In the beginning we dreamt it could be better - we were right
To be born now is a privilege. We exist at the pinnacle of human technological achievement: this century may see the end of poverty, the end of disease and the beginning and proliferation of commercial space travel. If these milestones are achieved, we will not have done so merely by ourselves, but through the sacrifice, dedication and suffering of all those generations before us. They toiled, struggled, worked and died, so that we may live fuller, live longer and far happier lives than they could have ever dreamed. As Toby Ord writes, ‘when I think of the unbroken chain of generations leading to our time and of everything they have built for us, I am humbled’. I believe it is incumbent on us to ensure those next generations, stretching far into the future, may inherit a similarly better world.
However, this future is far from guaranteed. There are a great number of popular beliefs which obstruct, delay or even actively harm the longterm prospects of our species. These beliefs and ideas are best seen in the light of painfully slow or entirely mistaken responses to novel or unlikely threats; but they are present day-to-day thoughout our legal and political institutions. We don’t see all of the missed opportunities, or the sources of cheems, but we are hampered by them all the same.
I fear through mistaken beliefs, mismanagement and a lack of public awareness, we might miss the chance to take the opportunities we have before us to build a better world for future generations. This blog (and accompanying projects) will be a place for both the criticism of harmful ideas within our institutions; but also - more particularly - a place to outline how to convince future policy makers, academics, lawyers, and politicians of the path to the positive, progress focused future we are so close to achieving.
I’m Dr Lawrence Newport, a recovering academic, with expertise in law, rhetoric and the history of legal, political and religious ideas. I am an aspiring rationalist and have been a long time follower of effective altruism (I recently also won an EA short-story prize). This blog is my attempt to outline the ideas that we need to combat, the ideas we need to amplify and to consider the ideas and longterm world we may wish to pass on to future generations.