Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Before I made this blog I actually made another blog for a few months. It was mostly in German, and is thus useless to most of you. I just re-read the first blog entry I ever wrote and found it was in English. I decided to modify it a bit and copy/paste it here. It's not really about politics, but it is about everything politics is about.

One million years BC. Imagine 10,000 isolated communities on earth, each the home of up to 100 humans. Humanity evolved in this situation and therefore it is logical to assume that we, individually, evolved in a way that we intuitively maximise the probability of survival of humanity as a whole in this situation.

Maximising the probability of survival means adjusting risks. This is comparable to stock exchange markets. A high risk generally leads to higher expected returns in the long run, but also has a higher chance of total loss. In a 10,000 communities situation, the whole of humanity maximises the probability of survival if - and only if - the individual community takes greater risks than were sensible in a one-community situation. The total loss of one community every 1000 years, for example, is anything but dramatic if the higher risk leads to 5 addition communities during this time span. This explains the fact that the human mind ignores risks of low probability even if the consequences are dramatic..

Although the threat of a nuclear war, deadly viruses or even an asteroid hitting our planet have the potential to destroy our entire species, the human mind does not emotionally acknowledge them as dangerous. The probability is too low and evolution taught us to ignore low-probability risks, even if they could potentially destroy the entire community.
What has changed, of course, is the number of communities. With globalization advancing, many low-probability risks suddenly endanger all of humanity, as we are about to live in one single gobal community.

Almost no major milestone in human history ever was exspected. This applies to the fall of Rome, Martin Luther nailing 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, the economic crisis in 1929, the effect nuclear bombs would have on politics, the race to the moon, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the destruction of the World Trade Center and its consequences and even the current economic crisis. It also applies to the significance of electricity, telephones, cars, personal computers, the internet and mobile phones (click).

One major strength of our economic system is pluralism. We do not collect the smartest of our kind and ask them to think about how to create the future, but instead encourage everybody to open a business and try it out. In the past we did the same with political systems.
Humanity never was able to predict where itself was going. Whenever we tried - and several political systems did try - we miserably failed.

The inablity to predict almost any milestone in human evolution, combined with the inablity to intuitively judge risks in a globalized world, is essential to acknowledge!

It is this inability alone that warns humanity about the attempt to create a world with one goverment. The obvious benefits, like a decreased number of wars and more cultural understanding, are dwarfed by the unknown number of unknown low-probability risks that might cause the end of the world as we know it.

Independent of globalization, some risks apply to our entire species. If the human mind, that individually experiences no more than 100 years, wants to make a difference in the greater scheme of things, it has to venture beyond earth and distribute risks.

1 comment:

  1. Regarding venturing beyond earth (or rather, our solar system) as a means of distributing risks, I (sadly) do not believe that is ever going to happen (for the usual reasons relating to energy requirements and interstellar dust).

    I do think we as a race should never give up trying -- who knows what we might learn by trying, even if the thing we are actually trying to do turns out to be impossible.

    And I have no interest in convincing anyone else that its impossible -- its simply what I personally believe.

    On the other hand, since it may be impossible, I think we should be spending equal amounts of time thinking about what our goals as a race might be (and how to approach them) if we assume that we're never getting out of here.