A friend and I recently discussed the following question: “What motivates you to work on improving the long-term future?”
For them, thinking about existential threats and s-risks are generally most motivating. Imagine a future in which humanity doesn’t reach its potential. An existential threat destroys civilization. Or, worse, uncountable numbers of people/animals/digital people live in extreme torture.
For me, thinking about utopia and peak experiences are generally most motivating. Imagine a future in which humanity thrives, an intergalactic civilization emerges, and people/animals/digital people experience levels of joy and fulfillment that are beyond comprehension.
I don’t think there’s a “better” way to generate motivation. But it’s interesting to think about the kinds of ideas that fill longtermists with motivation, inspiration, and drive.
A question to you: What are your favorite resources (e.g., readings, videos, podcasts) for generating (or reinforcing) motivation to work on improving the long-term future?
These could be resources that initially got you interested in longtermism. But I’m even more interested in the kinds of things that keep you fired up– things you return to when you want a motivation/energy/inspiration boost.
Here are some of mine:
- Letter from Utopia by Nick Bostrom
- Why I Find Longtermism Hard, and What Keeps Me Motivated by Michelle Hutchinson
- How to Work Hard by Paul Graham (also not explicitly focused on longtermism, though many of the themes around ambition and taking bets are especially relevant for longtermists. Also I find the analysis of Newton quite poetic.)
- The Fable of the Dragon-Tyrant (video by CCP Grey; adapted from a paper by Nick Bostrom. Even though it’s not explicitly about longtermism, I think many of the themes are relevant/motivating for longtermists.)
- The Precipice by Toby Ord (in particular, the subsection “Quality” in Chapter 8: “Our Potential.”)