Why does milliongenerations have to end?
milliongenerations.org is built on the premise that life is wonderful and the hope that civilization can exist while life is possible, i.e. for billions of years on this planet.
The effort of milliongenerations.org has a time limit, though. The foundation,Stichting milliongenerations, was set up on 11 June 2009 for a maximum of 25 years, the approximate duration of one human generation now. It must be dissolved on or before 11 June 2034. The milliongenerations.org effort should be concluded then.
This term limit for milliongenerations.org has several reasons:
- A time limit underscores the urgency of the cause. We live in times of rapid and accelerating changes. Survival of civilization, even survival of our species, for more than a few decades or centuries is not ensured, dangers that we could probably control threaten it. A sincere effort must be made.
- In 25 years such changes are expected to have become so visible and well understood that we know that either
- Enduring, lasting civilization existing as long as life is possible is inevitable, an effort like milliongenerations is not required, or
- Lasting civilization is not at all possible, no matter what we do, or
- Principles of lasting civilizations are understood reasonably well and are or can be implemented. Organizations that help to implement them probably remain necessary. The focus of milliongenerations.org, however, is to help understand these principles, so it should pass the baton on to other organizations.
- If it has not possible in 25 years to elucidate principles of lasting civilizations, the methodology of milliongenerations.org is not likely to lead to breakthrough insights afterwards. We may hope that someone will come up with better solutions. We do of course hope that something useful results from this effort.
- Organizations naturally tend to become self serving. Milliongenerations.org must be about the cause, not the organization, nor about any protagonist pushing it. To make it finite by itself does not ensure that the organization works entirely for the cause, but to fail to put a time limit would ensure that it eventually goes off course. The 25 year time limit is chosen somewhat arbitrarily of course. Because of the danger of self-serving organizations, however, it must not be changed. If it is necessary to continue such work, others will do that in different organizations started and run by different individuals.
- Life as we know it is transient. Every individual has a lifespan. Even if it might be possible to extend this span for an individual to timescales beyond understanding, the universe does not seem to allow life indefinitely (eventually all differences equalize and the processing of information can not be continued). More relevantly, the marginal benefit of life for each individual would seem to decrease with time, providing motivation for individuals to make room for individuals of later generations. The finite term of milliongenerations.org underscores this thought. This effort will end. While we have the time, let us strive to achieve something of value to posterity.