Most animals, including Humans, are notoriously bad at taking the long term consequences of their actions into account. Animals and Humans typically prefer a small reward now to a larger reward later, unless the future reward is very large.
The ability to resist this temptation is dependent on the frontal pole (the bit of the brain right just above your eyes), one of whose functions is to allow you to inhibit the temptation to act without thinking of the consequences.
It is this small brain region that allows (most of) us to politely leave the last slice of cake on the plate rather than wolf it down. In primates, the bigger this brain region is, the better they are at these kinds of decisions.
People must be able to forego some of their selfish desires in the interests of everyone else getting their fair share. If that does not happen, the group will very quickly break up and disperse.
In Humans, failure to inhibit greedy behaviour quickly leads to excessive inequality of resources or power. This is probably the single most common cause of civil unrest and revolution, from the French Revolution to Hong Kong today.
If you do not know where you are going, you will end up somewhere else.
Humanity is racing into a wildly complex, unknown, and accelerated future, and we are unprepared. We obsess over the short-term. We ignore risks until they become a crisis. We can not imagine beyond the familiar. This cognitive disposition creates excessive risk for us as a species.
To help us navigate a complex World, our brain has developed hundreds of cognitive biases. The challenge is that we can not recognize them easily. We create our own unique, individual distorted realities.
After all, we can improve our cognition, we can also improve everything downstream from it: ourselves, relationships, health, environment, religion, beliefs, politics, economics, education, security, and … our individual and collective futures.
This is really important to understand: our political systems, our economic systems, businesses, war, relationships, scientific discovery – everything – all lives downstream from our minds.
The evolutionary potential sits beyond our current ability to conceptualize. Just because we can not currently see it does not mean it does not exist. We are limited by our imaginations.