Against Complacency

19 Nov

Even the best placed among us are to be pitied. Human lives today are blighted by five things:

  1. Limited time. While we have made impressive gains in longevity over the last 100 years, our lives are still too short. 
  2. Less than excellent health. Limited lifespan is further blighted by ill-health. 
  3. Underinvestment. Think about Carl Sagan as your physics teacher, a full-time personal trainer to help you excel physically, a chef, abundant access to nutritious food, a mental health coach, and more. Or an even more effective digital or robotic analog.
  4. Limited opportunity to work on impactful things. Most economic production happens in areas where we are not (directly) working to dramatically enhance human welfare. Opportunities to work on meaningful things are further limited by economic constraints.
  5. Crude tools. The tools we work with are much too crude which means that many of us are stuck executing on a low plane.


  1. Given where we are in terms of human development, innovations in health and education are likely the most impactful though innovations in foundational technologies like AI and computation that increase our ability to innovate are probably still more important.
  2. Given that at least a third of the economy is government money in many countries, government can dramatically affect what is produced, e.g., the pace at which we increase longevity, prevent really bad outcomes like an uninhabitable planet, etc.