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Hotu Matua

Who should be saved in the Ark?

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The 2012 movie presents a typical Noah's ark dilemma that I would like to present to you.

Whatever the poor-quality sci fi inolved in the film, and the spetacular visual effects that will excite those men-haters altruists, there is a very interesting dilemma in the core of the action: If you could save only, say, ten thousand people and let the rest of human beings die, which ones should be saved?

Click here to see the trailer of the movie

At some point of the film, the USA President explains how his wife believed that a sort of lottery should have been implemented. Under this view, a lottery would be the fairest way to select people.

In my opinion, such a lottery would mean giving up reason: allowing chance to take the place of human mind, however limited human mind might be, however imperfect our characters may be. Lottery would mean evading our responsibility as rational beings.

To simplify the debate, let' suppose we have enough arks to save 10,000 people, and that the new planet, after the flood and catastrophic upheaval of tectonic plates, will have to be reconstructed from scratch. No cities will be left. No land animals and no crops. Climate will be unstable and survival will be difficult. The Security Council of UN, whether we like it or not, will be making the decisions on who will go into the ark. They choose consultants or advisors representing a diversity of philosophies or schools of thought.

And they choose YOU as their Objectivist advisor. You don't now if the top guys will follow your advice or not, but at least you take responsibility of your recommendation.

This is the priority list of people who should be save according to my view.

  1. Those who design, finance, and physically build the arks, and their families. These would include engineers, capitalists, and workers, and their families.
  2. A selection of the best minds in science, technology, philosophy and politics, with special emphasis in those areas of knowledge that will enable us to raise crops, generate electricity, build cities, etc.
  3. A selection of the best manual workers, specially those connected to the areas of knowledge led by the best minds.
  4. Few musicians and artists, just enough to inspire and train next generations.

But many difficulties challenge this approach. What if the ark can be finnanced by just 5 top capitalist? Will the rest of capitalist tycoons be given a chance to BUY tickets for survival?

If left to open market, there are enough millionaires in this world to pay for the remaining seats and left no seat for the best minds, say, scientists, and also operators, or even Objectivist philosophers.

Would you feel OK if all seats are taken by the ones who can pay for them?

What would be your advice?

Edited by Hotu Matua

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The first thing you have to do is ask "them" (the owners of the ark) what their purpose is with this ark. It makes no sense to worry about how to decide until you've decided what to decide. If Bill Gates builds an ark and he decides that he wants to save the most diseased and pathetic people he can find, that will determine how you go about selecting survivors.

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This is the priority list of people who should be save according to my view.

  1. Those who design, finance, and physically build the arks, and their families. These would include engineers, capitalists, and workers, and their families.
  2. A selection of the best minds in science, technology, philosophy and politics, with special emphasis in those areas of knowledge that will enable us to raise crops, generate electricity, build cities, etc.
  3. A selection of the best manual workers, specially those connected to the areas of knowledge led by the best minds.
  4. Few musicians and artists, just enough to inspire and train next generations.

If I had an ark, these would be my priorities:

1. Me.

2. My friends and family.

3. Bunch of hot girls.

4. Scientists and whatnot.

Come to think of it, let's combine 3 and 4, make that hot girls who are scientists, and that way there's room for my sister's cat, and doritos. I love those.

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Hi, DavidOdden

Well, but they (The Security Council representatives, or Bill Gates if that is your scenario) are asking YOU to give them advice.

As I say, maybe they are altruist mysticals. Maybe they are not. More likely they represent a mix of people with different values. Bill Gates himself can be a mix of capitalist and altruist, who knows? But the point is that they are asking YOU for advice, and this is your only chance to give them a piece of your mind based on Objectivist values.

So don't give up the chance to provide some rationality here under the argument that they will do in the end whatever fits THEIR purposes and values.

You love human race, David. (It doesnt' mean you love strangers. But you love mankind as an ideal). Altruists are the man-haters.

You will not settle with any attempt to bring the most pathetic people on board. You will put up a fight.

So come on, let us now your thoughts...

Edited by Hotu Matua

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But many difficulties challenge this approach. What if the ark can be finnanced by just 5 top capitalist? Will the rest of capitalist tycoons be given a chance to BUY tickets for survival?

If left to open market, there are enough millionaires in this world to pay for the remaining seats and left no seat for the best minds, say, scientists, and also operators, or even Objectivist philosophers.

Would you feel OK if all seats are taken by the ones who can pay for them?

What would be your advice?

Interestingly enough, the problem came up before. People used to live in awful, inhospitable environments that used to kill them in 30 to 35 years. They invented civilization, and various forms of government, which allow us to build "arcs" which protect us from the elements, disease, natural disasters. The most efficient of those systems of government is called Capitalism. Anyone willing to work at least a little bit, gets to buy those arcs called houses, hospitals, schools, etc.,

If left to the open market, there would be more than one arc. Everyone would either build their own arc, or participate in building one for someone else, in exchange for seats (or at one seat, or the chance for a seat, if let's say no one is willing to offer enough seats for what you're able to put into it). These arc building firms would also make some room for people who will be needed during the time in the arc, but who (for some reason) weren't really instrumental in building them. The owners of the firms would all do this out of self interest, just as the people working for the firms would work out of self interest.

Let me guess, in the silly Zemeckis movie, the solution was the government, and a few people who sacrifice themselves for others. Am I getting warm?

Edited by Jake_Ellison

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If I had an ark, these would be my priorities:

1. Me.

2. My friends and family.

3. Bunch of hot girls.

4. Scientists and whatnot.

Come to think of it, let's combine 3 and 4, make that hot girls who are scientists, and that way there's room for my sister's cat, and doritos. I love those.

IN!

Count me as part of #2. :)

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Interestingly enough, the problem came up before. People used to live in awful, inhospitable environments that used to kill them in 30 to 35 years. They invented civilization, and various forms of government, which allow us to build "arcs" which protect us from the elements, disease, natural disasters. The most efficient of those systems of government is called Capitalism. Anyone willing to work at least a little bit, gets to buy those arcs called houses, hospitals, schools, etc.,

If left to the open market, there would be more than one arc. Everyone would either build their own arc, or participate in building one for someone else, in exchange for seats (or at one seat, or the chance for a seat, if let's say no one is willing to offer enough seats for what you're able to put into it). These arc building firms would also make some room for people who will be needed during the time in the arc, but who (for some reason) weren't really instrumental in building them. The owners of the firms would all do this out of self interest, just as the people working for the firms would work out of self interest.

Let me guess, in the silly Zemeckis movie, the solution was the government, and a few people who sacrifice themselves for others. Am I getting warm?

What a beautiful response!

Thank you very much, Jake. I think I stick to it.

Regarding the Zemeckis solutions, well you are warm enough.

The film never clearly states who paid for the building of the arks. Since the governments make the decisions, it is understood that they built them from the money obatined from the people via taxation. So, the owners are everyone and no one.

The government sells the seats mainly to the most wealthy men (such as Arab oil tycoons and Russian mafia leaders and politicians, all of them presented as depicable)

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Well, but they (The Security Council representatives, or Bill Gates if that is your scenario) are asking YOU to give them advice.
I have no problem with giving advice. My point is that you can't answer the question without reference to some purpose behind the action. If your purpose is to reproduce Earth's population, scaled down by a factor of a zillion, then random selection is the best approach. If your purpose is to preserve physical-scientific knowledge then you should gather together mostly physicists, chemists, geologists, biologists, engineers, medical researchers and some astronomers (not a lot). Or you could fill it with Jake and his buds and 9,000 hot chicks.

Of course you can't take this scenarios too seriously, I mean, what are the odds that the UN Security Council will realize "We just can't decide, let's give this Odden guy the power to decide the fate of the human race." I would, of course, populate the ship with my friends and family, enough people to engineer a comfortable society afterwards, and fill the rest of the boat with 4 speakers (2 male, 2 female) of every language on earth. (Why? Because, I'd like to know the result after 50 years -- it's what interests me). That is what I'd do with my boat. Others would have different goals, so different actions.

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Although it is tempting to save "the best" people, either the smartest or the most attractive, but this is a survival situation, and you need to select people for that first. I would be looking for people from ages 18-40, hopefully as many as possible that are happily married, that are healthy, emotionally stable, industrious, and adaptable.

1. Healthy: Obviously you want people who will last without the benefits of modern medicine, for the first generation will be the foundation for all the rest. The longer these people can last, the more of their practical knowledge can be preserved and passed down. This would also include the subcategory of "Fertile" for obvious reasons.

2. Emotionally Stable: I cannot think of a more stressful situation than starting society again from literally nothing. If anyone gives up or breaks, that would be just as good as death on a New World.

3. Industrious: Everyone has to be willing to work amazingly hard to even survive, this includes the sub-categories of entrepreneurship and sheer stamina.

4. Adaptable: I suppose that intelligence is the major subcategory here, but inventiveness and the ability to come up with new solutions to new problems.

From these characteristics you then can start choosing people that have particular skills and knowledge that would be useful, and yes, the most smart and beautiful too.

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If the world has come to the need of an Ark, I'd party. Jake's answer is best (substituting me for Jake obviously). He can come in my boat though, for a million dollar fee. Or one of his bags of doritos, which will become the currency of choice on my boat.

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Of course you can't take this scenarios too seriously, I mean, what are the odds that the UN Security Council will realize "We just can't decide, let's give this Odden guy the power to decide the fate of the human race." I would, of course, populate the ship with my friends and family, enough people to engineer a comfortable society afterwards, and fill the rest of the boat with 4 speakers (2 male, 2 female) of every language on earth. (Why? Because, I'd like to know the result after 50 years -- it's what interests me). That is what I'd do with my boat. Others would have different goals, so different actions.

Well, it may sound impossible today, but not tomorrow.

Look, Objectivism will win some day. It will spread all over the world and gain the will of most people.

As a consequence, we will have governments all over the world that will want to listen to Objectivist philosophers.

And it is also possible that we as a human race will face issues that affect us all.

Unusual volcanic activity, an explosion of a nearby supernova, a metorite, unusual solar activity, a pandemic of a lethal virus, who knows.

Governments will still be taking care of police, justice and defense. So, if they are to defend their countries against any truly global threat, why shouldn't they ask the DavidOdden of that time for advice?

Now, what I understand from your answer is that the owners of the arks will in the end of the day define the agenda. I agree with you.

And I find very interesting the outcome of your experiment with languages (should you be the owner of them).

This could be the topic of a very exciting thread.

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Regarding the Zemeckis solutions, well you are warm enough.

The film never clearly states who paid for the building of the arks. Since the governments make the decisions, it is understood that they built them from the money obatined from the people via taxation. So, the owners are everyone and no one.

The government sells the seats mainly to the most wealthy men (such as Arab oil tycoons and Russian mafia leaders and politicians, all of them presented as depicable)

They sells the seats? In wich currency? If the world is comming to an end, money has no value.

Really? They "sell" the seats? Sounds unconsistent.

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If I had an ark, these would be my priorities:

1. Me.

2. My friends and family.

3. Bunch of hot girls.

4. Scientists and whatnot.

Come to think of it, let's combine 3 and 4, make that hot girls who are scientists, and that way there's room for my sister's cat, and doritos. I love those.

No way. Those are MY priorities. ME, MY friends and family, bunch of hot girls for ME and scientists and whatnot who work for ME. Yep. These are the ones going aboard the ship if I were advisor to the Ark-building committee. Edited by dollardoctrinaire

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