From climate change to politics, a sense of pessimism about the direction of the world takes hold. To take just one example, according to one major international poll, a majority of young people agreed with the statement that “humanity is doomed.”
That pessimism is understandable given the chaotic state of the world as we see it presented to us. But it badly understates both the amazing material and political progress humanity has made over the past couple of centuries, and especially in the last few decades; and the realistic hope we should have for a future that won’t simply continue, but continue to get better.
That spirit — grounded in facts and realism, energized by what contributor Hannah Ritchie calls “changeable optimism” — is what animates this edition of The Highlight, created by the Future Perfect team at Vox. We hope our stories leave you a little more hopeful about the state of the world and its future — a future that is worth fighting for.
The necessity of progress.
By Bryan Walsh
Pumping the brakes on artificial intelligence could be the best thing we ever do for humanity.
By Sigal Samuel
Climate pessimism dooms us to a terrible future. Complacent optimism is no better.
By Hannah Ritchie
We can break the cycle of negativity bias in the media and get a more balanced view of the world.
By Dylan Matthews
The Netherlands’ hyper-efficient food system is both a triumph and a cautionary tale.
By Kenny Torrella
What the medicine wheel, an Indigenous American model of time, shows about apocalypse.
By B.L. Blanchard
Editors: Bryan Walsh, Marina Bolotnikova, Elbert Ventura
Copy editors/fact-checkers: Elizabeth Crane, Kim Eggleston, Tanya Pai, Caitlin PenzeyMoog
Additional fact-checking: Anouck Dussaud, Sophie Hurwitz
Art direction: Dion Lee
Audience: Gabriela Fernandez, Shira Tarlo, Agnes Mazur
Production/project editors: Lauren Katz, Nathan Hall