The future of humanity is the long-term fate of the human species.
Nick Bostrom has identified four broad possibilities for the long-term future of humanity (Bostrom 2009).
First, humans may go prematurely extinct. Since the universe will eventually become inhospitable, extinction is inevitable in the very long-run. However, it is also plausible that people will die out far before this deadline, from one of a number of existential risks.
Second, human civilization may plateau, reaching a level of technological advancement beyond which no further advancement is feasible.
Third, human civilization may experience recurrent collapse, undergoing repeated declines or catastrophes that prevent it from moving beyond a certain level of advancement.
Fourth, human civilization may advance so significantly as to become nearly unrecognizable. Bostrom conceptualizes this scenario as a “posthuman” era where people have developed significantly different cognitive abilities, population sizes, body types, sensory or emotional experiences, or life expectancies.
Baum, Seth D. et al. (2019) Long-term trajectories of human civilization, Foresight, vol. 21, pp. 53–83.
Bostrom, Nick (2009) The future of humanity, in Jan Kyrre Berg Olsen, Evan Selinger & Søren Riis (eds.) New Waves in Philosophy of Technology, London: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 186–215.
An in-depth analysis of the four categories of possible futures.
Hanson, Robin (1998) Long-term growth as a sequence of exponential modes, working paper, George Mason University (updated December 2000).
Roodman, David (2020) Modeling the human trajectory, Open Philanthropy, June 15.