The Most Important Century
I think we have good reason to believe that the 21st century could be the most important century ever for humanity. I think the most likely way this would happen would be via the development of advanced AI systems that lead to explosive growth and scientific advancement, getting us more quickly than most people imagine to a deeply unfamiliar future.
A bit more specifically, I think there is a good chance that:
- During the century we're in right now, we will develop technologies that cause us to transition to a state in which humans as we know them are no longer the main force in world events. This is our last chance to shape how that transition happens.
- Whatever the main force in world events is (perhaps digital people, misaligned AI, or something else) will create highly stable civilizations that populate our entire galaxy for billions of years to come. The transition taking place this century could shape all of that.
I think it's very unclear whether this would be a good or bad thing. What matters is that it could go a lot of different ways, and we have a chance to affect that.
I believe the above possibility doesn't get enough attention, discussion, or investment, particularly from people whose goal is to make the world better. By writing about it, I'd like to either help change that, or gain more opportunities to get criticized and change my mind.
This sequence is available in a number of formats, including PDF - along with a few-page summary - at https://www.cold-takes.com/most-important-century/.
You can find listen to an audio version here, or by searching for "Cold Takes Audio" on many other platforms.