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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