Enter the Uncharted Territories of the 21st Century
“The Future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed.”—William Gibson
Have you noticed how it feels like the world is evolving faster and faster? Like we can’t keep up with what’s happening.
I believe this is just the beginning.
I believe that some of us alive today will live forever. Maybe you, reading this.
I believe AI will make our lives unrecognizably better. It will also push many into poverty.
I believe wealth will keep concentrating in the hands of a few, especially the hands of builders of aggregators.
I believe nation-states will drift into irrelevance.
I believe geography will matter less and less.
I believe remote work will do to white collar workers what it has done to blue collar workers over the last 50 years.
I believe Bitcoin will replace gold, cryptocurrencies will replace fiat currencies, and smart contracts will upend how we deal with each other.
I believe tech corporations scientifically enslave us into unhappiness.
I believe we don’t fathom yet the consequences of fertility collapse, and are utterly unprepared for it.
I believe most people are not developing the crucial skills they will need to surf these trends. Instead, these trends will overwhelm and crush them.
I believe all these themes are interconnected.
We’re entering a world of change, full of unknowns that will challenge everything about how we live and work. We’re entering uncharted territories.
How to Win in the World of Tomorrow
The world is changing ever faster. Those who can keep up will have opportunities beyond their dreams and will be able to shape the future. The rest will fall by the roadside.
To navigate these trends, we need two things: Predict the future and adapt to it. This is what I want to do with you: Explore these uncharted territories to know how we can prepare for them.
What Should You Expect as a Subscriber?
Some of my articles will be about understanding the current trends that determine the future, so we can predict what happens next. They will touch themes such as automation, remote work, cryptocurrencies, the end of nation-states, aging, inequality…
These articles should help you understand the news in a way that you didn’t before. Better, they will help you shut down the noise and focus on the few things that matter, the trends that will overwhelm the world, not the daily churn of useless clickbait.
Other articles will be about the decisions we need to make and skills we need to develop to prepare for that future. They will touch themes like problem-solving, persuasion, storytelling, versatility, productive conversations, negotiation…
Most weeks, you will receive a free article and a premium article. Both will cover the same general themes.
Why Become a Premium Subscriber?
If you are considering becoming a premium subscriber, this is what you will get:
Some weeks, your premium articles will dive one layer deeper than the free one, cover a different angle, add context, connect the dots, share what happens behind the scenes, uncover the underlying patterns.
Other times, you will read the edgiest, more radical, and more exploratory ideas.
You will have access to all my past articles.
As a premium subscriber, I want you to form a community where we think together about these ideas.
We will have monthly conversations. In some cases, one on one.
You will also be the first ones to try new things, such as launching a social currency or an NFT together.
You will help me pick the next topics to explore.
And more importantly, you will help support me to make sure I can keep this up.
What Are Some Great Uncharted Territories Articles?
One of my most popular series of articles is History Moves to the Cloud:
How Geography Drives History
Geography Is the Chessboard of History
The Global Chessboard
A Space-Crafted Chessboard (premium)
Why Europeans Colonized America Before Africa
Why did the Vikings appear out of nowhere, and the link with incels today.
The very origin of everything—the stars, and how they influence everything around us to this day.
How much geography has influenced our myths.
Country Deep Dives
Europe: Spain, France, and Germany (premium)
A Brief History of the Caribbean
A Brief History of the Caribbean, Part 2 (premium)
India and the Indian Subcontinent (premium)
Russia’s Dilemma (free) and Russia’s Future (premium)
East Africa (free) and Ethiopia (premium)
The EU’s future and what it would take for a United States of Europe.
How to Understand France and the most obscure but crucial point of its history and geography.
A brief history of Spain
A brief history of Portugal
The weird parallel between Portugal and Catalonia
The fascinating origins and patterns of Spanish vs Portuguese around the world.
Why Pakistan was drowning while China was in a drought this summer.
A brief history of the UK, and the weird link between the monarchy, its language, its early freedom, and the industrial revolution.
Why Indonesia’s Java Island is so weird.
The Takeover of Technology
History’s Network Effects
The Rise and Fall of Civilizations
How Internet and Blockchain Will Kill Nation States
The end of nation-states
How nation-states are a recent illusion created by communications
Why the US is at the edge of technology today
Which companies are more likely to win in Generative AI.
What are the most successful businesses on the Internet: those with network effects, and SaaS.
NFTs: What’s fundamentally valuable about them and what isn’t, so we can predict which ones will continue being valuable in the future.
How disruption works with new technologies like the Internet, and what that means for education.
Remote work vs the office, and how creating a better watercooler is crucial for the future of remote work.
The future of written news and how that influences platforms like Substack.
How Transportation Technologies Shape the World
Why some cities thrive and not others.
Why cities are fractal.
How transportation technologies shape cities.
How the internal setup of cities was completely determined by logistics.
How transportation technologies even shaped empires and spread humans.
How building and elevator technologies limit a crucial aspect of cities—density.
The surprising parallel between financial technologies and democracy, and how understanding financial technology better helps us understand the future of democracy.
The future of democracy, which is decentralized, and why this change was inevitable given the gap in the speed of culture vs politics today.
How debate is broken today.
How urbanization has made the world more progressive, and why it will continue.
Why structurally freedom is a better technology than authoritarianism for growth.
How English will shape global culture and politics.
Why we should stop blaming others for the sins of our forebears: We’re all assholes all the way down.
Why so many countries seem like they’re shooting themselves in the foot.
Why the debate between regulation and deregulation is stupid.
Lets take more risks as a society, in the name of our grandchildren.
How culture influenced both fertility and politics in the past.
How this influence was so big that France lost its European hegemony.
How a country has been able to harness culture to revert this trend.
What other countries can do about fertility.
Aging might stop. What will happen then?
Big Trends and How to Read the Future
Remote Work Is Inexorable
Should Everybody Read English?
Remote Work & S-Curves Deep Dive (premium)
Playing Catch Up with the US (free) and Non-Plus Ultra (premium)
Past, Present and Future of Energy
The Future of Governance and Progress
How to Fight the Retail Apocalypse
AI Does It Best
How to Handle Knowledge
Distribute the Future
Merchants of Risk (premium)
You’re a Neuron
Society Is a Brain
The Tree of Knowledge
How to Change Beliefs
Feedback Series: How to Get Feedback (free), How to Give Effective Feedback (premium), and How to Give Feedback Tactfully (premium)
How to Handle Concentration of Force over the Internet (premium)
Debate Is Broken. How to Improve It.
How to Make Your Conversations Hyperproductive
How to Consume the News (premium)
How to Invest: The Few Key Things You Need to Know (free)
14 More Tips from a Financial Advice Industry Insider (premium)
How to Become the Best in the World at Something
How to Pick Your Skill Stack
How to give quality feedback, and how to do it tactfully.
How to deliver messages in a way that resonates.
Why it’s counter-intuitive, but you should let others speak over you.
Tactics to improve your dates and business meetings.
The importance of incorporating new, important information fast.
Why you shouldn’t judge workers by how they look, but rather by what they achieve.
The source of happiness, and why it’s linked to accepting that life is terrible.
The Fail West
The Top 25 Mistakes of COVID Mismanagement
The Mental Pitfalls of COVID
COVID FAQ, Summer 2021, part 1
COVID FAQ, Summer 2021, part 2 (premium)
Long COVID and ME/CFS (free) and Other Long COVID (premium)
The Omicron Question
Omicron and Simpson’s Paradox (premium)
Should You Vaccinate Your Kids?
Anti-Vaxxing, Conspiracy Theories, and Confirmation Bias (premium)
Coronavirus: Game Over and COVID: End(emic) Game (premium)
What Else Are You Cooking, Tomas?
At any given time, I’m working on about 50 articles in parallel. In this article, I share the main themes and articles I’m thinking of working on in 2022. They cover topics like the future of nation-states, education, violence, energy, fertility, knowledge industries, atoms, humans, automation, corporations, and blockchain. I also explore how to engineer society, and how to engineer ourselves: how to navigate the future.
But who Are You, Tomas?
I’ve spent over a decade career building tech products in Silicon Valley, where I created products used by hundreds of millions of people. There, I learned about applied psychology, designed thousands of user experiences, tested them on real customers—maybe you—and got exposed to the world of tomorrow.
Before that, I got an MBA from Stanford and two MSc in Engineering—from Ecole Centrale Paris and ICAI Madrid. Throughout all this time, I’ve been creating content on the side.
If you already know me, odds are it’s through my COVID articles, such as:
Coronavirus: Why You Must Act Now (40M views, most read Medium article of 2020)
Coronavirus: The Hammer and the Dance (20M views, 4th most read Medium article of 2020)
The Fence (data visualization article with the New York Times)
Out of Many, One (>500k views)
Learning How to Dance (>600k views)
Should We Aim for Herd Immunity like Sweden? (>250k views)
The Swiss Cheese Strategy
And other COVID articles.
But COVID is just one of many topics I’ve covered.
What Do Readers Say About Uncharted Territories
During this summer I've read some other articles from you that I did find unbearable to not read your follow-up.—Morten J.
You have that rare ability to reduce everything to its barest basics (even to their absurd limits) and yet make preeminent sense out of them.—MVK
I put you among the only 3-4 authors that I read cover to cover of the 100 plus I read or browse every week/month. My hope is that someday you can weave your geography and history into a book. Other than Jared Diamond, no one else of substance that I have read does so with such fluidly and style.—Ed S.
I question everything and I want to understand the 'why' of things. I try to develop opinions that I can intelligently support and I'm constantly frustrated and angry by the dearth of critical thinking by the average person in my world. Your articles are both challenging reads and a breath of fresh air. Your thought-scapes are often so profoundly immense in scope compared to what I'm used to that they remind me how little control I have, how to approach my world with what minuscule control I may have and, if I still want to worry (which I do), how to worry more intelligently. Thank you for all of that!—Sue G
What I love about Uncharted Territories is the long-term view and each article feels like a deep dive on a specific puzzle piece that helps me better understand where we are going, or at least where we have come from.—David H.
I love the chance to go galaxy-brain-meme every time I see another Uncharted Territories article land.—Ky H.
You produce the content of the highest quality that I've ever read. It's beyonds many books that I've read. It's a gold mine of factual informations well organized, so it's easy to digest and to remember.—Hermes B.
Thomas, your content is mind opening and absolutely great.—Andrei B.
Everything you've written has been so interesting that I can't choose any specific topic, but I am grateful to have discovered you after you published your first article regarding Covid-19. I marvel at what an amazing time we live in, that digitally we can join and also participate in these online communities through venues like Substack.—Janice
Love, love, love your articles and read them as soon as they appear in my inbox 😉. So well researched, excellent presentation and so insightful!—Kori M.
I've enjoyed virtually every article that you and your team have created. The wide range of topics and the quality and depth of thought that are put into them makes them rewarding to read. I even think that digesting these pieces has helped me in better orating my own ideas and thoughts with others, both verbally and in writing.—JMac
Thank you for the incredible quality of articles you write and the difference they have made in my life. I'm just one person and you have made a huge difference in my understanding of some things that are very important to me. When I see one of your articles in my inbox if at all possible I stop what I am doing and read.—Kay
When I get behind, I look forward to binge reading Uncharted Territories on a train, plane, or bus ride.—Chris R.
It’s a genuine mental relief to find a source of media with depth, perspective and a focus on truly important topics rather than frippery and unsubstantiated opinion.—Marc M
I love the way you think. I love the way you climb into the trees, getting super deep into the details, and then zooming out to the forest level, and helping us spot trends. You have a phenomenal way of really zooming out, spotting the trends and meta-forces that shape our world, and then transitioning that knowledge of meta-forces to help us understand our present moment, and perhaps, the future.—Imu S.
I had no idea when I subscribed that this would the substack that brings me hope.—Greensox
What a content!!! You have the ability to compress difficult subjects into understandable manners.—Adarsh T.
You see our terrestrial world from a real perspective, clear and distinctive, as if you were watching from Mars.—M
What great value your subscription provides. I have newspaper subscriptions, which cover topical issues, but it has no intention—not like the eclectic but directed focus of UT, and it gets caught in the tide of events.
UT provides an unapologetic perspective, not just the dispassionate facts like a scientific paper, but it also provides evidence and eschews the emotional rhetoric of the mainstream press.—Marc M
I am highly skeptical of many people trying to explain complex systems succinctly and teach me new things. UT is in a class of its own and I’m constantly amazed by the quality of your thinking and your work.—Jacob
It feels like Christmas for my mind when each new email arrives. Something fun and new to learn.—JCB
I enjoy the clarity and succinctness of your writing, your willingness to clearly draw on the thoughts and illustrations of others to promote understanding, and your willingness to take conclusions to where they are going rather than to some predetermined destination.—G
I love the topics and in-depth nature of the articles! Tomas always brings new ideas that I don’t hear anywhere else. Helps me think about life and make decisions differently and more effectively.—Stefano
I feel like I have a much better grasp of the big puzzle pieces that shape our past and future, which gives me a lot more confidence in a lot of the big decisions I make about my life.—DH
No other newsletter I have seen does such a great job of giving context into the history that led us to the current trends and more importantly the analysis of using history to predict the future.—Evan S
Makes you think about important topics that I hadn’t thought about before, in a way that never occurred to me before, that I didn’t even realise were so important.—Berry P
I feel like these are as deep as scholarly papers but written to be an easy weekend "long read". It's not surface level, it's always a unique or under-explored topic, but it's also fun to read and doesn't make me feel dumb or require lots of hyperlinking out for context. You do the hard research and then you go further and do the work of making it fast and fun to consume the knowledge and takeaways.—Matt T
I hope this is as exciting for you as it is for me. If it is, help me make this a reality and become a premium subscriber. I look forward to living this adventure together!
This should be fun.