Voice actor interested in EA stories and AI Safety. I studied psychology and sociology of sustainability. I also currently work in communications & fundraising.
I liked Cognitively-Based Compassion Training. They do global live sessions with trained instructors 5 times a week over zoom. Let me know what you think if you try it.
I imagine many of us spend a lot of time sitting and staring at screens. What would make this less bad? What are some alternatives we could do sometimes? What are the health and other costs and benefits compared to possible alternatives?
For example, doing a phone call and walking vs a zoom meeting. For one on one meetings that seems like it would often be a good idea. For small groups, maybe you need an agenda and do a rotation on everyone's thoughts/updates as you go down each item, to cut down on awkwardness/time wasted not knowing who is about to speak, and make sure everyone gets a chance to contribute what they know. I used to do meetings like this years ago but I completely forgot since now it seems like we default to video conferencing automatically.
Wow this sounds awesome!
Meditating is definitely one of the best ways I've found to be happier, kinder, and calmer. Even when I feel like I don't have time, I can tell there's a difference from doing just 30 seconds or a minute a day.
Thanks! Sometimes I wonder if it's even worth thinking about topics like this since it seems so hard to see how it would even have an impact (and even if it did I could be wrong) so I'm glad you did.
So would you say: "P1. If Consequentialist reasoning would actually justify X.
P2. And X is not justifiable.
C. Therefore, consequentialism is wrong in this case."?
As you mention, increases in efficiency tend to be followed by equal increases in consumption in society absent other incentives and policies. So it's understandable that some people might think we need some limits on resource extraction. And that some think we might be better off continuing innovation within those sustainable limits, instead of hoping we will always be able to invent technology that allows us to ignore those resource limits and failing to plan for possible limits. It does seem intuitively satisfying to just throw my hands up at the political system and hope technology solves everything, but I wonder if that's more a result of laziness and despair than well reasoned understanding and moral correctness. The 40 hour work week was once unthinkable. So were child labor laws. So was a ban on CFCs. What if people had just given up? What if we had just hoped someone would invent a better alternative to CFCs that caught on in time, and we allowed the ozone to be destroyed? Instead, we got rid of CFCs and invested in new technology. Technology does not develop in a political vacuum. We would not have seen over 90% cost reductions in technologies like solar during the past 10 years without major investments and support from the Obama administration. Reducing carbon emissions is an example of "degrowth" in one sector of the economy. The wealthiest 10% of the world are responsible for over half of emissions in 2015. That's not exactly a decoupling of wealth/consumption/pollution, in my opinion. And we know that happiness barely increases above $75,000 a year, so is rising GDP really benefiting most people when it mainly goes to the top 10%? It makes sense that some restrictions on the 10%'s huge resource use could potentially be helpful in making sure there is enough for everyone to thrive (and may even be good for the overwealthy too). For example, banning all new fossil fuel extraction and creating a carbon tax that is used to fund clean energy jobs will improve the health of millions and save thousands of lives by reducing air pollution. Most people would consider this good overall, even if it limits growth compared to allowing fossil fuel extraction to expand alongside renewables. And there's a good case to be made that in the long run, damage from fossil fuels would cause even greater degrowth from massive, sudden, and sustained shocks to the economy rather than more gradual, palatable, and planned transitions in production and innovation. Most people would prefer to work less so that they can spend more time with friends, family, and passion projects. And 9 out of 10 people would even give up $23 out of every $100 they would ever make for a guarantee of more meaningful work. So it's not clear to me that more consumption is always the best way to increase well-being for people compared to other options or that we should solely pursue a strategy of ignoring resource limits and hoping for the best with technology investments. To summarize, I don't feel particularly attached to one perspective or the other. Here are three questions I have. 1. Why shouldn't we set sustainable limits on resource extraction and continue to invest in technology? Why is ignoring the possibility of running out of resources and betting everything on innovating our way out of all of those limits within a few decades better than a more careful approach? There are plenty of people who chop down an entire forest today for a quick buck rather than harvest sustainably in perpetuity, even if the latter would generate more wealth in the long run.
2. A lot of people would rather have more time and meaningful work than money. Why should we ignore their preferences instead of taking a more flexible approach that allows people greater freedom over what they do (maybe through policies like offering shorter work weeks, building more affordable housing, and even some sort of basic income perhaps - all funded by taxing wealth and/or sharing assets) rather than trying to maximize GDP growth at their expense - or at least without prioritizing them as much - like we have often done over the past few decades?
3. It's not clear to me that all increases in growth and consumption necessarily mean greater happiness, creativity, and innovation forever. Why not reduce certain kinds of consumption and use those resources to increase investments in innovation? Why should we be opposed to potentially reducing consumption overall even when it ends up boosting happiness overall? I think there's sometimes truth to the saying "less is more." There's diminishing marginal utility to much consumption. Some people overeat while others barely have enough; some people are stressed because they work so much, while others are stressed because they don't have enough work to be sure they can afford to live; and so on.
I would love to help out with these, especially reading!
This is a really interesting framework. If you're interested in diving into some ideas for more transformative social change I think I can recommend a few, though I'm not that knowledgeable about them.
Cooperation Jackson is another kind of organization level ecosystem example.
If you find these useful, I could probably think of a few more examples.