TED Conversations

Technical Writer, Deluxe Media

This conversation is closed.

Humans may need to leave Earth to survive extinction. Is cultural homogenization necessary for us to achieve the means to facilitate this?

It's hard enough to get countries to align on policy just living on Earth, and many times it doesn't happen. Additionally, the double edged sword is that we want to align on certain items, yet regarding other items we want to retain cultural distinction (and both of these aspirations are perceived as appropriate!). Humans are deeply attached to their unique identity among humanity, and the unending parade of wars exemplifies this. So regarding my question, most people enormously underestimate the level of global cooperation that will be needed to lift all of humanity off the planet and sustain it elsewhere. But if in, say, one thousand years, brought on by technological advancements birthed in the current few hundred years we're in the middle of, we all end up light brown and all part of one global culture ("I'm from Earth, Sector 824"), where countries are extinct, then maybe the psychological foundation of the unified cultural identity that I think we'll need for space colonization will be in place, and we can then do it. Without this change, I personally don't see it happening. What do you think?


Closing Statement from Aaron Pillar

Hi Deepak, thanks for replying. I don't know, you may be right, though consciously I tend to stick to the tangible things in my life. So... when I wrote my question, I was only thinking about the science of stars and planets, and that the sun will eventually burn through its fuel (like all the stars do) and then expand, swallowing the nearby planets (including Earth), etc. So, if we're still around at that point, where we weren't already destroyed by ourselves or something else, there'll be a lot of cooperation needed in leveraging the technology to get off Earth in time. Anna Kazcorowska (below) mentioned focusing on what brings us together. I think that will be more crucial than anyone can imagine.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Jun 22 2013: The extinction of a race usually happens 'unexpected' and within to short a time frame for 'evolution' to cope with.

    By looking back in history and taking a glance in today, I have my doubts, that 'cultural homogenization' is a natural tendency of humans to convert to as a species - and, being cultural pessimistic, I think if we ever make it there, we may not have managed to conserve nor ever reached the level of technology which was needed to leave this planet.

    From a resource point of view, we weren't able to evacuate us as a whole species anyway, so a representative and 'fit for survival' group of selected individuals would certainly be screened for best possible 'compatibility', at least as best we would knew of what it would take to be such an individual and how to 'predetermine' this via tests beforehand, for as long a journey no one ever undertook before.

    So hopefully 'cryo-sleep' or 'cryo-hybernation' technology would be available at that time, as it would make things much easier and the journey less boring for those who set out in all our names...

    There is an related documentary to your topic which you may be interested in if you haven't seen it so far:

    Evacuate Earth - National Geographic Documentary


    Besides the 'usual suspects' of the plot scheme, it tackles some of the obstacles related to leave this planet for another home ...
    • Jun 23 2013: Lejan,

      Under what criteria do you think this "fit for survival" group would be evaluated? Will they be evaluated for intelligence and physical strength? Or human decency and a philanthropic history?

      Do you think it would include only the wealthy, or would it include a broad spectrum of socioeconomic classes?
      • thumb
        Jun 23 2013: Under the assumption that there was enough time for this evaluation process and nothing to be rushed, it would make the most sense to me if the latest knowledge in medicine, genetics, biology and psychology was applied to identify the best possible candidates for the startover of humankind on an earth-like alien planet.

        I could imagine, that the 'purity' and variety of this genetic pool would be of main focus, by which all genetically detectable diseases would be screened and individuals rejected, if they carried them. Known socio-pyschological / genetical relations (if there are any) would also be used as well as psychological tests and 'historical background' screenings.

        The history of my nation in the creation of such a 'master race' or 'Arier-Rasse' - the 'noble' race and its horrible outcome may remind us, that if its about the 'human race', no political or any other agenda should be allowed to influence this evaluation process, which answers the second part of your question, that nothing other than fitness under strict and scientifically traceable criteria would decide for the candidates.

        Regarding physical strength it would make sense to me to adjust this to the final candidate of this 'new earth' and how much it deviates from the gravity of our planet. On smaller planets or moons with lower gravity, less physical strength would be necessary, which may reduces the amount of certain 'body types' and the other way around.

        Intelligence is more difficult as there are so many forms and sub-forms of it and as much as I know little to non direct relation to genetic predispositions. The same goes for creativity, emotional intelligence, etc. which would make this field as well as the psychological assessment quite difficult.

        In any case the decisions made would not be flawless, which, in a way would manifest of what all was about ... humanity.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.