Global Priorities

Never memorize something that you can look up.
- Albert Einstein

The next thirty years will see dramatic acceleration in the rate of change. We humans, with our limited brains, are designed for chasing bunnies across the savannah. Yet we are now designing and creating systems that can modify themselves at ever faster rates.

The year 2050 will look very different than the world today. I believe we should only look at the big changes coming and forget about the small stuff, because the small stuff doesn’t matter now and it won’t matter at all then. What are the big changes? They are hard to see. They aren’t on the front page of the newspaper. In fact, almost everything in the newspaper is, by definition, small stuff you can safely ignore when thinking about the future. Almost every book in the bookstore is useless in this context, especially the books that advocate how humans have to “be more human,” be more loving and empathic, get in touch with your intuition, and be kind to each other. While that sounds like useful advice and we shouldn’t ignore it, it doesn’t prepare us for what’s coming.

What’s coming will be dramatic. I’m working on a book to separate the important stuff from the unimportant stuff, because you will benefit most by focusing on the important stuff and ignoring the rest. There are three levels of priorities and change:

Personal. We will need completely new mental models to understand and rise to the top of what’s coming. It’s not only about doing well for yourself but also understanding the world and your role in it, and how you can make it better for others.

Societal. In 2050, we will have more than 9 billion people on the planet. I don’t believe the UN development goals are optimal for the mutual success of the human enterprise. I think the Copenhagen Consensus has done a better job.

This is work in progress! -David