Since signing the Giving Pledge in 2012, Yuri Milner has helped fund and found the Breakthrough Prize, the Breakthrough Junior Challenge, and the Breakthrough Initiatives. Once a scientist himself, today, the billionaire invests in fundamental science and space exploration, and he has recently released a short book exploring these subjects.
Eureka Manifesto: The Mission for Our Civilisation offers numerous invaluable insights into humanity’s role in the Universe and what we could achieve as a civilisation that works in harmony.
Any organisation hoping to achieve something meaningful has a mission. For example, Doctors Without Borders strives to “provide lifesaving medical care to those most in need.” But the largest organisation on Earth — human civilisation — lacks a shared mission. As a result, our progress as a species is in disarray.
If we don’t embrace this mission, we risk the future of our civilisation. Without advancing technologically and becoming a spacefaring species, we could struggle to overcome major challenges such as climate change or cosmic extinction events (think an asteroid collision or “vacuum decay”).
Alternatively, succeeding in our mission to explore and understand the Universe could allow our civilisation to fully realise its potential. This could involve humanity making huge technological progress and spreading amongst the stars.
We can advance our shared mission in several ways, each of which could contribute to bringing about a global culture that champions science and values knowledge.
Eureka Manifesto contains a five-point plan that could help move society in the right direction:
- Invest in fundamental science and space exploration.
- Accelerate scientific discoveries through artificial intelligence (AI).
- Celebrate the work of pioneering scientists and mathematicians.
- Teach children about the Universal Story (the Universe’s quest to be understood through the emergence of sentient, human life).
- Kickstart a new enlightenment that enables everyone to contribute to a collaborative, knowledge-focused culture.
Eureka Manifesto tells us that research into fundamental science offers fertile ground for unearthing transformative technologies and discoveries. To advance our mission, we must prioritise scientific disciplines and back them with investments that equal the importance of science to our lives and shared future.
In recent years, Yuri Milner has launched several space science programmes called the Breakthrough Initiatives. The billionaire has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the Breakthrough Initiatives to help answer some of science’s deepest questions and fast track our progress towards becoming a spacefaring civilisation.
Another step in Eureka Manifesto’s plan of action is to focus education on the Universal Story and use art, in particular, to impress the importance of science upon children.
To further inspire young minds to think creatively about science, Yuri Milner and his wife Julia launched the Breakthrough Junior Challenge in 2015. An annual global competition, the Breakthrough Junior Challenge asks students to submit videos explaining difficult scientific ideas for the opportunity to win life-changing prizes.
In the postscript of Eureka Manifesto, Yuri Milner describes why he and Julia signed Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett’s Giving Pledge in 2012: In recent years, the investor had found himself increasingly driven by a desire to do more to help advance humanity’s mission.
The Breakthrough Junior Challenge and Breakthrough Initiatives, along with the Breakthrough Prize (which rewards the world’s leading scientists for their research developments), fulfil the Milners’ Giving Pledge to support scientists, fund scientific causes, and encourage the public’s engagement with scientific theories.
Yuri Milner is full of hope for the civilisation that future generations will inherit. He predicts that one day, humanity will witness evolutionary leaps as profound as those of the past.