Are We Living In The Most Important Century For Humanity?

I have written in the past about tipping points in human history and a belief that the world may experience its third tipping point sometime this century. A recent article via Holden Karnofsky hypothesizes that we live in the most important century in human history. Both views are driven by an underlying belief that the century likely delivers humanity altering changes. In my view, the combination of rapid knowledge expansion, artificial intelligence, machines, biotechnology, genetic engineering, our connectivity, and a new computing paradigm, are likely to change what it means to be human. In the article, the author argues that the 21st century could see our civilization develop technologies that allow rapid expansion throughout our currently empty galaxy. He argues all sides of a debate that ranges from impossible, to skeptical, to humanity altering.

Tyler Cowen – one of my favorite economists – has long argued that the world is heading towards a great reset. All these themes look at signals that point to a period of transformative change. In a recent article via Tyler, he states that the world will be weirder than we think. He says: “developments in the next few decades could change humanity for the next few millennia.” This is not just hyperbole, as he touches on living longer, designer babies, brain-driven interaction, and intelligent life on other planets. I argue that the sheer number of humanity-altering scenarios makes changes to humanity inevitable.

Of course none of these developments are inevitable. Another very weird future is entirely possible: that we humans use our creative energies for destruction, causing civilization to take some major and enduring steps backwards. Either way, the future is not just more and nicer suburbs, better pay and new forms of social media. All those are likely to happen, but they won’t be the biggest changes. When it comes to the future of the human race, we — and our children, for those of us who have any — may turn out to be especially important generations. I very much hope we are up to this moment.

Tyler Cowen – The Future Will Be Weirder Than We Think

The notion of an important generation echoes Mr. Karnofsky’s thoughts that we live in the most important century in human history. Tyler has long been asking people to pay attention to the canary in the coal mine. The signals are there. While we can’t predict how this century unfolds, we can pay attention and work to balance these opposing forces of innovation.

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