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February 14, 2024

Yuri Milner’s Eureka Manifesto and the Wonder of the Universal Story

From the night sky to the rainforests and oceans, there is so much wonder around us. It’s easy to forget that we are just as wondrous; that humanity is part of a larger narrative called the Universal Story. This is the story of everything we know, from the creation of the cosmos 13.7 billion years ago to the evolution of our species.

The Universal Story is a key theme in Yuri Milner’s short book Eureka Manifesto: The Mission for Our Civilisation (2021). It informs Eureka Manifesto’s main argument: that humanity needs a shared mission to bring us together and drive our progress as a civilisation.

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Here’s a summary of Eureka Manifesto and the mission Milner believes the Universal Story has given us.

Yuri Milner’s Eureka Manifesto

Eureka Manifesto is about humanity’s place in the Universe and the role we could play in its future. In the book, Milner explores:

  •   Why humanity needs a shared mission.
  •   What our mission could be.
  •   Why we must embrace the mission.
  •   The significance of our present moment in the Universal Story, owing to the rise of artificial intelligence.
  •   How to advance the mission.

Milner believes a shared mission can help humanity collectively survive and thrive in the long term. However, the people, nations, and cultures of Earth vary enormously. Where do we find a mission that could unify our entire civilisation? Milner proposes that we look to the Universal Story for an answer.

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The Universal Story

The Universal Story is the story of our Universe. It’s the story of everything that has ever happened on Earth and across the entire cosmos. Milner describes the chapters of the Universal Story as phase transitions: critical changes of state that shape order from chaos.

The first phase transition occurred hundreds of thousands of years after the Big Bang. Matter cooled into stable structures — atoms — which freed light to flow through space. For the first time, there was a visible Universe, though no one existed to see it.

The next phase transition took place when the first cells emerged on Earth. Next, these single cells merged, creating the origins of all complex life.

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Then, animals found ways to communicate, sharing information and resources between individuals, groups, and generations. When humans arrived on the scene and developed language and writing, we rapidly accelerated this chapter of the Universal Story.

Before humans evolved, the Universe existed in a lifeless, mindless state. As we began to think and explore, the Universe started to awaken. After billions of years, the Universe is finally beginning to know itself and tell its story — through us.

Our Fundamental Mission

We are a relatively new intelligence, but we’ve already worked out what happened in the first moments of the birth of creation. Because we have found ourselves in a form that can explore and understand, Milner believes this has given us our mission: to explore and understand our Universe.

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He explains that this mission is fundamental, like a law of nature. It has arisen organically from the evolution of the cosmos, from mere existence to consciousness, through a series of phase transitions.

So much has happened that has led to this moment. If we embrace the mission, we have the opportunity to write the next chapters of the Universal Story.

About Yuri Milner

Yuri Milner has a long-held fascination for science and the possibility that intelligent life exists beyond Earth. As a child, Milner read books by Carl Sagan and Iosif Shklovsky. He went on to study theoretical physics before pursuing a career in tech investment.

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Milner is one of the billionaires who has signed Warren Buffet and Bill and Melinda Gates’ Giving Pledge. He and his wife Julia pledged to donate most of their wealth to charitable causes that advance science and humanity’s shared future.

Milner and his wife created their own causes to support by founding Tech For Refugees, the Breakthrough Initiatives, and the Breakthrough Junior Challenge. They also helped co-found the Breakthrough Prize with Anne Wojcicki, Sergey Brin, Mark Zuckerberg, and Priscilla Chan.

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