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From this present moment, a person without any extraordinary superpowers sets off to change the world positively as much as they can. This person changes the world more than anyone else.

What do they do?

Your writing should talk about a person who changes the world more than any other person who is also writing about this prompt. (It’s a competition of sorts)

Challenge yourself to imagine what actions that person takes and to give a realistic but idealistic narrative of the roadmap they take)

How much impact could they have?

How many lives could they affect?

How many lives could they save?

I’m super excited to read the responses.

STOP READING THIS POST HERE IF YOU PLAN TO DO THE PROMPT (spoiler below)

The reason I did not want you to see this question before you wrote the writing is in the hope to remove the bias from the writing.

The question is: What is stopping you from living that path that you see as most optimal?

(Be honest and serious, I’m looking to help remove the blockage for the stories I resonate with and believe in)

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Sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 9:17 AM

I think the main drawback of this approach is that there is no “average person”. Every person is a unique combination across a broad range of characteristics.

The classic example is the story of how the Airforce first designed the fighter jet cockpits to fit the average fighter pilot but got complaints from the pilots that this didn’t work too well for them. Upon investigating it turned out that there was no pilot in the entire airforce that fit the average pilot used to design the cockpit. They changed their strategy and now allow for multiple ways of adjusting the cockpit to the individual characteristics of the pilots. The rest is history.

I think what this tells us that there are indeed many possibilities for how to be in this world and we all have a unique vantage point on life that no one had but us. Thus, it may not really be about “what should I be” but “what can I offer”.

I am going to write this, except actually taking extra time on it (and I read the spoiler, sorry lol)

I would agree, this is in line with the most important question (or the main question we as humans have) of "What should I be doing".

It's a good framework to really look at life, see the highest path, and ask "what is stopping me?"

Hope other people reply. Feel like every EA should write this article when they join, and then update it along the way as they learn more.

Every time I think about how I can do the most good, I am burdened by questions roughly like

  • How should value be measured? 
  • How should well-being be measured? 
  • How might my actions engender unintended, harmful outcomes? 
  • How can my impact be measured? 

I do not have good answers to these questions, but I would bet on some actions being positively impactful on the net.

For example

  • Promoting vegetarianism or veganism
  • Providing medicine and resources to those in poverty
  • Building robust political institutions in developing countries
  • Promoting policy to monitor develops in AI

W.r.t. the action that is most  positively impactful, my intuition is that it would take the form of safeguarding humanity's future or protecting life on Earth. 

Some possible actions that might fit this bill:  

  • Work that robustly illustrates the theoretical limits of the dangers from and capabilities of superintelligence.
  • Work that accurately encodes human values digitally  
  • A global surveillance system  for human and machine threats
  • A system that protects Earth from solar weather and NEOs

The problem here is that some of these actions might spawn harm, particularly (2) and (3).