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In a misleading editorial about longtermism, Phil Torres makes this claim. What is he talking about?

Also, what happened to the guy who wrote "Morality, Foresight, and Human Flourishing: An Introduction to Existential Risks" that turned him into an enemy of EA?

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Searching online, I believe he gave the talk at EA Summit 2013, back when EA community-building was much more volunteer-based and didn't have much in the way of formal organization.

As for Torres, my secondhand impression was a combination of a) believing that EA-types don't have social justice-style concerns enough weight compared to the overwhelming importance of the far future, and b) personally feeling upset/jilted that he was rejected from a number of EA jobs.

He also gave a talk at the EA Summit 2014

I see. Rather than being "the" keynote speaker in 2013, there were four keynote speakers of which Thiel was one (the others were Peter Singer, Jaan Tallinn, and Holden Karnofsky.)

Summary of the talk:

  • "Looking forward to having a conversation today with people about...how we can make the world a better place in the years and decades and centuries ahead. ... I thought it would be valuable where I ... go through some thoughts I have for ... why I think it's so important to be pushing the frontiers of technology in certain ways, both in a for-profit and non-profit context"
  • "My claim is there are only four possible charts you can come up with" for how technological development will proceed over time [I'm not sure what he means exactly; I certainly think the real-life outcome may well look more messy than the ones he presented, but at least I agree that the cyclic one is incorrect. Says he likes exponential growth.]
  • He suggests globalization has been overemphasized over technological development. "The question I always like to pose is, how can we go about developing the developed world."
  • "maybe we can no longer have globalization continue without technological progress at this point"
  • "[by 2030 we may be] losing a consensus even in a place like China for globalization, and we're close to a breakpoint in places like Brazil, Turkey [...] probably a very different paradig
... (read more)

Summary: Peter Thiel spoke at the EA Summit conferences organized in both 2013 and 2014 but was the singular keynote speaker at the 2014 conference. The other affiliation Thiel had with EA at the time was through Leverage Research and the Machine Intelligence Research Institute, two EA-affiliated non-profit organizations to which Thiel had been a major donor for multiple years. Leverage Research was one of the main organizations sponsoring the 2013 and 2014 conferences. Thiel has not donated to MIRI since at least 2015 due to a difference of perspective on the likely impact of advanced AI on the long-term future. Thiel is presently still a major donor to Leverage Research but that organization itself has not self-identified as an EA-aligned organization since at least 2018/19.

You are correct from your other comment that Peter Thiel was only one of multiple keynote speakers at the 2013 Effective Altruism Summit. He was the keynote speaker at the 2014 EA Summit. 

The "EA Summits" were a series of EA conferences organized in 2013, 2014 and 2018. For the Summits in 2013 and 2014, multiple organizations were the sponsor for the event but the primary one was Leverage Research. Leverage was the only organization which organized and sponsored the EA Summit in 2018. The EA Global series of conferences was initiated as a more formal series of conferences managed by the Centre for Effective Altruism (CEA) as EA began growing more into a global movement in its own right.

From 2014 and before, Thiel's relationship to EA was through him being a repeat, major donor to both Leverage and the Machine Intelligence Research Institute (MIRI). After 2014, any direct affiliation Thiel had with EA ceased as was initiated by himself. AI alignment was the cause in EA that was the primary attraction for Thiel. He ceased donating to MIRI after he came to disagree with the relatively pessimistic perspective on the impact advanced artificial intelligence would have on the long-term future. 

Thiel has continued donating to Leverage as an organization independent of EA after he otherwise ceased donating to any other EA-affiliated organizations. Leverage Research explicitly stopped self-identifying as an EA-aligned organization from 2018/19 onward. Geoff Anders, the founder and executive director of Leverage Research, is on the record as Peter Thiel still being a major, repeat donor to the organization as of 2021/22.

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FYI, your first link ("misleading editorial about longtermism") directs me back to this post instead of to the editorial.

Thanks, fixed!

If so, this is cool, not embarrassing.

Depends if you like Peter Thiel. I don't know much about him, but his support for Trump was a big turnoff for me. I'm not sure why he wrote the techno-optimistic book "Zero to One" and then decided to plonk down his cash on a pathological liar bullshitter whose greatest concern seemed to be keeping Mexicans and Muslims out of the U.S. ... but he did get a tax cut out of it.

Anyway, Phil Torres is cheating here by saying "longtermists are directly associated with a Trump supporter in 2013!" when Trump did not run for president until 2015.

He seems to have gotten his money's worth on Trump now that Trump's endorsement of Mithril Capital principal J.D. Vance is about to propel him into the Senate. Thiel Foundation president Blake Masters might end up in the same spot in Arizona.

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