He said to Neo that humans are like a virus, breeding and infecting the world with our “stick” and general disgustingness.

I look around the world, at the state of society, the environment, international conflict and the enshitification of humanity - I’ve gone through my life blindly accepting that life for life’s sake is beautiful, and worth it.

But as I see the state of it all, our perpetual need to destroy each other over ideas and resources, I struggle to come to grips with it. Societies around the world are facing population shrinkage… Do they all know something I don’t?

Is human life beautiful, and objectively worth perpetuating? Or are we a blight? Why should we be?

  • @[email protected]
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    5116 days ago

    Looking at global statistics the world is getting better. Not in global warming. But violence, freedom, wars, health. It’s hard to see because nobody talks about it. It’s easy to get stuck doom scrolling. But it’s not the whole picture. We as a global society agree slavery is bad. That is a pretty new concept in the history of our species. We went from the first powered flight to space in 50 years. That is insanity. Yes, there are lots of fucked up things we caused, but ultimately I believe in our ability to figure it out eventually. Everything we do and have done, is natural. We are a product of evolution just like every other living thing on this planet.

    I think our world is amazing, and that includes humanity.

    • @lordnikon
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      16 days ago

      To add to this population decline is just something that happens when people are in developed countries after they industrialize. when you don’t need to farm as much and can have time to do some leisure and entertain yourself and frankly after wormen get more rights and are not seen as properly. population levels out naturally but can decline faster when people are not given the means to support themselves children become a burden rather than the gift they should be. You put unions back to +60% like they were in the 50s and you will see a mini boom of children.

      Also the world is wonderful. Most people are good even if some are misguided by fear and impulse. It was just a few dicks that ruined it knowingly for the rest of us everything else. we could have solved if we had more time.

      If you want to pull back the curtain read up on the National Association of Manufacturers and a man called James W. Fifield Jr. More than half of our problems were caused by those men and the other by Henry Kissinger’s short sightness.

  • @RegalPotoo
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    3616 days ago

    Smith’s argument conflates humanity and society as being the same thing, because as a machine he has no concept of individuality - to him, humans as a single unit blighted the planet, and therefore are a plague, because he can’t conceive of the idea of free will.

    Things can be fucked up on a macro level, with war and selfishness and greed and destruction, while still being comprised on a micro level of essentially good, unique, interesting people who care for each other. Smith doesn’t see this, because in his eyes humans are all the same - just like him. He is arguing against his own existence

    • @cmeuOP
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      616 days ago

      This perspective is really interesting to me

      I have admit,I tend to agree. I make comments like “individual people are smart, but people at large… they’re idiots” it’s the way I can rationalize how we’re facing a rematch of Biden v Trump in the US the year… And other things that defy reason

      But in weighing the positives and the negatives of the totality of our impact - how many good small acts does it take to overcome a Khmer Rouge? What about when those loving families are torn apart by religion, patriotism, morality etc and the angels fight? Conflict, like death and taxes, seems undeniable - maturity, much less so

      • @RegalPotoo
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        616 days ago

        how many good small acts does it take to overcome a Khmer Rouge?

        Ok, take the counter argument then - if I am an average person in, say, Russia right now, how much personal risk am I morally obliged to take in order to fight against the Russian state and the war in Ukraine? Stacking up the abstract evil being done elsewhere against the very concrete reality of my own mortality, if the angels are fighting and nothing I can do can have any real impact, then what good is it me getting in the middle of it?

        I’ve kinda stretched this beyond the absurd, and tbh I do think that individuals have some responsibility to not stand idly by and watch evil happen.

        To actually address your original question, I don’t think Smith’s characterisation of humans as a virus is terribly apt - viruses are mindless, selfish and greedy; they arrive in an area and consume and consume until there is nothing left, even if it kills them. Humans behave like this some times, but they are also capable of peace and cooperation and can learn - the fact that you have access to the internet using equipment and systems that took the collective efforts of hundreds of millions of people working across centuries, the fact that you didn’t die of smallpox or TB as a child, and the fact that on average you as less likely to die violently than you ever have been in history proves this.

  • @[email protected]
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    1515 days ago

    We’re both. We’re capable of great beauty (art and incredible scientific achievements) and terrible harms (I don’t need to give examples). You’re probably awesome. Some others are complete shit. Try to focus on the good and know that the bad exists. Do what you can to make the world a better place.

    • @lordnikon
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      1516 days ago

      I’m his defense it was after neo infected him so he has a point.

      • DreamerofDays
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        616 days ago

        That seems like a convenient excuse for him to bear less, or none of, the guilt for his actions.

        Does Agent Smith have autonomy?

        • r00ty
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          416 days ago

          No, he’s a program. A sentient program perhaps, but a program nonetheless and subject to the limitations set forth in that program. His software was corrupted by Neo though, which changed his directives as such.

          While I did find the Smith virus speech interesting, I felt it was a minor part of the overall plot and didn’t pay too much heed to it.

          Far more interesting is the Merovingian. His whole speech about the power of why was great. So many people (myself included, I expect) do things automatically without ever having a true idea of why. Never stop asking why.

      • theodewere
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        16 days ago

        he doesn’t have an objective point, he’s just expressing the limitations of his own understanding… he’s a good model for a fascist that way… he assumes that his understanding is universal and should be applied to everyone…

  • @[email protected]
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    1215 days ago

    We’re just animals. We have so much ego we pull ourselves out of the animal basket

    Dinosaurs were animals, ruled longer than us. Sharks even longer. We’re not that special.

    • There isn’t any evidence that any previous “rulers” of the Earth also took entire ecosystems down wity tyem when they died out.

      Humans are special. We’re likely the first to be the cause of our own extinction, probably the first to destroy most of the other higher life forms in the bargain, and almost certaimly the first to make certain no life form following us has a chance to rise above the stone age, due to our exhaustion of easily accessible minerals and energy-dense resources.

      We’ll be the first to murder ourselves, everyone else, and stifle any advanced society in the future! That’s pretty darned special, if you asked me.

      • @[email protected]
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        314 days ago

        Not the first. The cyanobacteria that first figured out photosynthesis put so much oxygen into the atmosphere so fast that it cause mass extinction of much of the anaerobic life (and most things were anaerobic life back then). They also caused a literal rust belt (since many metals up to that point were now able to be oxidized en masse), and that rust layer can be seen in really old rocks (“banded iron formation”).

        Great Oxidation Event

        • But easily accessible surface metals, coal deposits, and oil fields aren’t going to miraculously re-appear. The great oxidation event was 2 billion years ago. In 1 billion yearsfrom now, the sun will be so hot that life on Earth will be unsustainable.

          We are Earth’s last chance, mainly because we’ve used up all the easily accessible resources a civilization needs to advance past the stone age. The Earth isn’t going to cycle enough metal to the surface, and life isn’t going to create enough coal or petrolium deposits, before the sun cooks it.

          • @Tattorack
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            115 days ago

            So… You want a hypothetical future civilization to repeat the same mistakes as we did?

            • @[email protected]
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              15 days ago

              Point being, there’s no hypothetical future civilization because we’ve eliminated that possibility

              • @Tattorack
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                115 days ago

                Yes, but you’re assuming that a future civ requires fossil feuls to advance.

                Metals and plastic aren’t a problem as they don’t simply go away.

                • @[email protected]
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                  115 days ago

                  Plastics don’t take recycling well, even today we can barely do it.

                  With metals, they’re still around, but we’ve distributed them so widely, plus whatever gets lost to erosion and rust over time, that it would probably be impossible to collect them in any significant quantities.

          • @[email protected]
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            115 days ago

            Nah I’m still extremely skeptical. Humans have only been this way for like .01% of that time. There’s no reason to think we’ve doomed anything.

            GOE happened a long time ago but that doesn’t matter. The point is the world has been changed often and life recovers and usually advanced further than it did before.

            • I think you missed the point that life doesn’t have the luxury of time that we’ve had, because the sun is going to cook the planet in half the time as between us and the GOE. Our successors will have to advance farther, faster, and with fewer resources to escape the planet - which we still haven’t, in any meaningful way - before the sun makes the panet uninhabitable.

              If humans somehow survive in some form and we can cut out most of the evolving-to-big-brains time, most of the knowledge they might inherit will be useless, as it’s based on resources they have no access to.

              Sure, it isn’t impossible, but the odds are stacked against anyone following us succeeding in escaping a planet which is 2/3 of the way through its goldilocks phase of life. The best chance is for us to get our shit together, and get some self-sustaining colonies out there. Preferrably in deep space, eventually.

                • Humans are animals, and are the only ones who’ve evolved to prioritize big, expensive brains over every other survival characteristic. It took us a long time to do that, and even then, we spent a massive amount of time - most of it, in fact, running around not creating anything more complex than baskets. There is a lot of evidence - 2 billion years worth - that there are a huge number of variables that have to work out just right to produce something like what a human is.

      • @[email protected]
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        215 days ago

        Agree completely on a planetary scale. The chances are that we are very ordinary on a galactic scale, and that millions of other lifeforms on millions of other planets have risen to roughly this level of sophistication, and thereby become too powerful for their overwhelming stupidity, and died.
        See: the Copernican Principle, the Great Filter, and Dissipation-driven Adaptation (in ascending order of how much time you’ve got)

        • Oh, yes, of course. I completely agree with you; I assumed the context was Earth.

          My favorite theory to explain the Fermi Paradox is that we’re one of the early intelligent life forms in the universe. Our goldilocks situation occurred fairly early in the overall lifespan of the universe, even considering only the exciting period, when stars are forming and growing their own planetary systems.

          If we survive and get off the planet. we could be the mysterious “old ones” some future species discovers evidence of as they explore the galaxy.

          If we can just survive ourselves.

          • @[email protected]
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            214 days ago

            I desperately want to believe your optimistic reading of the Paradox. I hope you’re right, and, thankfully, I can’t honestly say with any certainty that you’re not.
            The mass extinction that killed off the dinosaurs might be quite rare, especially if it was some kind of orbital event. In which case we might have accelerated advancement in comparison to other Goldilocks planets.

    • Alimentar
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      115 days ago

      Exactly, it’s still a somewhat survival of the fittest world, especially politics. Certain psychopaths get in as they have the skill to take down their opponents at whatever the costs.

      Then these people with their morals and ethics have the power to make global decisions.

  • @Feathercrown
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    815 days ago

    Good humans suffer from the evil of others because they’re too forgiving. That’s tragic, but not damning.

  • Psaldorn
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    816 days ago

    Trees also spread all over the planet and changed the atmosphere. Were just returning the favour.

    • @Klear
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      616 days ago

      Early life pumped the atmosphere full of toxic oxigen, changing its composition forever and making it super toxic for itself, leading to a mass extinction. We’re not even original with the way we’re fucking up the planet.

      • @Nudding
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        215 days ago

        We have driven 70% of all species to extinction since we evolved. 150 different species everyday permanently deleted.

        What organism is worth that cost?

  • @[email protected]
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    615 days ago

    I find my perspective changing a bit as I age. As a species I still think we are a net negative, at the very least since industrialisation started. But no cog in the wheel individual holds responsibility for the species. The big decision makers, the big polluters, yes that’s different. And I think it’s our duty to hold them accountable as much as we can. Obviously the system is stacked against accountability. Difficult position to be in and no easy answers.

    On an individual level tho there are also a LOT of humans who do a lot of good. Collecting plastic, renaturalising wilderness, combating the various poverty related issues, improving medical procedures, advocating for human rights, inventing new ways to connect and learn… There’s a very long list.

    For myself, I’m chronically ill. I can do some limited waste reduction, attempt as ethical a consumption as possible and love my rescue cat. I don’t have the energy for much more. But I’ve found it helps to follow people and focus on projects that do good rather than what can’t be helped. If you have the ability and capacity to volunteer or donate all the better. Holding yourself accountable and living the best life you can life is really all you have control over after all.

  • theodewere
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    15 days ago

    his argument is never very good… viruses are incomplete beings in every sense we care about… the human being shares almost nothing in common with them conceptually… we cooperate and care about each other in ways that are obviously not virus-like… even when we fight, it’s much more interesting than virus combat…

  • Hegar
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    516 days ago

    There’s no reason why we should be, we just are. Like everything else.

  • @[email protected]
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    515 days ago

    humans are only species that is trying to use birth control to midigate the issues. Only wanted children should ever be born. GOP are the blight trying to cause mass growth for no end. Societies shrinking is not a problem as automation will replace the humans doing the menial work like it has for last hundred years. No need to replace manpower that is not needed longterm. We are just getting to our proper steady state to be more balanced. Any pack animal will wage war over resources. Look at ants, those things even farm and enslave.

  • @[email protected]
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    516 days ago

    “Objective worth” is a bit of an oxymoron, because worth is up to your value judgment.

    If you’re questioning the “evolutionary imperative” that organisms want to pass on genes - one fairly human trait is that a lot of us can consciously diverge from that instinct, either fulfilling that need by passing on our legacies socially rather than genetically, or just not looking to pass anything on at all.

    Something we have in common with other mammals is we prioritize whatever experience is in front of us. Anyone who’s directly affected by catastrophes and strife will have different beliefs than people who aren’t.

    So if objective worth has no neat answer, what’s left?

    I’d say it’s interesting to have so many different subjective experiences in one world, with a language-based society able to communicate and share many more varied experiences than most animals. Interesting isn’t inherently good or bad, but if nothing was good nor bad then nothing would be interesting.

    So yea. Human life is entertaining. We’ve got that going for us!

    P.S. If you’ve ever lived in a city whose infrastructure is strained by overpopulation, you don’t necessarily view declining/shifting populations as a bad thing.

  • @[email protected]
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    415 days ago

    This is true only if you look at the news and look at it from an anthropocentric point of view. Humans being horrible for the environment doesn’t mean we can actually erase all life on Earth, it means we can change it enough that it will no longer support US, but life continues at its own rhythm, we are oarr of that rhythm, not separate from it.

    Same with things like aggression. Aggression is the base behavior for carnivorous animals, but it is not for humans. One of the ways I’m which we mark the age of humanity is by looking at the oldest remains of a human which a healed leg fracture, a human that could could not contribute to their band and only could have survived with the help of other humans, compassion for unrelated others is a himan-only trait.

    Are agent’s Smith’s words true? Yes, but incomplete, he is taking a few humans to characterize us all, but there is more to humanity than its animal behavior. This is what the movies are about.

    • @[email protected]
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      415 days ago

      it means we can change it enough that it will no longer support US, but life continues at its own rhythm, we are oarr of that rhythm, not separate from it

      We are not the first instance of life forever changing the environment to the point of mass extinction. When early cyanobacteria figured out photosynthesis, the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere they produced as waste killed off massive numbers of other species for which oxygen was toxic.

      However, we are the first instance of life capable of understanding our place in the ecosystem enough to do something about how we as a species affect the biosphere and the pressure we are putting not just on other life forms but on ourselves as well. We are not mindless cyanobacteria pooping out oxygen to the detriment of all others; we can and MUST do better.

      A huge part of that is understanding exactly what you pointed out: we are part of the ecosystem, not separate from it. I just wish someone could get the mega-wealthy and fossil fuel CEOs and politicians to understand it. There is no safety for them; their money and power will not save them.