Human Flourishing


“If I have seen further it is by standing on ye sholders of Giants.”

Isaac Newton (and many others)

Over time the concept of human flourishing has changed dramatically. It will continue to change, even more dramatically.

We define human flourishing as “the state of living a life one most wants to live, given one’s values.” For our work-in-progress theory, see a visual version

Flourishing one million years ago centered around having enough to eat, staying warm in your cave, and fending off predators. Survival was a central concern.

Flourishing today is complicated. It may involve self-actualization, enlightenment or “winning”. It may involve collecting lots of small rectangles, getting “likes” on tiny glowing machines or helping billions of intelligences. 

Flourishing between 2025-2100 is extremely hard to predict. Humanity is inventing new technologies we cannot understand, let alone control. They will radically change us and the world. Survival of our species is uncertain.

What’s possible in the design space of a flourishing life is heavily dependent on what’s conceptually knowable and technically achievable. Below are just a few key advances that have shaped how we think of what it means to flourish in modern-day society. For better or worse, both the concept and “how to manual” are always evolving. We learn new concepts, tools, and/or techniques to incorporate into UP nearly every week.

Please reach out if you’d like us to present our research to your company, organization or community.

Conceptual advances

Expected value as a concept was developed in 1654

Bayesian inference was introduced in 1763

Economics as a separate discipline was introduced in 1776

Experimental psychology as a practice was introduced in 1879

Behavioral psychology was introduced in 1913

Humanistic psychology as a practice was introduced in the 1950s

Project management was popularized in the 1950s

Positive psychology was coined in 1954

Rational emotive behavior therapy was introduced in 1956

Transhumanism was coined in 1957

Cognitive psychology as a practice was introduced in the 1950s

Personalized learning was introduced in the 1960s

Cognitive behavioral therapy was introduced in the 1960s

Lateral thinking was coined in 1967

Behavioral economics was introduced in 1979

The word polyamory was coined in 1990

Emotional intelligence was popularized in 1995

Open science was coined in 1998

Positive psychology was popularized in 1998

Lifehacking was coined in 2004

Quantified self was coined in 2007

Human virtual assistants were popularized around 2007

Lean startup methodology was introduced in 2008

Effective altruism was coined in 2011

Artificial intelligence existential risk went mainstream in 2023

Future concept #1 will be developed in 20XX

Future concept #2 will be developed in 20XX

Future concept #3 will be developed in 20XX

Future concept #4 will be developed in 20XX

Future concept #5 will be developed in 20XX

Technological advances

Home automation was popularized around 1900

The electric refrigerator was invented in 1914

The television was invented in 1927

The microwave oven was invented in 1945

The modern digital computer was invented in 1948

The Internet was invented in 1969

The term nootropic was coined in 1972

The handheld mobile phone was invented in 1973

The first personal home computer was invented in 1976

Modern spreadsheets were popularized in the 1980s

The World Wide Web was invented in 1989

The first modern online dating site was invented in 1994

Modern videoconferencing was popularized in the 2000s

Modern smartphones were popularized around 2007

The first modern cloud-based file hosting service was invented in 2008

Modern digital project management tools were popularized around 2010

Digital virtual assistants were popularized around 2011

Smart homes were popularized around 2012

Advanced chatbots were released in 2022

Future technology #1 will be invented in 20XX

Future technology #2 will be invented in 20XX

Future technology #3 will be invented in 20XX

Future technology #4 will be invented in 20XX

Future technology #5 will be invented in 20XX

Future advances

These advances have enabled the current version of UP and the current possibilities of human flourishing today. But what we can do now is only the beginning.

Over time inventions like machine learning, neurohacking, and forecasting systems will bring better critical thinking to billions. Advanced control systems and distributed workforces will help us better accomplish our goals. Regenerative medicines will lengthen human healthspans, perhaps indefinitely. And ultimately, if we survive long enough, there will will be artificially intelligent beings that redefine what it means to be human. 

Right now, the best we have to augment your flourishing are HIs (human intelligences) that wield humanity’s latest conceptual and technological stack (including narrow AIs). UP in its current form can be considered an HI on-demand service. We can’t clone you (yet), but we do the next best thing: act as your second brain and set of hands. This is an immediate cognitive and executive upgrade. 

In the near-future, UP may move from an HI-led model to a narrow AI-led model. And in the long-term, our aim is to incorporate every relevant conceptual and technological advance our species develops. UP in 10 years will likely look radically different than UP today. And UP in 100 years, who knows…