aaron_mai

Pursuing an undergraduate degree
96Joined Sep 2020

Bio

I'm a third year undergrad in cognitive science; currently testing out research in psychology (AI and aesthetics) and philosophy (social epistemology); very keen to dive deeper into forecasting in the future. 

Feel free to reach out via dm!

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Topic Contributions
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However, even if we'd show that the repugnance of the repugnant conclusion is influenced in these ways or even rendered unreliable, I doubt the same would be true for the "very repugnant conclusion":

for any world A with billions of happy people living wonderful lives, there is a world Z+ containing both a vast amount of mildly-satisfied lizards and billions of suffering people, such that Z+ is better than A.

(Credit to joe carlsmith who mentioned this on some podcast)

Thanks for the post!

I'm particularly interested in the third objection you present - that the value of "lives barely worth living" may be underrated.

I wonder to what extent the intuition that world Z is bad compared to A is influenced by framing effects. For instance, if I think of "lives net positive but not by much", or something similar, this seems much more valueable than "lives barely worth living", allthough it means the same in population ethics (as I understand it).

I'm also sympathetic to the claim that ones response to world Z may be affected by ones perception of the goodness of the ordinary (human) life. Perhaps, buddhists, who are convinced that ordinary life is pervaded with suffering, view any live that is net-positive as remarkably good.

Do you know if there exists any psychological literature on any of these two hypotheses? I'd be interested to research both.

How could the universe be infinitely large? 

I ask this question in the context of thinking about infinite ethics. It seems to me that I would need to give up at least one of three beliefs about the universe in order to coherently think that it is infinitely large. They are:

(i) at some past point in time t the universe was finitely large

(ii) since t a finite amount of time has passed

(iii) since t the universe has always expanded with finite speed

To the extent that I continue to believe all three, I would have to be convinced that the universe is finite. Right? 

My very layman understanding of the big bang theory is that it implies (i) and (ii), i.e. that the universe was initially a finite matter-blobb and that the universe has started to expand a finite amount of time ago (~13 billion years give or take).  

So, which of these assumptions are given up by e.g. cosmologists who take seriously that the universe is infinitely large? Or put another way, which of these assumptions is least likely given our current understanding of physics?

I agree that it seems like a good idea to get somewhat familiar with that literature if we want to translate "longtermism" well.

I think I wouldn't use "Langzeitethik" as this suggests, as you say, that longtermism is a field of research. In my mind, "longtermism" typically refers to a set of ethical views or a group of people/institutions. Probably people sometimes use the term to refer to a research field, but my impression is that this rather rare. Is that correct? :)

Also, I think that a new term - like "Befürworter der Langzeitverantwortung" - which is significantly longer than the established term, is unlikely to stick around both in conversation or in writing. "Longtermists" is faster to say and, at least in the beginning, easier to understand among EAs, so I think that people will prefer that. This might matter for the translation. It could be kind of confusing if the term in the new German EA literature is quite different from the one that is actually used by people in the German community

Out of curiosity: how do you adjust for karma inflation? 

This seems a bit inaccurate to me in a few ways, but I'm unsure how accurate we want to be here.

First, when the entry talks about "consequentialism" it seems to identify it with a decision procedure:  "Consequentialists are supposed to estimate all of the effects of their actions, and then add them up appropriately". In the literature, there is usually a distinction made between consequentialism as a criterion of rightness and a decision procedure, and it seems to me like many endorse the latter and not the former. 

Secondly, it seems to identify consequentialism with act-consequentialism, because it only refers to consequences of individual actions as the criterion for evaluation. 

Red team: is it actually rational to have imprecise credences in possible longrun/indirect effects of our actions rather than precise ones?

Why: my understanding from Greaves (2016) and Mogensen (2020) is that this has been necessary to argue for the cluelessness worry.

Thanks! :) And great to hear that you are working on a documentary film for EA, excited to see that!

Re: EA-aligned Movies and Documentaries 

I happen to know a well-established documentary filmmaker, whos areas of interest overlap with EA topics. I want to pitch him to work on a movie about x-risks. Do you have any further info about the kinds of documentaries you'd like to fund? Anything that's not obvious from the website.  

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