I have put a lot of serious intellectual effort into two important questions: What is the probability that all of the human species will go extinct "soon" (within a few millennia anyway), and what can we do to reduce that probability? There is also an active discussion group on that subject, involving very prominent thinkers, through the Lifeboat Foundation, and a new center at Oxford, on this subjevct.
"Believe it or not, nuclear bombs can still kill people. Death is not fashionable, but somehow fashion doesn't seem to stop those kinds of realities." On my short list of things that could "pull the final trigger" are misuse of nuclear technology, climate change (H2S, not warming as such), artificial intelligence, and "clone armies" resulting form misuse of deep brain stimulation. When I get deep into the realities of all four, and more, I find myself asking more and more: "WHAT IF we really can't juggle fast enough to stop all four of these threats and more?" Indeed, for many years now, I have had to remind myself of problems which seemed impossible which I was eventually able to solve, of the rational reasons for never giving up, and so on.
But what if we don't make it, in the end? What then? What matters?
If we as humans are just the obvious physical bodies and DNA we see every day (at least if we get our DNA tested), then the utility function in that scenario is a flat zero. Nothing really matters at that point.
But... if the concept of "soul" has any meaning at all .. we rightly ask.. how does that affect our rational choices?
Of course, there is a lot of empty bullshit being said about the soul, driven by people believing whatever makes them feel good, or gratifies their ego, or seems to offer them a vehicle for controlling other people (or at least avoid being ejected from a group). Myself, I start from a lifetime of trying to questoin and probe and extend what we really know; I have a new paper in press, in Russian and English, which will be open access... but for now I post it as www.werbos.com/Mind_in_Time.pdf.
(It is forthcoming in the same Russian IFNA journal which appears in some of the citations.)
In essence... we on earth are all part of the same "noosphere. Our souls are all basically just parts of that entity. So if we loose the earth, it's not just bodies we lose, but souls too, for the most part.
(The Russian mystic Gurdjieff wrote a lot of strange things, to try to shake people up, but he seemed to have some common sense awareness of limits which apply to souls, and not just bodies. )
So is it still just zero? If we don't find a way to stop the maniacs in process of trying to kill us all,
is that simply the total end of the game so far as we are concerned?
Maybe, maybe not.
I recently posted something about "is your soul like a piece of paper"? My present, crude impression is that the "harvest of souls" which would result in the event of extinction is pretty similar to what I was hinting at there. It's basically a matter of valuing different pieces of information, as one would do when moving to a new office... which is done at times anyway under normal turnover in an existing office.
Since Jesus also talks about "harvest of souls," and many people seem to be pushing us there.. I decided to watch "Jupiet Rising" the other day, because the trailer used the word "harvest" and
had a few other curious associations. I didn't go in search of a New Religion, but in search of a bit of mental stimulation.
Well, kit was provocative enough for me... but it also exposed pretty clearly how people's thinking on earth about such subjects tends to be screwed up. Yes, the earth -- including the entire noosphere -- is really tiny and immature even compared to just our own galaxy in our own time track, and yes it matters. But no, it is really pretty silly to imagine earth could be farm for carbon molecules or for vampire-like manna. That age old confusion between conserved physical energy and Freud-like "psychic energy" (either mundane or esoteric) screws people up again, in a serious way. Screwed up ideas can kill people, and kill their neighbors too. It would be more accurate to think in terms of INFORMATION value, or to think in terms of life... life as in family and kinship relations. On earth, we do not see people raising their children for purposes of food, and there is no reason to imagine that the galaxy is less evolved than species on the earth. It does not make apriori dynamical systems sense, and it does not make empirical sense either (for folks who have any data).
And so, if humans do engineer end times... yes, some spiritual existence may continue for some... but not for those who achieve nothingness (why???) and those who hide in caves both of body and of mind, but for those who continue to connect with humanity and the rest of the noosphere even through difficult times, trying to save physically but also to connect at other levels as well.
It is very sad that Koch's new committee now looks like a serious threat to a good harvest here, just as much as the Moslem Brotherhood (a particular growth, as Moslem as Cheney is Christian). In both cases, the problem is that they are pushing towards total totalitarian control, suppressing the natural real freedom for real humans which is a key prerequisite for spiritual growth (and salveagable information.). (Hint: as I digitize, I simply toss and do not digitize duplicate copies.) To get an illusion of control, Koch has built a coalition of those willing to exclude feedback..
and has apparently sold out to the :clone army" groups in his coalition, who slaver at the mouth about the big new money which could come from the new electronic versions of cocaine and heroin,
well suited to turning humans into controllable puppets on a string... they haven't exactly sold their souls to the devil, in hopes of getting their father's favor... but... it has the same effect.
There may still be hope, but it is not concrete and clear to me. And yes, they are more in charge now than Obama is.... but let me not get off course.