Culling People

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Burning ghost
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Culling People

Post by Burning ghost » October 3rd, 2018, 4:47 am

In some future scenario imagine that resources becmoe so low that the human population can no longer sustain itself in such high numbers.

Imagine a global government.

Many people thorw aroudn the idea of who to save, but they often leave out the nasty business of who will be left behind. To address this directly the situation is such that 1 billion people need to be culled to save the p-lanet and humanity.

Let us assume that poverty plays no part in the decision and that a lottery is absolutely off the table.

I am not asking you to say who you would and wouldn’t “cull” - although if you feel obliged to say feel free to do so. I am asking how you personally would deal with this matter if you were our world leader and had the authority to decide absolutely what to do.

Note: remember any random/lottery choice is strictly off the table. Absconding would mean the end of all life on Earth - meaning if you think life is something of value you’d have to make a choice about getting rid of 1 billion people (and shooting them off into space is not an option, they simply have to die.)
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Re: Culling People

Post by Steve3007 » October 3rd, 2018, 5:48 am

This sounds like a very large scale version of the trolley problem.

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Re: Culling People

Post by Burning ghost » October 3rd, 2018, 6:00 am

Steve3007 wrote:
October 3rd, 2018, 5:48 am
This sounds like a very large scale version of the trolley problem.
Minus the choice of “doing nothing”. I am forcing people’s hands here and asking them directly to think about this and struggle with it.

Note: All replies will be deemed as “posturing” to an audience :wink:
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Re: Culling People

Post by Steve3007 » October 3rd, 2018, 6:42 am

To address this directly the situation is such that 1 billion people need to be culled to save the p-lanet and humanity.
I think the option of doing nothing, and the consequences of taking that option, are described here. If, as world leader, I do nothing and fiddle while Rome burns, all of humanity dies, yes?

So the dilemma is: Either actively cull a million people (and have to decide the basis on which to do this) or passively allow 7+ billion people to die. i.e the Trolley problem.

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Re: Culling People

Post by Steve3007 » October 3rd, 2018, 6:50 am

Although, I suppose, the part you're concentrating on is the "(and have to decide the basis on which to do this)" part. So perhaps not the trolley problem! A sub-problem within the trolley problem.

It's as if we add to the trolley problem the fact that we've already decided to pull the points-lever and steer the trolley into a bunch of people (the active option) but we've now got the additional dilemma of deciding which of those people, among an even larger group, we're going to actively kill with our trolley.

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Re: Culling People

Post by Steve3007 » October 3rd, 2018, 7:19 am

You've said that a random lottery is off the table. How about democracy? Am I (as world leader) allowed to put it to a vote?

If (for the sake of argument) the world population at this stage is 10 billion, perhaps I could get everyone to write down the names, in order of preference, of some pre-defined number of people that they want to save. Then a big computer crunches the numbers and the least popular 1 billion gets to shuffle off the old mortal coil? A bit like Big Brother?

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Re: Culling People

Post by Present awareness » October 3rd, 2018, 9:31 am

The easiest people to cull would be the weak and infirm, because of their inability to fight back. The very old, very sick or mentally infirm could be killed with little resistance. All prisoners, regardless of their crime, could also be easily killed, since they are already locked up and defenceless. All pregnancy’s could be terminated by force, instead of by choice, preventing additional numbers from entering the population. The rest will not go without a fight and so war, which has been the most popular way to cull people for centuries, will also be an option.
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Re: Culling People

Post by Steve3007 » October 3rd, 2018, 9:53 am

All pregnancy’s could be terminated by force, instead of by choice, preventing additional numbers from entering the population.
The total number of human children born each year is about 130 million*. So I guess one option would be not to terminate current pregnancies, or kill anyone, but simply to ban all births for 8 years. Obviously, though, that would (to put it mildly) cause demographic problems.



*Incidentally, the entire global population of all other great apes in the wild is about 500,000. Every 1.4 days the same number of homo sapiens is born.

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Re: Culling People

Post by Halc » October 3rd, 2018, 2:10 pm

Burning ghost wrote:
October 3rd, 2018, 4:47 am
I am not asking you to say who you would and wouldn’t “cull” - although if you feel obliged to say feel free to do so. I am asking how you personally would deal with this matter if you were our world leader and had the authority to decide absolutely what to do.
I've thought about this very problem (it is very much a global trolley problem), and it illustrates the failings of the current world morals of the 2nd guilded age.

I personally think we're already well past the point of sustainability. We're feeding everybody by consuming non-renewable resources, but mathematically that cannot be maintained. Perhaps technology will someday come up to par where we can sustain 8 billion using only renewable resources. Is that our goal?

How would I do it? Humane death of some form for those selected: Maybe a certain level of criminal or defective. For the most part, it should be done by global birth control. It seems stupid to raise a person only to kill them. Limit birth rates and the population will stabilize. China tried this, but they didn't put in the effort to alter the culture of 'every family must have a son' so there are all these aborted and abandoned girls, and no wives for all these sons.
This would elevate rape to probably a capital crime.
Steve3007 wrote:
October 3rd, 2018, 7:19 am
You've said that a random lottery is off the table. How about democracy? Am I (as world leader) allowed to put it to a vote?
Put what to a vote? That we do it? Everybody might recognize the need and vote yes so long as it isn't me or mine.
Vote who???? No. You're the world leader hired to do the dirty work.

So you go to cultures that have done this all along, and ask them how its done. Make it an honor for starters.
If (for the sake of argument) the world population at this stage is 10 billion, perhaps I could get everyone to write down the names, in order of preference, of some pre-defined number of people that they want to save. Then a big computer crunches the numbers and the least popular 1 billion gets to shuffle off the old mortal coil? A bit like Big Brother?
Something like that, yes. What it means is ditching the current value of human life as '1'. You need to put a computable value on each person (we had a stipulation against using wealth as a factor, which seems essential to preventing corruption in the decision). So the height of value is probably around 20 or so, all that investment in education, and just prior to being thrown into the workforce as a productive member. This assumes a world that needs productive members of society, which is getting to be less and less the case. Using this metric, those that can never be productive would have that factored in. The least valuable person would probably be a newly retired person of excellent health, who is likely to put a maximum burden on resources with minimal return.

My argument there assumes that humans have a worth depending on their potential return in productivity, and as I said, that seems fallacious.

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Re: Culling People

Post by Steve3007 » October 3rd, 2018, 2:35 pm

Note: I was engaging with this OP as a strictly hypothetical situation, so none of my answers so far represent what I would actually do. They're just a bit of fun. Obviously I'm not going to propose mass killings or a complete ban on new births.

If I were world leader, then what I would propose doing is implementing a global rule whereby each couple could have a maximum of 3 children. I would commission some research on this first, but I suspect that this would then result in an average birthrate of a little less than 2 per couple (but not much less), which is what is required to sustainably reduce the global human population. Obviously the Chinese 1 child rule was mad.

But, even though I would propose this, I doubt that it would be enacted, and if it was it wouldn't be for long. No leader, not even a global one, has godlike powers. All leaders, whether democratically elected or dictator, have to rule by persuasion. I think that there are all kinds of practical political, social and psychological reasons why my 3 child maximum law would not be enacted. So, ultimately, if the global human population really does grow (or already has grown) to unsustainable levels then the only way that this will change is by forces that are beyond the control of any individual humans. i.e. such things as famine and war. We're going to have to be forced to reduce the population by forces beyond our control. We, collectively, will never to it voluntarily, I think.

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Re: Culling People

Post by Burning ghost » October 3rd, 2018, 3:01 pm

Putting to the vote is a way to shirk the responsibility. A natural reaction to such a problem. If allowed in this scenario then exactly how would this vote work? What would be the options to vote for? The eldest members of society, the youngest, the least skilled, males or females, the least healthy?

I didn’t think about unborn children. So stick to the actually killing of 1 billion living breathing humans.

As I’ve noted before the instant reaction tends to be to rationalise the problem and unburden oneself of moral responsibility.

Halc -

I like your response. The question is how to minimise future prejudice in my mind assuming I had the resolve to actually take the moral hit (so to speak.) My thoughts being drawn toward the kind of people chosen for death being regarded in the future as “unworthy” of life. For example if I said kill the elderly then could this effect how people the world over regard the elderly after the culling?

Would asking for volunteers be of much use? How many elderly people do you think would take the moral hit? One way to play this game would be to lie to the population and concoct some scheme whereby those most willing to give thier lives were actually those who were allowed to live - would this strengthen or weaken society? Would losing the more self-preverving types be a detriment to society at large or not? Would the effect, long term, even be significant?

Of course this is basically a eugenics question. It is quite a sour thought to have to mull over such things hypothetically or not. At least in the hypothetical scenario we can dress ourselves up as the “heroic figure” willing to do what is “good” and “moral”.
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Re: Culling People

Post by Steve3007 » October 3rd, 2018, 3:09 pm

Halc wrote:Put what to a vote? That we do it?
Burning ghost wrote:Putting to the vote is a way to shirk the responsibility. A natural reaction to such a problem. If allowed in this scenario then exactly how would this vote work? What would be the options to vote for? The eldest members of society, the youngest, the least skilled, males or females, the least healthy?
Steve3007 wrote:...perhaps I could get everyone to write down the names, in order of preference, of some pre-defined number of people that they want to save. Then a big computer crunches the numbers and the least popular 1 billion gets to shuffle off the old mortal coil? A bit like Big Brother?
People wouldn't have to be told the purpose of this list. They could simply be asked to write down a list of the people that they most like.

The trouble with this is that it adds injury to insult. These people find out that they're unpopular and then get killed. An alternative would be to kill the most popular 1 billion, who then die with the consolation that they were popular.

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Re: Culling People

Post by Halc » October 3rd, 2018, 3:43 pm

Steve3007 wrote:
October 3rd, 2018, 2:35 pm
Note: I was engaging with this OP as a strictly hypothetical situation, so none of my answers so far represent what I would actually do. They're just a bit of fun. Obviously I'm not going to propose mass killings or a complete ban on new births.
IOW you'd let the 5 die on the straight track rather that throw the switch and actually be the cause of one person's death.
The trolley problem is quite real. If you're the world leader, the lack of exactly that decision would would indeed have that result.

If I were world leader, then what I would propose doing is implementing a global rule whereby each couple could have a maximum of 3 children.
What do you do with the non-compliant ones? People would tend to hide pregnancies and overflow the orphanages. Limited birth ontrol is a good solution, but enforcing it is problematic. To reduce population to sustainable levels, a limit of 2 is probably better, at least at first. Have fun with the Catholic Church and such, who traditionally with to force God's hand by hastening the end of times by steering the trolley the other way where there's even more people.

The economy depends on economic growth, so this method would have a huge hit to that model. Much fewer kids to pay for the feeding and medical costs of the retired people. Retirement age would bump up a decade or so, as it is already doing due to these pressures.
But, even though I would propose this, I doubt that it would be enacted, and if it was it wouldn't be for long. No leader, not even a global one, has godlike powers. All leaders, whether democratically elected or dictator, have to rule by persuasion.
I think you would need to be granted more power than just persuasion to do it, because it would need to be enacted. It will not be popular since all benefits are to somebody else (future humanity). Absolute power corrupts absolutely. No idea how to solve that problem.
So, ultimately, if the global human population really does grow (or already has grown) to unsustainable levels then the only way that this will change is by forces that are beyond the control of any individual humans. i.e. such things as famine and war. We're going to have to be forced to reduce the population by forces beyond our control. We, collectively, will never to it voluntarily, I think.
I agree. What we toyed with here is beyond human capacity. Something will break, and the population will adjust abruptly. With luck, there will be some left. With luck to the planet, there will not. Planet doesn't care actually, and the other life forms don't get to vote. We're just the Holocene extinction event, not at all unprecedented.

I think any remaining humans after that event will be pretty harmless. If technology survives, maybe we can build that sustainable equilibrium. I doubt the rise to super-powers will occur again what with all the easy to acquire resources already taken. If technology doesn't survive (I suspect it will not, since we're making no effort to preserve knowledge), then we revert to a sort of stone age hunter-gatherer existence for a very long time if not permanently.

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Re: Culling People

Post by Alias » October 4th, 2018, 11:19 pm

Stage 1a. Let everyone who has already requested assisted suicide go ahead without delay;
b. approve all requests for abortion and/or sterilization.
Stage 2. Take all hopeless and comatose patients off life-support.
Stage 3. Kill those with a net worth in the top 1%. (Every one of them is guilty of mass murder.)
Stage 4. Kill top two tiers of military, espionage and black ops organizations; demob all the rest.
Stage 5. Review crimes of long-term inmates; kill the ones I consider a danger to the public, let the rest go.
Stage 6. Kill top executives in the fossil fuel, weapons and chemical toxins industries.
If it's still not, ask for volunteers....
... but it's probably enough.
Make damn sure all who want it have full, free access to birth control and euthanasia.
Those who can induce you to believe absurdities can induce you to commit atrocities. - Voltaire

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Re: Culling People

Post by Alias » October 4th, 2018, 11:21 pm

OOps! I forgot to say: Take out the top two levels of clergy, all denominations - and, of course, demobilize the lower ranks. .
Those who can induce you to believe absurdities can induce you to commit atrocities. - Voltaire

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