Topics: African Americans, Drake Equation, Existentialism, Extinction, Nanotechnology, Philosophy
N = The number of civilizations in the Milky Way Galaxy whose electromagnetic emissions are detectable.
R* = The rate of formation of stars suitable for the development of intelligent life.
fp = The fraction of those stars with planetary systems.
ne = The number of planets, per solar system, with an environment suitable for life.
fl = The fraction of suitable planets on which life actually appears.
fi = The fraction of life bearing planets on which intelligent life emerges.
fc = The fraction of civilizations that develop a technology that releases detectable signs of their existence into space.
L = The length of time such civilizations release detectable signals into space.
Note: This milestone will be one month old Sunday. We shaved 20 seconds.
Closer than ever:
It is 100 seconds to midnight
2020 Doomsday Clock Statement
Science and Security Board
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
Editor, John Mecklin
Editor’s note: Founded in 1945 by University of Chicago scientists who had helped develop the first atomic weapons in the Manhattan Project, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists created the Doomsday Clock two years later, using the imagery of apocalypse (midnight) and the contemporary idiom of nuclear explosion (countdown to zero) to convey threats to humanity and the planet. The decision to move (or to leave in place) the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock is made every year by the Bulletin’s Science and Security Board in consultation with its Board of Sponsors, which includes 13 Nobel laureates. The Clock has become a universally recognized indicator of the world’s vulnerability to catastrophe from nuclear weapons, climate change, and disruptive technologies in other domains.
To: Leaders and citizens of the world
Re: Closer than ever: It is 100 seconds to midnight
Date: January 23, 2020
Humanity continues to face two simultaneous existential dangers—nuclear war and climate change—that are compounded by a threat multiplier, cyber-enabled information warfare, that undercuts society’s ability to respond. The international security situation is dire, not just because these threats exist, but because world leaders have allowed the international political infrastructure for managing them to erode.
In the nuclear realm, national leaders have ended or undermined several major arms control treaties and negotiations during the last year, creating an environment conducive to a renewed nuclear arms race, to the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and to lowered barriers to nuclear war. Political conflicts regarding nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea remain unresolved and are, if anything, worsening. US-Russia cooperation on arms control and disarmament is all but nonexistent.
Public awareness of the climate crisis grew over the course of 2019, largely because of mass protests by young people around the world. Just the same, governmental action on climate change still falls far short of meeting the challenge at hand. At UN climate meetings last year, national delegates made fine speeches but put forward few concrete plans to further limit the carbon dioxide emissions that are disrupting Earth’s climate. This limited political response came during a year when the effects of man-made climate change were manifested by one of the warmest years on record, extensive wildfires, and quicker-than-expected melting of glacial ice.
Continued corruption of the information ecosphere on which democracy and public decision making depend has heightened the nuclear and climate threats. In the last year, many governments used cyber-enabled disinformation campaigns to sow distrust in institutions and among nations, undermining domestic and international efforts to foster peace and protect the planet.
This situation—two major threats to human civilization, amplified by sophisticated, technology-propelled propaganda—would be serious enough if leaders around the world were focused on managing the danger and reducing the risk of catastrophe. Instead, over the last two years, we have seen influential leaders denigrate and discard the most effective methods for addressing complex threats—international agreements with strong verification regimes—in favor of their own narrow interests and domestic political gain. By undermining cooperative, science- and law-based approaches to managing the most urgent threats to humanity, these leaders have helped to create a situation that will, if unaddressed, lead to catastrophe, sooner rather than later.
The full PDF version of the above is here. Facebook has finally released limited data for social scientists to research the effect of their platform on democracy, just as our senate blocks bills meant for protecting the voting franchise. State legislatures in Florida and Georgia make it difficult for ex-felons or people of color to vote - who needs Russians when shortsighted republicans will do? The confluence of avarice and racist hegemony may well spell the epitaph of our republic, species, and life on this planet. The 2020 elections may slow the Doomsday Clock, or speed us seconds closer. In the Drake Equation, that even Dr. Frank Drake hedges bets against, the L: the length of time such civilizations release detectable signals into space, along with the fraction of planets where intelligent life emerges (I'm dubious about ours) are the most important variables in the equation, from a philosophical point of view. It means to me: no more Ginai Seabron graduates, no nanoscience, nanoengineering or nanotechnology. No fretting about how to make the discipline inclusive, as surviving cavemen and women have other more pressing concerns. There cannot be advancement on such an aggressive act of mutually-assured destruction (M.A.D.). There are no "winners" or losers following such a destructive path, only un-buried corpses.
We would theoretically and literally, then all be equalized to ashes. The universe would be indifferent to which pile of ash was a billionaire or pauper, so-called white, black or other; or a grandfather making his granddaughter laugh with a silly song about "little feet." Our self-induced inequality problems would be solved - for eternity.
The search for extraterrestrial intelligence would be over on our end, as earthbound intelligence, post-Apocalypse would then have been found...bereft.