly exploited subjects have long grown over moss: it seems that it is rather difficult to offer something new and exciting imagination in this field. But literally every year, the human society stably “explodes” from another apocalyptic prophecy, which, as a rule, is like a tsunami rolling around all the world’s media.

What we have not experienced! So, in 2010, collisions of protons of the Large Hadron Collider should lead to the formation of a wormhole, which would suck the Earth and transferred us to an alternative reality. In 2012, the whole planet was preparing for the end of the world according to the Maya calendar. Finally, in 2014 a huge asteroid flew past us, which could cause irreparable harm to all living things. And this I am already silent about the numerous abstract ends of the world (as in the case of Stephen Hawking and his cruel aliens, ready to destroy mankind at any moment) and purely religious prophecies.

However, if we look around, our world, apparently, still not destroyed. Given the huge number of apocalyptic hypotheses, statistically this is a very good result. Is humanity really lucky? Or are we just suffering from the oldest paranoia?

Ironically, scientists are leaning toward a second opinion. Despite the popularity of the end of the world among the yellow press, it is much less likely than it seems at first glance. Of course, the universe is big and terrible, but that does not mean that we all will die in a moment. At least, as we often imagine it.

Not very real scenarios of the apocalypse

But about everything in order. And we begin – with a critical analysis of the most popular (and also, in combination, least probable) theories of the apocalypse.

The alien invasion

According to the famous theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, it is worthwhile to take a reasonable alien life to notice humanity, as it is right there wipe it off the face of the Earth. This is how people deal with less developed animals (animals), and this is precisely what happens in the case of a collision of developed and less advanced civilizations (for example, conquistadors and Indians).

At one time, the fears of a well- known scientist spread throughout the world’s media, stirring up the imagination of broad Mass. However, this theory of apocalypse has a significant drawback. The fact is that Hawking proceeded from the assumption that aliens are somehow similar to humans – and people of the 15-19 centuries.

Of course, it is naive to pretend that we have already experienced a period of merciless wars. However, as it develops, the human civilization exponentially becomes less and less bloodthirsty.

Thus, it is likely that by the time people start to learn other planets, they will simply forget how to fight and behave peacefully. What can we say about a hypothetical extraterrestrial civilization that can overtake humanity for billions of years ahead.

Jill Tarter, director of the SETI research center, believes that Hawking’s fears are in vain.

“The visit of aliens to Earth will mean that their technical capabilities are high enough to not feel the need for slaves, food or other people’s planets. I hope that extraterrestrial civilizations are not only more technologically advanced than we are, but also more aware of the value and rarity of life in space, “says Tarter.

Of course, this does not mean that the warlike alien race will ever appear in the sky and will not destroy us all. Nevertheless, this means that Hollywood’s favorite script about a bloody alien invasion has a chance to remain just a fantasy of writers.

And what is the point of alienation for the aliens to destroy humanity? Grab the planet for resources? But the Earth is one of the many thousands of planets in the Milky Way! The resources with which it is rich can be found in abundance in any other part of the cosmos. Consequently, it is absolutely no reason for us to attack extraterrestrial beings – it’s much more interesting to simply observe the development of tiny angry primates trying to build their civilization.

AI will destroy the world

According to forecasts of many prominent scientists and experts in the field of robotics, already in In the near future robots, computers and artificial intellects will take away most of our jobs, fundamentally change our society and become an integral part of our lives. But does this mean that, in the final analysis, AI, as proponents of this theory of apocalypse believe, will be the end for all mankind?

First of all, the opponents of machine learning argue that in connection with the rapid development of artificial intelligence technologies, robots will eventually decide destroy “too faulty” Homo Sapiens as a species to create a new ideal world without people. And it is not a fact that humanity will find its John Connor or Neo, capable of creating pockets of resistance.

Well or, at best, the replacement of people with machines will occur gradually: in particular, the philosopher Nick Bostrom, already known to us on the “Matrix” believes that full competition between limited slow biological evolution “people” and rapidly developing intelligent robots is simply impossible, and someday some powerful AI in its desire to build the planet supercomputers and solar Anel just will not leave the place of humanity

“Man -. the most unreliable system. Today, hackers often turn to the principles of social engineering in order to gain access to someone else’s computer. And if the super-intellect turns out to be a hacker-manipulator, then it can be assumed that he will easily use us against our will as his hands and feet, “states Bostrom.

But how likely is this scenario? Skeptics believe that it is not.

In the opinion of doubters, robots will forever remain only a small application to humans, and technological singularity is just another “sci-fi scenario,” that is, a bloated soap bubble. [19659018] “Remember the cities under the domes, jetpacks, underwater cities, buildings a mile high and nuclear cars – all the futuristic fantasies of my childhood did not become a reality. Similarly, there is not the slightest reason to believe in an approaching singularity. The fact that you visualize the future with imagination does not mean that it is possible, “believes the Canadian-American scientist and popularizer of science Stephen Pinker.

More recently, it seemed to mankind that the road to the singularity will be direct and fast enough, however, as technology advances, scientists have realized that computational power in itself is not a magical dust that miraculously solves all problems. A true intellect is still something more than the ability to think about a problem longer or at a faster rate than the rest. A dog that thinks faster can hardly play chess, since intelligence depends on a number of other things, including years of study and experience, and not the fact that we can cut this path for AI, simply increasing the computational speed.

Except This, the proponents of singularity also banally confuse the possession of sufficient intelligence to perform a task with the ability to improve one’s mind. Look at the best example of a reasonable system: people. Despite the millennium of development, it is still much easier for us to learn to perform a specific task, rather than learning how to acquire knowledge as a whole. To learn a new language, speaking in simple words, did not become easier; We are still unable to use the mind to improve our intellect.

Although no one will deny that the robots of the future in many industries will outperform people in efficiency, nevertheless the probability of their uncontrolled exponential intellectual growth today is highly questionable. Artificial intelligence is unlikely to be improved without direct efforts on our part.

“The fundamental aspect of the limitation of Moore’s law is the fact that it is impossible to create truly intelligent machines capable of thinking like a person. Even if the machines manage to think on a par with people, they can hardly understand and calculate our actions for several moves forward. Much of what seems to be taken for granted will never be understood by them.

Of course, when we talk about artificial intelligence, we imagine that such a system should magically arise itself. But even if this happened, they would become our full partners in every sphere, without exception, but nothing more, “said co-founder Steve Wozniak.

A similar opinion is held by [Academicianandwriter Douglas Hofstadter . He believes that technological singularity can not come about, because the developing relationship between man and technology implies the development of a completely different scenario.

Perhaps we will have machines that demonstrate a superhuman level of intelligence – just a large part of their programming code will have to be painfully prescribed to ourselves. And if so, the supposed influence of AI on our economy and society will be much less dramatic than some predict. Not to mention the “robokalipsis,” which, apparently without the direct participation of people, is not possible in principle.

The asteroid will crash into the Earth

If a huge asteroid “pierces” the sky, humanity will definitely not be bothered. That’s why scientists are not lazy around the clock to monitor our stone “neighbors”: programs like Spaceguard are launched all over the world, the only task of which is to tirelessly observe the celestial bodies, identifying in advance various potential dangers. Thanks to this, today we have a fairly wide idea of what and where is in the solar system and what threat is posed to us by this or that cosmic object.

To admit, more than a thousand asteroids planetologists have really dubbed dangerous, because of what the mass- The media is often full of awesome headlines. However, everything is not so bad. The probability of such a development of events in reality is much less than what the yellow press claims. Thus, one of the most dangerous asteroids, called TV135, flying near our planet in 2013 (and which again will look to us in 2032), has a probability of collision with the Earth of only about 0.002%!

In addition, if something deadly really does get in our way, then scientists, no doubt, will find a way to avoid unenviable fate. Why am I so sure of this? Because since ancient times we know that our objective reality “works” according to clear, strict, unchanging rules. This allows us to predict the “behavior” of things and to change it as it pleases. A flying asteroid is the same triggered soccer ball, changing the trajectory of which, with proper effort, will not be particularly difficult.

Thus, as long as physical laws remain unchanged, the asteroid apocalypse does not exactly threaten us.

The Rise of the Dead [19659022] In principle, even the very idea of an uprising from the ground corpses of living beings with the help of some magical power frankly “gives away” fiction. But even if we admit the possibility of such a development of events, for humanity, the dragging dead will not be a particular problem.

On the Internet, one can find many assumptions why the zombie apocalypse is initially doomed to failure. Hypotheses differ from the laws of thermodynamics (in a cold climate, walking corpses simply freeze to the ground) and up to the laws of the jungle (the rebellious dead will go to feed dogs). However, the most realistic argument of the opponents of the zombie apocalypse is that the zombie is an absolutely unarmed enemy.

It does not matter how fast they run and how the dead bite. History shows that in the event of a clash between people with weapons and people without weapons, the latter have virtually no chance of surviving. But zombies can not even use improvised items for defense!

Of course, you personally, unlike 10% of the world’s population, can not carry absolutely no weapons. But the military has it for sure. And you can be sure – they will use it in full, destroying all the dead almost immediately after their rebellion.

Earth will change the magnetic poles

It would seem that the magnetic poles of the Earth – a topic quite narrowly specialized. Nevertheless, from time to time it manages to capture the minds of the broad masses.

For the sake of justice, for starters, I note that the magnetic poles of the Earth really migrate. Moreover, over the past 150 years they have already “passed” more than 1100 kilometers – and according to ESA calculations, some time the poles will be reversed. But why should we care?

Paranoid opinions vary. Thus, some believe that a change in the poles will lead to the mass death of important species of living things, such as birds, with long flights relying precisely on magnetic fields. In turn, this will lead to uncontrolled reproduction of insects that will eat up all of our crops, because of which we all will die from hunger.

Others go even further and express the opinion that changing the magnetic poles will make our planet vulnerable to the most dangerous solar radiation, most of which today “bounces” from the terrestrial magnetosphere. As a result, all living things will literally be scorched from the face of the Earth.

However, this is nothing more than a hypothesis that skeptics also disagree. They believe that even if the geomagnetic poles of the Earth change places, then this will not affect the life of mankind in any way.

First, the changes in the Earth’s magnetosphere are not momentary. So, according to the calculations of physicists, the duration of the current pole change should be from 100 to 1000 years – people and other living beings will be able to adapt to it in such a long period of time.

Secondly, switching of magnetic poles already happened earlier, in past. According to available calculations, the last time the poles of the Earth changed places 780 thousand years ago and there are no archaeological finds that would indicate the mass death of living beings. Moreover, most of the existing animal species have survived more than one such geomagnetic reorganization.

So the hypothesis about the apocalyptic consequences of the change in the Earth’s magnetic poles, although it sounds colorful, nevertheless, it remains in no way backed up by facts.

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