Uplifting education

Uplifting education

When first encountered, some aspects of the Singularity Principles may appear strange, excessive, or even other-worldly:

  • The envisioned rapid increase in society’s pace of change
  • The potential of new technology to inflict catastrophic damage worldwide
  • The potential of new technology to enormously improve the human condition
  • The urgency of transforming the systems under which new technology is developed and deployed
  • The possibility for powerful technology companies to be constructively constrained by politicians and regulators
  • The possibility for a system of regulations to be kept updated and relevant
  • The possibility for regulators and politicians to meaningfully assist the task of steering the development and deployment of new technology, rather than being a hindrance
  • The possibility for politicians in different countries to collaborate in support of the Singularity Principles, despite deep ideological differences between these politicians.

The preceding chapters of this book have provided a number of arguments in support of these possibilities. However, whilst these arguments make good sense from an intellectual point of view, they are likely to strike at least some reviewers as being counter-intuitive.

These feelings of puzzlement arise from lack of familiarity with key material that should be part of everyone’s education. Accordingly, full buy-in for the Singularity Principles will depend on public actions to remedy these shortcomings in the education syllabus.

That brings us to the Vital Syllabus project. This project aims to gather together excellent resources to boost educational possibilities worldwide. It explicitly addresses this question:

In our age of multiple pressures, dizzying opportunities, daunting risks, and accelerating disruption, what are the most important skills and principles to cherish and uphold?

The project highlights resources that can best assist students of all ages:

  • To acquire and deepen these skills
  • And to understand and embody the associated principles.

The criteria for resources to be included in the project are that these resources should be:

  • Accessible: available without any payment or other obstacle
  • Clear: easy to understand
  • Engaging: inspiring and keeping the attention of viewers
  • Focused: addressing the topic in the syllabus, rather than lots of other questions
  • Authoritative: having good reason to be trusted.

Top level areas of the Vital Syllabus

The structure of the Vital Syllabus materials is subject to revision. At the present time, the materials are structured into twenty four top level areas, as follows:

(1) Learning how to learn: How to pick up new skills quickly and reliably

(2) Communications: Communications with a variety of different kinds of audiences

(3) Agility: How to manage uncertainty

(4) Creativity: Going beyond existing methods and solutions

(5) Augmentation: Technology and tools to boost abilities

(6) Collaboration: Becoming wiser and stronger together

(7) Emotional health: Nurturing emotional strength

(8) Physical health: Factors impacting physical health

(9) Foresight: Anticipating the unexpected

(10) Leading change: Inspiring and maintaining transformations

(11) Technologies: In history, the present, and the future

(12) Economics: In history, the present, and the future

(13) Governance: In history, the present, and the future

(14) Democracy: In history, the present, and the future

(15) Geopolitics: Influencing political processes, nationally and internationally

(16) Numeracy: Arithmetic and analysis for the modern age

(17) Science: Distinguishing “good science” from “bad science”

(18) Philosophy: Thinking about thinking

(19) Transhumanism: A philosophy particularly suited to the 2020s

(20) Culture: The basis for extended flourishing

(21) The environment: The context in which humanity exists

(22) Landmines: Identifying and addressing the biggest risks ahead

(23) The Singularity: Options for the advent of artificial superintelligence

(24) Ultimate futures: Beyond the event horizon

Improving the Vital Syllabus

The Vital Syllabus project welcomes assistance from anyone who shares the goals of the project. For more details, see the FAQ page for the project.

Note: The following video summarises the content in each of the top level areas of the Vital Syllabus. (Some of the content of various top level areas has evolved since the video was originally recorded.)

Recent Posts

RAFT 2035 – a new initiative for a new decade

The need for a better politics is more pressing than ever.

Since its formation, Transpolitica has run a number of different projects aimed at building momentum behind a technoprogressive vision for a better politics. For a new decade, it’s time to take a different approach, to build on previous initiatives.

The planned new vehicle has the name “RAFT 2035”.

RAFT is an acronym:

  • Roadmap (‘R’) – not just a lofty aspiration, but specific steps and interim targets
  • towards Abundance (‘A’) for all – beyond a world of scarcity and conflict
  • enabling Flourishing (‘F’) as never before – with life containing not just possessions, but enriched experiences, creativity, and meaning
  • via Transcendence (‘T’) – since we won’t be able to make progress by staying as we are.

RAFT is also a metaphor. Here’s a copy of the explanation:

When turbulent waters are bearing down fast, it’s very helpful to have a sturdy raft at hand.

The fifteen years from 2020 to 2035 could be the most turbulent of human history. Revolutions are gathering pace in four overlapping fields of technology: nanotech, biotech, infotech, and cognotech, or NBIC for short. In combination, these NBIC revolutions offer enormous new possibilities – enormous opportunities and enormous risks:…

Rapid technological change tends to provoke a turbulent social reaction. Old certainties fade. New winners arrive on the scene, flaunting their power, and upturning previous networks of relationships. Within the general public, a sense of alienation and disruption mingles with a sense of profound possibility. Fear and hope jostle each other. Whilst some social metrics indicate major progress, others indicate major setbacks. The claim “You’ve never had it so good” coexists with the counterclaim “It’s going to be worse than ever”. To add to the bewilderment, there seems to be lots of evidence confirming both views.

The greater the pace of change, the more intense the dislocation. Due to the increased scale, speed, and global nature of the ongoing NBIC revolutions, the disruptions that followed in the wake of previous industrial revolutions – seismic though they were – are likely to be dwarfed in comparison to what lies ahead.

Turbulent times require a space for shelter and reflection, clear navigational vision despite the mists of uncertainty, and a powerful engine for us to pursue our own direction, rather than just being carried along by forces outside our control. In short, turbulent times require a powerful “raft” – a roadmap to a future in which the extraordinary powers latent in NBIC technologies are used to raise humanity to new levels of flourishing, rather than driving us over some dreadful precipice.

The words just quoted come from the opening page of a short book that is envisioned to be published in January 2020. The chapters of this book are reworked versions of the scripts used in the recent “Technoprogressive roadmap” series of videos.

Over the next couple of weeks, all the chapters of this proposed book will be made available for review and comment:

  • As pages on the Transpolitica website, starting here
  • As shared Google documents, starting here, where comments and suggestions are welcome.

RAFT Cover 21

All being well, RAFT 2035 will also become a conference, held sometime around the middle of 2020.

You may note that, in that way that RAFT 2035 is presented to the world,

  • The word “transhumanist” has moved into the background – since that word tends to provoke many hostile reactions
  • The word “technoprogressive” also takes a backseat – since, again, that word has negative connotations in at least some circles.

If you like the basic idea of what’s being proposed, here’s how you can help:

  • Read some of the content that is already available, and provide comments
    • If you notice something that seems mistaken, or difficult to understand
    • If you think there is a gap that should be addressed
    • If you think there’s a better way to express something.

Thanks in anticipation!

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