Teo Ajantaival

Project researcher for the Center for Reducing Suffering. Currently interested in psychological questions related to suffering-focused views, and in reasons to be careful about the practical implications of abstract formalisms.

M.A. (2019) and B.A. (2017) in psychology from the University of Helsinki, with minors in mathematics, analytic philosophy, cognitive science, statistics, and computer science.

Generally interested in any topic for which I have a virtual bookshelf. Especially interested in value theory, motivation theory, and adult development.

Wiki Contributions


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That disclaimer for technical articles sounds good. :) Also, yeah, perhaps the authors themselves can pre-test their potentially tricky articles with some (similar enough) TTS, and then decide whether to opt out of the library. (Perhaps disclaimers could also exist for articles with a sufficient amount of hyperlinks, since many people use those instead of only explicit in-text references.)

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Could post authors also get to first listen to what their post would sound like?

(For some posts, it might be perhaps difficult to know in advance whether the automatic narration would cause too many misunderstandings to be a net positive in audio form. This might be especially relevant for posts that were never meant to be "speech-like", such as those that make heavy use of nested bullet points.)

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Interesting! Of course, the experience might be, in some ways, quite confusing compared to a human narration. For example, the automatic narration does not seem to separate headings or quotes from the main text. Could the AI be taught to identify headings and quotes, and make them stand out?

(E.g., headings might be ideally narrated with longer pauses, and quotes perhaps even in a different voice.)

Another difference between automatic vs. human narration: The automatic narration does not notify the listener whenever they might miss some meaningful hyperlink or figure in the text (unlike e.g. Holden Karnofsky's self-narration of the Cold Takes Audio). Of course, this is part of the quantity over quality tradeoff; I'm just wondering what would be ideal and still possible to implement automatically. :)

The Importance of Those Who Aren't Here

Great post, thanks! What are some related concepts for understanding this? Echo chambers and selection effects come to mind, but I wonder if there are other equally related concepts nearby.

What is the closest thing you know to EA that isn't EA?

‘Nordic school metamodernism’ has been an interesting complement and contrast to EA in my experience.

They have an active forum of people who are passionate about things like cognitive complexity, political philosophy, and societal development beyond moral relativism. They have two provocative books (dense with interesting ideas imo), the first of which was just released on Audible. In general, I find them to be ambitious, secular, sane, and attempting to make things better for all sentient beings. (The style of the half-fictional author, the great philosopher Hanzi Freinacht, has its pros & cons, though, and may not be for everyone.)

Some takeaways for me (in contrast to EA) include:
- complementing the often hyper-individualizing focus of EA;
- highlighting a ton of (often-overlooked) factors that might be possible to develop in our personal, social, and institutional matters;
- generally combating passivist misanthropy by doing a detailed & insightful tour through what things suck, how exactly, and how they could suck less in the future if we manage to actively develop all of them (i.e. inspiring people into activism in all areas of life).

I’m not up to date on what concrete things that community has done, but to be fair, it does seem necessary to first spread awareness about all those problems before tackling them. They might also be quite constrained by lack of effective coordination around their aims, which may be a main reason why not so many people within the EA community are actively even aiming to go the same way. But I think many people would already benefit from the (imo worldview-enriching) concepts in those books, if they can stand the rhetorics.

Why should we be effective in our altruism?

If we want - but cannot afford - to help everyone, we need to prioritize to help as much as we can.

AMA: Tim Ferriss, Michael Pollan, and Dr. Matthew W. Johnson on psychedelics research and philanthropy

Was there some evidence that some psychedelics may have anti-addictive efficacy even at sub-psychedelic doses, or do the anti-addictive effects depend on the psychedelic experience?

AMA: Tim Ferriss, Michael Pollan, and Dr. Matthew W. Johnson on psychedelics research and philanthropy

Is the renewed interest in psychedelic research & psychedelic-assisted therapy happening only in Western countries? Are other countries more worried about these substances for some reason(s)?

AMA: Tim Ferriss, Michael Pollan, and Dr. Matthew W. Johnson on psychedelics research and philanthropy

What would you say to journalists who may (or may not) be:

  1. willing to do accurate reporting on these topics
  2. too time-pressured (or otherwise unable) to read the original research
  3. strongly incentivized to sensationalize these topics? 
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