The growing influence of effective altruism

Long-termism sees history in a different way: as a march forward toward inevitable progress. MacAskill often references the past in What do we owe in the future?, but only in the form of case studies on the life-improving impact of technological and ethical developments. He discusses the abolition of slavery, the Industrial Revolution, and the women’s rights movement as proof of the importance of continuing the arc of humanity’s progress before false values ​​are “locked in”. cut” by scorners. What are the “correct” values? MacAskill takes a rigorous approach to articulating them: he argues that “we should focus on promoting more general or abstract ethical principles” to ensure that “ethical changes ethics remains relevant and strongly positive in the future.”

Climate change, worldwide and ongoing, has affected human resources are lower than that of the elite today, notably not a core long-term cause, as philosopher Emile P. Torres pointed out in his reviews. Although it poses a threat to millions of lives, long-term theorists say, it probably won’t clean up all of of mankind; those who have the wealth and means to survive can continue to fulfill the potential of our species. Tech billionaires like Thiel and Larry Page have planning and real estate spot to weather a climate apocalypse. (MacAskill, in his new book, calls climate change a serious concern for people alive today, but he sees it as an existential threat only in its “extreme” agricultural form. karma would not exist.)

“To come to the conclusion that to do the best in the world, you have to work on artificial intelligence in general is a very strange thing.”

Timnit Gebru

The final mysterious feature in EA’s version of long vision is how its logic ends up in a specific list of technology-based remote threats to civilization that have just happened to be consistent with many original field of study by the EA team. “I am a researcher in the field of AI, but to come to the conclusion that to do the best in the world, you have to work on artificial intelligence in general is a very strange thing to do,” says Gebru. . It’s like trying to justify the fact that you want to think about the sci-fi perspective and you don’t want to think about real people, the real world, and current structural problems. You want to justify how you want to put billions of dollars into it while everyone is starving.”

Some EA leaders seem to know that Criticism and change are key to expand the community and increase its impact. MacAskill and others have made it clear that their calculations are only estimates (“These are our best predictions,” MacAskill released in 2020 audio files episode) and indicate their desire to improve through critical discourse. Both GiveWell and CEA have pages on their websites titled “Our Mistakes,” and in June, CEA held a contest inviting critics on the EA forums; The Future Foundation has launched a prize of up to $1.5 million for critical AI perspectives.

“We recognize that the problems EA is trying to solve are really huge and we have no hope of solving them with just a small fraction of people,” said GiveWell board member and community liaison CEA Julia Wise talks about EA diversity stats. . “We need the talent that different types of people can bring to solve these worldwide problems.” Wise also spoke on this topic at Global EA Conference 2020and she actively discusses the inclusion and dynamics of community power on CEA Forums. The Center for Effective Altruism supports mentoring program for women and non-binary people (founded, incidentally, by Carrick Flynn’s Wife) which Wise says is expanding to other underrepresented groups in the EA community, and CEA has worked to facilitate conferences in more locations around the world to welcome a more diverse group of geographical aspect. But these efforts appear to be limited in scope and impact; The CEA’s public live page on diversity and inclusion hasn’t even been updated since 2020. As utopian technocratic tenets of long-termism take the top spot in EA’s rocket ship and some billionaire funders chart its path in the future, it may well be late to alter the DNA of mobility.

Politics and the future

Despite its sci-fi appearance, effective altruism is today a conservative project that underpins the decision-making behind a technocratic belief system and a small, capable group of individuals. ability at the expense of local vision and interference for the future. But the community and EA successes built on explicit methodologies may not translate into the more nuanced political arena that some EA leaders and some major donors are pushing. . According to Wise, the community at large remains divided over politics as an approach to pursuing EA’s goals, with some dissidents believing that politics is too polarizing space for political action. effective change.

But EA is not the only philanthropic movement geared toward political action to reshape the world; The philanthropic sector in general has turned to the political sphere for greater impact. “We have a political crisis that philanthropy has to deal with. Otherwise, a lot of its other goals will be difficult to achieve,” said Callahan of Inside Philanthropy, using a different definition of “existential” than MacAskill. But while EA can provide a clear benchmark to determine how to reliably deliver, the political arena presents a more complex challenge. “There is no easy measure for how to gain political power or change politics,” he said. “And Sam Bankman-Fried has so far proven himself not to be the most effective political deliverer.”

Bankman-Fried made it clear his political support was “more policy than politics“And donated Mainly for Democrats through his brief Protecting the Future PAC (supported Carrick Flynn in Oregon) and Protection against pandemics PAC (run by his brother Gabe and publishes a cross-party list of “champion” support). Ryan Salame, co-CEO of Bankman-Fried of FTX, sponsor your own PAC, American Dream Federal Action, focused primarily on Republican candidates. (Bankman-Fried said Salame shares her passion for pandemic prevention.) spent more than 18 million dollars to get a California state ballot initiative this fall to fund pandemic research and action through a new tax.


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