A wide-ranging and thought-provoking exploration of the importance of long-term thinking.
Humans are unique in our ability to understand time, able to comprehend the past and future like no other species. Yet modern-day technology and capitalism have supercharged our short-termist tendencies and trapped us in the present, at the mercy of reactive politics, quarterly business targets and 24-hour news cycles.
It wasn't always so. In medieval times, craftsmen worked on cathedrals that would be unfinished in their lifetime. Indigenous leaders fostered intergenerational reciprocity. And in the early twentieth century, writers dreamed of worlds thousands of years hence. Now, as we face long-term challenges on an unprecedented scale, how do we recapture that far-sighted vision?
Richard Fisher takes us from the boardrooms of Japan – home to some of the world's oldest businesses – to an Australian laboratory where an experiment started a century ago is still going strong. He examines the psychological biases that discourage the long view, and talks to the growing number of people from the worlds of philosophy, technology, science and the arts who are exploring smart ways to overcome them. How can we learn to widen our perception of time and honour our obligations to the lives of those not yet born?
Richard Fisher is a senior journalist with BBC Global News in London, where he writes, commissions and edits stories for BBC Future and bbc.com, specialising in science, technology and health journalism. From 2019-20, Richard was a Knight Science Journalism fellow at MIT, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
"The Long View is a manifesto calling for a radical reconception of our relationship with time. Richard Fisher documents the social, psychological, and economic reasons we have become stranded on the Island of Now – and charts routes for us to get back to the mainland."
– Marcia Bjornerud, author of Timefulness
"Few books can claim to shake your perspective on life, but The Long View does exactly that [...] a landmark book that could help to build a much brighter future for many generations to come."
– David Robson, author of The Expectation Effect
"A soaring hymn to all that might lie in the future; alongside the diverse and beautiful ways to think about it. Overflowing with wisdom and insight."
– Thomas Moynihan, author of X-Risk
"Hope-filled and revelatory [...] Beautifully readable and scholarly, rich and personal, this book shows how, to leave a robust legacy for the future, we need to overcome our bias for the present."
– Rowan Hooper, author of How to Spend a Trillion Dollars
"A wise, humane book laced with curiosity and hope. It will open your mind and horizons – and leave you giddy at the prospect of all that we may yet become."
– Tom Chatfield, author of How to Think
"Urgent and profound. Richard Fisher's The Long View shows how thinking differently about time can change the world. The future begins with how we imagine it."
– David Farrier, author of Footprints: In Search of Future Fossils
"Moving beyond the abjection that dominates today's headlines about the future, Richard Fisher charts a hope-fuelled path toward the twenty-third century. Lucidly written, The Long View challenges us to remove our temporal blinkers and embrace a more long-minded awareness of humanity's future possibilities. An astounding read."
– Vincent Ialenti, author of Deep Time Reckoning