Jeff Bezos recently shared his vision in an interview with Lex Fridman: a future where a trillion humans populate our Solar System.
"I would love to see a trillion humans living in the Solar System. If we had a trillion humans, we would have, at any given time, 1,000 Mozarts and 1,000 Einsteins," he said.
"The only way to get to that vision is with giant space stations. The planetary surfaces are just way too small."
A trillion souls for a thousand Mozarts and a thousand Einsteins is a pretty good deal, all things considered.
But if we accept Bezos' two-thousand-geniuses-per-trillion theorem, we should also consider the darker side: serial killers.
In 2018, the latest year we have data on active serial killers as compiled by professors at Radford and Florida Gulf Coast University, there were 12 active serial killers in the US. The US population that year was 326.8 million, meaning that about 1 out of every 27 million people was a serial killer. (You still have better odds of being a serial killer than winning the Powerball).
The professors' research also showed a steady decline in the number of serial killers, likely due to an increase in sophisticated surveillance technology since active serial killers peaked in the late 1980s.
If humans were to raid the asteroid belt and spin up thousands of O'Neill space stations to get to 1 trillion, and Jeff Bezos is involved, we can assume that surveillance tech remains in place. Using 2018's numbers with a trillion humans, then, we'd expect to have about 37,000 active serial killers in the observable universe. (What about serial killers in the unknown Universe? you might be asking. That is a problem for alien Jeff Bezos.)
Put another way, for every Mozart and Einstein born into existence, assuming Mozart and Einstein have a prevalence rate of one out of every billion, you would get about 37 serial killers.
But there's also a more alarming possibility: an "Einstein of serial killing."
Let's use the 2018 active serial killer numbers and Bezos' "one Einstein per 1 billion people" rule of thumb, and assume that being a serial killer and being Einstein are independent phenomena. (That is, being a serial killer makes you no likelier to be an Einstein and vice versa.)
Doing the math on the prevalence rate for each, you get a likelihood of someone being an active Einsteinian serial killer – that is, someone so brilliant at serial killing that they fundamentally alter our understanding of it – of 1 in 27 quintillion.
While that may seem comfortingly unlikely, remember the denominator effect. Large populations make unlikely things more likely.
If Bezos' Imperium of Man starts at 1 trillion people and experiences a 2.2% population growth rate (as we saw in 1963 during the height of the Green Revolution), you'd hit 27 quintillion humans in about 800 years.
Unfortunately, there is currently no way to quantify the likelihood of traumatized but grimly determined FBI agents – think Clarice Starling in moon boots – within that theoretical population. Perhaps Bezos can tackle that next.
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