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It's the End of the World as They Know It—and They Feel Fine


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The Washington Free Beacon

REVIEW: 'The Revolt Against Humanity: Imagining a Future Without Us'

Oliver Wiseman    
March 5, 2023

What do Ray Kurzweil and Greta Thunberg have in common? On the surface, not very much. One is an American computer scientist and futurist famous as a prophet of "the singularity"—the moment when the line between man and machine disappears and our brains get an ever-improving software upgrade. Another is a Swedish teenager who made a name for herself by ditching school and shouting at world leaders about climate change.

To Adam Kirsch, though, they are connected in a profound way. Both are part of a phenomenon after which he has named a short new book: The Revolt Against Humanity: Imagining a Future Without Us. Kurzweil and Thunberg, argues Kirsch, belong to a disparate group that "from Silicon Valley boardrooms to rural communities to academic philosophy departments" is considering a revolutionary and novel idea: "that the end of humanity's reign on Earth is imminent and that we should welcome it."


When Kirsch points out the differences between these voguish ideas and older theology, he offers disturbing new insights. Many religious traditions predict an end of humanity, but they offer something more: "Rather than simply vanishing, we will be physically and spiritually transformed." Contrast that with the modern idea of human extinction, which "implies that our disappearance will change nothing. The planet and the universe will go on in exactly the same way after humanity ceases to exist, except that other animals and planets will have a better chance to flourish. The death of the human race is as cosmically meaningless as the death of an individual, since both are soon swallowed up by oblivion."

That is a disturbing foundation on which to construct a worldview. And even if it proves to be an incorrect prediction, Kirsch is utterly convincing in his argument that this set of beliefs can nonetheless upend our politics, economics, technology, and culture.

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