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Translations / Переводы - crimeanelf
Translations / Переводы

В anthropology_ru пробегала такая замечательная футурологическая статья antimantikora. Жаль, её не было на английском, поделиться с друзьями. Теперь есть. :) Оригинал по-русски здесь. Если вы предпочитаете по-английски, то вам под кат. Как всегда, если видите ошибку, меня можно поправить, я обрадуюсь.

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For those of you, who don't read in Russian, or by any reasons prefer to read in English. I just finished translating a popular article on futurology that I personally liked a lot. So here it is. As always, if you feel like making corrections in my English, you should not hesitate to do so.

A Victory At The Price Of Defeat

1. A Beating by Four Whips

As soon as someone raises the topic of the future of mankind, people start talking about the end of the world, disasters and extinction of humanity. And they say it with good reason. All that man does during his evolution is growing thin and withering, being at the edge of extinction. The evolution of our kind per se is the chain of constant defeats.

But in the past man always managed to get out of a scrape. Miracliously, he came off clear every time.

Came off clear — and with some benefits for himself! More than that, he compensated the evolutionary defeats with such a profit, that always appeared on top of it all with unthinkable success. For example, some primates suffered an ugly shortening of front proximities, jaws and fangs. They almost died out (and this is why archeological finds of preaustralopithecuses are so rare), but instead they learned to walk on rear paws and to use tools. And became a pretty succesful and populated group — hominides.

Later on they got into another trouble. Some of the hominides, namely, humans, became really aggressive, brutal (or, really, humane?). In order not to die from intrigues of their enemies, they had to develop some armaments, and in the first place the "stratagem device", also known as brain. The anormal growth of the brain was so bad, that almost wiped humans off the face of the earth. This is why early specimens of Homo Sapiens were in much smaller number than their ancestors Homo Erectus.

However, the brain of sapiens turned out to be useful not only for military problems, but for "peaceful" ones as well. Human's probability of survival increased once again and they thrived.

And being thrived, sure thing, they emptied their ecosystems. And started to die out again.

Barely appeared the hope that this bipedal "pest of earth" would die out completely, that same moment humans invented agriculture. And multiplied. Yet, this agricultural victory was followed by the next defeat: global overpopulation.

If an animal population exceeds certain limit, these animals are getting problems: hunger, diseases, predator invasion. Aggression and migration become really high. The usual behaviour of comfort, reproduction, maternity breaks apart. Partridges attack foxes and telegraph poles, rabbits gather in large crowds and run like hell. Doves stop cleaning their own feathers, monkeys cripple their own babies. This all happens automatically and leads to mass mortality, returning the population to the normal number.

The modern human — Homo sapiens recens — started having similar disasters.

Primitive humans could subsist on a territory not less than 10 square kilometers (~3.8 square miles) per individual. The population density at that time was about right. But ancient people could only live in the warm areas of the Old World, and if to account for this, it will turn out, the the biosphere could only carry a few tens of a millions of humans.

But when food procuring became an art, the population density increased greatly. But the brain remained pristine. And its control mechanisms sounded the alarm: "Warning! There are too many of us!"

Thus, mankind violated the law "On ecological capacity of ecotope" and got harshly convicted.

The nature's penitentiary system condemned humans to a beating by four whips: hunger, diseases, parasites and mass psychosises. And after beating, humans were condemned to the life imprisonment in cities.

2. In High Security Imprisonment

Europe's agricultural lands run low by the end of the first millennium of the Common Era. The mass starvation has begun. The people's behaviour has changed: few cared about keeping their bodies clean or making their habitation comfortable. The lack of hygiene and overcrowding opened the roads to epidemices. These were followed by military troops and hordes of bandits (which is really the same). People "got crazy", "insanified" — and this is when roads got flooded by goliards: monks, musicians, students, knights and all the beggary of this kind.

Besides that, humans embiterred, especially the strong to the weak. The weakest of all, kids, were exposed to regular corporal punishments and even killed, being sacrificed or lacking the care. The ritual infanticide was quite common everywhere, in primitive tribes as well as in developed societies of Europe, China, India up to nineteenth century.

In particular, when British colinists started to register the population of India, they found, that only boys are being born in the highest casts. As if girls were not born at all. They had to marry girls from lower casts. It turned out, that the reason is in the tradition of killing of newborn girls. The humane British then offered a compensation to everyone who rejected to commit infanticide. Sly Indians accepted the money, kept the girls alive, but left them without whatever care (and thus without a chance to survive their infancy).

With their sanity being dimmed out, humans rejected the greatest pleasures of all: tenderness to kids and love passion to adults. Queer sexual taboos were thriving everywhere. Essentially, they lowered down the reproduction rate in the overpopulated society. But few thought this way. Everyone simple believed, that sex is a sin, a shameful activity that should be minimized.

About one third of Europe's and South-Eastern Asia population was dismissed from reproduction process: monks, hermits. Some of them (eunuches, "sinners", criminals) even underwent sterilization.

When human's aggression was restrained by a particular education and laws, then the cruelty potential could splash out during big wars, where even the best educated gentleman perpetrated the worst crimes. As if partridges were attacking foxes.

Similar antropological crisises, waves of life, the jumps of passionarity (call it the way you like) happened all the time. The population decreased. The whole villages, cities, kingdoms died out.

But then this indomitanle kind made it way through once again, came out of holes like weed, gathering strength and maturity.

In Common Imprisonment

Humans, fallen in the ecological crisis of the Middle Ages, managed to slip out yet again. The archievements of civilization helped to alleviate the crisis of overpopulation. For example, fertilizers and preserving wraps attacked the hunger. They sated exhausted lands and allowed to make food supplies.

And the inventions like humanistic ethics, democratic administration, strict laws and religious studies constrained aggression and mass psychosises. The government damped down the uncontrolled migrations. Medicine and hygiene blunted the scythe of epidemics. School, as a special "storage", helped to lower down infant mortality...

Countless inventions, achievements of public health and education, as well as other benefits of civilization, allowed to greatly soften the nature laws acting on humans.

And here is the statement of work that has been done: during the twentieth century alone manking has grown on 5 billions of people and the mean age of death has jumped from 40 to about 80 in developed countries. Obviously, it is a remarkable (and even unexampled in nature) population success.

This success entailed a very serious defeat, which overshadows all the previous ones. Simply because its consequences are probably impossible to repair. It is a new global problem, called Pollution.

The biosphere is being overfilled with pesticides, petroleum, carbon dioxide and heat. The survival aids themselves have become the great pollutors. Among them are hunger aids, mentioned above: fertilizers radically (and forever?) have changed the chemistry or earth's waters, and plastic wrap has irreparably polluted the biosphere in just twenty years.

But more than with anything else, the antroposphere gets polluted with... humans. (This is what the Earth would probably say, if she was really the living Gaia.) Humans stubbornly violate nature's law "On ecological capacity", which clearly states: "multiply — and die in the same amounts". But humans disagree. What a criminals!

This is why there are now thousand times more people. Hyperpopulation. Overhumanification. We are forced to live in gigantic termitaries, hives, coral colonies, which we call cities. Some people still think, that the problem could be solved by killing 999 people in a thousand. This is impossible. But even if it would be possible, it would give birth to hundreds of new problems.

Pollution, with toxines, noise, information, humans, ions in the air of offices, electromagnetic and with a thousand of other things, is depressing our bodies, putting it under a new type of stress. Civilization stress.

The civilization stress could be treated as the true epidemic, much stronger than medieval cholera or smallpox. In the modern world people usually die from the consequences of obesity and atherosclerosis, cancer, diabetes, allergies and other "civilization diseases". They take away thousand (am I exaggerating? No, probably not) times more people, than were once taken away by plague. AIDS pierces humanity's obese belly like a sharp knife: it restricts exactly human's reproductive capabilities, provoking "sexual contrrevolution".

The chaos of existence spontaneously gave birth to certain tools for "suppressing the excess of vitality". For example, purified alcohol and tobacco. Or automobiles, which hunt heedless like a "mechanic hound". Motor transportation produces so many problems, that the ability to move comfortably seems ridiculous compared to them.

We created global information space, and pay for it with the necessity to share the troubles of people from the whole world, grieve for their sorrows. We aren't scared anymore of primeval cannibals, but are afraid of nuclear war and cyber-terrorism. We, we, we...

4. The Way Out Into The Freedom

But man is sly and strong. He is a genius of adaptation and he always finds a way to survive. You could say, that Homo sapiens lobbied the proposal of amendments and made the law "On Ecological Capacity..." less strict.

It is most likely that the life interval of humans would increase monotonically. First, due to the constant health control, starting at perinatal stage. Strange as it may seem, we add ten more years to our lives by brushing our teeth daily with a stubborness of crazies. It very well could be, that in the future people would every day plan their daily schedule for the next day, including menu, amount of physical and psychical load.

Second, the ability to repair prematurely aged organisms would likely increase. Third, we may learn to neutralize aging caused by genes.

Fourth, social control may improve. Nobody would beat people at work, rob on streets or kick those, who are unable to pay the rent, out of their houses. Even today it seems exaggerating a bit, however, three hundred years ago it was quite common. So, which of our today's normal relations would seem barbaric to our distant descendants?

Provided these descendants would have any future at all. In futurology, we always include this apocalyptical "provided", or "if". "If there's a war tomorrow, if there's a journey..." But it seems, that humanity got smarter and puts a lot of effort (of means to put) to control the temptation to make some shooting on a big war.

At this moment the whole strategy of a possible war has changed. One can cause destruction in enemy's camp by methods other than a rocket attack. Diversions, financial crisises, manipulation with public opinion, seizure of electronic control systems, and, probably, even control on weather — these are the new tactical tools, that would help to win without a fight.

The overpopulation problem may probably be also solved, by distributing the population more uniformly over the Earth's surface.

Really, Earth has a lot of free surface. Theoretically, provided there'll be a way to feed the "superhumanity" and make it stay in its cells as much as possible (in order not to jam transportation systems), it is possible to reach a fabulous population density.

Let's consider a 100 millions square kilometres (about 38 millions square miles) of dry land which could theoretically be used to live, and make a population density similar to Japan, 300 people on square kilometre (i.e., 0.4 square mile). We will get 30 billions.

Of course, it is quire a horrifying picture, thus, you better not "consider" and "make" anything like that. Nevertheless, there already exist examples of huge human crowds gathering in the middle of nowhere. Some cities, such as Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Tel Aviv, have grown practically in a desert with scanty population density in the beginning.

Besides that, the birth rate in the countries of most "demographical pollution" is steadily going down, as standards of living increase and technological progress comes along. This is why there is a hope, that the expansion of "technologies of comfort" would make the humanity slow down its growth and stabilize at about 15 billions people, which would manage to accomodate on Earth due to smart and intense housekeeping. And the general welfare will begin.

Whether it will or will not begin, there is one thing clear: humanity has already passed several cycles "defeat-victory". Thus, chances, that the coming crisis would end up as a victory, are high. And this victory would be followed by a next defeat. Because they always go one after another in evolution, they pulsate and join ecstatically. And where to stop to indulge in futurological fantasies, is really up to you.

(Based ob publication in "Znanie-Sila" ["Knowledge is Power"] in 2004.)

Author: antimantikora, the original is here.

Translated by crimeanelf.

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5 comments or Leave a comment
la_dy_ashley From: la_dy_ashley Date: June 17th, 2008 06:51 am (UTC) (Link)
Я сижу и думаю: это оптимистичный текст или нет?...
crimeanelf From: crimeanelf Date: June 17th, 2008 06:59 am (UTC) (Link)
Это сумасшедший текст! Поэтому я и чувствую к нему сродство. :)

Твои про Киев оптимистичнее. И про Поля-Патронуса. :)
la_dy_ashley From: la_dy_ashley Date: June 17th, 2008 07:29 am (UTC) (Link)
Но не такие философские, согласись:)

Нет, это тоже оптимистичный, в каком-то плане. Мы - это такая зараза, которую ничем не выведешь. И поэтому мы выживем. Но угробим все остальное. Это вот пессимистично. Но каждый смотрит с одной стороны, так или иначе, перевешивает что-то одно. Я чур на оптимистичном краю:))
la_dy_ashley From: la_dy_ashley Date: June 18th, 2008 12:13 pm (UTC) (Link)

Вчера вот попалась цитата почти в тему:

Цивилизация - это "болезнь, коей должны переболеть все народы, каковых объединяет в себе род человеческий, как дети непременно болеют коклюшем или корью".

Э. Карпентер. В 19 веке мужик написал опус "Цивилизация: ее причины и лекарства от оной":)))
crimeanelf From: crimeanelf Date: June 18th, 2008 02:46 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Вчера вот попалась цитата почти в тему:


Идея, что называется, витает в воздухе.
5 comments or Leave a comment