Hello everyone,

I'm thinking about giving an "Introduction to EA" talk on a sci-fi/fantasy convention as a part of community-building effort. It seems that the audience there could be receptive to EA ideas, given how fantasy and science fiction often incorporates morally and technologically different worlds, extinction scenarios, distant pasts/futures etc. I'd like to ask for ideas and suggestions for fantasy and sci-fi works (regardless of medium - games, books, movies etc.) that could be used to illustrate major points of EA, as well as cause areas, maybe some fictional characters could serve as role models and so on. I'd like to see which and how many works are there, and if it's enough to build a talk around them while still keeping the message high-fidelity, as to not warp the EA ideas.

So far, useful resources I've found are:
- https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/b4YW4GJR2RasS4YEw/a-ranked-list-of-all-ea-relevant-documentaries-movies-and-tv
- https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/wAbYKBzEJBJpHMrDh/book-rec-the-war-with-the-newts-as-ea-fiction
- https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/nbrX6fQPHBdYXpg4B/nickmatt-s-shortform#wFtTQEHa3vydmaocm 
- https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/DhTkDDaGLsmCxy5Qx/why-i-think-the-ea-community-should-write-more-fiction 

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In addition the to broader and more mature genre of "rationalist fiction" overall, definitely check out some of the specific EA-themed creative writing contests that have happened:

r/rational put together a spreadsheet of a bunch of rationalist fiction. You should find much EA related material here https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1OEoxYzFeF0UpJmHY5pqHP_Yam-cw9kXDyXZbH6ANJiM/htmlview

Do you know why fan fiction appears to be the go-to medium for rationalists? This seems odd.

4Caleb Biddulph2mo
It's probably largely for historical reasons: the first real piece of "rational fiction" was Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality by Eliezer Yudkowsky, and many other authors followed in that general vein. Also, it can be fun to take an existing work with a world that wasn't very thoroughly examined and "rationalize" it by explaining plot holes and letting characters exploit the rules.
It’s far easier to see the irrationalities and possible exploits of other people’s work than your own, rationalizing a world possibly takes different skills than creating an interesting one, its easier to write & build an audience, and you don’t have to spend so much time explaining the setting/magic system/other important info.

I wrote this novel as a way to explore how a Xianxia society would combat the existential risk of a threat that could not be defeated in combat. I also wrote an after action review of how it was to write an entire novel explicitly from an EA lens (see my post). The MC is an EA-Rationalist, and... it did a lot better than anything else I have ever written...


Alexanderwales appears on a few of those lists and posts but he fairly recently did a much more directly EA-focused take on Superman which I highly recommend:


I really love these books. Most of them aren't hardcore EA-ish and mostly cover fringe ideas (like what would happen if AI became sentient), but there are few stories/characters in each book that might be relevant. Best of luck with the talk!  :)

  • The Paper Menagerie by Ken Liu
    • collection of sci-fi short stories 
  • The Hidden Girl and other Stories by Ken Liu
    • collection of sci-fi short stories
    • There's one story woven throughout the book about people uploading their consciousness to a digital world (and how different this world would look like). 
  • Exhalation by Ted Chiang
    • collection of sci-fi short stories
    • "The Lifecycle of Software Objects" explores what it would be like if we created sentient, digital beings. I think it drives home the idea of expanding your moral circle. 
  • Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang
    • collection of sci-fi short stories
  • Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel 
    • The book takes place in a post-pandemic world where >99% of humanity died and describes how we could rediscover meaning/beauty in such a world. 
  • I'm also sure you've gotten this rec a bunch of times, but the Three Body Problem + sequels.