For the past few weeks, I've been writing about artificial intelligence and the real possibility that AGI-empowered cyborgs could take over the overall "management" of planet Earth.
Consider this hypothetical future scenario. It is now 2026 and, as a result of abrupt climate change since 2018, the Earth is teetering on the brink of a runaway sixth mass extinction that could wipe out most living organisms well before the end of this century.
Already, crop yields have dropped sharply throughout the world, there are hundreds of millions of displaced refugees and their numbers are increasing exponentially every day. As our grim situation continues to worsen, the idea of a takeover by a team of tireless, powerful and hopefully benevolent cyborgs doesn't look so bad.
This sudden takeover by the cyborgs is happening much sooner than was predicted by the AI experts of the world - as these fast-moving, quickly-multiplying, super-intelligent robots are on the verge of taking complete control of almost everything that humanity has been "managing" for the last few centuries.
But maybe that's a good thing.
In his 2019 book,
, Dr. James Lovelock counsels us to not be afraid when the cyborgs take over:
We need not be afraid because, initially at least, these inorganic beings will need us and the whole organic world to continue to regulate the climate, keeping Earth cool to fend off the heat of the Sun and safeguard us from the worst effects of future catastrophes. We shall not descend into the kind of war between humans and machines that is so often described in science fiction because we need each other. Gaia
[Earth's self-regulating system]
will keep the peace.
So, given the desperate situation in which Earth's new "management team" might find themselves, what issues might those cyborgs want to tackle first?
Armed with a mountain of data, they would simultaneously tackle two of our most destructive sustainability probems. Both have very simple solutions that any 8th grader could understand:
As the cyborgs begin tackling our thorniest sustainability issues, I choose to believe that they will have been permanently programmed to behave in a fair, compassionate and benevolent manner toward their fellow Earthlings.
Now, as Seth Myers would say, "Let's take a closer look."
Cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, sheep, farmed fish, etc. These are the food animals that we have been growing and eating bigtime for many years. Many billions of them are produced each year throughout the world.
Demonstrating compassion for those food animals that are alive today, the cyborgs would simply end the process of producing any new animals.
Speaking of compassion; compared to the way we humans are treating those animals - this initial move by the robots would prevent the lifetime suffering of trillions of future food animals like the ones featured in these three pictures that illustrate our disgusting practice of "farming" chickens, pigs and fish.
The animals who are alive today would continue producing food for as long as they lived, thereby providing a few years for the cyborgs to develop, and fully deploy, a global feeding model capable of sustaining the world's entire human population of eight billion with a highly nutritious and Earth-friendly, plant-based diet.
Complete elimination of animal-based foods would greatly benefit the ecosystem, and much more quickly, than any other single action that the cyborgs could possibly take.
To be sure, we humans should have taken this same action over forty years ago - shortly after there was abundant scientific evidence supporting the fact that not only do we not NEED to eat animal protein, but that those foods are actually making us sick - and are responsible for driving over 70% of our healthcare dollars.
Of course that all pales in comparison to what the production of those foods is doing to our ecosystem:
On a per calorie basis, those foods, on average, require over ten times as much land, water and energy as do health-promoting, plant-based foods. TEN TIMES!
So why didn't we stop eating animals long ago? Why have we continued producing foods that waste our water, wreck our environment and make us sick? Not to mention the suffering of all those innocent animals.
The short answer is a combination of greed, ignorance and gluttony. This is just one example of hundreds that illustrate why humans will probably never be able to take enough bold action, soon enough - to save our species.
Another reality that is holding us back are the hundreds of nations and thousands of religions, all of whom have trouble agreeing on much of anything. Do you really think there's a chance that they will suddenly agree to just walk away from the wildly popular typical western diet?
Meanwhile, we're running out of time when it comes to the sustainability of our ecosystem and our species.
So if we're forced to choose between near certain extinction and giving the cyborgs a crack at the problem - do we really have a choice?
Speaking of a plant-based diet for all humans, I decided to provide you with a full-size version of a small image that appears in most of my SOS Memos. Our 2011 book was published by BenBella with the foreword by Dr. T. Colin Campbell and son Nelson and endorsed on the front cover by one of America's most respected physicians, Dr. Dean Ornish.
Meanwhile, let's go back to that 2026 scenario and the other problem that those cyborgs would address first.
At the same time that the cyborgs cancel the production of more food animals, they would implement a fair, non-violent, process for lowering our human population to a sustainable level. I should add that the details of that "process" are above my pay grade, but the cyborgs would figure it out and then take the appropriate
As of 2019, there are almost eight billion humans on the planet and we are still addding well over a million every week. Based on studies from the Global Footprint Network and my own extrapolations, it seems that if we totally reinvented our civilization, making it as GREEN as possible - that our planet could support around four billion people indefinitely. So how do we cut our current number in half?
Once again, the cyborgs would exercise compassion by implementing a global process that would rationally and gradually reduce the birth rate enough to steadily bring our total popluation down to four billion. But even that gradual population decline will require a giant reduction in the birth rate itself.
In order to lower our population to four billion in less than two hundred years, we would need to immediately lower the number of daily human births by almost 75% - down from 380,000/day to around 100,000. If you do the math, based on the current death rate, it would take us about 160 years to reach my theoretical population level of four billion people.
As you know, the average 8th grader could easily understand the math when it comes to opitimizing the size of the total human population. But can you imagine hundreds of countries and thousands of religions agreeing on such an approach? Simply not gonna happen.
What about the ecosystem?
Before our first book was published in 2011, I had concluded that the single most powerful step that all humans can make when it comes to healing our ecosystem - is to stop eating animals. That's because the entire animal food industry accounts for somewhere between 14% and 51% of human-induced greenhouse gases (ghg) - depending on which studies you believe.
According to the conservative U.N. numbers, even at just 14%, the global production of animal-based foods accounts for significantly more ghg than ALL of the world's transportation systems combined: cars, trucks, trains, ships, busses, motorcycles and airplanes.
AND, it is the ONLY major step that can be taken almost immediately by anyone who so chooses. The remaining categories of unsustainable living will take many decades, if not centuries, for us to fix - a
lthough those super-intelligent cyborgs (who never rest) might be able get us on the right track within five or ten years.
Regarding that dietary shift, we published this 4Leaf book in 2015 as an easy reference tool to assist people in making the transition from the typical western diet to a whole food, plant-based diet - one that is capable of reversing most chronic disease in humans. Co-authored by a family physician, this is not just a "how to" book.
It also has numerous chapters about WHY we should choose plants over animals in our diets.
I invite you to read one of those chapters: Cancer, Climate Change and World Hunger. It's about how one simple diet can single-handedly make a serious dent in three of the world's most serious problems.
It's important to repeat here that in order get the disease-reversing benefits of plant-based eating, one must adopt what we call a whole food, plant-based diet - a way of eating where the vast majority of one's calories are derived from whole plants. Just avoiding meat, dairy, eggs and fish and becoming a vegan will not necessarily get the job done.
That's because you could consume nothing but Diet Coke and potato chips and call yourself a vegan - but you'd likely be a dead vegan in less than two months.
The Bottom Line. Why must we wait for the cyborgs to take action on AI solutions for which we have the know-how to apply today?
The simple answer is that there is no money to be made from developing and implementing solutions like the two that I described in this memo. But with the cyborgs at the helm, they would not only address food choices and population control, they would also quickly create a society wherein humans are rewarded for living greener lives.
Meanwhile, until those cyborgs step in to save us, we'll probably just continue kicking the can down the road - with our wasteful, harmful and grossly unsustainable global economy that thrives on our ever-increasing consumption of more stuff - in a world of finite resources.
Hence, perhaps our best chance to survive indefinitely is to rely on the incomparable knowledge, power, speed and precision
of the cyborgs. Finally, we can only hope that their DNA will include compassion for their human parents who gave them life.
Here's a link to the latest news about AI, published yesterday online in Forbes. It features what fifty companies are doing with AI in many different industries.
Continuing with this Cyborg theme next week, I will feature the recent TIME Magazine issue that was focused 100% on climate change.
My first blog on the crucial topic of totally reinventing our civilization was posted 9-21-18 and heads the list below. It was all about GRATOLA, an acronym that refers to the "green region" corridor running from Atlanta to Los Angeles.
Since then, I have posted more than forty additional pieces on that topic, including this one on 9-4-19 in which I introduced the GBN (Great Big Northern) - one 25-mile wide corridor along the USA's northernmost border that would theroetically be capable of sustainably housing ALL 300+ million Americans in an area the size of Oregon.