With your help, we were able to push three types of frontiers this year: accelerating science, surfacing much-needed ideas, and making progress on global long-term strategy. Our highlights are summarized below, with a more detailed summary of each project in our 2019 Progress Report.
Why should this matter to you?
Because you care about the long-term future and agree that making progress on these items is crucial if the want the future to go well.
But also because many of these projects are seeking collaborators like you.
We only have one planet (at least, thus far). If we want it to remain a home to us and the other incredible life forms we share it with, we have to get orders of magnitude better at removing carbon from the atmosphere. This is a daunting task, but not impossible.
For an overview of the problem, see the brilliant intro presentation on addressing humanity’s carbon debt by Tom Chi, co-founder Google X, who chaired our Climate Destabilization Competition this year.
We called upon brilliant researchers to compete with proposals to use foundational science to make progress on the precarious state of our biosphere (report). We were surprised by a project from our 2019 Foresight Fellow Patrick Mellor, with the goal to create a new form of carbon sink by slowing the degradation of biomass via “superwood” (video).
This project is no outlier; we have had a tremendously successful year across the board. We are proud to now count two recent Nobel Laureates among our Foresight cohort that focus on Molecular Nanotechnology to solve humanity’s crucial challenges:
Stanley Whittingham of our 2016 workshop cohort received the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry this year for the development of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries.
Sir Fraser Stoddart, 2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, co-chaired his second technical competition for Foresight with the goal to create novel materials that are essential for progress-leaps across the board, from human health to planetary resources.
Apart from the proposals, this was a highlight for us because it illustrates that our efforts in advancing the very early stage in foundational science bring fruits; Fraser received our Feynman Prize only 9 years prior to the Nobel and co-chaired our competition with Melissa Dumartin, who is a Foresight Fellow.
This year, we doubled the application rate to the Foresight Fellowship and look forward to supporting our growing community of brilliant researchers to realize ideas that the coming generations can depend on.
Eric Drexler returned for a much-celebrated Foresight salon with Robin Hanson and Mark Miller (video). The salon is part of our monthly series (all videos) dedicated to introducing the public to novel thinking for crucial technological challenges. In particular, our three longevity salons this year were so explosively popular that we will pursue this area with its own investment-focused track next year.
We invited our favorite thinkers to Vision Weekend to direct our attention to a high-impact idea that is currently still under the radar. Ideas ranged from a science of normativity for AI, to internet of blockchains, to lunar governance (all videos). We launched a year-long Metaculus Prediction Challenge to test the likelihood of those proposals, and gave out the Incentive Prize on Incentives, together with the Yun Family Foundation.
We kickstarted interviews for the positive-futures-primer, with the plan to counter current dystopian narratives with an alternative map of ambitious but attainable positive futures that encourages the next generation to take agency in steering toward futures of Existential Hope.
Watch all Vision Weekend videos (10m each) in this playlist
We gathered major AI & AI safety organizations for our annual AGI Strategy Meeting to discuss how we can get better at cooperation to navigate the emerging geopolitical landscape around AI. In addition to working on better theory and models around AI cooperation, this involves work on the beneficial short term applications of AI, projects with the distinct focus of motivating cooperation across crucial stakeholders, and non-adversarial framings of AI trajectories. We summarize current best efforts (report) and plan to gradually expand the community in our 2020 meeting (apply now).
A Foresight focus in the next year will be to open up paths of intelligent voluntary cooperation for civilization. We currently explore those ideas in a book draft (15-m overview) and welcome you to reach out to join a small retreat next year to explore these ideas in depth.
If you give by December 31, your donation will be doubled by our $45K Challenge Grant! This is great for you because it means that we will use the doubled value of your donation to determine your membership benefits. So by doubling the impact you allow us to have, you get half price on the membership benefits described in detail in the Progress report. In short, this means:
$125 donated become $250 Senior Associate membership:
You receive our quarterly update with special opportunities for Foresight members and a priority invitation to our annual Vision Weekend member gathering
$500 donated become $1K Patron membership:
You receive priority access to our salons that usually sell-out, and an invitation to the private speaker evening at our annual member gathering
$2.5K donated become $5K Sponsor membership:
You design a salon with us on your preferred topic, with videos uploaded to our Youtube channel.
$5K donated become $10K Partner membership:
You partner with us on our invitational meetings, such as our Research Competitions or our AGI Strategy Meeting, and receive an invitation to the event of your choice.
You can give via Paypal, check, wire or using cryptocurrencies. We will automatically count your donation toward the Challenge Grant.
Thank you for being an ally in working toward flourishing long-term futures for life. There still aren’t nearly as many of us as we would like. This is on us to change but it also means that the support of every one of you really makes a big difference to our work.
Toward a decade-defining 2020,
Allison Duettmann, Program Coordinator
Lou de Kerhuelvez, Director of Development
Christine Peterson, Foresight Co-Founder
Steve Burgess, Foresight President