Yes, agreed — thanks for pointing this out!
Hi Jim, thanks for this post — I enjoyed reading it!
I agree that the Upside-Focused Colonist Curse is an important selection effect to keep in mind. Like you, I'm uncertain as to just how large of an effect it'll turn out to be, so I'm especially excited to see empirical work that tries to estimate its magnitude. Regardless, though I'm glad that people are working on this!
I wanted to push back somewhat, though, on the first potential implication that you draw out — that the existence of the UCC diminishes the importance of x-risk reduction, since on account of the UCC, whether humans control their environment (planet, solar system, lightcone, etc.) is unlikely to matter significantly. As I understand it, the argument goes like this:
While I agree that the existence of selection effects on our future values diminishes the importance of x-risk reduction somewhat, I think (4) is far too strong of a conclusion to draw. This is because, while I'm happy to grant (1) and (2), (3) seems unsupported.
In particular, for (3) to go through, it seems like it would need to be the case that (a) selection pressures in favor of grabby values are very strong, such that they are "major players" in determining the long-term trajectory of a civilization's values; and (b) under the influence of these selection pressures, civilizations beginning with very different value systems converge on a relatively small region in "values space", such that there aren't morally significant differences between the values they converge on. I find both of these relatively implausible:
These points aside, though, I want to reiterate that I think the main point of the post is very interesting and a potentially important consideration — thanks again for the post!