Singleton hypothesis: world government inevitable

According to Nick Bostrom's singleton hypothesis, one great power will eventually emerge that swallows or subdues the rest. Is he right?

Singleton hypothesis

The world is increasingly becoming a “village that encompasses the world”. That's no coincidence, according to the singleton hypothesis. This theory comes from the brain of Nick Bostrom. Bostrom is a philosopher from Oxford University, who previously made a name for himself with his theory about super intelligence. According to this theory, the logical outcome of human evolution is that there is one world government will come [1]. At least one entity that will rule all of humanity. That can be a super intelligence are, but also a mega-corporation or a superstate.

Increasing levels of order

As philosophers often do, Bostrom uses induction and makes an abstraction of it. In concrete terms: he established that in history, people started to live together in ever-increasing relationships. From a handful of hunters and gatherers to states with more than a billion inhabitants. Think of India and China. Or quasi-states like the EU. He continues this trend. He thinks that these enormous states will also merge into one earth-spanning realm.

Or in an artificial intelligence, something like Skynet from the Terminator series. Or in a company such as Tencent in China, which is a bank, social credit rater, shop and social network in one. But then much, much bigger.

Temporary trend of nationalism

Bostrom thinks that the prevailing trend in Western countries of anti-globalism today is temporary. Bostrom looks at timescales spanning centuries. Millennia, even. In the longer term, the outcome is clear, he says. We're heading towards a singleton. Whether we like it or not.

The singleton theory predicts that there will eventually be a world government on Earth. For example a United Nations, but with more power. Source: Converted SVG from

World government more effective

Bostrom thinks a singleton could turn out well. After all, now there is the threat of nuclear wars. And an arms race. Plus tackling global issues, such as the SARS-CoV-2 epidemic, is failing. A world government is nipping an epidemic in the bud and introducing a lockdown. And quickly arranges compensation for the affected area, so that no one has to grumble. Thus the epidemic had been contained. Unless the world government is a totalitarian dictatorship afraid of losing face, of course.

Singleton only for open systems?

Bostrom generalizes from a limited dataset. Namely that of open systems. Most people live in an open system, in which there are plenty of contacts with the rest of the world. In closed systems, such as islands, you see that these usually split up into a few parts. Take for example the Guanches of the Canary Islands and the inhabitants of Rapa Nui, also known as Easter Island. A lonely island in the Pacific. Rapa Nui was completely isolated. The original inhabitants of the island, about the size of Texel, had cut down all the trees. Other islands are more than a thousand kilometers away. When explorers discovered the island, the population had split into different clans. This effect also occurred in the Guanches.

The soil is such a closed system. That is, as long as humans are the predominant species, the earth will likely remain split into a few large blocks. That is, if historical trends are correct. But that's the question. In modern times many trends have been turned upside down.

That would change if an outside threat were discovered. For example aliens, or colonies elsewhere in the solar system. So, as humanity we will not get much further than the United Nations. Unless humanity spreads beyond the Earth. Then a new field is added for quarreling. We humans are, unfortunately, quite stubborn. Hopefully we have learned that we get along more with peace than with war.

1. Nick Bostrom, What is a singleton? - 2005

3 thoughts on “Singleton hypothese: wereldregering onvermijdelijk”

  1. Depends mainly on the confidence level. In the event of an external threat, people are forced to rely on something. What is more of a weakness of man in his inability to have confidence in each other and to facilitate this.

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