RAFT 2035 is a 2020 book by David Wood with the subtitle "Roadmap to Abundance, Flourishing, and Transcendence, by 2035".
The book poses the question, "How good could life become by 2035, if people really apply themselves to the task?"
It provides the following answer:
Thanks to the thoughtful application of breakthroughs in science and technology, the future can be profoundly better than the present. 2035 could see an abundance of all-round human flourishing, with no-one left behind.
However, the book also highlights deep problems and challenges with the adoption and usage of emerging new technologies. Accomplishment of the abundance envisioned will depend on a growing number of people in all areas of society:
- Recognising the true scale of the opportunity ahead
- Setting aside distractions
- Building effective coalitions
- Taking appropriate positive actions.
The book seeks to explain what are the actions required.
The book explains its context as follows.
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. These possibilities include enormous opportunities alongside enormous risks:
- Nanotech can provide resilient new materials, new processes for manufacturing and recycling, new ways to capture and distribute energy, new types of computing hardware, and pervasive new surveillance networks of all-seeing sensors.
- Infotech can augment human intelligence and creativity with new generations of artificial intelligence, leaping over human capabilities in increasing numbers of domains of thought, and displacing greater numbers of human employees from tasks which used to occupy large parts of their paid employment.
- Biotech enables the modification not only of nature, but of human nature: it will allow us not only to create new types of lifeform – synthetic organisms that can outperform those found in nature – but also to edit the human metabolism more radically than is possible via existing tools such as vaccinations, antibiotics, and occasional organ transplants.
- Cognotech allows similar modifications for the human mind, brain, and spirit, enabling in just a few short weeks the kind of changes in mindset and inner character which previously might have required many years of disciplined study of yoga, meditation, and/or therapy; it also enables alarming new types of mind control and ego manipulation.
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 – traumatic though they were – are likely to be dwarfed in comparison to what lies ahead.
Metaphor and acronym
The author of RAFT 2035 has explained the choice of term "RAFT" as follows:
The cover of RAFT 2035 depicts a raft sitting on top of waves of turbulence.
As is stated in RAFT’s opening chapter, the forthcoming floods of technological and social change set in motion by the NBIC revolutions could turn our world upside down, more quickly and more brutally than we expected. When turbulent waters are bearing down fast, having a sturdy raft at hand can be the difference between life and death.
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 other words, 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.
To spell out the “RAFT” acronym, the turbulent times ahead require:
- A 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.
Goals for 2035
RAFT 2035 envisions the possibility, by 2035, of an abundance of human flourishing in each of six sectors of human life:
- Individual health and wellbeing
- The wellbeing of social relationships
- The quality of international relationships
- Sustainable relationships with the environment
- Humanity’s exploration of the wider cosmos beyond the earth
- The health of our political systems.
RAFT 2035 offers clear goals for what can be accomplished in each of these six sectors by 2035 – 15 goals in total, for society to keep firmly in mind between now and that date.
The 15 goals each involve taking wise advantage of the remarkable capabilities of 21st century science and technology: robotics, biotech, neurotech, nanotech, greentech, artificial intelligence, collaboration technology, and much more.
The goals also highlight how the development and adoption of science and technology can, and must, be guided by the very best of human thinking and values.
The main content of RAFT 2035 look at the rationale for each of the goals, methods by which these goals can be accomplished, and, in each case, interim targets to be met by 2025.
Goals for new levels of individual flourishing
- 1. The average healthspan in the UK will be at least 90 years (up from 63 as at present).
- 2. At least 99% of people in the UK will experience their mental health as “good” or “excellent”.
- 3. Automation will remove the need for anyone to earn money by working.
- 4. There will be no homelessness and no involuntary hunger.
- 5. World-class life-preparation education to postgraduate level will be freely available to everyone.
- 6. The crime rate will have been reduced by at least 90%.
Goals for new levels of international flourishing
- 7. Risks of international military conflict will have been reduced by at least 90%.
- 8. The UK will be part of a global “free travel” community of at least 25% of the earth’s population.
Goals for new levels of environmental flourishing
- 9. The UK will be carbon-neutral, thanks to improved green energy management.
- 10. The UK will be zero waste, and will have no adverse impact on the environment.
- 11. Consumption of meat from slaughtered animals will be cut by at least 90%.
Goals for new levels of cosmic flourishing
- 12. The UK will be part of an organisation that maintains a continuous human presence on Mars.
- 13. Fusion – the energy source of the stars – will be generating at least 1% of the energy used in the UK.
Goals for new levels of political flourishing
- 14. Politicians will no longer act in ways that are self-serving, untrustworthy, or incompetent. We’ll all feel proud of our politicians, and grateful for them.
- 15. Parliament will involve a close partnership with a “House of AI” (or similar) revising chamber. Society will be guided by the best of human insight in close, productive collaboration with the best of AI insight.
RAFT 2035 proposes collaboration and activism around various interim targets which RAFT outlines for achievement by 2025.
The FAQ chapter near the end of RAFT 2035 provides a summary of these interim targets:
The interim targets fall into three broad categories:
- Demonstrations of tangible progress with new technologies or new solutions – progress that should increasingly change people’s minds about the speed at which yet more progress might be possible
- Clarifications of potential new systems, metrics, or processes, via which greater flourishing can be made available to all, in ways that protect and elevate human values
- Miscellaneous additional milestones en route to human transcendence.
In the category “demonstrations of tangible progress with new technologies or new solutions”:
- Demonstrate mid-age rejuvenation of animals with much smaller lifespans than humans (Goal 1)
- Demonstrate long-lasting effectiveness of some of the proposed new “transformational technology” solutions for improved mental wellbeing (Goal 2)
- Demonstrate the effectiveness of at least some elements of edtech, in reducing costs whilst delivering higher quality education (Goal 5)
- Demonstrate “full taste parity” of selected alternatives to slaughtered meat (Goal 11)
- Demonstrate tangible progress in at least one of the smaller fusion projects (Goal 13)
In the category “clarifications of potential new systems, metrics, or processes, via which greater flourishing can be made available to all”:
- Establish a society-wide understanding of the principles of the longevity dividend, and of the measures that can be taken to quickly reduce the costs of rejuvenation therapies so that everyone can benefit from them (Goal 1)
- Update the legislation which unnecessarily constrains the wise use of some of “transformational technology” solutions – especially legislation covering psychedelic drugs and other psychoactive substances (Goal 2)
- Agree an initial series of “cost of living well” indices (Goal 3)
- Agree the basic elements of a revised social contract in which paid employment loses the prime position it has in present-day society (Goal 3)
- Agree a replacement for the GDP index as the guiding light for evaluating the success of the economy: rather than focusing on increasing the financial value of goods produced and consumed, we need an alternative which better measures the basis for all-round human flourishing (Goal 4) and which fully incorporates factors known as “externalities”, that is the impacts of economic activities which are presently excluded from valuation (Goals 9 and 10)
- Agree the core of a transformed educational syllabus focused on new life opportunities – an education fit for the 2020s and beyond (Goal 5)
- Agree basic principles of the design and operation of systems for “trustable monitoring” (Goal 6)
- Agree basic principles of the design and operation of systems for “international trustable monitoring” which should, among other points, highlight measures to constrain any runaway escalation of adoption of lethal autonomous weapons (Goal 7)
- Establish a commitment from a majority of the countries in the United Nations to an updated version of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which takes fully into account the remarkable transformational nature of the technologies highlighted in RAFT (Goal 7)
- Reach a general understanding of the economic case for open borders, and the types of constraints that need to be applied so that the benefits significantly outweigh the drawbacks (Goal 8)
- Agree a statement of the “core values of all UK residents”, highlighting those features of law and practice which are regarded as key to harmony and flourishing within the UK, and also making it clear which elements of human and transhuman variation and diversity should be accepted or even encouraged – and which elements of diversity should be resisted (Goal 8)
- Obtain majority public support for the design of a system to replace first past the post election (Goal 14)
- Agree an understanding of the actual purpose of politicians, including the key role of the public sector in a mixed economy, and also including awareness of the role of industrial strategy (Goal 14)
- Reach an agreement on limits on the roles that can be played by commercially owned AI, that recognises the potential large contribution that could be made by commercially owned software, without being naive about the risks (Goal 15)
- Reach an agreement on the principles of “ethical AI”: what are the features which an AI could be built to include, but which will need to be excluded or curtailed, for the sake of true human flourishing? (Goal 15)
And in the category “miscellaneous additional milestones en route to human transcendence”:
- Establish a reliable, respected source of information about the true health benefits and risks of different types of diet and different kinds of accommodation (Goal 4) and about the true environmental benefits and risks of different types of human actions (Goals 9 and 10)
- Advance practical initiatives to understand and reduce particular types of crime, starting with the types of crime (such as violent crime) that have the biggest negative impact on people’s lives (Goal 6)
- Clarify the range of health benefits from alternatives to slaughtered meat, bearing in mind that consumption of meat has been linked to many diseases (Goal 11)
- Humans will walk on the Moon again, helping humanity to rediscover a sense of cosmic delight, with these new visitors to our nearest cosmic neighbour including women as well as men, and people from multiple different nationalities (Goal 12)
- A round trip mission to Mars will be underway, using robots, to collect rock samples and then return them to Earth (Goal 12)
- Complete the construction of ITER facilities, as per its current committed schedule, without any further delays (Goal 13).
People interested in the possibility of supporting RAFT projects are invited to join discussions in the #raft channel in the London Futurists Slack.