--Written during Obama's visit to China by a scholar, who has studied human problems for 30 years
Dear President Obama and President Hu Jintao:
I, as a Beijing citizen, one of the most common human beings, am writing this letter to you with feelings of extreme concern. This is the second time I have presented my letter to you. As early as the beginning of 2007, I wrote a letter to 26 leaders, including you both, regardless of my humble status, and I used that letter as the preface of my book Saving Humanity. Unfortunately, I got no reply.
I think I will write to you a third, fourth or even more times. It is the in-depth study about human problems that convinces me that humanity is facing a terrible disaster: that is, the overall extinction within a few hundred years.
Maybe both you leaders have already been inclined to throw this letter as sensational and claptrap words into the trash. However, I urge you to wait for a second.
I am an atheist with a profound background in natural and social sciences, and I immersed myself in the study of human problems for 30 years. In my view, human extinction is not the result of terrible forces of nature, because that would happen millions of years later, or the religious prophecy about doomsday. What will cause the extinction crisis threatening humanity today are ourselves, and the inherent reason is the development of science and technology.
The continued development of science and technology will soon bring forth human extinction in two to three hundred years or even just before the end of this century, which will certainly take place, independent of human consciousness and is very hard to detect. This is my first conclusion of the study.
Here, I once again urge both you leaders to finish reading my conclusion of truth in my and my supporters’ opinion with a little patience, though is appears to be a fallacy to many people. After all, it is about the survival of all human beings, and it can be read through within only 10 minutes. It is worthy to waste such little time reading even if it is fallacy.
The reasons why I say that the continued development of science and technology will soon bring forth the extinction of human beings, whose survival history is only a hundred years (perhaps less than a hundred years), are:
First of all, science and technology is a double-edged sword, which can not only benefit mankind, but also destroy us. The stronger its ability to benefit humanity, the greater its destruction power. Therefore, with the advancement of science and technology, the extermination means will inevitably show up. In fact, scientific communities have reached a consensus that the high-tech world will sooner or later be the killer of humans, and some scientists have often expressed their concerns to you. However, science and technology has been in the non-rational state of development because the following three problems have not aroused people's serious attention.
Firstly, the means of extinction will inevitably be used.
When science and technology is developed to the level of leading human beings to death, the means of extinction will be controlled by the ones who dare to use them after the extinction means and the studying and manufacturing technology of them will be spread. Especially with the development of science and technology to higher levels, new means of extermination will continue to emerge, which will certainly be more inclined to be manufactured and operated independently by one person and can bring about the extinction of humans at one time. It is well-known that the behavior of a group is easier to control than that of a human individual. Moreover, a group is not guaranteed to be isolated from extremely ill behaviors if the time is long enough. Because we humans are a particular species with independent features, even the best legal system and moral propaganda can only put a better constraint on the overall effect, but can never ensure that every person is far from doing an extremely bad thing.
In my discussions with people to explore this issue, people often say that the issue can be solved by the development of education. The designing of some good social system might make people become good, rational, and not buckle down to do something bad, such as using the means of extinction. But, let us look at the recorded civilized human history of thousands of years. In which period are there no extremely bad things? In which area are there all kind and sensible people? Good education and systems can only reduce the bad guys, but not eradicate them. Moreover, the human population is extremely large, and human history is extremely long, so the number of bad guys is a great even they are just a small proportion of the total number. Major extinction of mankind allows no error. How can we put out hope on the system of education, which can not be solidly ensured?
Secondly, the means of extinction can break out of itself without intentional use by people.
There is a basic characteristic of science and technology: that is, there can be no certainty. Even some things that once regarded the best can turn out to be precisely the worst. An example such as the Freon, which has been considered as a good thing, has led to the destruction of the ozone layer. The pesticide DDT, which has been viewed as a good thing, has led to the loss of biodiversity. By the same token, the imprudent use of technological products and careless scientific experiments will lead to human extinction when science and technology advances to a level capable of extinguishing human beings. The extinction of mankind will be hard to prevent at that time.
Some people think that we can organize the best scientists to guard every high-tech equipment. Even this fancy can be achieved regardless of its possibility of being fully realized. There is no insurance for the guarding because of the uncertainty of science and technology. It is not difficult for us to draw such a conclusion from examples of mistakes made by Einstein and Newton.
It is getting more difficult to have control when science and technology is reaching more high-end places. What is more, not every scientist works at the level of Einstein and Newton.
Thirdly, the means of extinction is approaching, which may show up within this century. It will be much harder for us to prevent human extinction when it appears.
We know that science and technology was still at a very low level in the mid-18th century before the industrial revolution. But within only 200 years it has reached such a high level of development that a nuclear bomb could instantly destroy a city of millions of people, and biological toxins using transgenic technology may be more terrible than nuclear weapons. If science and technology still moves forward on the basis of such a high scientific level, it is not hard to figure out what kind of situation in which the world will be fifty or a hundred years from now. The development of science and technology is accelerating and fission-like: that is to say, the development of today is much faster than that of the past, and the development of the future will be much faster compared with that of today.
In fact, in today's scientific research, many projects that had people worried about their security are not already the problem of how much harm they might have on people, but whether they can cause human extinction. Scientists were worried about the atomic bomb and hydrogen bomb test, which would ignite the atmosphere, and the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider experiment would extinguish humans. However, those concerns seem to be unnecessary afterwards. Today scientists are worried that the European Hadron Collider experiment, which may invent the black hole, unlimited nano-robots reproduction, as well as uncontrolled intelligent robots, will be the cause of human extinction. However, these scientific studies are still in progress, and no one can stop them. Let us think rationally: There are a number of scientific researchers that you think may be the potential power of mankind's extinction. You may resolutely oppose them, but I think they are safe and strongly support them. The opponents cannot out-argue the promoters and vice versa. Since the uncertainty is the inherent characteristic of science and technology, and many high-end scientific researchers are very difficult to judge very accurately, both sides can not really convince each other. As a result, science and technology firmly moves forward, forward, and forward out of control. Even the basic reasoning tells us that your shoes will be wet if you walk along the riverside often, and you get more chances to meet a ghost if you often take night trips. When this non-rational behavior in science and technology marches forward step by step to a higher level, we are bound to run into the "ghost" and human beings also come to an end when this takes place.
We as human beings should manage our own affairs. As a very common person, I also have this sense of responsibility, a feeling that human extinction is impending. I write books, publish articles, use the Internet to present my ideas, give lectures, talk with my friends who are influential, write letters to leaders and so on. I have tried all kinds of approaches to arouse people's attention; however, in the past 30 years I have done that all by myself and have gotten little success. I am just a small potato and it is difficult for me to attract great attention. However, opinions put forward by the humble can be reasonable. Asking you two for help during Barack Obama's visit to China jumps into my mind because the United States and China are the world's most influential powers, and you are the qualified leaders capable of solving humanity's problems.
I venture to urge you respected leaders to think about a few questions: How far are we from the emergence of extinction means when scientific and technological development is at today's level? Can various systems and measures of human societies make a promise that there will be no extreme evil on this planet of 60 billion people, and no one will use the means of extinction after it shows up? Can our scientists ensure that every development of science and technology is in their control when science and technology develop to the level of destroying human beings? So, how can we solve it when we are sure about the conclusion that the continued development of science and technology will soon extinguish humans?
I think the only solution is to restrict the development of science and technology to higher levels, because there is a connection between the development of science and technology and the extermination of humans, so restriction is a unique solution.
Restrictions on scientific and technological development are not denying the role of science and technology, or excluding the use of it. Science and technology can guarantee that all humanity lives an affluent life if widely spread to all over the world.
However, it is unrealistic to limit the continued development of science and technology, but also make rational and full use of existing secure and mature scientific and technological achievements in today's society. Because today's society is a national society, even the United Nations can not control the coexistence of a number of countries, because all countries go their own ways. Moreover, the restriction on the development of science and technology will have a fundamental influence on a country's international competitiveness. Therefore, no country would truly want to implement this measure. Even I, strongly in favor of limiting the development of science and technology, firmly oppose that China takes the initiative to abandon the development of science and technology, because we all know that backwardness leaves you vulnerable to attack, a lesson we have learnt in blood from Chinese modern history. Therefore, only the great union of human beings can achieve something. The great union will generate only one world power, which will consider the fundamental interests of all humans and deal with humanity events of the future, in the absence of competition and confrontation. In fact, the great union of humans is not only necessary in avoiding extinction. A series of problems facing humanity brought by the rapid advancement of industrial civilization has greatly affected mankind's survival and well-being of the future. Examples of such issues are of environment, resource, population and so on. At the same time, some of the inherent problems the agricultural civilization possesses are particularly serious during the period of new technological conditions, such as war, terrorism, the gap between the rich and the poor, and so on. The solutions to those problems have come to a dead end. However, the great union can solve them fundamentally, and some other issues can be greatly eased and improved.
Take the environmental issues as an example. The Copenhagen meeting will be held in early December, and the meeting of you two presidents should be one of the main topics. So, what can be achieved at the Copenhagen meeting? The best estimate is that a consensus on limitation of carbon emissions can be reached, but it is just a temporary solution after the national bargaining and compromise, not a permanent cure. But the great union will make a great difference. The world power will come up with a radical program, and use its power of regime firmly implement it, which is the real solution to the problem.
More than 50 years ago, the European countries got the idea of combination, because of the fear of being isolated by the two super powers of the United States and the Soviet Union. This led to the European Union. Sensing the crisis of being marginalized by the two powers of America and China, today's European Union has accelerated the process of European unification. They have just adopted the "Lisbon Treaty", and an EU "President" is also on the way. We know that there is no unity in Europe's history, but its history has been changed, driven by a sense of crisis. Human extinction should be more serious than being marginalized, right? Is this reason more convincing?
Viewing human history, political entity has been continuously expanding, and the real obstacles to this process of expanding are transport and communication. The differences among peoples, religions, classes, languages, writings, and so on can be alleviated through the implementation of a variety of sound policies and measures. It is time for the great union of human beings, since modern transport, communications and media tools have shrunken the world into a global village!
As the two world's most influential countries, the United States and China are the most qualified to promote the great cause of unification of mankind, and the joint operation between the two countries are powerful enough to wake up the world.
Dear President Obama and Hu Jintao, you two have the authority and ability of doing your part to save mankind. The world will take instant response and the great union of human will be generated soon if you are involved in the efforts to save human beings and promote the great union. If this great aim can be achieved, your honors will go down in history and your glorious names will be forever remembered.
You two distinguished leaders should believe that this is not nonsense from an ignorant person. This is a scientific conclusion by a scholar who has conducted continuous research and thinking for 30 years.
November 15, 2009