Dylan Matthews

112Joined Mar 2022


Hell yes to all of this. I'll also add that as someone who grew up in a small town (not a universal experience but probably a shared one) I found mega-cities like New York or London to be so overwhelming in their scale that just trying to get around was stressful.

DC is, as Anon mentions, a pretty compact city, and young professionals tend to live in a small number of neighborhoods (Petworth, Shaw, Adams Morgan, Columbia Heights, Mt. Pleasant, H St — I'm probably dating myself with this list) that aren't far apart from each other. You can walk from the center of AdMo to the center of Petworth in about 40 minutes. I found that really helpful in getting used to living in a city in general, and getting good at living in a city is useful for doing impactful work.

Anyway, excited to see you all at EAG this month :)

These are all fair points. For myself, I'll say that (a) we have a lot of evidence internally that Vox's readership is pretty left-leaning and (b) I care a lot about persuading people of core EA ideas, like giving impartially and effectively, the importance of global poverty/animals/future people, etc. So naturally when I'm aiming to persuade, I tend to make arguments I think will make sense to the audience I know I have.

I didn't intend the piece to alienate EAs who don't have center-left politics, and apologize if I had that effect anyway. I agree that a strength of the movement is the relative lack of ideological litmus tests, and I hope that continues.

These are great questions; I'd be curious to see some of the major labs write up their answers to 2. As a non-specialist I sometimes struggle to understand the nuances of how what Anthropic's doing differs from what OpenAI does etc etc.

Perhaps helpful: a few years ago Hidden Brain did an episode on my marriage and how my wife (who is a lovely, ethical person, but doesn't identify as EA and has some significant disagreements with some EA ideas) and I (an EA trying his best who's also wrong sometimes) get along. Obviously we're just one couple so our discussions/tensions may not be representative, but I thought Shankar Vedantam and the producer, Rhaina Cohen, did a fantastic job. 

I wonder how much of this is explained by utilitarians selecting out of professional philosophy because of the theory's implications.

I seriously considered philosophy grad school and was discouraged by some mentors who thought that if I took consequentialism seriously, other career options were more promising avenues to impact.

If enough people do that, though, the academy's going to be left leaning against consequentialism.

I appreciate the feedback! I will admit I had not seen Terminator in a while before writing that post. I also appreciate including Paul's follow-up, which is definitely clarifying. Will be clearer about the meaning of "influence" going forward.