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Thanks to Tom Skalak, David Deutsch, Steven Pinker, Nicklas Lundblad, David Deutsch, Odd Bolin, Gerd Leonhard, Oskar Söderström, Joakim Jardenberg, Klas Hallberg, Martin Olsson, Thomas Ahlström, Richard Maltsbarger and Kevin Kelly for comments and feedback.
We are high jumping without a bar
You've made up your mind.
You're going to become the world's best high jumper!
Which method gives you the best chance of success, training with or without a bar?
Humanity is constantly evolving. But we are high jumping without a bar.
On a global level, important things like life, health, wealth, and education are improving. This is thanks to everyone who sees a chance for improvement and is determined to realize it. Most big problems are getting smaller, but progress should be faster.
This is because we have no goal. You can improve at high jumping even without a bar, but if you have a goal and measure your progress, you see faster, more powerful results.
What do we want with humanity? Where are we headed? Where do we want to go? What do you want? What do I want?
Humanity needs a goal. A direction.
Seeing the bar
Kevin Kelly writes in The Case for Optimism:
It is extremely difficult to create a desirable future without first envisioning it. To imagine is really the first step in creating anything. Therefore an essential chore for making a future we want to live in, is to imagine what it is like and how we get there.
When we envision what we want to achieve and pull together to do it, we can achieve incredible things in a short time. The moon landing in the 1960s. The Covid vaccines in 2020. The UN's Millennium Goals helped lift a billion people from extreme poverty.
Imagine if we clearly envisioned the future we want.
Imagine if we pulled together to create it.
Imagine if we had a clear goal, showing how we take humanity to the next level.
For that, we need a bar to jump over.
The solution: Warp Levels
The solution is that we decide what the next level of humanity should be. That gives us a common goal to work towards. The bar to jump over.
I call it Warp Levels.
The number of levels can be as many as we wish; we can think far into the future if we want. But the most important is the next level.
With Warp Levels we know what it takes to level up humanity.
An example of Warp Levels
It was when I made a draft of levels, that I truly understood how powerful this could be. I asked ChatGPT to make them for me, and this is the result.
So this is just a very simplified version of the levels based on the imagination of ChatGPT, and also too few levels, I think. But it might give you an idea of what it could look like.
Decided by us
The point is that it is not just one person (or one AI), or a small group, that decides, but many. Only then do we get real diversity of ideas and levels.
If we create levels and make them concrete and ambitious but within reach, we can have a common goal to work towards. The bar to jump over.
This is what we'll achieve with Warp Levels
- More ideas, debate, discussion, and more thinking about the future. Today we seldom think about what we want with humanity. We have opinions on certain areas, like climate, economy, and political ideology, but not often broader than that. With Warp Levels, there would be an ongoing discussion about this.
- Diversity of ideas about our future. If many people think about and express their vision for the future, a lot of exciting, realistic, unrealistic, whole- and half-crazy ideas will emerge.
- A constant analysis of where we are right now in our development. There are many lists, rankings, and statistics with various measures of development, but nothing combined for what level humanity is at right now.
- Awareness of what level humanity is at. Hans Rosling, among others, has shown that people generally have a poor grasp of the world's development. With Warp Levels, we will have a better grasp of both where we are and where we are going.
- A direction for humanity, both short- and long-term. Humanity has never had a direction before. It has become what it has become. Now we would get that and not just for the next ten years or so, we can set goals for an unlimited number of levels, as far into the future as possible.
- Clear overall goals for humanity. For the first time, we get a goal, or rather thousands of smaller goals that form a larger goal.
- A large number of sub-goals that individual people, companies, countries, and organizations can work on. Each level will consist of several smaller goals. As an individual, you can contribute to one or more of them, while contributing to the whole, leveling up humanity. The UN's sustainability goals work like this.
- Global cooperation. Through Warp Levels, we would be encouraged to work together across national borders. The world would look less like a 'zero-sum game' and more like a collaborative project.
- Awareness of when we make progress. Each time a new level is reached it will be highlighted (I also think we should have a big party every time we level up!) and the work to reach the next level also creates an awareness that we are making progress, that we are not going backward.
- Creates a positive feedback loop. When we see that we are making progress and reaching new Warp Levels, it creates more optimism and motivation to continue making progress. This can create a positive feedback loop where progress leads to more progress.
- Understanding that humanity always has evolved. When problems are discussed today, many often miss that the problems have become smaller, and often they mistakenly believe they have become bigger. If we show historical levels that humanity has previously passed, from our inception, it is easier to understand that humanity is not in a certain way, but that we develop and change.
- Warp Levels are not just for optimists. If we decide to achieve important goals, people with different views on the future will work to achieve them. Who doesn't want humanity to level up?
- More will think that the future should come sooner. When we have a new level to work towards, which means a better life for many people, few will argue that we should try to reach it as slowly as possible, or not at all.
- More people will work for the future to come sooner. Many will actively work for us to reach the next level as quickly as possible.
- Everyone can contribute. The work of thinking about what levels we should have, what direction and goals humanity should work towards, and the job of getting us there is not limited to a few groups or professions. A filmmaker can visualize his opinion in a movie, an artist in his art, an engineer in his innovations, a politician in his speeches and proposals, and so on.
How do we create Warp Levels?
There are a lot of things that need to be figured out.
- What level are we at now? In order to reach the next level, we need to determine what level we are at now.
- How do you level up? Should there be a number of sub-goals that all need to be achieved? Or should we collect points?
- How do we know that progress really has been made? If we use the example of everyone living in democracy, who should we rely on to determine what proportion live in democracy? There are several different lists and rankings, which one should we choose? For each goal or sub-goal, there must be a way to verify progress.
- Who decides the levels and how? Should it be the UN? Politicians? The people? Which people in that case? Should it be done in voting, or in some other way?
- How often should the content in the levels change? It will not be possible to exactly predict what is possible in the next or the upcoming levels, and the content needs to change.
Many more questions need answers, but these are some of the most obvious ones. I have ideas about answers to several of them, but I'll save them for later. I plan to talk to many people about them and my answers will likely change.
One thing I know already. I think the levels should be decided directly by the people. Not by the UN, governments, parliaments, and politicians. They should absolutely be involved, but it would be a step forward in itself if humanity's direction was decided directly by humanity.
Where do we start?
To have a major impact on humanity's future, Warp Levels need to be adopted at least as broadly as the UN's sustainability goals. A massive task, to say the least, and it will take a long time to achieve.
But you don't have to start big. It's fine to start on a much smaller scale. Gather a group of people who give initial answers to the above questions and then decide what the upcoming levels should contain.
Then you work actively both to reach the next level and get more people involved in Warp Levels. Over time, you develop the levels and more and more people are involved in deciding, refining, and improving.
The way forward
I will now start talking to people to find answers to the many questions. When there are enough answers, it's time to start doing. To create and determine the levels.
Moreover, I will ask as many as I can about what they want for humanity. What they think the next (and the next and the next) level should be. Which bar they want to set and why we should jump over it together.
I won't be able to do this alone. Anyone who wants to help is welcome to do so.
If we succeed, it will indeed be history in the making. For the first time, humanity's future would be directly determined by humanity.
The Angry Optimist