Against longtermism

“We can now begin to see how longtermism might be self-defeating. Not only could its ‘fanatical’ emphasis on fulfilling our longterm potential lead people to, eg, neglect non-existential climate change, prioritise the rich over the poor and perhaps even ‘justify’ pre-emptive violence and atrocities for the ‘greater cosmic good’ but it also contains within it the very tendencies – Baconianism, capitalism and value-neutrality – that have driven humanity inches away from the precipice of destruction.


Yes, we will need advanced technologies if we wish to escape Earth before it’s sterilised by the Sun in a billion years or so. But the crucial fact that longtermists miss is that technology is far more likely to cause our extinction before this distant future event than to save us from it. If you, like me, value the continued survival and flourishing of humanity, you should care about the long term but reject the ideology of longtermism, which is not only dangerous and flawed but might be contributing to, and reinforcing, the risks that now threaten every person on the planet.”