Podcast: Marcus Davis on Nuclear War, Invertebrate Sentience, Foundational Research, & the Demographics of Effective Altruism

by Garrison1 min read13th Dec 2019No comments


Rethink Priorities

Latest episode of my podcast "The Most Interesting People I Know": http://bit.ly/34kDjvs

Marcus Davis is the co-founder and lead researcher at Rethink Priorities, a nonprofit conducting foundational research on neglected causes within the Effective Altruism movement. Marcus also co-founded Charity Entrepreneurship and Charity Science Health. Rethink Priorities has put out a lot of impactful research on topics like nuclear war, invertebrate sentience, and ballot initiatives, in addition to taking on the crucial task of conduc ing the annual Effective Altruism survey. They’ve managed to do a lot with an annual budget of less than half a million dollars and are accepting donations. Residents in the US, UK, Canada, Germany and Switzerland can make tax-deductible donations here: https://www.rethinkpriorities.org/donate

We discuss: 

Rethink Priorities’ goals, how much we should worry about nuclear war, fish stocking, the promise of ballot measures for passing progressive policies and animal welfare protections, recent ballot measures on psychedelic decriminalization, determining the sentience of animals, whether octopuses are aliens, who makes up the Effective Altruism movement, how to reach people who aren't young STEM grads, how less effective interventions can still be improvements over the status quo, the ways in which EA doesn't reflect society at large and steps that could be taken to rectify that, and what Rethink Priorities can do with your money

Show notes:

Luisa Rodriguez’s series on nuclear war

The Doomsday Machine by Daniel Ellsberg

Rethink Priorities’ presentation on ballot initiatives

Psychedelic ballot initiatives

Nagel’s paper “What Is It Like to Be a Bat”

Invertebrate Sentience Table

David Foster Wallace’s essay “Consider the Lobster”

Other Minds by Peter Godfrey-Smith

Octopuses may be aliens: A controversial study has a new spin on the otherworldliness of the octopus

Results of the 2018 EA survey

Article on GiveDirectly’s disaster relief program: Google’s unusual plan for disaster relief: just give survivors money

Superintelligence: The Idea That Eats Smart People

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