The Most Important Century

I think we have good reason to believe that the 21st century could be the most important century ever for humanity. I think the most likely way this would happen would be via the development of advanced AI systems that lead to explosive growth and scientific advancement, getting us more quickly than most people imagine to a deeply unfamiliar future.

A bit more specifically, I think there is a good chance that:

  1. During the century we’re in right now, we will develop technologies that cause us to transition to a state in which humans as we know them are no longer the main force in world events. This is our last chance to shape how that transition happens.

  2. Whatever the main force in world events is (perhaps digital people, misaligned AI, or something else) will create highly stable civilizations that populate our entire galaxy for billions of years to come. The transition taking place this century could shape all of that.

I think it’s very unclear whether this would be a good or bad thing. What matters is that it could go a lot of different ways, and we have a chance to affect that.

I believe the above possibility doesn’t get enough attention, discussion, or investment, particularly from people whose goal is to make the world better. By writing about it, I’d like to either help change that, or gain more opportunities to get criticized and change my mind.

This sequence is available in a number of formats, including PDF—along with a few-page summary—at https://​​​​most-important-century/​​.

You can find listen to an audio version here, or by searching for “Cold Takes Audio” on many other platforms.

Our century’s potential for acceleration

This Can’t Go On

Fore­cast­ing Trans­for­ma­tive AI: What Kind of AI?

Why AI al­ign­ment could be hard with mod­ern deep learning

Forecasting transformative AI this century

Fore­cast­ing trans­for­ma­tive AI: what’s the bur­den of proof?

Fore­cast­ing Trans­for­ma­tive AI: Are we “trend­ing to­ward” trans­for­ma­tive AI? (How would we know?)

Fore­cast­ing trans­for­ma­tive AI: the “biolog­i­cal an­chors” method in a nutshell

AI Timelines: Where the Ar­gu­ments, and the “Ex­perts,” Stand

Our wildly important era

All Pos­si­ble Views About Hu­man­ity’s Fu­ture Are Wild

The Du­pli­ca­tor: In­stant Clon­ing Would Make the World Econ­omy Explode

Digi­tal Peo­ple Would Be An Even Big­ger Deal

Wrapping up

How to make the best of the most im­por­tant cen­tury?

Call to Vigilance


The Most Im­por­tant Cen­tury: Se­quence Introduction