Monday, January 23, 2017

On The Darkest Timeline: An Ode to Meat

I started a new antidepressant. It’s odd, to tinker with your brain chemistry in this way (recreational drug users will know what I’m talking about). Add a little juice in one way or another, and the meat feels and thinks differently.

The question is inescapable: Why Meat? What’s the purpose of it? Clearly, the meat has its own wants and desires: respiration, reproduction, and so on. But is meaning or purpose extricable from the meat? The theologians posit a soul, but there are a lot of implicit assumptions that need to be made, and Occam’s razor makes it difficult to support them. At any rate, if souls exist, they seem fairly inconsequential, which brings us right back to our original problem.

We currently stand on the precipice of a new phase in history. Within the next few decades, more than 95% of all jobs will become superfluous. In a historical blink of an eye, AI will replace human beings in doing just about everything.

So while the question of purpose is best left to chemical mal-adjusts and broody teenagers, it is an issue that humanity will need to answer for itself — and quickly. Humans are social animals, gift-giving meat. What will their purpose be, when everything else is stripped away? Even assuming everything goes well, and humanity is able to use AI to achieve universal happiness and prosperity… what then? Creating art for other bored people? Escaping into simulated worlds?

I don’t know the answers; nihilists aren’t known for being productive. But I know enough about humans and human psychology to know that people need to have purpose, and need to feel like what they do matters, and is important. While it is obvious from my tortured vantage point that there is no purpose to it, most people are incapable of functioning on that level (plus it’s a profoundly toxic attitude). But I worry that as people are displaced en masse, we may soon find out what happens when humanity has nihilism forced upon us.

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