78Joined Mar 2022


Highly suggest producing some diagrams 

I think EA's obsession with maximization is an issue and impacts inclusivity of our the community (similar thinking, similar life experiences, similar socio-economic status, similar gender/sex/etc).

Holden Karnofsky summarises this really well in a blog (EA is about maximization, and maximization is perilous):

If you’re maximizing X, you’re asking for trouble by default. You risk breaking/downplaying/shortchanging lots of things that aren’t X, which may be important in ways you’re not seeing. Maximizing X conceptually means putting everything else aside for X — a terrible idea unless you’re really sure you have the right X.

EA is about maximizing how much good we do. What does that mean? None of us really knows. EA is about maximizing a property of the world that we’re conceptually confused about, can’t reliably define or measure, and have massive disagreements about even within EA. By default, that seems like a recipe for trouble.

I think the FTX scandal raises some serious questions about just how well the community is positioned to forecast the future and hence direct large amounts of money that can actually have a net negative impact and how the EA community can essentially be a big echo chamber.

While the EA community claims to favour wild ideas, I think the community is still relatively narrowly focused on a few select cause areas even those these are highly uncertain and we may be completely unaware of other issues. I know the known unknowns have been covered by Toby Ord and others but I think we need to make sure we continue to seek diverse experiences, skills, thinking, and disciplines.

Important point - religions evolve. Which would raise the question of whether Christianity would still be Christianity. But many people draw upon core religious teaching and integrate it into their moral compasses or insights into reality - what many of us coin as 'spirituality'. For example, Jesus as a role model and Christian insights on love-unity, 'grace', empathy and compassion.  Buddhist insights on interconnectedness and direct experience. Islamic themes of surrender. It would not be unconceivable that conflict between dogma and secular 'truths' would drive one's religious believes to evolve.

I agree with some other commenters, some better paragraphing would make it an easier read and it doesn't discuss the existing EA stance enough.

I do think you're onto something here though: "EA assessments of climate change tend to be far too simplistic, failing to grasp how the interplay between felt temperature rises, soil fertility collapse, fresh water depletion and biodiversity loss are creating the perfect conditions for a major collapse in global food production. "

In general, and understandably, there seems to be a hyper focus on carbon emission driven CC given this is a prime driver of CC. However,  underlining the issue is our extractive and destructive approach to nature that ultimately destabilises various earth systems (biochemical flows, habitat destruction and land-use change, ocean acidification, etc etc) . 

For this reason I really like the Planetary Boundaries framework which takes a more systems-oriented view https://www.stockholmresilience.org/research/planetary-boundaries.html

"The scientists proposed quantitative planetary boundaries within which humanity can continue to develop and thrive for generations to come. Crossing these boundaries increases the risk of generating large-scale abrupt or irreversible environmental changes. Since then the planetary boundaries framework has generated enormous interest within science, policy, and practice."

Beat me to it,  pressure from bottom up and top down are probably both needed. Also, could we say in a way that most politicians (those that don't directly influence the  given topic) can also be considered technically part of the wider public since they are media consumers.  Sometimes this can lead to sideways pressure.

Can we really say that crime reduces urban densities? Wouldn't the socio-economics come first, followed by crime as a multiplier on the impact on destruction of a community and its health.

Separately to the above, I think you make a really good point about foot patrolling. There is a link here to criminology and environmental psychology of why and where crime occurs to consider.

I'll try not to butcher the history too much as I am an engineer/designer but I understand that the prevailing view was that  crime in inner cities was seen as a natural behaviour of the poorer masses as a result of their innate psychology. Researchers gradually discovered that its really environment shapes much of make drives a crime to occur (noting the variety of crime that can occur).

So to your point on patrolling large areas, then getting large-scale Urban Planning is absolutely key here. Sprawl plagues North America and many developing countries and results in what you said. Good Urban Planning would facilitate better policing as well as a range of other factors that improve well-being, health, and productivity.

Side story - I recently visited Limerick, Ireland for a project. The city has previously been plagued by drug crime and gang-land family violence. The police there stated that it was a combination of hard-line policing on violence AND community policing (building relationship with the wider community) which changed the situation. So I'm sure there are times when hard-line and tough policing is needed.

So all-in-all, does the solution start with urban planning?

My apologies for missing this! Its worth noting that lighting alone doesn't make a space safer (in feeling or reality), it is a mixture of factors with other people (bystanders or allies) being around.  My lighting designer colleagues did some interesting work on this here with Plan International and Monash University

The CPTED page on wiki gives a good starter but if you want to read more, you can have a look at this academic paper.

Hi, my day job is in Urban Resilience Consulting (so less on technical and academic side) and I'd love to potentially hear about retreats and work in this area. 

You should also be aware of the UK Royal Academy of Engineering's work in this area via their Safer Complex Systems program. They'd probably welcome some collaboration.

 One solution area worth adding to this potentially is Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) (I'm biased because its part of my day-job). 

CPTED is a theory of discouraging crime through architecture and urban planning. Think consideration for circulation routes, lighting, 'eyes on the street', and encouraging positive use of space. 

Embedding crime prevention on a project-by-project basis would have a highly scalable impact.  In the UK, Aus, and in Europe, some local and city authorities have local urban plans which usually  require designs to have a positive impact in reducing crime and increasing community safety through consideration for security. 

So I wonder if expanding this through planning policy and connecting it further into social treatments for crime could have a large impact. 

While will not treat the direct economic and social causes of crime, it would:

  1. Provide the environment to help stop crime propagating.
  2. Support well-designed cities, indirectly improving mental, physical, and social health.
  3. Supporting urban environments more functional and more economically productive.

Further to this, one other important area is Fear of Crime.  Which designing environments in a specific way can directly reduce.

You said a few times about the difficulty of using the breath as an object of meditation. I can't understate the importance of noting that friction as just another object.

My 10-day retreat was the most productive and important experience in meditation I've had. 

I also completely agree on Metta (Loving-Kindness) being an absolutely fantastic technique.

I would also highlight Shinzen Young's work as another systematic approach (he's also been working on a 'enlightenment tech' with UofArizona  (https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/video/2021/jun/29/hacking-enlightenment-can-ultrasound-help-you-transcend-reality)

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