This could be the most important century

Will the future of humanity be wild, or boring? It’s natural to think that if we’re trying to be sober and measured, and predict what will really happen rather than spin an exciting story, it’s more likely than not to be sort of… dull.

But there’s also good reason to think that that is simply impossible. The idea that there’s a boring future that’s internally coherent is an illusion that comes from not inspecting those scenarios too closely.

At least that is what Holden Karnofsky — founder of charity evaluator GiveWell and foundation Open Philanthropy — argues in his new article series titled ‘The Most Important Century’.

The bind is this. For the first 99% of human history the global economy (initially mostly food production) grew very slowly: under 0.1% a year. But since the industrial revolution around 1800, growth has exploded to over 2% a year.

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In one of the most upvoted posts ever on the Effective Altruism Forum, Holden presents the aptitudes he thinks are most useful to build if you accept something like the hypothesis that we may be living in the most important century. And he has some really useful tips on how to assess your fit with different options.

In a part 2 interview, I discuss all these ideas with Holden, as well as some fun stuff like the most underrated events in history:

Holden Part 2: on building aptitudes and kicking ass


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