Saturday, April 6, 2024

Value Statement

“Exploring new ways of thinking, for fun and optimization of the amount, longevity, and quality of life.” – Bradley Jarvis profile, X (formerly Twitter) @bradjarvis

That introduction is a succinct statement of my values and how I most prefer to serve them. The term “life” is more general than I’ve typically used it elsewhere, applying to both humanity and other species. 

By my calculations, collapse of both populations is avoided where natural habitat that includes other species accounts for more than 63% of the sum of habitat and what people are consuming to survive. Put another way: The habitat that supports humans requires about the same amount of additional habitat to support it; less than that and it decreases, unable to support as many of us. If we were like other species and did not generate waste, our population would decrease to a level that could be supported by the remaining habitat which is supported by what it needs that grows back; but with increasing waste, that can’t happen, and we all die together.

What I just described accounts for the amount of life. How long both populations can survive is the longevity. Quality of life is how well members are matched to their environments, receiving benefits commensurate with what they contribute to the health of others. Humanity’s creation of waste, whose function as the essence of artificial environments is to provide benefits without requiring the giving of benefits, has enabled increasing quality of life for some at the expense of life itself for others – nonhuman and human.

One of my “new ways of thinking” is to tie amount, longevity, and quality as aspects of life to the values of people, habitat, and waste that I’ve identified in my other writing and described briefly above. How the aspects of life are to be optimized depends on the relative priorities of the values; and those priorities will be different for different people. For that reason, my recent research has been focused on deriving what those priorities might be (and how they might change) within given populations of people; and presenting the results as aspects of life within simulated “worlds” with similar pasts and different futures – one of which might be our own.

My greatest interest has been how to increase human longevity since our extinction would be the end of all our lives and our values along with them. The dependency of longevity on the amount of available habitat over time and the number of people consuming it to meet basic needs is a good reason to give habitat at least as high a priority as people. Waste would be the lowest priority, though it can serve longevity if a fixed amount of it is used as protection from threats to it that can’t be dealt with otherwise. Waste also can be, and has been, used to access more habitat if habitat is diminishing or population is growing beyond what existing habitat can support.

 From the perspective of other species, my guess based on extensive reading about biology and specifically ecology is that, for many, the value of population size (as procreation) would be the highest priority. Habitat (food supply and shelter) would be second. Waste wouldn’t even occur to them unless it was mistaken to be part of their habitat. Generally speaking, enabling development and maintenance of healthy, diverse ecosystems is the best way to optimize non-human life. This would, as a minimum, involve getting rid of waste and making the rest as harmless as possible.

As for the fun part of creative thinking, it’s a natural reward that draws me to do more of it no matter what circumstances I’m in.