The Way Out Fund: A Millennial Challenge

eyeI 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.

11 Replies to “The Way Out Fund: A Millennial Challenge”

  1. What on earth makes you think humans are worth saving? I can’t think of a single reason, given our history so far.

  2. A most excellent suggestion. It would take a lot of work to set up and keep running, but worth it. Not only would you need investments, you would also need a stable of good lawyers to look after it’s interests. I am thinking along the lines of the “Harriman Foundation” from “Methusalah’s Stepchildren.” Find a few philanropists and go to town.

  3. SSW, you speak for yourself, not all of us. I can think of many, but I can think of no reason that would suffice for a nihilist. If we are so terrible and life is pointless, then why are you still here?

    Rachel: you are correct, any fund would need protection, and one of those protections might be as a dispersed fund with its funds in separate buckets across several nations. perhaps the first 250 years of it’s existence it acts as a standard market investment vehicle with a set horizon for liquidation of all shares.

    I think there would need to be lawyers Blue, and methods to protect the fund. One of those methods might be to keep secret both its ultimate purpose and its size.

  4. An excellent idea except i dont think were gonna have 1k yrs id say go for 100. One idea ill give you right now is this, space travel and industry need to be incurraged. The biggest problem with space travel and industry is ppl keep bringing things from earth itss to expensive. Instead capture asteroids/meteors(though asteroids would be better choice) bring them into earth orbit and start mining ice, iron, carbon(hell even dimonds in some bigger than has ever been seen on earth) and other minerals you can do this reletivly cheaply because you have an enourmous source of energy already for free(aka the sun)this would enable you to start a large industry and colonize the asteroid and be able to move some earth side manufacturing up top.

    All and all it would be extremly profitable 🙂
    and you could save the planet its ppl…..well except for SSW and his ilk(which btw makes me ask who are you to judge the 99% of ppl youve never met?)

  5. Well I wouldn’t presuppose a solution. Perhaps the survival challenge is that we are being attacked by an inimical AI that we created. The existential challenge can’t be determined yet, but the need is there.

  6. There is no way to create a fund now that will “grow for a half to full century until it achieves wealth beyond that of all nations” and to know today what purpose that fund will be put to in a century’s time. Such a fund would attract every huckster, shyster, and megalomaniac on the planet. Any fund will be administered by humans. All humans are corruptable in unpredictable and uncontrollable ways. Anyone who contributes to this fund is taking a shot in the dark.

  7. Yeah, I get it — we are all doomed, so we shouldn’t even try.

    People gamble billions every year on near impossible long shot odds. This is gambling if you care to put it in those terms on a certainty.

  8. With the nation’s and the world’s financial situation, whom would you trust to hold the money in the fund? There is not one country on earth that given half a chance wouldn’t raid the fund for their
    own purposes…

  9. Let’s take SSW at his word. Humanity has no intrinsic worth. Other life has value, presumably.

    Long term, the sun is going to expand and destroy the earth, unless it is moved out of the way. To do that will require very clever, persistent tinkering with the trajectories of asteroids, so that they give Earth a gravitational boost out, borrowing a little of the orbital energy of Jupiter, say, each time, and transferring it to earth in a near flyby.

    Without human-level intelligence, that’s not going to happen. There isn’t time for another human-level intelligent species to evolve before the earth becomes inhospitable to large-scale life. And who is to say that if we went extinct, the next species would be any better? Any extinction event that took out humans wouldn’t leave exotic clever species such as orangutans or parrots. The fanciest animals left would be rats.

    It’s us or nothing. We sorry specimens [if we really are that bad] are still the last best hope of all life on earth.

  10. Well that’s why you spread the wealth to steal a phrase from our new president across many banks, many countries, and you don’t let the wealth be known. So some is in Swiss banks, some here, some in the Caymans, some in Dubai, etc.
    Once created you want the fund, and the knowledge of it to become “non news” and forgotten.

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