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Stephen Hawking Asks The Internet a Question

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the what-is-your-name dept.

1171

An anonymous reader writes "Dr. Stephen Hawking received about 15000 answers to a question he posted 2 days ago on Yahoo Answers. His question was 'How can the human race survive the next hundred years?'." I imagine you can do better than 'It Can't.' How would you answer Dr. Hawking's question?

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Your Answer, Stephen (5, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 8 years ago | (#15676936)

'How can the human race survive the next hundred years?'

Birthcontrol, ween of dependence on high energy consumption and colonise the solar system, because we sure aren't going to get along forever on this rock alone.

Re:Your Answer, Stephen (2, Insightful)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 8 years ago | (#15676969)

Slaughter lawyers & politicians to fight world hunger? Maybe not, but it would be a "Good Start".

Jaysyn

Re:Your Answer, Stephen (2, Insightful)

Mantorp (142371) | more than 8 years ago | (#15676974)

Since birthrates are already too low to sustain growth in the countries with the most wealth it seems that if we spread the wealth we kill two birds with one stone.

Re:Your Answer, Stephen (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677085)

Since birthrates are already too low to sustain growth in the countries with the most wealth it seems that if we spread the wealth we kill two birds with one stone.

Actually the growth of economic centers of growth is largely through immigration. However, there are contries which are declinging, like Russia and Poland, because of the exodus of laborers and professionals.

The fact is there are countries like Mexico which have very high rates of population growth because so many subscribe to either a) Family needs more sons OR b) The pop says no to family planning. Without the coutries south of the USA providing cheap labor, agricultural goods would be a bit more expensive because the growers would have to raise wages to the point which would attract US citizens.

Re:Your Answer, Stephen (1)

Mantorp (142371) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677184)

Ignoring migration completely most industrialized countries (USA notably excepted) don't have enough births to offset deaths. As China becomes more prosperous the same thing is starting to happen there.

Re:Your Answer, Stephen (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677248)

Ignoring migration completely most industrialized countries (USA notably excepted) don't have enough births to offset deaths. As China becomes more prosperous the same thing is starting to happen there.

Japan is already confronting this issue. They have been for at least a decade. As more women have choice in their lives fewer are the dutiful little wife pumping out babies. The government offers incentives to those who have extra children.

Re:Your Answer, Stephen (-1, Flamebait)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677132)

It's a dangerous situation. Intelligent people that know how to manage technology, money, and resources are dying off, to be replaced by the mildly retarded in high growth countries like Africa, where average IQ scores generally run from 60-75 [answers.com] .

Giving an equal amount of resources to those who are least equipped to handle it would be very stupid.

Re:Your Answer, Stephen (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15677197)

You spelled Africa wrong...

it should be spelled Alabama.

Re:Your Answer, Stephen (3, Insightful)

jaydonnell (648194) | more than 8 years ago | (#15676986)

I don't thin there is any way we will be living in space in the next 100 years. Also, I don't think moving is the solution to our problems. It's like the drug addict who thinks that moving away from the city will solve their drug addiction. The problems we have aren't a result of where we live, but how we live.

Re:Your Answer, Stephen (4, Interesting)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677190)

I don't thin there is any way we will be living in space in the next 100 years. Also, I don't think moving is the solution to our problems.

I don't see us all moving to other planets, moons and space communinities, I just see an extension and survival of Man through that avenue. This planet will be exhausted at the rate of consumption.

It's like the drug addict who thinks that moving away from the city will solve their drug addiction. The problems we have aren't a result of where we live, but how we live.

And it's energy, per capita, which is mostly How We Live. It isn't just the SUV guzzling gas, but the appliances at home and all the goods we purchase which require energy to manufacture, package and distribute. The USA is consuming commodities at a blazing rate, but China with it's vast population will match that in short order. Economics will play a part, as China and India consume more goods and energy the costs (as they are already doing in most goods) will rise and reduce consumption simply because people won't be able to have it all anymore, but choose from fewer things which are important to them. The big adjustment is going to be when petroleum runs scarce. Everything will change as the cost of petrol increases. Sadly, there will also be increased competition for land as is expected much low lying lands will flood thanks to the warmer climate.

Be wary. Wars are waged more over competition for resources than any other reason.

Re:Your Answer, Stephen (1)

TheSkyIsPurple (901118) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677196)

> The problems we have aren't a result of where we live, but how we live.

I agree we have many problems that are a result of how we live, but they are not the only problems that threaten our survival.

Example: An asteroid strike is a potential problem that is a result of where we live, not how we live.

Re:Your Answer, Stephen (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677202)

The problems we have aren't a result of where we live, but how we live.

However, several key vulnerabilities to the survival of the species result from the fact that we all inhabit the same rock. Bio-engineered plagues, massive metor Strikes, nuclear holocaust etc can be survived better by having self-sufficient extra-terrestrial colonies. First as isolated colonies unaffected by the incident, and later as a source of people and working infrastructure to help bootstrap the survivors back to civilization... or re-conlonize.

Re:Your Answer, Stephen (1, Insightful)

Ruie (30480) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677080)

Birthcontrol, ween of dependence on high energy consumption and colonise the solar system, because we sure aren't going to get along forever on this rock alone.

You got one right out of three - congratulations !

No, I do not see colonization of anything without high energy consumption. Most things you do in space would require gobs of power - whether it comes from your own nuclear source or Sun is immaterial.

As for birthcontrol - why (unless the couple is not ready for children yet..)?? Space is just that - space, lots of it. With asteroid belt having an entire planet disassembled into small nice pieces with huge surface area.

Re:Your Answer, Stephen (4, Insightful)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677259)

As for birthcontrol - why (unless the couple is not ready for children yet..)?? Space is just that - space, lots of it. With asteroid belt having an entire planet disassembled into small nice pieces with huge surface area.

People who feel that the Earth is becoming overpopulated don't see colonization as a real cure. Even if you avoided the problem of cost-to-orbit with rockets by constructing space elevators, at this rate you would never be able to move more people off the planet than are being born on it. (This unpleasant fact is a big plot element of Kim Stanley Robinson's Blue Mars [amazon.com] ). Therefore, many see birth control as the only way to minimize what they feel is an undesirably large terrestrial population.

Although the only way to make it really work would be to have forced abortions a la the Chinese authoritarian state. I've seen this advocated before among Slashdot comments. It's ironic that the same community which often tends toward a libertarian view of restricting government power has those who want the government to get into the business of abortion.

Final Solution (was:Your Answer, Stephen) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15677125)

Remove human decision from selection process and start killing. Eliminate about 2/3 of existing human population, and the planet might actually be viable again.

Re:Your Answer, Stephen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15677195)

I disagree. The biggest single threat to the human race is organized coercion (otherwise known as government). History shows that governments (of all types) have caused orders of magnitude more death and destruction than any private group could possibly be capable of -- and the business of government is on the rise today (freedom is on the decline), just about everywhere you look.

If this trend continues, "we" will almost certainly blow "ourselves" to pieces within the next century. The bigger and more powerful government becomes, the more destructive it becomes, and the probability of catastrophe goes up accordingly. I don't think it's unrealistic at all to propose that with 100% government (0% freedom), the probability of catastrophe is 100%. Where do you think we're at today?

Re:Your Answer, Stephen (1)

The_Abortionist (930834) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677211)

I certainly agree with birth control.

The main problem, in my view, is overpopulation. A lot of the polution is created by a somewhat small fraction of the humain population. When the poor masses in developing countries become richer and start eating like we do (in my opinion eating habits are the worst thing for the environment), drive cars instead of biking, have running water, etc etc, the shit is really gonna hit the fan. We can already see climate change because we (civilized people) have maxed out what the Earth can take and now the chinese are poluting like hell on top of it. Thank god Indians have more environmental-friendly habits.

Survival of mankind:
-High prices for poluting items
-massive population reduction (war, famine, slavery, family planning, benevolent action, etc)
-real environmental laws with real enforcement
-better education, including more vegeteranism
-better technology (lesser emissions, meat created in vats, etc)

The problem is that people dont change that easily. So for the most part, we need either fewer people and/or better technology to handle our habits.

Re:Your Answer, Stephen (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15677214)

You couldn't kill off the human race in the next 100 years if you tried. So how will we survive? It's not a valid question.

Educate the World (4, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 8 years ago | (#15676939)

In a world that is in chaos politically, socially and environmentally, how can the human race sustain another 100 years?
I'd like to think that education would cure all three of those issues. But it's a rather naïve view. Either way, I'll have my official answer be better education throughout the entire world about everything. That's our best strategy for making it through the next 100 years. Bank on the children. If you raise a child, it's your duty to make sure that they become far smarter than you are. I think it was around high school when I became much more intelligent than my father but I don't fault him for it. I only thank him for ensuring that his son and daughters were well educated even though he wasn't.

Given those three issues, it seems probable that we may not make it another hundred years without severe loss of life. I don't think the loss of life will be complete with the death of all humans but I think there is a high probability for a large loss of our populations in one country or another. I don't mean thousands like natural disasters but I mean a hundred million or more.

We'll survive, just not at a luxury like we've known. Honestly, if a lot of major religions and their leaders could start coming to terms with each other. You know, make it so that it's not like a death sentence when you don't believe in God or Allah? You could also reveal to everyone that our leaders should be more like Gandhi and less like Hitler. That would probably help with those first two problems. In every country, to be a successful politician you need a lot of financial support. Unfortunately, the ideal people leading us are those with no interest in padding their own pockets.

As for the third problem you listed, we're screwed. We're screwed because our numbers are reaching epic proportions that the earth cannot sustain and there's really no way around it aside from birth control. I don't support enforced birth control as far as the Chinese have taken it but you have to admit it certainly curbed their population growth rate. If nature fails us or vice versa, things will be pretty bad though I doubt we would become extinct entirely.

Of course, there are an infinite number of universes and I'm sure there exists one which doesn't have any of those three problems ....

*loads a bullet into the chamber of his handgun*

...which is why I suggest you get to work on the machine that allows yourself, ten beautiful women and I a way to cross over to that parallel universe, Mr. Hawking.

Re:Educate the World (4, Insightful)

GoatMonkey2112 (875417) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677040)

Having more education than someone does not necessarily make you more intelligent.

Re:Educate the World (2, Interesting)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677261)

Tell me about it, I work at a university. Most of the PhDs here can hardly walk and talk at the same time. Somewhere along the line in pursuit of their degrees, common sense is traded in for academics...

Re:Educate the World (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15677050)

Ahh: We'll survive, just not at a luxury like we've known. Honestly, if a lot of major religions and their leaders could start coming to terms with each other.

It isn't a lot of major religions. It is one major religion, Islam. Islam is a proud religion and by the basis can not stand that any other religion,
even thoughs that believe in the same God (Christianity and Judaism) should exist.

Yes some Christian leaders are overbearing idiots that try to shove their respective version of the Bible down your throat, but they certainly aren't bombing people in cars.

Re:Educate the World (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15677079)

Yes some Christian leaders are overbearing idiots that try to shove their respective version of the Bible down your throat, but they certainly aren't bombing people in cars.
No, they're just sitting behind a desk bombing people with devices and other people.

Re:Educate the World (1)

mollog (841386) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677115)

Education was my first thought, too. But I'd make the internet more widely available. I'd also get the government more involved with culture, a coercive effort to ostrasize anti-social thought and encourage community effort.

It's strange and wonderful how unexpected things like the 'net arise when most needed.

Re:Educate the World (2, Insightful)

TheOldSchooler (850678) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677141)

"I think it was around high school when I became much more intelligent than my father"

And it will probably be around 40 when you realize just how dumb you were in high school.

Re:Educate the World (1)

TheDauthi (219285) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677209)

Great Larry Niven Tie-In.

simplicity (4, Interesting)

jaydonnell (648194) | more than 8 years ago | (#15676948)

We have to stop being a desposable consumerist society. I.e. we have to live more simply. Now I'm not saying that we all need to be organic gardeners who tailor their own clothes and live directly off the land. I'm very much a metropolitan technologist, but I think that consumption purely for the sake of consumption is our biggest problem. The real question is if the market can correct this or if the market will dig such a deep hole that it doesn't react until the shit hits the fan.

Re:simplicity (2, Funny)

Fyre2012 (762907) | more than 8 years ago | (#15676989)

...market will dig such a deep hole that it doesn't react until the shit hits the fan.


Agreed... but then that leads to the question: How do we know when the shit has hit the fan?

Re:simplicity (1, Funny)

jaydonnell (648194) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677057)

oh, you'll know!

Re:simplicity (1)

Moby Cock (771358) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677012)

I think you are correct. Our modern world (read Wetern Culture) is simply unsustainable. We cna not grow in perpetuity. The focus must be on sustainable development in each area of society. Technology will help the transition but there must also be change in philosophy.

Re:simplicity (1)

pedalman (958492) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677081)

but I think that consumption purely for the sake of consumption is our biggest problem.
That would seem to be indicated here. [wikipedia.org]

Re:simplicity (1)

mdkathon (579667) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677108)

I agree and feel we must be of the same stock! Though I feel like what it comes down to is we need to learn we can't HAVE everything. I don't need Mangos if they're shipped from the other side of the world, I don't need a new computer every 6 months, etc. Currently with how capitalism has a stranglehold on society (which, is hard for me to disagree with, as it has brought so many things which are good for our race) and we need to re-learn what is more important than pure profit. Can profit be more than money? Can we once again feel proud about not only what we bring home now, but how we live our lives will pay off for generations ahead of us? I doubt many people will be able to consider the possibility of "living a simple and humble life". It's not like I am not eyeing a new car, 37" HDTV LCD, and a dual-core processor rig... My current car, TV, and computer would be able to do just fine for years.

This will take more than one generation to get going, but, we need to start now.

Re:simplicity (4, Insightful)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677120)

but I think that consumption purely for the sake of consumption is our biggest problem.

I vehemently disagree. Messes are a problem, not consumption. Why do we have this new puritanism taking over in certain places? I don't want conservation. I want to live in a Utopia of plentiful abundance, and there is no intrinsic reason why we can't have it.

The solution to all our problems is more technology, not less. You claim to be a "metropolitan technologist", but you appear to be a "guilty metropolitan technologist". Well, I say we shed the guilt and embrace civilization. We just need to make being less messy a higher priority.

Re:simplicity (1)

happyemoticon (543015) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677128)

There'd be a lot less economic waste if people didn't buy major appliances and vehicles every five years or so. I mean, a stove built in the 1920's-1940's like an O'Kieff & Merritt will still work, and work better than many modern stoves. At some point in the recent past corporations figured out that making stuff built to last two hundred years was unprofitable, and started charging the same amount of money for disposable, unrepairable consumer goods. Think a Hybrid is a good deal, and that you're helping the environment? Think again. A ton of pollution was created in the production of that automobile, and that should be weighed against when your last car was made.

The solution to this is to either change the consumer mindset so that people realize that a gas stove that's 80 years old really is better than one you buy today that's built to break down in 5-10 years, or to enforce it via government regulation. It's poppycock to assume that a corporation will Do the Right Thing (unless it's built into their charter or something) - it's hard enough to get them to not break the law. And of course, it's horseshit to think that government officials will do anything unless it helps them get reelected, so our only hope really is grassroots movements. We've just got to get the radical leftist environmentalists to stop trying to get people to wear fake fur, eat only vegetables, and live in polyamorous permaculture commune villages in the middle of nowhere, and focus on things that can bridge the gap to middle America.

Re:simplicity (1)

artoffacts (850560) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677152)

Can the market correct this?

Uhmm no.

Why? Because the market, and every free market, is built on the central tenant that when in comes to production, there is and always will be a surplus. A surplus, and the effective sale of that surplus, is sin qua non to any market.

To ask it to "correct" itself would be akin to asking a hemophiliac if he could spare a few quarts of blood.

How can the human race survive the (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15676957)

next hundred years?

By installing Linux of course!

WE NEED TO GET ON TEH SPOKE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15677177)


That begs the question... (1)

databyss (586137) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677238)

Does the Earth run linux?

Simple (3, Insightful)

toupsie (88295) | more than 8 years ago | (#15676977)

Keep on doing what we have been doing for the last 100,000 or so years. Eating, pooping, fornicating, killing each other and creating stuff. Stick to the basics and we will do just fine. Don't believe the doomsday predictions Stevie, there is always going to be a guy with a sign that says, "The end of the world is nigh".

Re:Simple (1)

Ignignot (782335) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677188)

Mod parent up. There are only 2 things that could possibly kill us in the next hundred years, and that's large scale nuclear war or a huge meteor impact. The first we seem to have under control, and the second is incredibly unlikely.

Re:Simple (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15677220)

-1 point for referring to Stephen Hawking as 'Stevie'.

Re:Simple (Not Quite) (5, Insightful)

damacus (827187) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677253)

100,000 years ago up until the 1930s, there were no nuclear bombs. We only had technology to inflict localized damage on our fellow man and planet. Now there are enough nukes to wreck the planet, advancement in biology such that we now have the capability to create biological weapons on a wide scale. Also, in the last 200 and 300 years, industrial society has exploded and we've seen rapid deforestation and ecological carelessness on a massively wide scale.

The situation is vastly different, and failing to acknowledge that is naive.

Pandemic (2, Interesting)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | more than 8 years ago | (#15676987)

Whether intentional or not, a huge reduction in population
would do the trick.

Re:Pandemic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15677066)

You can count on Slashdot readers!

Re:Pandemic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15677230)


I agree completely, but even that seems unlikely.

Look at the best disease that has hit humans in the past 100 years.

It had a long incubation period with no symptoms and relatively high communicability. It was contracted predominately via sex. It was deadly with no known cure.

It was AIDS. But even that only seemed to weed out people at the bottom. In developed countries, only poor, unhealthy, and uneducated people get AIDS. In the US its predominantly very promiscuous homosexuals and IV drug users, most of which are already poor. The others that get AIDS are those that have a shitty existence already.

Suspended Animation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15676988)

Put some people in nuclear-powered hypothermic suspension tanks in a remote part of the world. They'll probably still be alive in 100 years... though it's questionable whether there will be anyone else left to revive them.

Just one... (5, Interesting)

TheRequiem13 (978749) | more than 8 years ago | (#15676996)

good ol' pandemic. A real nasty beast of a bug.

Kill off a couple billion, and we'll be good to go for a while.

Crossing my fingers! (1)

drewzhrodague (606182) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677250)

I'm still crossing my fingers. I bet my immune system against bird flu. Whom else is with me?

The same way we survived the last 50 (1, Interesting)

Phoenixhunter (588958) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677006)

A little Cold War, depending on technology to overcome our shortcomings, and a fair amount of luck.

Re:The same way we survived the last 50 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15677222)

Humans always have found a way to survive. I think the question should be more like "Will we grow up in the next 100 years?"

The answer (2, Funny)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677008)

The answer is spirituality, establishment of a world where materialism will be subdued by the spiritual matters. The establishment of the society where consumerism will be frowned at. The answer is walk, not race, think more than act.

Once the world government becomes reality it will immediately transform the economic system from highly internationally competitive firmly capitalistic to more reasonable more socially oriented system.

Re:The answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15677254)

yup. hippie communism is the way.
you know, since hippies and commies were so successful, and there's so many of them around nowadays.

Historical context (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15677009)

There would be no way we would need to ask this question if it wasn't for the arrival of civilization.

We will not change (1)

macdaddy357 (582412) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677011)

It is a given that we will not change, and that will wipe a lot of us out in the next 100 years, but not all of humanity. We are not on the brink of extinction. There may not be 6 billion people on earth in 2106, but there will be people.

One Day at a Time (5, Insightful)

PackMan97 (244419) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677026)

As silly as it sounds...we will survive just like we always have. One day at a time.

There have been plenty of forecasters of doom saying that the earth would run out of space, food, energy and whatnot and the population continues to expand.

We'll muddle our way through the next 100 years just like we have the few thousand prior to this one.

Re:One Day at a Time (1)

nomarbles (986075) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677153)

There is a point at which this argument no longer holds water. The question is whether that time is within the next hundred years. Something will have change, eventually - space, food, and energy are not limitless.

I imagine (2, Informative)

Wootzor von Leetenha (938602) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677036)

The only solution I can think of involves legalizing, rather, mandating drugs and banning clothes...

Change (4, Interesting)

Bakadan (987312) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677037)

Humans are like cockroaches. We've infected every corner of the globe, and we're not going away. However, if we are to survive and prosper for the next century and hopefully longer, there's going to be some big changes. My boyfriend and I were talking, and following the depletion of oil resources (and not before), we'll see a massive centralization of cities, mostly on coasts, and a move towards renewable energy sources. Cars will never go away; they have too much momentum (no pun intended). But when this happens, we'll see much more of a community feel, as everyone will be in much closer quarters. The massive towers in Dubai and Kuala Lampur (sp?) are good examples of this, and will propogate into the next century as we won't have the finances to get around. Cities like Los Angeles will become a thing of the past, as it will no longer be feasible to have your suburban house with a white picket fence. With this, we'll see a lot of changes. Society will be permanently altered. But as Gloria Gaynor said, "we will survive". If we want to extend ourselves to Mars and the moons of the gas giants, we'll need to perfect the biodome, to be able to live independently. Interstellar travel is out of the question, and always will be. We should give up on it and focus on going to Mars, Europa, and some of the other moons. -sigh-

Re:Change (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15677182)

Um, Cities built on coasts are going to be wet cities really really quick.

Bob

Re:Change (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15677229)

"Interstellar travel is out of the question, and always will be. We should give up on it and focus on going to Mars, Europa, and some of the other moons."

I agree that we should focus on Moon, Mars & Asteroids, but to rule out interstellar travel is a huge mistake. If the Singularity/upload guys succeed, it will be a very viable option. The REAL problem with i.t. is that humans are extremely fragile out there, and their lifespan is not suitable for very long journeys.

its easy (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15677048)

get rid of the illuminati, the freemasons and the mormons.

Re:its easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15677162)

Too late, they know where you live now!

By promoting justice for everyone (1)

systems (764012) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677049)

Amongst other fundamental values, I consider justice the most important.

I also believe that you can not hope to have justice for yourself without asking for justice for everyone else (I believe there is a famous quote that say exactly that).

If you dont want justice for everyone, you are a tyrant!

Small Scale (4, Insightful)

zabbey (985424) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677051)

Any one trying to answer this question seriously is breaking out the 50 cent words. Did he say 100 years? In the past 100 years there's been two world wars, super bombs have been invented, a cold war, etc. Real question should be: "How did we survive the last 100 Years?" If we survived through all that we'll survive the next 100 years just fine.

Re:Small Scale (1)

SirCyn (694031) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677212)

And really we should look at what we did right in the last 100 years, that kept up alive despite those things. Then ask the question 'how do we apply those lessons to the future to insure our survival?', learning from the past is the only way to prevent its repetition.

Talk about a vague question (5, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677055)

Answer: By shear force of will

If he wants a more detailed answer than that, he should ask a more detailed question. As any historian can tell you, the "social, political, and environmental chaos" he refers to is absolutely nothing new. The only difference between then and now is that our toys are bigger and shinier.

Pick any period in human history, and I think you'll find that it's easy to define "social, political, and environmental chaos" that worked against the residents of the period. In fact, the conditions that humans have found acceptable in past periods of history are regularly referred to as "squalor" in this day and age. Yet there are precious few examples of civilizations that were wiped out by such conditions.

Yes, the human race makes a lot of messes. Sometimes we stumble across messes that aren't our own doing. Any way you cut it, though, humans will always react to a problem before it reaches the level of self-destruction. Our instict for survival is too strong to do otherwise.

same old say mold (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677056)

The same way we've survived the past few hundred thousand years--by breeding.

Nuke the Bastards! (1)

sarlos (903082) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677058)

Unite the world under the United States government and turn anyone who would resist into a gaping whole in the ground. Nuclear Winter? Meh, it will simply encourage Hydroponic food production! Public backlash? Hell, nuke them too! I'll just run to the safety of Cheyenne Mountain and hop through the Stargate to wait on another planet...

Near earth asteroids (1)

darkharlequin (1923) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677067)

Grab an asteroid, use solar furnaces to make aluminum, nickle and iron and silicon from the asteroid, drop it to earth as cheap raw materials, and use the mass to attenuate energy incident on earth. Food production should not be a problem unless we can't get rid of all of these little warlords that are killing their people so they can get the newest ak47 shipment from Russia or China. The raw materials can be directly converted to energy--aluminum--or used to make new solar cells cheaper with higher purity silicon. Also, get as much of humanity off of the planet as we can--preferably working in mining, production, or other activities offworld.

Don't underestimate us (2, Insightful)

DrLang21 (900992) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677070)

Humans have survived through ice ages and famine. People often underestimate our ability to adapt and survive. We will survive because we don't want to die

didn't Malthus ask this 208 years ago? (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677071)

And Paul Erlich 35 years ago? Humans invent new solutions and cope. They've even become fabulously wealthy compared to the 18th century.

Same thing that got us through the past millions.. (1)

Hamled (742266) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677073)

Tenacity.

Sure, over the past 150-200 years much of the world has fallen into the habit of putting up with what's "good enough", because it's damned hard to fight for what you believe in, what is right, all the time.

To survive the next hundred years, we're going to need to go back to that struggle.

Hmm? (0, Flamebait)

RonaldReagan (112997) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677074)

That wheelchair guy, you mean?

karma to burn (-1, Flamebait)

mcmonkey (96054) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677082)

We can trim population and reduce hunger by eating cripples. /aisle seat, please.

Eassy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15677084)


Random quick thoughts:

Evidence is clear that we are downsizing and going towards a more 3rd world kind of world. There is a greater disparity between the classes. The "lower classes" have access to stuff that they never did before, and it is pissing off the upper ones. What the lower class people can do today that was not true even 20 years ago:

Access good information for practically free. To include music, video, and factual information in seconds with a simple google search. Books used to be things for the very wealthy, and took _a long time_ to circulate. Then came the printing press, then came the internet.

Access to damn good stuff at much lower prices than the wealthy used to get. Think about it, and iPod full of MP3s costs less than a decent receiver did in the 70s. Is the quality as good? No/maybe, but its good enough for most people, and the quantity speaks volumes.

So, how will we survive?

Quite well. The tension is tight right now. Governments are losing their power, and thus are trying harder to reestablish their old strangle hold, but they have no real power outside of servicing us with things like basic protection, basic rules/conventions/standards, and things like inexpensive roads and utilities.

Tension is high with the big corps too. They are trying harder to force people to keep paying their extortion and liking it! But we simply have more means of getting away from their strangle hold no matter how tight they try, and hell, if they figure out a way to force us to pay high prices for something that should not be high anymore, then we will just not participate. End of debate.

People with housing and food don't revolt. Ones without those things will!

Food is a done deal. Even a homeless person eating out of a trash can in the US eats better than many people in the world. Housing is getting tough. That is really the ones in control's last trump card. But again, when people can't have a place to live, they will start crashing in rich people's yards and garages or simply take over the rich person's house!

My brain is going faster than my fingers...

Global feritlity crisis (2, Insightful)

couch_warrior (718752) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677092)

The best way to survive the next 100 years is to stop running from the imaginary boogeymen of the LAST 100 years. We have this suicidal fascination with birth control and population reduction. In reality, birth rates are plumetting all over the world. An if it wasn't for immigration, the population of most propserous nations would be in rapid decline. In the U.S. the average couple has only 1.4 children. Without immigration from third world countries, the U.S. would be depopulating at a rate of 30% every 25 years.
Exacerbating this is the profile of who is reproducing. In our welfare state, we pay the least functional and arguably least intelligent segments of our population (this is not racist - 75% of welfare recipients are not african americans) to sit around and breed. The only part of the population demographic that is growing is the poor and dependent.
The crisis of the next 100 years will not be global warming or toxic waste or nuclear fallout. It will be vast armies of stupid belligerent parasites with their hands out demanding to be fed and clothed by a shrinking pool of intelligent functional human beings.
The next world crisis is the crisis of de-evolution!
To survive, we must institute emergency programs of tax relief and education to encourage intelligent people to BREED, for the sake of humanity.

My answer.... (1)

joekampf (715059) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677104)

Because.

First and foremost (1)

Handover Phist (932667) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677112)

Stop manufacturing Hummers and get to work on those Hybrids. Get western troops out of the east and attempt solutions through diplomacy and education on BOTH sides of the pond. Stop packaging everything with more plastic and paint than the actual product. Find methods of getting donations of food to Africa that dont get taxed to the last grain before arrival. Find methods of levelling the economy so the poor arent as poor, and the rich aren't as rich.

It can't. (5, Insightful)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677119)

>> I imagine you can do better than 'It Can't.'

Sometimes the correct answer is really boring.

Female education + extreme sports (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15677121)

First, educate all women until 20, minimum. Educated women raise daughters with higher ambitions who have smaller families. Female education is probably the most successful family planning technique and the reason (IMO) for the so-called fertility drop-off in many countries.

Second, provide free extreme sports for guys between the ages of 15 and 25, without safety equipment. /Posting anonymously

We will be here for a while. (1)

Slate99 (901946) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677126)

It is difficult for me to imagine that this question was posted by Dr. Hawking. The answer is self evident. However, the answer is simply this: The human race will survive the next 100 years exactly as it survived the last 100 years.

There is nothing new in political conflict, racial discord, religious fanaticism or just plain hatred of anyone that is different. This has been an integral part of what we are and has, unfortunately, been greatly responsible for our development. As much as we would like to deny it; hatred is as much a part of what we are as is our capacity for benevolence.

If the conflicts of the last 100 years have not destroyed us; then I think it highly unlikely that the next 100 years will have any significant impact on totality of humans.

It would have been more interesting if reworded (1)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677131)

How can't the human race last the next 100 years?

My answer.... (2, Insightful)

tpjunkie (911544) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677134)

From Yahoo answers, my personal answer:

Humanity has shown itself capable of adapting to an incredible variety of situations, conditions, and hardships. One way or another, I am quite confident that humanity will endure through the next one hundred years.

That being said, the circumstances of this continued survival may be quite different or unpleasant compared to what many people experience today. I believe that humanity needs to come together in a constructive manner and really address some of the many problems we as a species face, from global climate change to the vast poverty, hunger, and disease suffered by much of the world. Until a truly unified approach is taken by all the world's nations, any progress will be piecemeal and incremental.

Alternatively, as you yourself suggested, human colonization of extra-terrestrial worlds by a subset of humanity is an option, however under today's socio-political climate, such an endeavor would likely be limited to a few of the world's more wealthy nations.

How about do nothing? (2, Insightful)

pcaylor (648195) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677143)

I know there's more than enough cynicism to go around, but Dr. Hawking's question was only asking how the human race can survive the next 100 years. Not 1000 or 10,000.

Does anyone really think that there is even the slightest chance of the human race becoming extinct in the next 100 years? (Excepting act of God events like a large asteroid strike or supervolcano) Even the most dire global warming alarmists don't predict the extinction of mankind in the next century.

I expect that in 100 years civilization will look a lot like it does today. India and China will be richer, the US and Europe will be a little poorer and the geeks of the future will have some toys that would make us green with envy.

The real question is, how can any of us reading this survive another 100 years?

Carousel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15677150)

The fiery ritual of Carousel. Will you be renewed?

Simple. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15677163)

Presently, there are two things that can destroy humanity:

- Fully blown nuclear war.

- A giant freakin' asteroid.

Everything else is pretty much a non-threat when the continued existance of humanity itself (humanity ; not your favorite country) is concerned.

So, nukes. Full blown nuclear war is less of a threat than it's ever been. A nuke here, a nuke there, tragic, but not threatening to the species. The problem I see is that there's no more MAD.

Back in the day, if the US first-strike'd Russia, the US wouldn't have been able to take out everything and would've been destroyed in turn. (And vice versa.) That many nukes, of course, would've been quite problematic for the planet.

Now, however, the cold war is over. The only thing that prevents the continuous use of large-scale nuclear weapons is bad publicity and morality. I hate to drag Godwin into this, but bad PR didn't stop Hitler, nor did morality. To think those two things will prevent a full blown nuclear conflict (or more likely, repeated smaller conflicts) is laughable at best.

We need a return to MAD. MAD as it was won't work. However, a pact stating that any country deploying a nuclear weapon (ala ICBM, city-destroying bomb, et cetera) will immediately be declared war upon and attacked by every other nation in the world, eh, it'd provide a bit more security.

Sad that assurance of annihilation is the only thing that will prevent man from using nuclear weapons against man, but hey - it's been proven to work.

Now, asteroids. You've got me there. I really don't trust NASA to save us from a planet-killer. However, one would hope that between all space-faring nations, something could be come up with to save us.. I'd say, for now, the best thing we can do is to work on developing even better 'early warning' systems. The sooner we know, the more time we have to devise a way to prevent our planet from being ripped a new arsehole by a giant chunk of space rock.

does it matter (1)

rizzo420 (136707) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677172)

does it matter if the human race lives another hundred years? nature has a plan and that plan is unknown to any of us. it is possible that our species will be extinct in a hundred years and i don't see a problem with that.

By addressing the really important issues... (1)

wasimmer (515964) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677185)

Such as: Banning gay marriage, flag-burning, forcefully installing basterdized democracies....oh the list goes on and on

Only one way... (1)

madseal (916186) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677186)

Our survival as a species has nothing to do with us colonizing other planets or technological advances... until we learn how to do two simple things our future will always be uncertain.

1) We need to treat everyone as we ourselves would like to be treated.
2) We must strive to develop a sustainable society.

... all that junk about colonizing other planets, or limiting our population growth will not do anything except postpone what everyoine fears.

Hybrid races (1)

Van Cutter Romney (973766) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677189)

Somewhere in this or the next century, everyone in this world is going to some hybrid form of Indians and Chinese. You may run now but sooner or later they're going to hump you. You may as well help the process along....

In mines (1)

adamjaskie (310474) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677191)

It would not be difficult. Nuclear reactors could provide power almost indefinitely. Greenhouses could maintain plant life. Animals could be bred and... SLLLLAAAAUTERRRED.

Something to consider! (1)

phorest (877315) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677193)

Take away his 'blink switch' so that he may simply live!

(and leave the living to us bipeds as we see fit) :)

Seriously, he probably uses more hardware than any of us for basic life support. If it's good enough for him, it's good enough for you and me. Just consuming oxygen is not an option!

Science and Technology (2, Insightful)

Dr. Eggman (932300) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677198)

Never ever say "That's something we don't want/need to know." Investigate and study everything.

I think in the coming century, we'll continue to see the world's population increase. It will come in a different kind of environmental revolution; we won't just be changing the environment around us anymore, we'll start changing the environment in us. We'll become more resilient, self-relient, and broaden the conditions in which we can exist in an enviroment and when that happens, we'll be able to inhabit new places on the globe and start to move beyond.

Lots of alcohol (1)

awkScooby (741257) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677200)

Gets me through life...

And the Internet responds (3, Funny)

kensai (139597) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677210)

with a STFU n00b! Like OMGWTFBBQ!

Zing (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677232)

I imagine you can do better than 'It Can't.'


There's a little bit of social commentary I think some of the Slashdot population should pay attention to. (Myself included.)

Humans need a crisis to change (5, Insightful)

spiffery (987500) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677235)

I think the pattern is that humans follow a path of least resistance until a need arises. It is understandable to look at humankind and say that we are headed for a crisis, and there will most likely be one. But what happens at that crisis period is a matter of debate. When global warming becomes an obvious crisis to nearly every human on the planet there will be change. Once the need for unification becomes apparent, it will happen. Whether circumstances will allow reversal is a question beyond my ken, but my feeling is that humans will continue doing what we're doing until we hit a critical point. Then people will change, as needed, until the next crisis. Populations will grow, people will die, and problems will be dealt with locally until it is necessary for things to change. And I don't have any particular faith in humanity, except that we do what is necessary when problems arise.

The Obvious post from the /. crowd (2, Funny)

syntap (242090) | more than 8 years ago | (#15677251)

would have been to answer him as soon as possible with "First post!"

Excercise a little Humility (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15677257)

I work with criminals and with those accused of crimes. Most of the violent crimes stem from a lack of humility on the part of the accused. Many assaults stem from someone calling someone a name or talking poorly about their life situation (be it money, race, sex, religion, sexual orientation, etc.). Many arguments stem from this same cause, wars start in this manner and hatred of one another also stems from people not being about to accept another's viewpoint and exercise a little humility.

We as a species need to stop taking everything so seriously. If someone calls you a Jerk or an Ass, well then get over it. If someone speaks poorly of your office, take it in stride. Stop focusing on the little things so much.

Lastly, we need to settle our differences upfront and in an urgent manner. Holding grudges never leads to anything good. Throughout the course of our existence as a species we have seen that slavery, poverty, starvation and famine, greed and tyranny have all lead us down the wrong path. Many have benefited from all those situations but many more (countless more) have been wronged. Had we offered our food, our money, our help, our humanity to those in need early on we would probably never be having this discussion. The only reason for this question to be asked is that there is a problem, a problem of great magnitude. If we would all take a step back and attempt to work our differences out in a peaceful manner, questions of this manner will not exist 100 years from now.

In classic Slashdot form I need to nerd this up a bit, so here is a quote that we can all appreciate. "They are a great people, Kal-El; they wish to be. They only lack the light to show the way. For this reason, above all, their capacity for good, I have sent them you, my only son." The human race does not need a super-being savior (not yet anyway) we need to lead ourselves to a better existence.

share and act less in self-interest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15677258)

... and do things even when they do not directly benefit ... do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

meaning, each person, and forget about what anyone else is doing.

that is all
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