All of Schuyler.M's Comments + Replies

Maybe it is because I've been reading a lot on biology lately, but the talk of "storing" and "accumulating" potential over time triggered me to think of DNA as an example of this. Over time, DNA "stores" the beneficial traits that have emerged in a given species, while mutations "accumulate" and those with positive impact stick around. Seeing that our capacity to retain and create knowledge, and come up with constructs like "money" in the first place depended in part on our accumulated traits in DNA, an argument could be made that DNA is the original patie... (read more)

This made me think of the way David Deutsch talks about knoweldge creation - where knowledge manifests physically in e.g. the way a species is adapted to its niche. The process of natural selection that lead to this adapation is a process of "exploratiin" and "error correction" that accumulates knoweldge. That degree of adaptation is the physical manifestation of kowledge. DNA is an important substrate of this process - however, I expect that DNA won't be the most fruitful level of abstraction at which to think about the patient longtermist question. Still, to explore this framework a bit more ... * Re accumulation, one potential implication is that we might want to pay attention to the "error correction" mechanism that is essential to knoweldge accumulation. The scientific method is an example of this. We could try to improve the "machinery of science" that is based on this error correction logic, and we could try to apply this logic of error correction(more/better) to more areas beyond academia. Some examples here might be ways to make it easier to have constructive disagreements (eg. adverserial collaborations [], the Letter community [], a hypothetical wiki that is structured in a way that shows main disagreeing view poitns on a topic, ...) or more experimentation/evaluation/updating mechanisms, in particualr in policy making. (Some areas, e.g. business or medicine, have figured out a bunch about how to do these sorts of things, but for reasons these insights are not necesarily being applied as widely as they could).

Speaking from personal experience, I believe some of it has to do with the perceived loss of optionality we experience when "documenting" (writing down) our current thinking. People tend to feel committed to, and accountable for, information or opinions captured in writing, which can be uncomfortable or anxiety-inducing when any amount of uncertainty or importance is involved (it's not fun to have proof you were wrong). I agree with the other comments that in-person meetings or phone calls save time in coordinating groups and reaching consensus, but it als... (read more)

This gets exactly to the core of the potential I see: groups get stuck in a local equilibrium where progress happens and everybody is content but the payoff from going meta and improving self-knowledge and transparency would compound over time - and that seems to be easier to achieve in written form, exactly because people can't ignore their kinks. And that seems harmful at first because vulnerability does but in many environments it could easily lead to very productive dynamics because then everybody can help one another become the best possible version of themselves, more easily insure each other, etc.

It seems to me that consciousness research could be categorized as "fundamental" research and while it may have a less obvious or near-term altruistic impact, without a full understanding, we may miss something essential in how we work or how we operate. For example, studying consciousness, what it is, how it works, and who/what "has it" to what degree could have strong implications on animal rights discussions. More broadly, I tend to think fundamental research is pretty significantly underfunded and underrepresented, perhaps because the direct applicatio... (read more)

Hi there! I'm new to the forum and am excited to learn more and hopefully add value to the group. I currently work on energy and climate policy in a government role (more about me in my bio) and spend most of my free time reading books and articles in the fields of physics, neuroscience, and economics and thinking about what it all means for how we should live our lives. Can't wait to get more involved!

Welcome Schuyler! I haven't encountered anyone else yet in the EA community who works on energy and climate policy in a government role, so it's nice to have someone with your background. You might be interested to join the Effective Environmentalism Facebook group [], which gathers people who want to discuss and collaborate on impactful action for the climate crisis and other sustainability challenges. If you haven't seen some of Founders Pledge's resources on their Climate Change analysis and charity recommendations, such as this executive summary [], I'd encourage you to read them. I'd also love to hear your thoughts on them!
Welcome Schuyler!