2,000-Year Problems

published by Eric Mill on

I want to work on the next 2,000 years. It's such a long time. Just about anything with a capitalized name along the way — from a sports team to a nation — doesn't really matter on that scale.

For me, there are three things I could comfortably devote my life to:

Neuroscience. Understanding the nature and power of the human brain in a complete and objective manner. Everything we do and feel, everything we believe is true, is produced by this. It is a science in its infancy.

Space exploration. The spread of life rational. Nothing is more important to the universe than keeping around the ability to perceive it. We seem to have trouble devoting proportionate resources to the field.

Individual empowerment. The personal belief and reality that you have control, can improve your world, and are more important than institutions. A tenuous concept that takes real work to spread, and is utterly opposed by nearly every institution of force and history.

There are other important things! Genetics: pretty crazy. Climate change: permanent ramifications. Art: essential in the literal sense. I deeply respect their 2,000-year nature, they just don't excite me as much. And there's no way I'll even have time to make a meaningful contribution to each of the things that do.

But this is how I measure and re-measure my work. When my name is forgotten, will I still be there, as part of something so vast it is perceived simply as the arc of history?

  1. Eric

    @Casey: You make a fair point.

  2. Casey

    What about Adobe Flash?

  3. Luigi Montanez

    I've begun to come around to the viewpoint that the most moral and immediate technology one can work on is self-driving cars. Mostly because of the life-saving aspect. About 32,000 people in the US die from car accidents annually. In India, it's 134,000 per year. That's a lot of lives that can be saved by a technology that has a reasonable chance of mass adoption in the next few decades.