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Will MacAskill: I think this was a huge realization for me. And I have to thank a very excellent therapist, who I have subsequently put a bunch of EAs onto. I think she was really confused with why she gets so many referrals from me. Because when I came in there — in 2012, 2013, probably even earlier, 2011 — I definitely had this mindset that the self-flagellation, the negative blame propaganda was very important. I remember she said, “Well, you seem very stressed.” I was like, “Of course I’m stressed. I’m a utilitarian.”

Rob Wiblin: “We have to suffer!”

Will MacAskill: Exactly.

Rob Wiblin: That’s the core part of the philosophy.

Will MacAskill: Exactly. It felt like it’s a sacrifice of my own wellbeing, but it’s in order to achieve things.

(My mistake, on the quote being inexact. I am fixing it now.)

Forgive me if I'm thick, but isn't this equivalent to saying the elasticities of supply and demand for offense and defense rarely change over time? The price might go up or down, factor markets might change, but ratios remain stable?

This makes sense, but I worry it is not Hayekian enough. People are the ones who respond to price changes; nations are the ones who respond to price changes in the cost of defense, deterrence, and attack. In the long run, there is equilibrium. But in the short run, everyone is making adjustments all the time and the costs fluctuate wildly, as does who has the upper hand. 

The Athenians have the upper hand until Spartans figure out siege warfare, the 11th century nobles of Aragon and Barcelona are consolidated and made more subservient to the King-count Jaume II by his monopoly on trebuchets, the Mongols had logistics advances that gave them a 60 year moat.

The question isn't whether there is equilibrium, but how long until we get there, which equilibrium is it, and what mischief is caused in the meantime. Human action and choices determines the answer to these questions. 

I can't believe I didn't read this until just now. You are attacking unstated assumption of the philanthropy community writ large, but which includes EA. One is that better psychology is an area for philanthropy and altruism minded people to care about. Most people in our society put the needs of the body far higher than psychological/"spiritual" needs (and neglect taking care of the psychological distress of others as a work of charity). I think this argument would actually have to be won in order for the psychedelics argument to work as a promising new subset of that line, which I can buy that it may be. The metaphysical assumption that the mind matters as a separate issue from the needs of the body and that there are big gains to having better psychological tools for making the mind better or at least to not suffer. Once again, however, I suspect that most people have a hard time believing that better psychological states for people like them would have better visible real-world effects. They don't believe in a tight coupling of greater psychological health and real-world improvement for people who are already doing fairly well on both fronts.

I love this! 

How to Measure Anything is in the Global Poverty  section, so don't forget to fix that!

Governance could probably handle The Myth of the Rational Voter.

I wonder if The Model Thinker should be included as a high-value easy to read mathematical modelling book. 

Is there a physical location or office? Whom does the role report to? What are example emergencies where reservists would be activated? What would they do when activated? Are there comparable orgs in other domains I should index to when thinking about ALERT? How many hours / week, roughly? What does it mean that the role would not be on duty most days? Is there an existing staff or would one need to be hired? When the National Guard is activated they are called away to a physical space to work with others, is it like that?

Thanks for the correction!

Sorry, Bryan!

The idea that life is inherently sweet and good is from Aristotle (Politics III.6). 

And therefore, men, even when they do not require one another's help, desire to live together; not but that they are also brought together by their common interests in proportion as they severally attain to any measure of well-being. This is certainly the chief end, both of individuals and of states. And also for the sake of mere life (in which there is possibly some noble element so long as the evils of existence do not greatly overbalance the good) mankind meet together and maintain the political community. And we all see that men cling to life even at the cost of enduring great misfortune, seeming to find in life a natural sweetness and happiness.

The idea that even if you don't currently enjoy raising children that you will eventually see the value is taken from the Ethics (that your character will develop towards the character of a righteous person) and Agnes Callard (that you can bootstrap to higher plane of values through aspiration). 

I think mine was a pretty fair representation of the classical Aristotelian view, except I said "update utility function" instead of "develop a more virtuous character."  

I am open for correction here, but I believe it works like so:

Consider this argument from The New Geography of Jobs. Productivity is higher where jobs are of the smarter type. However in those places blue collar jobs are higher paid and in demand too. The high productivity job-holders have more income to dispose on a variety of service sectors. But if there is not enough saturation of the labor market there will not be the quantity and quality of service sector jobs will be lower and the cost will be higher. If the service sector labor market is significantly constricted, the productive, smart jobs will be less productive too.

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