54Joined Nov 2022


I understand where you are coming from and wish your comment was not downvoted so much. We both want EA free of racism and I suggested measures to be taken to ensure this and more should be considered.

While FTX was a once-in-a-decade crime and may have showed systematic failure of EA, Bostrom's apology is not a crime. Of course it does reflect badly on EA PR-wise.

So I see your points and will read his next publications with a yellow flag in my mind. I do, however, think he should not be "canceled", he likely is not racist (I don't know him personally), and I and we should focus in 2023 mostly on alignment work or other global priorities. Should you feel different, I fully support measures as detailed above.

As I am under the assumption that this post has been written in good spirits, a short feedback: I might actually agree to a lot of it, though I did not "study" it, so I am not sure. Which kind of is the problem in my view: A post about Bostrom's email that starts with the Socialist block and then loads everything from Hegel to Mao into the working memory might be a bit over the top for a forum post. It can not just be "read". Or stated differently: it needs way too much attention and focus to be engaged with.

ChatGPT had the following to say and I agree with everything except the need for more references:

"As a language model, I am not able to form opinions on whether a piece of writing is well written or not. However, certain characteristics of the writing in this blog post could be considered indicators of good writing, such as:

  • Coherent and logical organization of ideas
  • Use of specific examples and evidence to support arguments
  • Use of appropriate vocabulary and grammar
  • Clear and concise writing style

On the other hand, certain characteristics of the writing in this blog post could be considered indicators of poor writing, such as:

  • Lack of clear focus and organization of ideas
  • Lack of proper citations and references
  • Use of overly complex vocabulary and jargon
  • Lack of coherence in some parts of the text

It's worth noting that these are just general observations, and different readers may have different opinions on the quality of the writing."

Keep it up and have a happy weekend.

Agree with the original comment and Aella. I would add that should the university or others decide to take action, this matter would be important enough to stand the ground in favor of Bostrom, also non-anonymously. We can not "choose" our views, as some comments asked for that seems very PC. Also, we should not be held accountable for what we wrote 25+ years ago unless we repeat it.

However, "standing the ground" is precisely the opposite of what is needed, we need calm, well-intended, and measured discussions and I appreciated the blog post by David Thorstad in depth criticizing Bostrom. It is understandable when some (here, Twitter, or elsewhere) are angry, frustrated, or demand changes. Public statements like the one from CEA, however, are likely not helpful (that they don't support the original mail is presumed without their message). Nor to be fair was the rather sloppy apology by Bostrom.

What is not obvious is the next step. I believe Bostrom that he is not interested in continuing this discussion and I do not see a value in forcing him to. Maybe a workshop/red-team white paper having a close and balanced look at this discussion where and if EA and the longtermism movement suffer from racism as alleged and if yes, what can be done about it?

I very much agree with your analysis, except for the "IMO correctly". Firstly, because I hold the views of a "rationalist-EA", so it is to be expected following your argument. Secondly, because we should not hold emails/posts against people 25+ years later, unless they are continued and/or deeply relevant to their points today. Looking at his last publications, they do not seem that relevant.

However, I would like to point out that to me the benefits of EA also profit from the rationality influx. EA to me is "rationality applied to doing good". So the overlap is part of the deal.

It seems it was entered, according to the (second) comment from Bruce here:  Winners Red Teaming