I love life and humanity with a deep passion and I value intelligent life highly, but at some point in the future Earth will become uninhabitable for life with close to 100 percent certainty. There are several potential ways that could happen, ranging from impact with a large planetoid or meteor to things we ourselves might mistakenly do. There are plenty of books on doomsday scenarios that explain things better than I could in the space here; and the how, why, or what of earth’s end isn’t the point of this millennial challenge.
I’m no doomsday crier – the end of times isn’t near IMHO, but some day it will come. The challenge is to figure a way out.
The way out fund is a long term endeavor to last 1,000 years; and this is the first millennial challenge I am proposing. It’s really not a question of if but instead of when, and the challenge isn’t to figure out how, what, or when; the challenge is to establish a way out for humanity. The way out is to have other options, and other options take both funding and technology – hence The Way Out Fund (TWOF.)
Governments tend to think at most in quarter centuries, and institutions think in quarters and years: truly long term initiatives and visions in human history are extremely rare.
The great wall of China comes to mind, and that took an Empire to complete. Since humanity generally muddles their way towards a freer, more prosperous future without much nudging, I don’t expect us to have a large scale multinational dictatorship in place in the future.
Instead I see varying flavors of democratic countries and multi-national corporations that continue to muddle their way to a better future. We can’t expect any single one of them to have the resources or funding to immediately respond on the scale needed for an emergency that threatens all of humanity, no matter how highly we think of any individual government, company, or institution. We can’t expect immediate cooperation among these bodies either. We can’t expect that the favored “one world government” of secular humanism will work either for you have only to look at the UN now to see how that might go.
What humanity needs to escape from at some point in the future can’t be determined, and preparing for an eventuality that might not come seems silly, so presupposing a solution should not be the purpose of the fund.
We might need to burrow into the Earth to escape the heat of the sun, we might need to migrate off the Earth, we might need to live in the oceans. It can’t be predicted what will be needed until we can see the form that the end of the Earth will take.
At present our knowledge and capabilities aren’t able to do that yet, and trying to predict the future is notoriously rife with unintended silliness. You really can’t predict the future because it’s too multiplex, but you can prepare for it, just as you can’t predict disasters, but you can prepare for them in general.
You also can’t direct the future with an assured outcome, and past efforts towards that have resulted in some of the worst times in human history, as well as other strange bedfellows and general nuttiness. (I will refer you here to Virginia Postrel’s book, “The Future and its Enemies“.)
The Way Out Fund is an insurance policy for humanitie’s future, and it will need some very rich initial seed donors. TWOF should start with capital enough to make it a monumental fund within 150 years, for who can predict how soon it will be needed? It will also need some serious protections, and a legal incorporation instrument with checks and balances. The fund should fully eschew all politics, and should invest in safe to medium risk worldwide technology companies and safe securites using very conservative standard banking methods, not the unsafe banking investments we have today. It should be geographically diverse and multi-stratum, with the bulk of the fund funding diverse technology.
The fund should have a general purpose of insuring humanitie’s future in the face of a calamitous event. This method for actual fund use should be well defined, and proscribed. Once established it should grow for a half to full century until it achieves wealth beyond that of all nations.
So the Millenium challenge of The Way Out Fund is the start of an idea, what are your thoughts on it?
Update: Looking at other long lasting purposeful bodies the oldest “corporations” tend to be Religious bodies, Banks, Insurance companies, and educational companies. Truly Long Lasting commercial and financial institutions are pretty rare.