Friday, March 25, 2016

On the Nature of Value

If planetary progress is to be achieved some measure of overall well being needs to be made, if only to permit comparison of where things are today to where they were yesterday or yestercentury.  To this ends, determining the value of the aggregate state of the world is problematic since it blends innumerable objective and subjective aspects of Earth's environments, its inhabitants, and the cultural abstractions they project.
Beauty and Balance

Taking a step back, let's be clear just who the primary assessors of value on the planet are at the moment: humans. Or more accurately Homo Sapiens is the species who are most actively changing the world based on their ongoing evaluations. Through a combination of science, instinct, religion, pop-culture, and numerous other modes of assessment, humans and their communities reactively make value choices which change the world.

One might argue that the aggregate of Earth's natural environments, living things and dynamic systems are being continuously self-assessed and self-regulated.  This Gaia abstraction, which includes human civilization as a component part, could do no wrong as a whole simply because all outcomes are by definition "natural."  This scenario comes across as misleading or at least unuseful in the scheme of increasing aggregate well being.  In the extreme, it implies total domination and destruction of the planet by humans for humanity's sake alone would be an acceptable natural outcome.  It might be natural, but it would be unethical as a whole.

Balance and Beauty
In truth, it has become the vocation of humans to reach outside of the natural order of things to define what has higher value for ourselves and for all involved.  Over the next millennium, laws will be crafted by humans that artificially seek to construct balances within the instability of natural whim. Algorithms will be designed by humans to model stable environments, lifestyles and economic systems with the intent of defying tradition to redefine civilization. It may even come to pass that artificially intelligent constructs and expert systems will be created by humans in order to legally represent as proxies other species, natural resource reserves and biomes, all in the hopes of balancing more exquisitely the world's dynamic systems for the long term.

At the end of the day, a flexible set of values that are open to innovation and adjustment will serve the planet, inclusive of humans, best.  The ethical propositions we humans forge and follow can lead the whole world on a global journey of wonder if we persevere with humility.  The sacred value we attribute to human life and free agency may need to be scaled back here and there, alas such sacrifice may very well demonstrate the nobility of our species to take one for the global team.

(Next week Goodness First will begin to explore the specific objectives of The Millennium Plan)


  1. It's a shame that, left to our own devices, humans will screw things up every time.

    1. ... and yet it is laudable that some if not most humans desire to make the world better.

    2. ... and yet it is laudable that some if not most humans desire to make the world better.