- Overview -

The Horizons Project emerged from the observation that as the first species aware of extinction and long-term development challenges, and capable of proactively addressing such threats and challenges, we do not do so with the rigor and foresight we are capable of.

Only from a reactive posture have we responded with organizations such as the United Nations to address global warfare, human rights, environmental concerns, and sustainable development. Despite our awareness of the possibility for extinction and catastrophic setbacks to civilization, proactive global policy implementation regarding our long-term survival and development is severely lacking.

  • Long-term implies roughly 25 years and beyond.
  • Challenges are extinction and global catastrophic threats as well as critical long-term issues that could dramatically affect the long-term development of humankind.
  • Challenges can be further characterized as those that directly affect a large proportion of the human population or that require a large amount of resources and/or international cooperation.

Survival and catastrophic threats might be:

  • asteroid impact event (present efforts are not good enough)
  • abrupt climate change
  • space-based warfare
  • magnetic pole reversal
  • technology runaway (e.g. genetic engineering, Artificial Life, AI)
  • significant life-span increase
  • biological "surprises" (e.g. prions)
  • pandemic events (e.g. AIDS crisis in Africa)
  • "emergent trauma" (e.g. massive systemic technology breakdown)
  • presently unknown threats (e.g. threats from space)

Critical long-term challenges might be:

  • preventing an arms race in space
  • Humanity's future in space
  • global governance – more? less? better? how?
  • global wealth gap
  • search for extraterrestrial intelligence
  • genetic engineering, "directed speciation"
  • role of religion, agnosticism, atheism
  • enhancing the role of technology, especially the internet, in democracy and innovative education

Why do we have this shortcoming?

  • Political will and capacity to rigorously address long-term challenges is very limited and generally ineffective due to lack of time and commitment. Understandably, near-term issues dominate, making it difficult for policy makers to focus on the long-term.
  • Autonomous/sovereign Nation-State paradigm allows nations to pursue self interest despite broader global long-range implications.
  • Political and socio-economic structures are generally short-term oriented.
  • Human psychology and behavior is generally short-term oriented.
  • Addressing long-term issues is very difficult and can have uncertain payoff.


Conduct a feasibility study assessing how best to address long-term challenges.

There are certainly some efforts that attempt to address longer-range challenges, but those efforts often do not sufficiently connect to effective implementation, do not extend several decades or more into the future, are not well-funded and are not sufficiently systemic. Better international mechanisms for directly addressing long-range challenges could correct these shortcomings by raising awareness, providing funding, and leveraging rigor and decision-making to help insure longer-term commitments.

International mechanisms addressing long-range issues will involve many challenges and stakeholders with many different perspectives, and because it is unclear what the optimal approaches are, we believe it is important to first conduct an in-depth feasibility study to:

  1. Assess the need and shortcomings
  2. Study the factors and options to address those needs and shortcomings
  3. Produce and prioritize recommendations and strategies
  4. Act a means of guidance for going forward


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