What are the most important ideas for our future survival?
1/ Understanding evolution – at least enough to understand that cooperation is more important than competition in the creation of complexity. Competition leads to simplicity, cooperation allows for complexity to emerge.
2/ We have the technology to allow every person on the planet to have safe comfortable housing, good nutritious fresh food (plant based diet), fresh water, clean air, good medical services, communications (internet & phone), reasonable travel (200km/day). The difficulties are not technical, but the ideas we have around value, most particularly using markets to measure value.
3/ We live in a complex world that cannot be predicted with perfect accuracy, as many different types of process are so complex that they are not able to be predicted (even in theory). And once one has accepted that, there are many things that can be done to reduce risk to very low levels, while retaining reasonable levels of individual freedom.
4/ Indefinite life extension is a real possibility. If you consider life from a cellular perspective, every cell alive today would consider itself to have been alive for some 4 billion years. The default mode of cellular life is indefinite. It is only some lines of somatic cells in complex organisms that develop age related loss of function. So extending human lives indefinitely must be possible, and it may require the periodic use of some very high tech equipment (to convince all the cells in our bodies that they are part of a 25 year old body again – that might take a couple of weeks every decade or so).
5/ Creating large orbiting space habitats to enable us to grow food enough to let everyone survive the very infrequent sorts of disasters that have threatened humanity in the past (like very large volcanoes). Having a lot of engineering capacity in orbit, where it is not constrained by the limited energy available here on earth, allows us to mitigate a lot of low frequency high impact risks.
6/ Sure there are many ways that we as a species can go extinct. We need to be very conscious of all of them, without seeing only them. We need to take effective action to create and implement effective risk mitigation strategies – that is what I am about. This is not some – “it’s all going to be OK” piece of positive thinking BS. This is a wake-up call, and an outline of the really difficult things we all need to start implementing in our lives.
I do not want to add to stress, and nor do I want to pretend that anything is other than what it is.