Monday, 8 October 2018

Born to do Math 91 - The End of Some Kind of History

Born to do Math 91 - The End of Some Kind of History
Scott Douglas Jacobsen & Rick Rosner
October 8, 2018

[Beginning of recorded material]

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What is the Doomsday Argument? Why have you been thinking about it?

Rick Rosner: I often ask myself, "Isn't it weird to be living at the end of human history or unaugmented human history?" It seems to me, possibly you, and a lot of people that with the changes in technology and medicine in the next 100-200 years will upend human society.

Not every human will live in weirdness. But the way humans have lived for the past 5,000-10,000 years, many of the components of what we consider normal human life. You live in a building that offers shelter. You wear clothes.

You couple up with people. You reproduce. You eat. You poop. You breathe. You consume goods. You buy stuff. You work. You create stuff. Tech is going to mess with all that stuff. It is hard to find an area of life that super high technology will not turn inside out. 

If you look at the timeline of human history, you can argue that humans go back at least 100,000 years and, maybe, 1,000,000 years. For most of that timeline, humans struggled like every other, most other, or a lot of other species. 

There weren't many humans. It was us versus the natural conditions. We had skills. But our culture was just beginning to develop. We were probably, over time, getting better at passing on our skills. But you have many tens of thousands of years where there may have been  30,000 humans on the planet total. 

It may have dipped to 3,000 during tough times. But the population didn't start exploding until we had a lot of the components of human culture in place, staying put in some place and building settlements with shelter.

That we either modified to suit ourselves like caves or we learned how to put up structures - first by stacking big old leaves or who knows what. We got better at it. By the year zero, by the time of Jesus, there were roughly a quarter billion humans. 250,000,000 humans are approximately the population of the US today. It is about 4% of the world population today.

We were doing okay by then. We sputtered along at the same pace. We only doubled that population after 1,500 years with the Rennaissance to get to 500,000,000. In the last 500 years, the population has increased 15-fold. 

There are 7.5 billion humans more than have ever lived before. Yet, we find ourselves at the end of this 10,000-5,000-year run of humans living more or less comfortably in the world via agriculture and industry, being able to make and grow our own stuff with specialization.

Where people do different specific jobs rather than everybody doing everything, so, there's a mathematical argument to be made, which is called the Doomsday Argument but with different titles and guises.

It argues that if you are living at a time when there are a whole bunch of other fellow humans alive. Then you're probably living next to the end of humanity. Because if you take the hockey stick exponential curve of increasing population, and if you add the further assumption that there will be a catastrophic end to, in this case, humanity, it makes a certain sense that we live at the far end of the hockey stick. 

The end of the hockey stick that has gone crazy. Say the planet blew up tomorrow, tomorrow would be the day that the most humans were ever alive. This mathematical Doomsday Argument says that if the population is going to go crazy and then drop to nothing.

It makes a probabilistic sense that most humans are living rather than when 30,000 humans were out on the Savannah in Northern Africa. This can be extended into the future if you look into the Wikipedia argument or article with the argument.

If you assume that there will be an end to humanity, we can argue probabilistically that it will be sooner rather than later. It is some time between now and when I peeked at the article prior to starting this session.

It will be now and the time the total human population reaches 1.2 trillion. That's many more humans than we have now by a factor of 1,000. But given exponential growth, it is not that far in the future. It is not the strongest mathematical argument.

But I will make a different commonsensical argument that makes the same point. It is simply this. The reason that we have the largest living human population of 7.5 billion humans out of the 107.5 billion humans ever is that we have technological dominion.

I am misusing the word but not entirely. There are Dominionists who are these a-holes, Bible-based assholes who say that the Bible gives us the right to dominate and exploit the resources the planet offers. Scott Pruitt, a-hole of the EPA, appointed by Trump belongs to a church that says we are religiously obligated to burn oil and coal.

It is a Dominionist argument that it is our right and obligation to go out and hunt. That God in giving us the Earth is not going to let us completely screw it up. It is like the old Doritos commercial, "We'll make more."

Jacobsen: [Laughing].

Rosner: We have more technical skill than ever before. Technology helps make life easier and makes it easier for there to be a lot of humans because we are good at providing stuff for ourselves. But it also leads to the end of humans in a really commonsensical way.

As I said, our extreme technology will soon turn human civilization inside out. There are a bunch of people who call what to come and what will become of humanity for the most part "Post-Humanity." As we move into the future, not even generation to generation because the generation thing doesn't keep happening because if people live to 700 or 800 years, instead of creating new generations what people will become will keep going as themselves rather than die off; as we move into the future, we will become more and more tech-augmented post-human in the words of these tech-looker adders.

Most people who use the term post-human welcome future changes because we'll have much more control over our lives and the world. We will live as long as we want. We will combine ourselves with other thinking entities. We will live in artificial environments.

We will be closer and closer to lords and ladies with dominion over all space and time, at least simulated. We could make ourselves into superheroes. We can do that. But we won't want to do that for long because we will get too smart for that to be too fun. 

We will find other exciting and fund stuff having vastly expanded powers especially information processing powers. At some arbitrary point depending on who is keeping score, what many entities will be will no longer be traditionally human, it means we will see the end of normal humanity in the next couple centuries. 

It is not the total end of humanity because there will be people thousands of years into the future; there will be people who want to live a normal human life as we know it into the future. But those entities will be overwhelmed by the new beings who live wildly different post-human lives. 

100 years from now, you may have 12 billion humans living more or less traditionally and, maybe, 1.5 billion augmented entities living in weird and new ways. 20- years from now, you have 3.5 billion humans living traditionally and 100 billion - with the number fluctuating microsecond by microsecond - post-human entities doing stuff.

They come together to work on computational tasks, some AI and some partly biological, which will be a flowering or explosion of different ways to exist. 300 years from now, you've got 1 trillion conscious beings that have little resemblance to humanity and still a couple billion humans living traditionally for whatever reason, which will look kind of like the end of humanity. 

It is not a horrible end. The Earth will not die screaming as it is burned to a nuclear cinder. But the forefront or the leading edge or the demographic explosion will be in post-human entities. 

[End of recorded material]


Rick Rosner
American Television Writer

According to semi-reputable sources, Rick Rosner has the world’s second-highest IQ. He earned 12 years of college credit in less than a year and graduated with the equivalent of 8 majors. He has received 8 Writer’s Guild Award and Emmy nominations, and was named 2013 North American Genius of the Year by The World Genius Registry.

He has written for Remote Control, Crank Yankers, The Man Show, The Emmy Awards, The Grammy Awards, and Jimmy Kimmel Live!. He has also worked as a stripper, a bouncer, a roller-skating waiter, and a nude model. In a TV commercial, Domino’s Pizza named him the World’s Smartest Man. He was also named Best Bouncer in the Denver Area by Westwood Magazine.

He spent the disco era as an undercover high school student. 25 years as a bar bouncer, American fake ID-catcher, 25+ years as a stripper, and nude art model, and nearly 30 years as a writer for more than 2,500 hours of network television.  He lost on Jeopardy!, sued Who Wants to Be a Millionaire over a bad question, and lost the lawsuit. He spent 35+ years on a modified version of Big Bang Theory. Now, he mostly sits around tweeting in a towel. He lives in Los Angeles, California with his wife and daughter.

You can send an email or a direct message via Twitter, or find him on LinkedIn, or see him on YouTube.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen
Editor-in-Chief, In-Sight Publishing

(Updated September 28, 2016)

He is a Moral Courage Webmaster and Outreach Specialist (Fall, 2016) at the UCI Interdisciplinary Center for the Scientific Study of Ethics and Morality (Ethics Center), Interview Columnist for Conatus News, Writer and Executive Administrator for Trusted Clothes, Interview Columnist for Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN), Chair of Social Media for the Almas Jiwani Foundation, Councillor for the Athabasca University Student Union, Member of the Learning Analytics Research Group, writer for The Voice MagazineYour Political Party of BCProBCMarijuana Party of CanadaFresh Start Recovery CentreHarvest House Ministries, and Little Footprints Big Steps International Development Organization, Editor and Proofreader for Alfred Yi Zhang Photography, Community Journalist/Blogger for Gordon Neighbourhood House, Member-at-Large, Member of the Outreach Committee, the Finance & Fundraising Committee, and the Special Projects & Political Advocacy Committee, and Writer for Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Member of the Lifespan Cognition Psychology Lab and IMAGe Psychology Lab, Collaborator with Dr. Farhad Dastur in creation of the CriticalThinkingWiki, Board Member, and Foundation Volunteer Committee Member for the Fraser Valley Health Care Foundation, and Independent Landscaper.

He was a Francisco Ayala Scholar at the UCI Ethics Center, Member of the Psychometric Society Graduate Student Committee, Special Advisor and Writer for ECOSOC at NWMUN, Writer for TransplantFirstAcademy and ProActive Path, Member of AT-CURA Psychology Lab, Contributor for a student policy review, Vice President of Outreach for the Almas Jiwani Foundation, worked with Manahel Thabet on numerous initiatives, Student Member of the Ad–Hoc Executive Compensation Review Committee for the Athabasca University Student Union, Volunteer and Writer for British Columbia Psychological Association, Community Member of the KPU Choir (even performed with them alongside the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra), Delegate at Harvard World MUN, NWMUN, UBC MUN, and Long Beach Intercollegiate MUN, and Writer and Member of the Communications Committee for The PIPE UP Network.


[1] Four format points for the session article:

  1. Bold text following “Scott Douglas Jacobsen:” or “Jacobsen:” is Scott Douglas Jacobsen & non-bold text following “Rick Rosner:” or “Rosner:” is Rick Rosner.
  2. Session article conducted, transcribed, edited, formatted, and published by Scott.
  3. Footnotes & in-text citations in the interview & references after the interview.
  4. This session article has been edited for clarity and readability.

For further information on the formatting guidelines incorporated into this document, please see the following documents:

  1. American Psychological Association. (2010). Citation Guide: APA. Retrieved from
  2. Humble, A. (n.d.). Guide to Transcribing. Retrieved from

License and Copyright


In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at and


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, Rick Rosner, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, Rick Rosner, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

No comments:

Post a Comment