Research scholar @ FHI and assistant to Toby Ord. Philosophy student before that.


Why AI is Harder Than We Think - Melanie Mitchell

I would love to read more about 'Fallacy 1: Narrow intelligence is on a continuum with general intelligence'. It sounds plausible to an outsider like myself, and not just in the 'minds have some sorcerous essence which silicone will never reach' sense. 

Possible misconceptions about (strong) longtermism

Fantastic post, thanks for taking the time to write it :)

A full syllabus on longtermism

To make this list easier to navigate, I've compiled it into a spreadsheet, and organised as many as the PDFs as I can into one place:

I'm not totally sure about whether it's ok to re-upload a bunch of published academic writing like this — would be interested in people's thoughts. For what it's worth, I haven't uploaded anything that was behind a paywall or not publicly available.

Anyway, hope some people find this useful!

A full syllabus on longtermism

Thanks so much for making this — awesome work! It's worth noting how little in the way of published academic writing addresses longtermism specifically, and by name. Hopefully that'll change over the next couple of years.

How many hits do the hits of different EA sites get each year?

By 'this site' do you mean the forum or all the other resources on In either case, if the 80,000 Hours site counts as an EA site then I highly doubt that! My guess is that the answer is going to depend on how wide the catchment is for 'EA site', but most construals are going to put 80K right out in front. Maybe GiveWell is up there, plus the GWWC site and The Life You Can Save. I also think that Nick Bostrom's personal site gets a surprising number of hits. I would guess the forum is middling to top around these sites? Very interested in being proved wrong about that!

Obviously all these sites have their own numbers, but I haven't seem them pooled together in some publicly available resource (nor am I sure that would be useful). I do know of some exact numbers but don't think it would be sensible to share them without permission. Unfortunately, in my experience it's also not totally straightforward to glean those stats from the outside, although search engine rankings etc are a good proxy.

Resources On Mental Health And Finding A Therapist

Thanks so much for taking the time to post this!

Open thread: Get/give feedback on career plans

I recently made a very hard decision, having drawn it out far too long and become really anxious and low about the whole thing in the end. I think I did a few things wrong, so would be happy to speak to anyone having a hard time weighing between really good but hard to compare options. Also, this may not be a great idea, but I think it might be nice to speak to someone I don't know to get an outside view on whether I made a good call, since I'm still in a weird / unresolved place about it. If anyone is up for chatting, I can share the doc I made detailing the two options and my thought process. Cheers!

Introduction to Longtermism

Thanks so much for both these comments! I definitely missed some important detail there.

finm's Shortform

I think it can be useful to motivate longtermism by drawing an analogy to the prudential case — swapping out the entire future for your future, and only considering what would make your life go best.

Suppose that one day you learned that your ageing process had stopped. Maybe scientists identified the gene for ageing, and found that your ageing gene was missing. This amounts to learning that you now have much more control over how long you live than previously, because there's no longer a process imposed on you from outside that puts a guaranteed ceiling on your lifespan. If you die in the next few centuries, it'll most likely be due to an avoidable, and likely self-imposed, accident. What should you do?

To begin with, you might try a bit harder to avoid those avoidable risks to your life. If previously you had adopted a laissez faire attitude to wearing seatbelts and helmets, now could be time to reconsider. You might also being to spend more time and resources on things which compound their benefits over the long-run. If you'd been putting off investing because of the hassle, you now have a much stronger reason to get round to it. 5% returns for 30 years multiplies your original investment just over fourfold. 5% returns for 1,000 years works out at a significantly more attractive multiplier of more than 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. If keeping up your smoking habit is likely to lead to lingering lung problems which are very hard or costly to cure, you might care much more about kicking that habit soon. And you might begin to care more about 'meta' skills, like learning how to learn. While previously such skills seemed frivolous, now it's clear there's time for them to pay dividends. Finally, you might want to set up checks against some slide into madness, boredom, or destructive behaviour which living so long could make more likely. So you think carefully about your closest-held values, and write them down as a guide. You draw up plans for quickly kicking an addiction before it's too late.

When you learned that your future could contain far more value than you originally thought, certain behaviours and actions became far more important than you thought. Yet, most of those behaviours were sensible things to do anyway. Far from diminishing their importance, this fact should only underline them. The analogy to our collective predicament should be clear.

Curious to hear people's thoughts, and also whether this might make a nice (if short) post.

Load More