10 reasons why we should all work for high-tech, “future-impact” ventures:
If we don’t act, humanity will be wiped out – whether it’s by an asteroid, global warming or artificial intelligence.
The Global Challenges Foundation’s 2016 annual report estimates that an average American is more than five times likelier to die during a human-extinction event than in a car crash.
In 2008, experts on different global catastrophic risks at the Global Catastrophic Risk Conference at the University of Oxford suggested a 19% chance of human extinction over the next century.
Elon Musk makes a compelling case for why he thinks its possible in a 2014 Aeon magazine interview, Musk said “SpaceX is only 12 years old now. Between now and 2040, the company’s lifespan will have tripled. If we have linear improvement in technology, as opposed to logarithmic, then we should have a significant base on Mars, perhaps with thousands or tens of thousands of people.” At the time the Aeon article was written, SpaceX had not successfully landed its rockets yet. It’s first success came two years later, in April 2016. As of September 2016, five months after its first success, SpaceX has landed its reusable rockets 6 times. SpaceX has made huge strides since this interview. Crazy as it seems, Elon Musk could very well be right.
It’s not just Elon Musk who believes we can migrate to Mars:
In 1954, the first atomic submarine, Nautilus, was launched and in 1969 we went to the moon. In the 70s/80s, computers and recombinant DNA technology like IBM and Genentech were considered highly ambitious. There was no guarantee at the time that those technologies could be developed successfully or turn into the highly profitable businesses that they are today.
There are many reasons, including, scepticism and downright disbelief in its feasibility; belief that only large organizations like governments and NASA can solve; and herd mentality (or lack thereof).
As we saw in the previous point, reducing existential risks to humanity is not a new idea nor is its associated technologies. We’ve tackled big dreams like going to the moon and recombinant DNA before.
What’s different today is the innovation ecosystem’s mind-set. In the 90s, entrepreneurs and VCs started to realize that technology could solve much easier problems (e.g. MySpace, Facebook) and be grossly rewarded for it. Focus shifted from high innovation, high risk to low innovation, low risk investments. Investors’ flight to social media marked the beginning of the end of the era of venture capital-backed big ideas in science and technology. A lot of what seemed futuristic then remains futuristic now, in part because these technologies never received the sustained funding lavished on the electronics industries. We still find ideas like commercial space travel and atom-powered cars ludicrous whilst applauding underpowered hybrid cars and Snapchat. That’s sad.
And where the money went, people followed.
Fortunately, this generation seems to be less money-driven than previous generations.
Some food for thought:
By choosing to start and work for high innovation technology companies, our generation has the potential to shift the ecosystem back to impactful innovation. With more and higher quality talent in these companies, VCs will be more confident in funding these technologies again.
Our desire to live altruistically is high and so is our interest in technologies that have the potential to impact humanity’s future:
Many present-day problems need to be solved with money and/or policies. Few of us have the sort of money or power to make a real difference.
That being said, sustainable energy ventures like Solar City can solve some of these present-day problems, in a sustainable manner too. Unlike charity work, these ventures could truly benefit from your specific talent.
We should also take into consideration the fact that there are many people tackling those problems already and relatively none addressing our future. Are we saying people living today are more important than future generations?
What about it? The future doesn’t care.
To quote Jeff Hammerbacher, an early Facebook engineer, “The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads. That sucks.”
We are blessed with a beautiful, bountiful planet and amongst all other species; we were the only ones blessed with consciousness. Our consciousness has enabled us to live beyond the capabilities were born with and will enable us to escape inevitable extinction.
Whether or not there are aliens, our planet and we, are for sure, a miracle. We should do everything we can to protect this miracle.
To leave Earth, we need technology. Ironically, technology is also the reason we need to leave Earth.
Our future relies on technology but we also need to plan ahead to avoid risks that may be presented with new technology. With less powerful technologies such as fire, we could afford to learn from mistakes. Planning ahead is a better strategy for more powerful technologies like synthetic biology and artificial intelligence.
Call to action
Whether an invention succeeds depends on unpredictable dynamics between politics, interest groups, current events and many other factors. The chances of success can be increased the more people there are from diverse backgrounds experimenting together.
To heighten humanity’s chance of survival, the goal for us at Mankind is to get more people aware of, engaged with, contributing to and starting these ventures.
You can see on Mankind that high-tech, “future impact” companies are looking for a wide range of talent. We know you care about humanity’s future (otherwise you wouldn’t be here) so we hope you will dedicate some time and resources every now and then perhaps, even your career, to these ventures. Don’t forget to subscribe to Mankind’s newsletter to get notified whenever an opportunity relevant to you arises!
 Nick Bostrom and Anders Sandberg. “Global Catastrophic Risks Survey.” (n.d.): n. pag. Global Catastrophic Risks. Y Future of Humanity Institute, Oxford University, Jan. 2008. Retrieved 23 Oct. 2016.
 Andersen, Ross. “Elon Musk Puts His Case for a Multi-planet Civilisation.”Aeon Magazine. Aeon, 30 Sept. 2014. Retrieved 23 Oct. 2016.
 Loren Grush. “SpaceX successfully lands its sixth Falcon 9 rocket after launch”. The Verge. 14 Aug 2016. Retrieved 23 Oct. 2016.
 White House. “National Space Policy of the United States of America”. 28 Jun 2010. Retrieved 23 Oct. 2016.
 The White House, Office of the Press Secretary. “FACT SHEET: At White House Science Fair, President Obama Calls on this Generation of Students to Tackle the Grand Challenges of Our Time.” 13 April 2016. Retrieved 23 Oct. 2016.
 Anita Balakrishnan. “Biotech investing trends may be hurting innovation.” CNBC. Mar 2015. Retrieved 23 Oct. 2016.