FTP046: Winning Humanity’s Existential Game with Daniel Schmachtenberger

This is our fourth episode with Daniel Schmachtenberger, and as every other time, it left us fascinated and inspired. 

Daniel is the co-founder of Neurohacker Collective and founder of Emergence Project, a futurist think tank.

This is probably our favourite episode with Daniel. We dive into the existential risks threatening humanity, and how we can mitigate them.

Existential Risks

An existential risk is anything that can cause the extinction of humanity. A catastrophic risk is one that can cause our near-extinction, or destroy human civilization as we know it. Existential and catastrophic risks are often divided into human induced risks and natural phenomena.

The natural phenomena include things like huge asteroids hitting the Earth, and solar flares or coronal mass ejections with a high enough intensity to knock out our power grid, destabilize nuclear cooling stations and lead to uninhabitable biosphere and ocean acidification.

Human Risks

Although natural risks are important to look at, Daniel Schmachtenberger is more concerned about human induced existential risks.

These include man-made climate change, which can cause agricultural failure, mass migration, and ultimately state failure and war. It also includes the risk from nuclear weapons and exponentially growing technologies like AI, biotechnology, and nanotechnology.

Daniel Schmachtenberger claims that an underlying problem behind many of man-made existential risks is our collective loss of ability to make sense of the world. With the rise of fake news, scientific research being funded by corporate interests, and technologies evolving faster than we can keep up with, it’s getting harder and harder to understand what is true and what is important.

Exponential tech increases our ability to affect things, but not the quality of our choice Click To Tweet

Designing Post-Capitalist Systems

We have a system that runs on competitive advantage, both in national markets and a global level. This system is based on win-lose game theory, which incentivizes actions that give people and entities a competitive advantage, rather than actions that benefit humanity as a whole. This leads to pharmaceutical companies wasting time and talent repeating research (or not doing it at all if it’s non-patentable) while people die, and the earth holding enough nukes to wipe out the planet more than 10 times over.

Far from hopeless, Daniel reminds us that most of what we think of as “flawed human nature” is actually just social conditioning. Conditioning which is possible to change, or redirect with properly placed incentives.

The fundamental question Daniel is trying to answer is this: how do we design a system inside which all incentives are properly aligned, and we start valuing things around us for their systemic and not differential value?

We have a system that attracts, incents and rewards pathological behavior. Click To Tweet

Neurohacker Collective

Daniel’s recent project is Neurohacker Collective, a smart drug brand with a vision of holistic human neural optimization. Their first product Qualia is a reference to a philosophical concept meaning “an individual instance of subjective, conscious experience”.

After trying Qualia ourselves, we decided to arrange a special deal for our listeners who also wanted to give it a try. When you get a subscription to Qualia at Neurohacker.com, just use the code FUTURE to get 10% off.

Human nature has the capacity to transcend what human behaviour has been so far. Click To Tweet

In This Episode of Future Thinkers Podcast:

  • The loss of sense making
  • Why do people spread intentional disinformation?
  • What is the value of a tree?
  • What do we do with the shitty jobs?
  • Human nature
  • We’re the tentacles of the universe!
  • I don’t exist outside the context
  • The power and wisdom of Gods
  • Are we entering a new age?
Shit, the whole evolutionary process resulted in me. - Daniel Schmachtenberger. Click To Tweet


“If you’re scaling towards the power of gods, then you have to have the wisdom and the love of gods, or you’ll self destruct. ” – Daniel Schmachtenberger


“The real existential risk is a loss of the ability to make sense of the world around us: what is worth doing, and what the likely effects of things will be” – Daniel Schmachtenberger


“We do have an innate impulse towards agency, towards self actualization. Within a win-lose game structure, that will look like a competitive impulse. But within a win-win structure, that will look like the desire to go beyond my previous capacity.” – Daniel Schmachtenberger

Mentions and Resources:

Recommended Books:

More From Future Thinkers:

This Episode Was Sponsored By


  1. Brad 3 months ago

    Around the 43:50 mark, Daniel mentions something called “The Lure of Becoming” as coined by a someone named (what phonetically sounds like) “Ter de Schardon.” Does anyone know the proper spelling for this person’s name?

    • Ed Mulder 3 months ago

      Teilhard de Chardin I believe.

  2. Edward West 3 months ago

    Loved this podcast!

    Can you share a full-transcript?

  3. […] Future Thinkers Podcast: Winning Humanity’s Existential Game with Daniel Schmachtenberger This is an amazingly thought-provoking podcast episode. Daniel Schmachtenberger talks about existential risks through nature and humans, human nature, designing post-capital systems and a lot of other stuff that can and will shape our future. […]

  4. Mateo Delmar 2 months ago

    FTP046: Winning Humanity’s Existential Game with Daniel Schmachtenberger

    I can’t agree with Schmachtenbergers solution to the existential crises. In other words: humanity becoming a fully enlightened species. Unfortunately, I see capitalism/materialism as an extension of the competitive nature of evolution and humanity. Long live the genetically engineered cyborg transhumans! They will have no use for obsolete and resource consuming homo sapiens. They will understand operating within a system of environmental parameters and act accordingly.

  5. […] If you’re interested in more of this “new systems” work, Daniel is probably the furthest along in defining it. Check out his Civilization Emerging series and recent FutureThinkers podcast. […]

  6. […] biggest driver of the existential problems we are facing today is also an argument championed by Daniel Schmachtenberger and Jordan Greenhall. I would highly recommend listening to their podcast interview if you want […]

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



Got a question / comment / suggestion? Email us!


Our mission is to evolve technology, society, and consciousness so that we can all be better adapted to the future.

©2018 FutureThinkers.org | CuttingMachinery.org | Plovdiv.Digital

Log in with your credentials

Forgot your details?