The Paranoid Optimist: How to Have Faith in the Future Even Though We're Doomed

I have an absolute total unshakable faith in the future of humanity, and in progress. But I’m also sure that awful, terrible things are going to happen, the environment is going to be screwed, and everything is going to hell. How do you reconcile these wildly opposing viewpoints?


When I was asked to give a TEDx Talk at Harvard recently, I tried to do just that. The result is the talk called “The Paranoid Optimist,” which you can watch above. Among other things, I talk about the need to stop thinking in oppositions: like “optimism” and “pessimism,” but also like “technology” and “nature.” I talk a lot about the themes of my upcoming book, All the Birds in the Sky, and how the meeting between magic and super-science is a way to think about different ways of imagining our future. Check it out!

Contact the author at and follow her on Twitter @CharlieJane

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I just got a newsletter in my mailbox from EFF about their short fiction anthology, Pwning Tomorrow, and GUESS WHO’S NAME I SAW ON IT??

(Yours, Charlie Jane!)

Hooray for future fiction!