Monday, May 18, 2015

Warfare isn't getting less likely -- conclusions from a new analysis

Is warfare getting less likely? Are we entering a new and more peaceful era of history? Quite a few people -- Steven Pinker and Niall Ferguson among them -- have suggested as much. But the mathematics of war statistics over the past 2,000 years doesn't back up the idea. At Bloomberg, I have a short piece describing some excellent new work by Pasquale Cirillo and Nassim Taleb. Also, more detail over at Medium.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

To save the world -- give up on nature?

Here's a radical idea -- we can best safeguard the future of humanity not by learning to live with nature, but by turning our backs on her and learning to do without her. We should use our technology and science to isolate ourselves from nature, so that we can live without requiring nature. In so doing, we can also eliminate the burden we put on nature, and preserve it as well.

Does that sound crazy? A little, I think, but it is a creative idea and maybe some tempered and humble version of it isn't so crazy. Perhaps with better science and technology we can learn to help humans while also, to some large degree, eliminating our impacts on nature and carving out some safe space for her. That, at least, is the provocative idea suggested in The Ecomodernist Manifesto, a document published recently by folks from The Breakthrough Institute.

Many things in this manifesto seems just a little too optimistic to me -- they seem to suggest that we're already reducing our impact on nature, for example, despite causing the sixth greatest mass extinction in history -- but it is worth reading. We do need more creative thinking. I've written more at Bloomberg.