Macro Humanity

by jperras

It’s not often that I come across an essayist that completely blows me away, but Nick Bostrom has done just that.

I came across his name for the first time while browsing the latest Hacker News submissions, under the link-baited submission title: Why I Hope the Search for Extraterrestrial Life Finds Nothing. Needless to say, I was intrigued, and the comments on the HN page were encouraging.

After a few cursory credential checks1 to confirm that the author wasn’t a complete nut job (quite the opposite, actually – see the footnote), I took the time to sit down and read the essay.

Here is a short excerpt:

What could be more fascinating than discovering life that had evolved entirely independently of life here on Earth? Many people would [...] find it heartening to learn that we are not entirely alone in this vast cold cosmos.
But I hope that our Mars probes will discover nothing. It would be good news if we find Mars to be completely sterile. Dead rocks and lifeless sands would lift my spirit.

Where Are They? [pdf]

I won’t go into any of the finer details – for that, you should read Professor Bostrom’s elegantly written article – but If you’ve ever heard of the Fermi Paradox or pondered over the murky details of the Anthropic Principle, I highly recommend reading the article I’ve linked to above. These topics may have been discussed ad nauseam in many corners of the web, Professor Bostrom’s thoughts and insights are trully a breath of fresh air.

[1] Professor Bostrom has quite the resumé, including a Wikipedia page, two published books, dozens of published articles in well respected journals, and is currently the director of The Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University. In other news, I now feel more inadequate than ever.