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in a nutshell youtube, last human youtube

If the world isn't ending, how does that impact the choices we make?

Is the world ending? For real this time?

It might certainly seem that way, considering constant political upheaval, relentless environmental distress and a general perceived failing of the human race. As it turns out, this is not a new way of thinking. It may very well be as old as civilization itself.

And perhaps more importantly, it might be the exact piece of false logic keeping us from making crucial decisions that can shape our future … the very, very, very far distant future.

Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell, a YouTube channel that uses animation to “explain things with optimistic nihilism,” explores this existential quandary in a video titled “The Last Human – A Glimpse Into the Far Future.”

The video begins with a not-so-simple question: When will the last human be born and how many people will there ever be?

You can watch the full video below:

Making an assumption that the current birth rate would stay the same (unlikely, but for the sake of discussion), that would mean the global population would increase by 125 million people each year. Combine that with the fact that the average collective life span of most mammal species before extinction is somewhere around 1-10 million years, and we can conservatively estimate that there is still a whopping 800,000 more years before a real apocalypse is upon us.

Yes, even under a cynical lens, we might be looking at a future of 1.2 quadrillion people yet to be born.

Of course, galactic catastrophes can happen. A supernova, gamma ray bursts … the things sci-fi movies like to scare us with. But even those must fall under very specific parameters in order to pose a real threat. And if they did happen, humanity is still “relatively safe from extinction, maybe even for billions of years.”

Things get even more complex if we consider we might eventually leave Earth.

“If future people can colonize, say, 100 billion stars and live there for 10 billion years, while each generating 100 million births per year, then we can expect something like a hundred octillion lives to be lived in the future. This is a 1 with 29 zeros, a hundred thousand trillion, trillion,” the video states.

The potential for added zeros grows and grows from there. In this futuristic scenario, we could see a blending of colonized galaxies. Yes, galaxies. Plural. Which, the video concludes, could give us a potential for a tredecillion lives. Never heard of a tredecillion? It means a million, trillion, trillion, trillion potential people.


“Every generation assumes they’re important enough to witness the apocalypse and then life just goes on,” which the video explains is a phenomenon called societal pessimism. However, because the potential size of the future could in fact be vastly greater than our present comprehension, it might behoove us all to think of civilization as being at the beginning of its story, rather than the end.

longtermism, in a nutshell youtube

The future is still in our hands

Youtube

With this in mind, there might be an even more powerful moral imperative attached to our actions today, something explored in a school of thought referred to as longtermism. Longtermism doesn’t argue that human life most certainly will go on, but focuses on the possibility that it could. And because of that, we might want to examine what the long-term consequences of our choices could be for those future generations, ethically speaking.

After all, if there’s even a chance that billions of people could still be born despite our seemingly bleak current circumstances, then maybe we owe it to ourselves as a species to not throw the tredecillion babies out with the bathwater.

It’s a fascinating thought experiment, not to mention a pretty cool argument in the name of rational optimism. Plus, it’s made all the more palatable with fun graphics. Thank you, In a Nutshell!

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1989 video brings back strong memories for Gen Xers who came of age in the '80s.

It was the year we saw violence in Tiananmen Square and the dismantling of the Berlin Wall. The year we got Meg Ryan in "When Harry Met Sally" and Michael Keaton in Tim Burton's "Batman." The year "Seinfeld" and "The Simpsons" debuted on TV, with no clue as to how successful they would become. The year that gave us New Kids on the Block and Paula Abdul while Madonna and Janet Jackson were enjoying their heyday.

The jeans were pegged, the shoulders were padded and the hair was feathered and huge. It was 1989—the peak of Gen X youth coming of age.

A viral video of a group of high school students sitting at their desks in 1989—undoubtedly filmed by some geeky kid in the AV club who probably went on to found an internet startup—has gone viral across social media, tapping straight into Gen X's memory banks. For those of us who were in high school at the time, it's like hopping into a time machine.

The show "Stranger Things" has given young folks of today a pretty good glimpse of that era, but if you want to see exactly what the late '80s looked like for real, here it is:

Oh so many mullets. And the Skid Row soundtrack is just the icing on this nostalgia cake. (Hair band power ballads were ubiquitous, kids.)

I swear I went to high school with every person in this video. Like, I couldn't have scripted a more perfect representation of my classmates (which is funny considering that this video came from Paramus High School in New Jersey and I went to high school on the opposite side of the country).

Comments have poured in on Reddit from both Gen Xers who lived through this era and those who have questions.

First, the confirmations:

"Can confirm. I was a freshman that year, and not only did everyone look exactly like this (Metallica shirt included), I also looked like this. 😱😅"

"I graduated in ‘89, and while I didn’t go to this school, I know every person in this room."

"It's like I can virtually smell the AquaNet and WhiteRain hairspray from here...."

"I remember every time you went to the bathroom you were hit with a wall of hairspray and when the wind blew you looked like you had wings."

Then the observations about how differently we responded to cameras back then.

"Also look how uncomfortable our generation was in front of the camera! I mean I still am! To see kids now immediately pose as soon as a phone is pointed at them is insanity to me 🤣"

"Born in 84 and growing up in the late 80’s and 90’s, it’s hard to explain to younger people that video cameras weren’t everywhere and you didn’t count on seeing yourself in what was being filmed. You just smiled and went on with your life."

Which, of course, led to some inevitable "ah the good old days" laments:

"Life was better before the Internet. There, I said it."

"Not a single cell phone to be seen. Oh the freedom."

"It's so nice to be reminded what life was like before cell phones absorbed and isolated social gatherings."

But perhaps the most common response was how old those teens looked.

"Why do they all look like they're in their 30's?"

"Everyone in this video is simultaneously 17 and 49 years old."

"Now we know why they always use 30 y/o actors in high school movies."

As some people pointed out, there is an explanation for why they look old to us. It has more to do with how we interpret the fashion than how old they actually look.

Ah, what a fun little trip down memory lane for those of us who lived it. (Let's just all agree to never bring back those hairstyles, though, k?)