[ExI] homo sapiens as endangered species

Anders Sandberg anders at aleph.se
Sat Jun 4 21:31:23 UTC 2011

Stefano Vaj wrote:
> On 4 June 2011 17:38, Kelly Anderson <kellycoinguy at gmail.com 
> <mailto:kellycoinguy at gmail.com>> wrote:
>     There are elaborate plans to insure the "continuity of government"
>     here in the United States. Some of these plans rise almost to the
>     level you are talking about, but I shudder to think of a future where
>     the only survivors are high level governmental bureaucrats. It's
>     almost like humanity didn't really survive, but just some human
>     looking thing.... ;-)
> The real issue is: are there plans providing for the survival of 
> "government", "our species", "our way-of-life",  "our country", "our 
> race", totally irrespective of the survival of all the people 
> allegedly embodying those concepts as-of-now and their immediate 
> families? In the thirties or the sixties of past century I would have 
> not been surprised if the answer had been "yes". I should be today.

Continuity of government plans are around in every developed country, 
but they all depend on certain assumptions about the threat. Looking at 
the US continuity of operations plans that have been revealed since the 
Cold War, such as Mount Weather
and Raven Rock
suggest that they could be pretty good refuges in my model (several seem 
to be big enough to ensure demographic stability), except that I doubt 
they are equipped for a decade of independent operation (the timescale 
appears to be months instead, since fallout was regarded as the key 
threat). And, assuming they worked, the skill basis of the government 
people would perhaps be suboptimal for restarting agriculture (not to 
mention age and gender ratio).

Such shielded sites might also be losing importance, since they are 
vulnerable to sufficiently targeted nukes if they are known and the 
nuclear threat is being downplayed anyway. A nice hotel with some 
hardened basement in a sufficiently big military site might work pretty 
well against modern "light" threats like terrorism.

Now, saving humanity level projects... to my knowledge there are 
absolutely none like that. While that is maybe because they are really 
top secret, given the amount of leakage we get about military projects 
and things like the above refuges I suspect they would be noticed. It is 
easier to guess that there is no incentive for doing them: such a 
project would not directly benefit the decisionmakers (they are 
benefited by safe refuges for themselves, at most - many US government 
people find rotating to site R a waste of time), especially since a 
secret project will not gain them any public kudos and an open project 
will likely lead to both arguments about government waste and concerns 
about justice. They would have to do it out of pretty tricky ethical 
concerns, and generally when ethics comes with a substantial bill 
attached it tends not to be done if there are no strong public support.

But let's hope DTRA is doing a good job. Now, how many of you US 
citizens had ever heard of it? ;-)

>     I love Svalgard!
> So do I. And not only the Golden Compass version thereof. :-)

I can recommend it. Lovely place, at least in summer.

Anders Sandberg,
Future of Humanity Institute 
James Martin 21st Century School 
Philosophy Faculty 
Oxford University 

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