The Future Of...
A forum for ideas and innovation
By Benedict Macon-Cooney and Lucia Asanache
In a recent tweet, the CEO of OpenAI, Sam Altman, wrote that “techno-optimism is the only good solution to our current problems,” but lamented that “expressing optimism about the future has become a radical act.”
Many were quick to criticise, some on the grounds it was ahistorical, others on wider socio-cultural issues, and many with a view that capitalism was actually the root of all our ills and this was simply a self-interested take of a tech CEO. A large number were also quick to point out that tech wasn’t the solution to their very personalised problem.
Regardless of which side you sit, it strikes to a wider debate that has played out numerous times throughout history. It happened throughout the Industrial Revolution. Many were sceptical of flight, the internet, the polio vaccine. Seatbelts were also hotly contested.
This is likely a natural course of events. Were the washing machine invented today, there would likely be critiques that it was labour replacing or a symbol of oppression.
At the Institute, we have taken a side: we believe technological progress is critical to the problems we face – even if we created them. The correction for our collective desire for energy is clean tech. To continue to feed people cheaply, well and at scale, requires us to rethink mass agriculture, whether through alternative proteins, vertical farms or through better methods and materials. All of it also requires us to remake institutions that are mismatched to the challenge of the 21st C.
In order to get there, we need to explore new solutions and new coalitions that work to shape technology and institutions together. Central to this ambition is building communities that believe in a human ingenuity and collective endeavour to improve our lot.
None of this is easy. While remaining optimistic about the future, we need to take an honest look at the challenges, and plan for the hard work that needs to be done.
We are proud to join hands with our friends at Interintellect on a new ten-part series, The Future Of, where we convene a broad and diverse community of people with an interest in shaping an optimistic future enabled by technology. We will take a deep dive into what is possible and propose that we get together to visualise the future of the Internet, cities, food, education, and many more.
Recognising the need to refresh tired conversations and traditional ways of thinking, we’re prioritising inclusive, truly global representation in this series. As such, each week’s event will alternate across time zones to cater to participants from as many corners of the world as possible.
Through the course of this series, we hope to inspire and motivate optimistic conversations about our future and create a forum for ideas and innovation. Building on Interintellect’s popular salon model, we encourage full participation and exchanges with our hosts and special guests both on the show and on Discord.
We need more people to build the ideas that will win the future. Because while pessimism is easy, it’s also a poor guide to progress.
Register here to join #TheFutureOf community and follow the action @interintellect_ and @institutegc for more updates.
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