It seems possible that the long-term future could take some extremely good forms. Such futures could be described as flourishing futures, utopias, ideal futures, or simply (highly) positive futures.

It could be important to consider what types of flourishing future are possible, how good each would be, how likely each is, and what would make these futures more or less likely. Reasons why this might be important include the following:

  • A better understanding of how positive the future might be or is likely to be is relevant to the question of how much to prioritise reducing existential risks
  • A better understanding of how good and likely various flourishing futures are, and what would make them more or less likely, could aid in generating, prioritising among, and implementing longtermist interventions
  • Having clearer pictures of how the future might go extremely well could aid in building support for work to reduce existential risks
  • A better understanding of what futures should be steered towards might aid in working out which scenarios might constitute unrecoverable dystopias or unrecoverable collapses (i.e., existential catastrophes other than extinction)

Further reading

Bostrom, Nick (2008) Letter from utopia, Studies in Ethics, Law, and Technology, vol. 2.

Cotton-Barratt, Owen & Toby Ord (2015) Existential risk and existential hope: Definitions, Technical Report #2015-1, Future of Humanity Institute, University of Oxford.

Ord, Toby (2020) The Precipice: Existential Risk and the Future of Humanity, chapter 8, London: Bloomsbury Publishing.

Fun Theory, LessWrong

Sandberg, Anders (2020) Post scarcity civilizations & cognitive enhancement, Foresight Institute, September 4.

Wiblin, Robert & Keiran Harris (2018) The world’s most intellectual foundation is hiring. Holden Karnofsky, founder of GiveWell, on how philanthropy can have maximum impact by taking big risks, 80,000 Hours, February 27.

dystopia | existential security | hedonium | hellish existential catastrophe | long reflection | long-term future | longtermism | motivational | transhumanism