All possible views about humanity’s long-term future are wild

Current Economic growth and scientific advancement can’t go on. That’s for sure:

We’re currently living through the fastest-growing time in history. This rate of growth hasn’t gone on long, and can’t go on indefinitely (there aren’t enough atoms in the galaxy to sustain this rate of growth for even another 10,000 years). And if we get further acceleration in this rate of growth – in line with historical acceleration – we could reach the limits of what’s possible more quickly: within this century.

Holden Karnofsky, the founder of GiveWell and Open Philanthropy, is well aware of the potential biases toward inflating our own importance, self-delusion and insularity, and was himself reluctant to buy into the idea that today’s civilization is in a strange and privileged position. But he has ultimately concluded that all possible views about humanity’s long-term future are wild.

I think we have good reason to believe that the 21st century could be the most important century ever for humanity. I think the most likely way this would happen would be via the development of advanced AI systems that lead to explosive growth and scientific advancement, getting us more quickly than most people imagine to a deeply unfamiliar future.

Here is his roadmap:

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Featured Image: Holden Karnofsky. You can expand the “timeline” in his post

4 comments

    • Just come back from reading Holden Karnofsky’s ‘All Possible Views About Humanity’s Future Are Wild‘, to which you linked (and I’ve subscribed to the site, it needs further exploration!) What he says there strikes a chord with me; I’ve long believed that our generation lives on the cusp of something (good, or bad), and that those who dismiss this idea out-of-hand simply don’t appreciate this – quite naturally, through over-familiarity with ‘the way things are and always have been’.

      I was very surprised to find (though perhaps I shouldn’t have been), part-way through the article, the reference to Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot; see my most recent wibblette, which I published last Tuesday. The Universe works in mysterious ways…

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