Saturday, September 23, 2023

The Existence Box

By Will Jackson (World: Hikeyay)

The key concept in our strategy to avoid extinction is the Existence Box. This has been used effectively in teaching people around our world how to think about what to do in their daily lives and how to steer group policies from the family to the community levels. It is also a guide to gaging progress at all scales. Some of you have already been briefed on this with help from our AI Sally and the Interlink (also called the Mountain Sisterhood), but our team now feels that it’s worth spelling it out for all of you.

Existence of a group is the collective experience by its members of its population, quality, and longevity. Population is the number of people in the group. Quality is the ability of members to meet their needs and wants within their environment. Longevity is how long that the group can last. Each of these is a dimension of a box whose volume is the group’s existence. Extinction is the absence of existence, where longevity and the population have dropped to zero.

The dimensions of the Existence Box are measured and limited by resources. The primary type of resource is natural habitat. Because we are animals, those resources are what we’re made of. Where they come from is the environment that we evolved to be most adapted to for meeting our basic needs and therefore to be most sensitive to, in exchange for being part of that habitat. As humans have spread to inhabit many different environments, they have developed the ability to adapt to them as well, in part through evolution and in part through creation of tools and artificial environments that enable them to reliably meet their needs and provide security and comfort, which we have come to think of as “quality of life.” Quality has come at a cost: much of what is created, including the byproducts of production, either displaces or degrades natural habitat, resulting in a net loss of it. As population grows and tools for adaptation become more efficient at acquiring and processing resources, the quantity of waste for the small fraction that produces most of it also grows. 

How fast the amount of natural habitat decreases directly affects longevity. The other life that is part of and maintains that habitat depends on it for its survival. When the total amount falls below what that life needs to survive then soon, like them, our population reaches a maximum and can no longer grow. Like a company that starves those who supply what it needs to produce its own products, and whose production slows with the decreasing supply until it stops and can only sell what it’s already produced, the production of people must stop, leaving those who are already alive to eventually die without replacement. Historically, groups have moved to, or taken by force, regions that have more resources; but there are now no other places to move to in time to offset the destruction that could befall our world and yours.

Our application of the Existence Box concept has been focused on increasing longevity by managing population growth and defining a target environment that can be created and adapted to by reducing instead of increasing waste. That target environment includes more natural habitat and less total consumption of resources. We are grappling with an unacceptable increase of global temperatures that could reduce longevity despite our efforts, which is one of the reasons we’re reaching out to other worlds, but we believe our general approach is sound enough for others to benefit from it.

Reality Check

The Existence Box is a minor variation of a theoretical construct I’ve used for thinking about, analyzing, and discussing the contributors and potential solutions to the threat of imminent extinction. My latest research has refined projections of global and population-level variables, including a derivation of how much resources are valued throughout a group in a closed environment. 

In my simulations, historically only about 1% of people prefer replacing natural habitat with artificial habitat, while 75% prefer people more than natural habitat. The rest prefer natural habitat more than artificial habitat and people, who I expect would be the main supporters of a push for increasing longevity.  In Hikeyay, the supporters have gained enough power to convince everyone else to radically change their lives. While I consider this unrealistic (thus the use of beneficent artificial intelligence and supernatural communication between parallel universes), it remains a valuable thought experiment, along with the fictional bringing to life of an alternate reality that would be preferable to ours. 

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