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Moral imperative

  • Life will expand: self-preservation, evolution, and expansion into niches are part of the key properties of all living organisms, including Homo sapiens.
  • Civilizations and consciousness might be rare (even if we discover microscopic life to be common throughout the universe, steps such as the emergence of eukaryotic cells or rapid brain size growth can be exceedingly rare).
  • There is a limited window of opportunity to take the next step. We are in a restricted environment, and the probability of a catastrophic event increases with time. Some estimate 300 million years for an event such as an asteroid impact or supernovae, but we have a maximum of 3 billion years until Earth is swallowed by the Sun. No other life forms would be able to evolve to leave the planet (if we extrapolate our progress).
The evolution of matter with increasing and decreasing complexity (source: Klaus Meinzer, Thinking in Complexity)

Current state

  • There needs to be more clarity on where we are as a civilization. Is the global social system viable or fragile? Which scenario is most likely: exponential progress, steady progress, stagnation or collapse?
  • We are surrounded by and need to manage a multitude of complex systems. Even with the best intentions, these are often black boxes and can start to oscillate. The time horizons of political management are too short, and the incentive structures, even in democratic societies, are insufficient.
  • We witness diminishing returns of pure economic growth: after great strides in quality of life and the elimination of poverty, most citizens in developed economies see little progress in their way of life despite improved productive output.
  • Democratic institutions are under threat, there has been a recent uptick in military tensions, citizens and economies are in debt, and the developed world's population is rapidly aging.
  • A productive, pragmatic, and inspiring vision for the future is lacking. We are living through cultural rehashes and dystopian narratives (a hauntology).
  • Energy is the limiting factor, and all systems are limited; we are currently 0.72 type of civilization.

Paths forward

  • We need to study progress, not just economic but technological and social, within the constraints of our limited environment.
  • Economic efficiency and human rights should be prioritized over growth and consumption at all costs. We should consider and develop other systems to manage our progress.
  • A rational and empirical look at history, deconstruction of groupthink and nation-state concepts.
  • Decision-making is based on first principles (like entropy) but without reductionism.
  • Implement different global and local strategies, focusing on more diverse, antifragile systems (them being more resilient).
  • Work on a new vision: humanist, solutionist, social and political, focused on the long-term.
  • Improve our capability to work with complexity and use metalanguage.