We've got 3 or so hours — what should I ask him?
We've got 3 or so hours — what should I ask him?
Previous MCE projects like abolitionism or liberal projects like extending suffrage to non-landowning non-whitemales were fighting against the forcible removal of voice from people who had the ability to speak for themselves. Contemporary MCE projects like animals and future people do not share this property; I believe that animals cannot advocate for themselves, and the best proxy for future peoples' political interests I can think of falls really short. In this light, does it make any sense at all to say that there's a continuity of MCE activism across domains/problem areas?
I think it makes sense for, say, covid-era vaccine administrators to think of themselves as carrying on the legacy of the groups who put smallpox in the ground, but it may not make the same sense for longtermists to think of themselves as carrying on the legacy of slavery abolition just because both families of projects in some sense look like MCE.
Related, does classifying abolitionism as an MCE project downplay the agency of the slaves and over emphasize the actions of non-enslaved altruists/activists?
In other words, contemporary MCE/liberalism may actually be agents fighting for patients, whereas prior MCE/liberalism was agents who happen to have political recognition fighting with agents who happen to lack recognition. Does this distinction hold water with respect to your research?
Given that longtermism seems to have turned out to be a crucial consideration which a prior might have been considered counterintuitive or very absurd, should we be on the lookout for similarly important but wild & out-there options? How far should the EA community be willing to ride the train to crazy town (or, rather, how much variance should there be in the EA community for this? Normal or log-normal)?
For example one could consider things like multiverse-wide cooperation, acausal trade, options of creating infinite amounts of value and how to compare those (although I guess this is already been thought about in the area of infinite ethics, and try to actively search for them & figure out their implications (which doesn't appear to have much prominence in EA at the moment). (Other examples listed here)
I remember a post by Tomasik (can't find it right now) where he argues that the expected size of a new crucial consideration should be the the average of all past instances of such new instances, if we apply this here, the possible value seems high.
For some classes of meta-ethical dilemmas, Moral Uncertainty recommends using variance voting, which requires you to know the mean and variance of each theory under consideration.
How is this applied in practice? Say I give 95% weight to Total Utilitarianism and 5% weight to Average Utilitarianism, and I'm evaluating an intervention that's valued differently by each theory. Do I literally attempt to calculate values for variance? Or am I just reasoning abstractly about possible values?
Can Longtermism succeed without creating a benevolent stable authoritarianism given that it is unlikely that all humans will converge to the same values? Without such a hegemony or convergence of values, doesn't it seem like conflicting interests among different humans will eventually lead to a catastrophic outcome?
I have an intuition that eliminating the severe suffering of say, 1 million people, might be more important than creating hundreds of trillions of happy people who would otherwise never exist. It's not that I think there is no value in creating new happy people. It's just that I think (a) the value of creating new happy people is qualitatively different than that of reducing severe suffering, and (b) sometimes, when two things are of qualitatively different value, no amount of 1 can add up to a certain amount of the other.
For example, consider two "intelligence machines" with qualitatively different kinds of intelligences. One does complex abstract reasoning and the other counts. I think it would be the case that no matter how much better you made the counting machine at counting, it would never surpass the intelligence of the abstract machine. Even though the counting machine gest more intelligent with each improvement, it never matches the intelligence of the abstract machine since the latter is of a qualitatively different and superior nature. Similarly, I value both deep romantic love and eating french fries, but I wouldn't trade in a deep and fulfilling romance for any amount of french fries (even if I never got sick of fries). And I value human happiness and ant happiness, but wouldn't trade in a million happy humans for any amount of happy ants.
In the same vein, I suspect that the value of reducing the severe suffering of millions is qualitatively different from and superior to the value of creating new happy people such that the latter can never match the former.
Do you think there's anything to this intuition?
Bostrom's vulnerable world hypothesis paper seems to suggest that existential security (xsec) isn't going to happen, that we need a dual of the yudkowsky-moore law of mad science that raises our vigilance every timestep to keep up with the drops in minimal IQ it costs to destroy the world. A lifestyle of such constant vigilance seems leagues away from the goals that futurists tend to get excited about, like long reflections, spacefaring, or a comprehensive assault on suffering itself. Is xsec (in the sense of freedom from extinction being reliable and permanent enough to permit us to do common futurist goals) the kind of thing you would actually expect to see if you lived till the year 3000, 30000, or do you think the world would be in a state of constant vigilance (fear, paranoia) as a bargain for staying alive? What are the most compelling reasons to think that a strong form of xsec, one that doesn't depend on some positive rate of heightening vigilance in perpetuity, is worth thinking about at all?