creation a self-regarding consciousness — learning, slowly, to understand ourselves and our family, while the more primitive, automatic and powerful parts of our same minds unintentionally collaborate in its destruction. We are starting to recognize that we are individually and collectively held back by unexamined assumptions and illogical “feelings” about how things seem to be, but the reality is we have hug e individual and cultural “blind spots.” Ergo, we are ‘ reality blind ’. Yet this same knowledge of “who we are” gives us at least some power over it. While the path to a profoundly wonderful human future is difficult, it is not yet foreclosed. As individuals, we all will ultimately die within a century, but we each can now choose to positively affect the coming million years, trillions of human lifetimes, and the evolutionary future of thousands, even millions of species. We have powers and abilities that our ancestors could not dream of, and the freedom to use them. This will be the century which tests the human potential for mediocrity against the human potential for greatness.
There are plenty of science books out there describing the current plight of humanity – what makes this one different is:
a) Breadth : This is a wide-ranging interdisciplinary synthesis of the human predicament. We cover everything from deep time to cognitive biases to the fossil carbon monkey trap and integrate dozens of subjects that have bearing on the issues humans will face this century. Many core insights are not about specific topics but derive from the integration of important topics. b) A longer-term view : Most analysts advocate policies to adopt in the next few years or perhaps a decade, with no real longer-term context. We look deep into the coming decades (and beyond) — attempting to wend a path towards the larger prize — a long-view aspiration for human existence (which optimally is long term maximization of human achievement, experience and happiness, minimization of suffering, and co-existence with other complex life in a healthy environment). c) A neutral starting point : We have friends and colleagues from all walks of life: conservatives and liberals, rich and poor, American and Chinese, young and old. The situation in our social discourse today has become more about ‘the messenger’ than ‘the message’. The story in the pages that follow applies to all of us: the problems we face are not really anyone’s fault, yet we are all complicit in and now responsible for
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