Jeffrey Kursonis

Working (15+ years of experience)
159Joined Jun 2022



I've spent my life thinking about how love exists in society, mentoring and coaching, community organizing, movement organizing.  

How others can help me

I've enjoyed becoming part of the EA  movement, I've done the Intro and In-Depth fellowships. My old movement from the past died a while back, I'm in need of a new movement. Maybe there's a spot for me.

How I can help others

As I mentioned in one of my comments on this forum, I love generative friendships...friendships that also generate new things in the world. 


I laughed as I agreed about the "punchable" comment. Certainly, as a non STEM individual much of EA seems punchable to me, SBF's face in particular should inspire a line of punching bags embroidered with it. 

But for this to lead you to downgrade EA community building seems like wildly missing the point, which is to be less punchable, ie. more "normal", "likable", "relatable to average people".  I say this from huge experience in movement building...the momentum and energy a movement like EA creates is tremendous and may even lead to saving the world, and it is simply a movement that has reached a maturation way point that uncovers common normal problems like when you show up to your first real job and discover your college kid cultural mindset needs an update.  

The problem is not EA community building, it is getting seduced by billionaire/elite/elon culture and getting sucked into it like Clinton hanging out with Epstein...Oops. Don't reduce growth energy to a rare energetic movement, just get heads out of billionaire's asses. Said with much love and respect for all you and the early EA pioneers have done. I've seen movements falter, trip and fall...don't do that. Learn and adjust, but do not pull back. EA community building is literally the living body, you can't stop feeding it. 

This comment by Geoffrey Miller is one of the most insightful things I've read. I had a lot of these feelings, but lack the STEM background to say it as you have.  EA did a great very specific thing, but then it went to their head and they saw themselves as able to do all things better. Hopefully this crisis will be the pivot where they see the difference and re-gather past collective wisdom where it's still important. 

And the fastest route to that is to bring in more seasoned veterans, just import the data straight in through their bodies in EA org's.

I love this aspect of EA and rationalists. There's a humility and a passion for finding the best most effective way. I sure hope the lessons of recent times will be strong enough to produce the needed changes, and this is one specific aspect I see the need for - more average people, more experienced elders and more artists...if we had the smartest people available, and we made all these big mistakes, maybe just having the smartest people is not the best mix. 

I would say it's very real because the whole movement is predicated on scientific process and philosophical thinking coming into altruism to make it more effective,  with a strong founding culture from one of the premier academic cultures on the plantet - it draws people who can discuss things in intellectual language, and I don't think more average people are attracted to that kind of community. I would love to see that changed somewhat. For sure someone like Will MacAskill does a great job of communicating more to the common person in his books and talks, which I love. I would like to see much more of that. In the meantime in no way am I wanting to dumb down anything, but it's just we need both...for more altruism to happen, for more energy from more people to come into longtermism and AI safety, we need more and more people. To get more and more people I think we need more spaces with welcoming levels of language, and I think we need way more art...films, videos, graphics, stories...there's a great saying I often share when surveying past positive revolutions in our human history..."Every revolution has it's music". And it's true, the people sing heartily the famous songs of their movements-that is art bringing people together, coralling their emotional movement together forward. 

EA has not yet found it's music. 

To Peter and Geoffrey, I agree but I don't think the dynamics of old and young working together are really an issue until you have young and old working together!  

I don't think there's been a problematic effort to avoid hiring the more experienced, I just think a youthful movement will naturally do as EA has done...but when it reaches a crossroads as it has now, then it's time for some new thinking.  As a practical consideration, some  organizations might not be able to afford hiring more senior people, but EA surely can. 

Hi Robi. Yes it was a movement of young religious leaders who wanted to move forward and try new things and be less restrictive called The Emerging Church was pretty big and had a profound effect on religion in the USA, moving many toward more freedoms. In the past USA Christians weren't as connected to the conservative Republican party, but in the 80's the two came together and won elections and it created a new thing, by the 90's a huge section of the church realized how they'd been co-opted into supporting a conservative agenda and we basically rose up and was also a revolt internally against controls on how services are done and seeking a freedom there to do new more creative's possible to say we had an impact on getting Obama in and legalizing gay marriage, but then sadly it created a huge backlash both in religion and in society, more traditional people were scared by it...I'm not saying we were the only thing of course causing all this but we were right in there. The institutional backlash was brutal many of us lost our jobs or were even excommunicated, but tons of great new things were created that are still going today.  I was the leader of the team organizing local gatherings nationally, kind of like CEA in EA. So it was quite a ride. 

 I'm no longer religious and so it's sometimes a little awkward to bring it up, but thanks for asking...I do believe EA could learn a lot from what we experienced. In the end because of a lack of diversity, that we tried so hard to fix, but it just wasn't fixable, we literally dissolved ourselves and invited in a whole new completely diverse collection of people to take over...they met and began with a lot of hope, but they just didn't coalesce and it fizzled out. It turns out that we had painstakingly built something over time, and you can't just replace it magically, so we gambled to become more diverse but it killed the movement. It was very painful but we did it for the right reasons. How often do you see white male leaders step aside and give their roles to women and people of color? It rarely happens, and almost never en masse as we did. So I'm proud of that, even though sad it ended.  

Also I'm in no way bitter against religion, I love religion and I'm now a Universalist who appreciates all religion, as well as no religion. I like to say I'm a theist M, W & F and an atheist T, Th & Sat and neutral on Sunday.  Somedays I feel faith, other days it seems impossible.  There are others like me, this is a possible way to live...I don't suggest it to others, but for me it allows me to be in solidarity with all humans and to not exclude any while being faithful to my own belief and non-belief.  In the altruistic world it gives a great ability to understand and connect with people of faith, and since charities must contend with local faith communities and their leaders that is a really facilitating thing. 

Hi Liv.  I think there's a lot of truth in these statements, but I think there's another side balancing it that is kind of hard to avoid -- movements just start and grow, the grow from where they started, they attract people that were where they started -- same dynamic happened in my past movement which I mention...EA started with young academics on campuses, that's who populated it, it could have been much smaller and not controversial, but fate happened and big money came in and that's what put it on it's course toward all that's happening now...You kind of just can't help where you came from.  So the question isn't how can I change where I came from, but now that I'm here in my current reality, what can I do going forward to improve things? I have no real criticisms of how EA has done things, I love it, think it's amazing, so grateful for it...I applaud the amazing young people who created it...but now with success it's found itself in a new kind of crazy maybe it's time for some new energies within the group, I think diversity of all kinds and governance which empowers the new diversity is the path. 

The problem with some criticisms is they imagine you could go back and change where you came from...the statements you gathered here that you're asking for comment on kind of have that feeling for me...but I think some of it is very true now in the current reality...and it would be good to change some things, but it wasn't planned or some huge mistake, it's just how things developed from where it started.

Yes Wil, I totally understand what you're saying, I write essays in my own style...writers spend years developing their own styles, so that's what it is...that's out of sync with the more intellectual/scientific style of EA, no intro here explaining epistemic confidence levels...but I prefer to just represent a different style...Guy, in the comment above seems to think this approach encourages more diversity in the movement, and I agree. Also if you read me more in the future, as promised in this post, I will write on the need for more Artists in EA and that is my community, and so writing in this more personal artistic essay style is I think part of what EA so desperately needs...process and goal in love and making out, planning their happy future together :)

Hey friends, this is Jeffrey, that was a great meeting, I felt it was too short.  I'll communicate more here or in Slack about creating a creative media clearinghouse/cooperative for EA...I even have a name: CAMA - Cooperative for Altruistic Media Arts

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