[Podcast] Thomas Moynihan on the History of Existential Risk

by finm1 min read22nd Mar 20212 comments


Effective altruism in the mediaHistoryExistential risk

Thomas Moynihan is a writer and researcher interested in the history of ideas surrounding existential risk and human flourishing. He completed a PhD on the history of human extinction, and currently works with the Future of Humanity Institute. His most recent book is called X-Risk: How Humanity Discovered Its Own Extinction.

As Moynihan shows, the recognition of existential risk represents a dramatic and revealing turning point in the history of ideas, and the story that leads up to it is instructive, expansive, and often surprising.

In our (audio) interview, we meet some figures from this story, and discuss the significance of intellectual history more generally. This was one of my favourite interviews so far: I think the history of ideas is underrated in the EA context, and Thomas does an amazing job of demonstrating why.

The (text) article jumps off from the interview, giving an overview of the book plus links and further reading. Note that the article is not a transcript: you don't need to listen to the episode to read it, nor should listening to the episode make it redundant.

I'm posting this in case anyone wanted to share their thoughts on the topics covered in this episode. This is in the spirit of MichaelA's suggestion of posting all EA-relevant content here. Cheers!

2 comments, sorted by Highlighting new comments since Today at 9:32 PM
New Comment

I've discovered hear this idea relatively recently but have been extremely impressed so far. Looking forward to this episode!

Just wanted to quickly say that I found this episode really interesting, and also appreciated it since there doesn't seem to be an audiobook of Moynihan's book, so I probably wouldn't have gotten to reading it.