Were the Great Tragedies of History “Mere Ripples”?

[Responding to Alex HT above:]

I'll try to find the time to respond to some of these comments. I would strongly disagree with most of them. For example, one that just happened to catch my eye was: "Longtermism does not say our current world is replete with suffering and death."

So, the target of the critique is Bostromism, i.e., the systematic web of normative claims found in Bostrom's work. (Just to clear one thing up, "longtermism" as espoused by "leading" longtermists today has been hugely influenced by Bostromism -- this is a fact, I believe, about intellectual genealogy, which I'll try to touch upon later.)

There are two main ingredients of Bostromism, I argue: total utilitarianism and transhumanism. The latter absolutely does indeed see our world the way many  religious traditions have: wretched, full of suffering, something to ultimately be transcended (if not via the rapture or Parousia then via cyborgization and mind-uploading). This idea, this theme, is so prominent in transhumanist writings that I don't know how anyone could deny it.

Hence, if transhumanism is an integral component of Bostromism (and it is), and if Bostromism is a version of longtermism (which it is, on pretty much any definition), then the millennialist view that our world is in some sort of "fallen state" is an integral component of Bostromism, since this millennialist view is central to the normative aspects of transhumanism.

Just read "Letter from Utopia." It's saturated in a profound longing to escape our present condition and enter some magically paradisiacal future world via the almost supernatural means of radical human enhancement. (Alternatively, you could write a religious scholar about transhumanism. Some have, in fact, written about the ideology. I doubt you'd find anyone who'd reject the claim that transhumanism is imbued with millennialist tendencies!)

Clarifying existential risks and existential catastrophes

Have you seen my papers on the topic, by chance? One is published in Inquiry, the other is forthcoming. Send me an email if you'd like!

Is Existential Risk a Useless Category? Could the Concept Be Dangerous?

John: Do I have your permission to release screenshots of our exchange? You write: "... including persistently sending me messages on Facebook." I believe that this is very misleading.

Response to recent criticisms of EA "longtermist" thinking

You don't even have the common courtesy of citing the original post so that people can decide for themselves whether you've accurately represented my arguments (you haven't). This is very typical "authoritarian" (or controlling) EA behavior in my experience: rather than given critics an actual fair hearing, which would be the intellectually honest thing, you try to monopolize and control the narrative by not citing the original source, and then reformulating all the arguments while at the same time describing these reformulations as "steelmanned" versions (which some folks who give EA the benefit of the doubt might just accept), despite the fact that the original author (me) thinks you've done a truly abysmal job at accurately presenting the critique. As mentioned, this will definitely get cited in a forthcoming article; it really does embody much of what's epistemically wrong with this community.

Book Review: Enlightenment Now, by Steven Pinker

Sloppy scholarship. Please do take a look, if you have a moment:

William MacAskill misrepresents much of the evidence underlying his key arguments in "Doing Good Better"

As it happens, I found numerous cases of truly egregious cherry-picking, demonstrably false statements, and (no, I'm not kidding) out-of-context mined quotes in just a few pages of Pinker's "Enlightenment Now." Take a look for yourself. The terrible scholarship is shocking.

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