What We Owe The Future

A Million-Year View

book cover

Humanity’s written history spans only 5,000 years. Our yet-unwritten future could last for millions more — or it could end tomorrow. Astonishing numbers of people could lead lives of great happiness or unimaginable suffering, or never live at all, depending on what we choose to do today.

In What We Owe The Future, philosopher William MacAskill argues for ‘longtermism’: the idea that positively influencing the distant future is a key moral priority of our time. From this perspective, it’s not enough to reverse climate change or avert the next pandemic. We must ensure that civilisation would rebound if it collapsed; and prepare for a planet where the smartest beings are likely to be digital, not human.

If we make wise choices today, our grandchildren’s grandchildren will have a better chance to thrive, and will know we did everything we could to give them a world full of justice, hope, and beauty.

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“A profoundly new perspective on human civilization and our place in it.”

Lydia Cacho

About the author

William MacAskill is an associate professor in philosophy at the University of Oxford. At the time of his appointment, he was the youngest associate professor of philosophy in the world. A Forbes 30 Under 30 social entrepreneur, he also cofounded the nonprofits Giving What We Can, and the Centre for Effective Altruism, which together have moved over $200 million to effective charities. Along with Benjamin Todd he also co-founded 80,000 Hours in 2011. He lives in Oxford, England.

For more, visit whatweowethefuture.com

“This is a book of great daring, clarity, insight and imagination. To be simultaneously so realistic and so optimistic, and always so damned readable … that is a miracle for which MacAskill should be greatly applauded.”

Stephen Fry

“This book will change your sense of how grand the sweep of human history could be, where you fit into it, and how much you could do to change it for the better.”

Ezra Klein