Here is my response to you, Charles C. Mann, regarding this TED Talk.
No, I don’t believe we are special. The Earth is a Petri Dish, and the Human Outbreak is going to end badly. The Wizards have hope for progress, and growth. The Prophets have hope for humility, and restraint. The problem is Hope.
Humans are going to act like Humans, regardless of the Innovations of our Sages. Humans are going to be Corrupt, and Wasteful. We Humans are going to consume everything in our path, and gorge ourselves hedonistically on every available resource.
The thing is, I’m fine with that. I love being Human. I love the Beauty we create, and the Destruction we revel in. We are twisted and beautiful.
“See the world as it is, not as you wish it would be” ― E. Lockhart, We Were Liars
Given all of that, I don’t want us to hit the Edge of the Petri Dish Either. It seems like a gruesome and horrific end.
But, I’m reminded of Dr. Michio Kaku talking about those interstellar self-replicating robots that we would send to other planets to build our Megacities, which would be waiting for us, fully built, automated, and functional, by the time we arrived.
When we invent those robots, their first task should be to terraform EARTH.
What I mean by that is, if the Earth is a Petri Dish, and Humans are going to act predictably as our Nature Demands, then those Self-Replicating Robots should devour the Earth, converting it into 1 UltraCity, designed to Organize a Type 1 Civilization that Houses, Feeds, and Educates 10 Billion People in an Automated Way.
The lowest standard of living for each and every Type 1 Human should defined by this:
No more explosive Population Growth. We can level out and stabilize in a sustainable way. But that can’t be in our hands.
As a Species, to avoid Extinction in the Petri Dish, we need to build our Mother.