Lawrence Krauss and Werner Herzog on the future of man
Werner Herzog: “It’s quite evident that human beings, as a species, will vanish and fairly quickly. When I say quickly, maybe in two or three thousand years, maybe 30,000 years, maybe 300,000, but not much more, because we are much more vulnerable than other species, despite a certain amount of intelligence. (…)
I’m not speaking of self-destruction, which could happen, of course, but that many events thinkable out there which would instantly wipe us out.
Lawrence Krauss: Oh, absolutely. That’s likely to happen. That will inevitably happen anyway. But I think there might be a rosier future. Just let me throw one thing in which I think is rosy. (…)
I’m not sure it’s the rosy future that some people would think about. But, you know, I’ve talked about the fact that, you know, we imagine we are the pinnacle of evolution, but I doubt that’s the case.
And in fact, I think it’s quite clear to me in the long run that I think computers will one day be - if we persist as a species to develop them - will one day become self-aware and conscious, and it’ll be obvious to me that they’re much, much - they’ll probably be much superior to us, and biology will have to, in some way, adapt to them. (…)
So I think, you know, we may disappear as a species just because we become irrelevant, as well as being destroyed. But I don’t think that’s a bad thing. That’s just - that may be the future.
And I think, you know, I think where I really would agree with what - certainly what Werner said, in some sense, is that we shouldn’t be - and with Cormac - we shouldn’t be depressed if we disappear. We should be thrilled that we’re here right now.
I see no purpose in the universe, from science, and that doesn’t depress me. That just means we should make the most of our brief moment in the sun. (…)
Sometimes, when you try and confront the real world, as a scientist, it’s terrifying because it forces you to throw away a lot of things you believe. And sometimes, you have to go away from it. And I think - that’s what I mean. I think the convergence of science and art in the sense that if -that what that science was saying is confronted with the reality of those caves (unintelligible).
And I - and even as a theoretical physicist, sometimes just alone at night, confronted with the possibility that the real universe might actually correspond to something you’re thinking about is terrifying. (…)
And in some ways, we have to realize that, yet, once again, we have to confront our own, in some sense, an unfriendly universe potentially, but also our own insignificance in a cosmic sense, and what significance we make of ourselves. To me, part of it is our ability to - this amazing gift we have to appreciate the universe and imagine it not just as it is but as it might be in order to understand ourselves better. That’s why I find this connection.”