Green Boots

10/Dec/2023 18:51:52 • Audio • 03:02

I saw an image on Twitter this morning, or X if you want to call it that, of a body, a human corpse that is near the summit of Mount Everest. People don't know whose corpse it is, but it's wearing green boots and it's been there since the 90s, so people call it green boots. And elsewhere I saw a map of all the known dead bodies on Mount Everest, and there's a lot of them. And if you're climbing Everest and you die, nobody's going to bring your corpse back down. There's going to be no rescue mission. Maybe someday, when robots can climb Mount Everest with relative ease, they'll go up and collect all the corpses and all the trash. But it got me thinking about yesterday's question about why send humans to Mars? And I think for a lot of people, the answer, even if they can't articulate it, is the same as, okay, you're a successful doctor, lawyer, accountant, whatever, you're comfortable, you have achieved upper middle class status, you don't really have anything to worry about in your life. Why climb Mount Everest? It's very expensive, and while it's not that dangerous, I was asking Pi about it, and in the spring of 2022, 92.6% of the people who attempted Everest achieved the summit. In the autumn and in the winter, it is much more difficult, and in some years the weather's been so bad that nobody has achieved the summit in the autumn or the winter. But at certain times of year, it's doable. It's pretty doable, but you could still die. Why risk it? Well, I asked the AI Pi why... I asked it for a counter-argument to robots are better prepared, better equipped, better constituted to explore Mars than human beings are, and they can do it a lot cheaper in terms of the energy budget. And Pi said, well, pushing the achievements of... Pushing the boundaries, pushing back what were previously limits on what humans can do is inspirational. And it's just kind of something that's in the human psychological constitution, this desire to do more than we thought was possible, which I'm pretty sure is a good thing. If you like living in a technological society and doing things that kings and emperors of ages past could never even dream of, the desire to push the boundaries, it leads to good things. So I don't have a fully formulated question for people to use in response to this, but what do you think of that? Is just pure human achievement something worth expending enormous resources on and risking people's lives over?

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it's really strange but this morning I was looking at the same picture actually I have a suspicion that because I follow you and I think you also follow me on Twitter X and I'm a few hours ahead of you so maybe my looking at that picture staring at it for a while actually slightly increased the probability of it being included in your feed, so, but that's just a just a suspicion anyway doesn't matter. More to the point, I guess once again I have to say that I don't have the answer but I know that Mount Everest is far from the only moderately risk activity people engage in so in my Instagram feed I regularly get videos of guys and by the way it's always guys doing stunts like jumping incredibly long distances between almost high-rise buildings where you really have to do everything perfectly otherwise it's almost certainly fatal so why do they do it well I guess getting views and likes is one answer but getting an adrenaline rush is another is there anything else I am I don't know if I have to compare those two groups I'm much more sympathetic to and actually understanding of the Everest group at least I think you can get a sense of achievement coupled with an incredible adventure and you know the views that will probably be in your memory forever as opposed to you know what do you get when you land on the roof of the building the next building over I don't know I guess rush of hormones and renewed sense of being alive yeah I I would side with Mount Everest anyway rambling posts but that's what I got to say