At any given moment, millions of scientists, researchers, programmers and others, are working for the common good. Some have selfish motivations, and others may not understand the import of their work but in the end we may all benefit from their endeavors. Since we do not know what the future holds, it is difficult to accurately predict which projects will turn out to be the most significant; it is likely that many ventures will end in failure, and in retrospect, we may even be surprised that some were even undertaken. We can, however, uncover some leading candidates for most critical projects currently underway.
Medicine – We’ll start with the most obvious. Medical improvements can benefit all of us, either directly or indirectly. Cures to epidemics, or new medical therapies, perhaps genetic, can improve the quality of our lives. A cure for cancer or AIDS can end up saving millions of human lives and elevating the quality of life for millions more. Perhaps the most important work in this area is being performed by those trying to come up with new and faster methods to cure communicable diseases; there are many teams preemptively working on systems and techniques to quickly determine the root causes of new diseases and to devise the plans to eradicate them.
Diplomacy – The population of our planet has been steadily increasing, but living space and available natural resources remain finite. Tensions are likely to flare, and there are many people working to make sure that the various power structures in the world will function cohesively in the future. Major discord between competing entities can lead to unprecedented harm. Those that are working to eradicate terrorism at its source, and those that work toward international accord may be involved in today’s most important work.
Spiritual – There are many people that dismiss the importance of physical practicalities of our lives, and focus their efforts on more grandiose ends such as personal fulfillment, enlightenment and moral living. They urge us to strive for meaningful lives as opposed to merely comfortable ones; others try to shift attention to the afterlife as opposed to the here and now. It is possible that the work done in promoting these spiritual ends will accomplish the most for humanity in the long run.
Alternative Energy – Just a few hundred years ago, the issue of energy was mostly irrelevant. People collected wood for cooking and heat, and maybe used sunlight to warm water. Modern society, however, is entirely different, and much of what we do is directly or indirectly based on energy. Energy is used for transportation, industrial production, communications – even the harvesting and transportation of fruits and vegetables relies on a surprising amount of energy.
Nanotechnology – Nanotechnology is a field of applied science and technology covering a broad range of topics. The main unifying theme i