We need “Futurpologs” to design policies for the future of humanity

Future policy creators can shape humany´s future and accelerate human progress.

It is not easy to predict the future of humanity, except when it comes to certain technological trends like digitalisation. Being overly pessimistic or optimistic makes little sense due to two major reasons. First, there is an element of surprise or even chaos in the universe. Unexpected events, whether natural or else can always happen. Secondly, our species has a degree of control of its destiny, even though it is far from complete. So basically, our own actions will shape the future.

The logical response to an unknown future is to use our “Spielraum” (leeway) to its full extent and focus on building a much better future for humanity. Today we see a lot of “Futurists” who try to imagine or guess the future. You could call them the modern-day fortune-tellers. It is certainly intriguing to follow them, yet their predictions have little productive value. As humanity, what we need to have are more “Futurpologs”, who develop policies that shape that future. People who think about ways to bring humanity forward and solve its challenges.

This perceived need is the Raison d’Être of 21 Policy. As a first step, we started compiling a list of public policies that we believe can accelerate human progress. Progress in this context means better living standards and higher life satisfaction for all humans in a sustainable way.

But how do we choose which policies to include in this project, given that progress is such an elusive concept? In our view it makes the most sense to focus on human capabilities and knowledge, sometimes called as “Human Capital”. According to this line of reasoning, human progress is the result of human capital accumulation and its utilization. To accelerate human progress, we would need to increase the total human capital in the world, make sure that capital is optimally used, and sustained.

To illustrate this point let’s start with the importance of human capital. A human who has not been through the socialization process of society and has not benefited from formal education will have little to contribute to overall progress. The unique capabilities of humans are only unleashed as a result of formal and informal education. Without it, there is little difference between us and other animals. Therefore, the most promising starting point for accelerating progress will be to increase the skill and education level of humans.

However, a world full of highly educated people might not automatically lead to progress, as seen in communist societies. People need to have freedom and opportunities to use those capabilities. A human alone can’t contribute to progress, cooperation with others is key. The ease of creating, joining, and leaving organizations is crucial for progress. The continuous flow of ideas, people, and funds contributed to much of humanity’s success as a species.

Lastly, human capital needs to be protected. Preservation of physical and increasingly mental health is necessary. A certain level of safety and stability is required. The environment also needs to be kept in a condition that allows humans to live healthy lives.

Consequently, we focus on public policies that help build human capital, optimize its use, and sustain its existence.

This articles was first published in www.21policy.com