Topic Contributions


Who are your role models?

Bruce Friedrich, executive director of The Good Food Institute. Before GFI even existed he impressed me with his savvy and commitment in effective advocacy for farm animals while he was at PETA. I don't know anyone else who has been so good at long term planning to reduce suffering and then executing on that plan. Except maybe Dustin Moskowitz or Bill Gates, but I am more impressed with Friedrich since he did not start out from a place of wealth. 

Has Life Gotten Better?

It's interesting that the time of "life getting better" is basically the same time as "humans increasingly using fossil fuels." I have heard the argument (which I am not yet educated enough to have an opinion on) that all of the economic growth and improvements in standards of living over the last few hundred years have been enabled by cheap, abundant, dense, and easily transportable energy, aka fossil fuels. 

Therefore, one reason we could be on the cusp of a crazier time is that the world is basically telling fossil fuel companies to limit new exploration and drilling while we don't really yet have a replacement ready. To be clear, I am an environmentalist and think we do need to limit and reduce fossil fuel use and ultimately get to net zero emissions by 2050 as a planet. But the magnitude of this task may be under-appreciated, and the likelihood that the energy transition produces chaotic and negative side effects may similarly be under-appreciated.

The Cost of Rejection

Thanks for your post. You offer valuable thoughts, and I only have one small additional one. Having now been through a stage of my career where I have done hiring, I know the process is way more arbitrary (and less sophisticated) than I previously realized. When I was younger I used to take job rejections way more personally than I should have based on what I know now. There are all sorts of sub-optimal reasons hiring decisions are made, and applicants should not take rejection as a strong signal about their skills, talents, or future potential (IMO). Still, I do think it's important that hiring managers be as respectful as possible and give feedback when they are able. 

If I could give advice to my 22-year-old self it would be, "if you want to work for a certain organization or in a certain field badly enough, just keep persisting through every rejection. The act of persistence alone will increase your probability of working in that area. Also, put yourself in the shoes of the hiring manager. What do you think they want to hear from an ideal prospective applicant? Don't lie or mislead, but if you really think you will be a good fit for a position, freely tell your interviewers how devoted you will be to the work. They want to hear passion."

Holden Karnofsky on the most important century

Was I the only one who found it coincidental that there was this conversation about a more technologically advanced intelligence colonizing the galaxy just a few months after the US government released a report acknowledging we have no explanations for all the UFO sightings over the past decades? It seems like perhaps life on another planet beat Holden's most important century to the punch. Maybe we are their simulation? I never thought much about UFOs before 2021, but given the evidence that has come to light, it seems like Occam's razor suggests a vastly more technologically sophisticated intelligence is already on earth.

Public Health Research

I agree on the challenges of deploying results. I think the primary value in public health research is empowering individuals to make good decisions for themselves. For example, sites like WedMD and Healthline add a lot of value for individuals trying to improve their families' health. I don't think the answer is already out there on obesity and many other chronic diseases. If it is, I would appreciate someone directing me to it. :)