effective altruism

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pages: 293 words: 81,183

Doing Good Better: How Effective Altruism Can Help You Make a Difference by William MacAskill

barriers to entry, basic income, Black Swan, Branko Milanovic, Cal Newport, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon footprint, clean water, corporate social responsibility, correlation does not imply causation, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Brooks, effective altruism, en.wikipedia.org, end world poverty, experimental subject, follow your passion, food miles, immigration reform, income inequality, index fund, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Isaac Newton, job automation, job satisfaction, Lean Startup, M-Pesa, mass immigration, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microcredit, Nate Silver, Peter Singer: altruism, purchasing power parity, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, randomized controlled trial, self-driving car, Skype, Stanislav Petrov, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, The Future of Employment, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, universal basic income, women in the workforce

Utilitarianism is the view, roughly speaking, that one is always required to do whatever will maximize the sum total of well-being, no matter what. The similarity between effective altruism and utilitarianism is that they both focus on improving people’s lives, but this is a part of any reasonable moral view. In other respects, effective altruism can depart significantly from utilitarianism. Effective altruism doesn’t claim that you are morally required to do as much good as you can, only that you should use at least a significant proportion of your time or money to help others. Effective altruism doesn’t say that you may violate people’s rights for the greater good. Effective altruism can recognize sources of value other than happiness, like freedom and equality. In general, effective altruism is a much broader and more ecumenical philosophy than utilitarianism. the “fifty dollars for five books” figure is accurate: Charities’ claims about what your donation will buy are often highly misleading, representing a best-case figure, or a figure that doesn’t take into account “hidden” costs.

But by focusing on what was effective rather than what was emotionally appealing, they produced outstanding results, significantly improving the lives of millions of people. Kremer and Glennerster exemplify a way of thinking I call effective altruism. Effective altruism is about asking, “How can I make the biggest difference I can?” and using evidence and careful reasoning to try to find an answer. It takes a scientific approach to doing good. Just as science consists of the honest and impartial attempt to work out what’s true, and a commitment to believe the truth whatever that turns out to be, effective altruism consists of the honest and impartial attempt to work out what’s best for the world, and a commitment to do what’s best, whatever that turns out to be. As the phrase suggests, effective altruism has two parts, and I want to be clear on what each part means. As I use the term, altruism simply means improving the lives of others.

Even a relatively small monthly donation to these charities will have a big impact. 2: Write down a plan for how you’re going to incorporate effective altruism into your life. Get a pen and paper, or open up a document, and make some notes about the changes you plan to make. Make the plan specific and concrete. If you think you’re going to start giving, write down what proportion you intend to start giving and when. If you’re going to change what you buy, write down what changes you plan to make and by when. If you’re going to pursue a career that makes a difference, write down which dates you’re going to set aside in order to find out more information relevant to your next steps. 3: Join the effective altruism community. Go onto efffectivealtruism.org and sign up to the effective altruism mailing list. That way you can learn more about effective altruism and about how to get involved in the community, and read stories of people putting effective altruism into practice.


pages: 281 words: 79,464

Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion by Paul Bloom

affirmative action, Albert Einstein, Asperger Syndrome, Atul Gawande, Columbine, David Brooks, Donald Trump, effective altruism, Ferguson, Missouri, impulse control, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Paul Erdős, period drama, Peter Singer: altruism, publication bias, Ralph Waldo Emerson, replication crisis, Ronald Reagan, social intelligence, Stanford marshmallow experiment, Steven Pinker, theory of mind, Walter Mischel, Yogi Berra

argument by Scott Alexander Scott Alexander, “Beware Systemic Change,” Slate Star Codex, September 22, 2015, http://slatestarcodex .com/2015/09/22/beware-systemic-change. 104 Larissa MacFarquhar notes Larissa MacFarquhar, “Forum: Logic of Effective Altruism,” https://bostonreview.net/forum/logic-effective-altruism/larissa-macfarquhar-response-effective-altruism. Paul Brest complains about Paul Brest, “Forum: Logic of Effective Altruism,” https://bostonreview.net/forum/logic-effective-altruism/paul-brest-response-effective-altruism. Catherine Tumber discusses Catherine Tumber, “Forum: Logic of Effective Altruism,” https://bostonreview.net/forum/logic-effective-altruism/catherine-tumber-response-effective-altruism. Singer has less patience Peter Singer, “Forum: Logic of Effective Altruism, Reply,” https://bostonreview.net/forum/logic-effective-altruism/peter-singer-reply-effective-altruism-responses. 106 One of the most thoughtful Elaine Scarry, “The Difficulty of Imagining Other People,” in For Love of Country: Debating the Limits of Patriotism, eds.

(New York: Macmillan, 2010). 100 “empathy of foreigners” Thomas Fuller, “Cambodian Activist’s Fall Exposes Broad Deception,” New York Times, June 14, 2014. 102 “Effective Altruism” Kathy Graham, “The Life You Can Save,” Happy and Well, May 27, 2013, http://www.happyandwell.com.au/life-save. “they don’t understand math” Singer, The Most Good You Can Do, 87. As Jennifer Rubenstein put it Jennifer Rubenstein, “Forum: Logic of Effective Altruism,” Boston Review, July 6, 2015, https://bostonreview.net/forum/logic-effective-altruism/jennifer-rubenstein-response-effective-altruism. 103 Not everyone is a fan See the commentators on Peter Singer, “Forum: Logic of Effective Altruism,” Boston Review, July 6, 2015, https://bostonreview.net/forum/peter-singer-logic-effective-altruism. For further critical remarks on Effective Altruism, see Amia Srinivasan, “Stop the Robot Apocalypse: The New Utilitarians,” London Review of Books, September 24, 2015.

Singer’s response to these sorts of critiques was measured, agreeing with some points, pushing back on others, and generally adopting the position that these are empirical questions to be decided on a case-by-case basis. I would add myself, following an argument by Scott Alexander, that one consideration in favor of Effective Altruism as it’s currently carried out is its epistemic humility. Stopping the spread of malaria through bed nets might not be the ultimately best long-term solution for Third World problems, but most likely it does some good. In contrast, the outcome of broader political interventions is considerably less certain, and if the Effective Altruism movement went in that direction it would be indistinguishable from other political movements, and its unique contribution would be lost. Expanding on this point, Alexander makes a distinction between “man versus nature” problems and “man versus man” problems.


pages: 48 words: 12,437

Smarter Than Us: The Rise of Machine Intelligence by Stuart Armstrong

artificial general intelligence, brain emulation, effective altruism, Flash crash, friendly AI, shareholder value, Turing test

We don’t usually associate cancer cures or economic stability with artificial intelligence, but curing cancer is ultimately a problem of being smart enough to figure out how to cure it, and achieving economic stability is ultimately a problem of being smart enough to figure out how to achieve it. To whatever extent we have goals, we have goals that can be accomplished to greater degrees using sufficiently advanced intelligence. When considering the likely consequences of superhuman AI, we must respect both risk and opportunity.2 * * * 1. See also Luke Muehlhauser, “Four Focus Areas of Effective Altruism,” Less Wrong (blog), July 9, 2013, http://lesswrong.com/lw/hx4/four_focus_areas_of_effective_altruism/. 2. Luke Muehlhauser and Anna Salamon, “Intelligence Explosion: Evidence and Import,” in Eden et al., Singularity Hypotheses. About the Author After a misspent youth doing mathematical and medical research, Stuart Armstrong was blown away by the idea that people would actually pay him to work on the most important problems facing humanity.

Mars Climate Orbiter Mishap Investigation Board Phase I Report. Pasadena, CA: NASA, November 10, 1999. ftp://ftp.hq.nasa.gov/pub/pao/reports/1999/MCO_report.pdf. Metz, Cade. “Google Mistakes Entire Web for Malware: This Internet May Harm Your Computer.” The Register, January 31, 2009. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/01/31/google_malware_snafu/. Muehlhauser, Luke. “Four Focus Areas of Effective Altruism.” Less Wrong (blog), July 9, 2013. http://lesswrong.com/lw/hx4/four_focus_areas_of_effective_altruism/. Muehlhauser, Luke, and Louie Helm. “The Singularity and Machine Ethics.” In Eden, Søraker, Moor, and Steinhart, Singularity Hypotheses. Muehlhauser, Luke, and Anna Salamon. “Intelligence Explosion: Evidence and Import.” In Eden, Søraker, Moor, and Steinhart, Singularity Hypotheses. Murdico, Vinnie. “Bugs per Lines of Code.”


pages: 202 words: 58,823

Willful: How We Choose What We Do by Richard Robb

activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Alvin Roth, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, Bernie Madoff, capital asset pricing model, cognitive bias, collapse of Lehman Brothers, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, delayed gratification, diversification, diversified portfolio, effective altruism, endowment effect, Eratosthenes, experimental subject, family office, George Akerlof, index fund, information asymmetry, job satisfaction, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, lake wobegon effect, loss aversion, market bubble, market clearing, money market fund, Pareto efficiency, Paul Samuelson, Peter Singer: altruism, principal–agent problem, profit maximization, profit motive, Richard Thaler, Silicon Valley, sovereign wealth fund, survivorship bias, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, transaction costs, ultimatum game

Although the mother and the woman saving her drowning husband who we encountered in Chapter 1 both care deeply about their families, they are opposites for our purposes. The woman saving her husband is acting outside of a purposeful calculation, while the mother can be modeled in terms of her preferences. The Rotten Kid Theorem involves observed care for a limited number of people. Another type of observed care, effective altruism, encompasses multitudes. It stems from concern over the well-being of everyone in the world, often including animals. The Australian philosopher Peter Singer, a prominent advocate of effective altruism, abides by the principle that people who live in rich countries are morally obligated to support charities that aid the global poor. He equates spending on luxuries when some people are starving to letting a child drown because you don’t want to muddy your clothes.5 Effective altruists don’t give more to people geographically close to them than to those far away.

For instance, they might break the habit of buying a four-dollar cup of coffee and instead spend fifty cents to make coffee at home. Once they’ve made all the easy sacrifices, subsequent cuts become increasingly painful. To save another fifty cents per day, they might have to cut out coffee altogether. Eventually, they reach the point where the satisfaction from the last dollar directed to their own consumption equals the marginal value they attribute to one more dollar donated to the poor. The largesse required for effective altruism of course depends on wealth and preferences. The test is whether a person gives enough to significantly affect her lifestyle and whether she gives to the causes she judges to be most beneficial to humankind. Then there are extreme effective altruists. Like their plain vanilla counterparts, extreme effective altruists give where they believe they can do the most good. But extreme altruists feel extraordinarily deep bonds with everyone in the world and give until the extra cost in foregone satisfaction from a dollar spent on themselves equals its perceived benefit to a needy person.

But extreme altruists feel extraordinarily deep bonds with everyone in the world and give until the extra cost in foregone satisfaction from a dollar spent on themselves equals its perceived benefit to a needy person. In contrast with ordinary effective altruists, they put themselves on equal footing with the rest of humanity, asking, “Do I need this more than a faraway stranger?” The significant income transfer required makes extreme effective altruism very rare. It’s an exceptional person whose well-being depends so intensely on the well-being of strangers.6 UNOBSERVED CARE To become observable, care altruism must involve strongly felt bonds. But care can, and often does, exist at levels too low to catalyze action. Someone who cares but not enough to act exemplifies what I’ll call “unobserved care.” Care, too faint to be observed, is everywhere.


pages: 252 words: 79,452

To Be a Machine: Adventures Among Cyborgs, Utopians, Hackers, and the Futurists Solving the Modest Problem of Death by Mark O'Connell

3D printing, Ada Lovelace, AI winter, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, artificial general intelligence, brain emulation, clean water, cognitive dissonance, computer age, cosmological principle, dark matter, disruptive innovation, double helix, Edward Snowden, effective altruism, Elon Musk, Extropian, friendly AI, global pandemic, impulse control, income inequality, invention of the wheel, Jacques de Vaucanson, John von Neumann, knowledge economy, Law of Accelerating Returns, life extension, lifelogging, Lyft, Mars Rover, means of production, Norbert Wiener, Peter Thiel, profit motive, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Singularitarianism, Skype, Stephen Hawking, Steve Wozniak, superintelligent machines, technological singularity, technoutopianism, The Coming Technological Singularity, Travis Kalanick, trickle-down economics, Turing machine, uber lyft, Vernor Vinge

(An effectively altruistic act, as opposed to an emotionally altruistic one, might involve a college student deciding that, rather than becoming a doctor and spending her career curing blindness in the developing world, her time would be better spent becoming a Wall Street hedge fund manager and donating enough of her income to charity to pay for several doctors to cure a great many more people of blindness.) The conference had substantially focused on questions of AI and existential risk. Thiel and Musk, who’d spoken on a panel at the conference along with Nick Bostrom, had been influenced by the moral metrics of Effective Altruism to donate large amounts of money to organizations focused on AI safety. Effective Altruism had significant crossover, in terms of constituency, with the AI existential risk movement. (In fact, the Centre for Effective Altruism, the main international promoter of the movement, happened to occupy an office in Oxford just down the hall from the Future of Humanity Institute.) It seemed to me odd, though not especially surprising, that a hypothetical danger arising from a still nonexistent technology would, for these billionaire entrepreneurs, be more worthy of investment than, say, clean water in the developing world or the problem of grotesque income inequality in their own country.

A lot of MIRI’s funding came in the form of smallish donations from concerned citizens—people working in tech, largely: programmers and software engineers and so on—but they also received generous endowments from billionaires like Peter Thiel and Elon Musk. The week that I visited MIRI happened to coincide with a huge conference, held at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, organized by a group called Effective Altruism—a growing social movement, increasingly influential among Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and within the rationalist community, which characterized itself as “an intellectual movement that uses reason and evidence to improve the world as much as possible.” (An effectively altruistic act, as opposed to an emotionally altruistic one, might involve a college student deciding that, rather than becoming a doctor and spending her career curing blindness in the developing world, her time would be better spent becoming a Wall Street hedge fund manager and donating enough of her income to charity to pay for several doctors to cure a great many more people of blindness.)

She and I and her husband, Janos, a Hungarian-Canadian mathematician and former research fellow at MIRI, were the only diners in an Indian restaurant on Berkeley’s Shattuck Avenue, the kind of cavernously un-fancy setup that presumably tended to cater to drunken undergraduates. Viktoriya spoke between forkfuls of an extremely spicy chicken dish, which she consumed with impressive speed and efficiency. Her manner was confident but slightly remote, and, as with Nate, characterized by a minimal quantity of eye contact. She and Janos were in the Bay Area for the Effective Altruism conference; they lived in Boston, in a kind of rationalist commune called Citadel; they had met ten years ago at a high school math camp, and had been together since. “The concerns of existential risk fit into that value metric,” elaborated Viktoriya. “If you consider balancing the interests of future people against those who already exist, reducing the probability of a major future catastrophe can be a very high-impact decision.


pages: 193 words: 51,445

On the Future: Prospects for Humanity by Martin J. Rees

23andMe, 3D printing, air freight, Alfred Russel Wallace, Asilomar, autonomous vehicles, Benoit Mandelbrot, blockchain, cryptocurrency, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, decarbonisation, demographic transition, distributed ledger, double helix, effective altruism, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, global village, Hyperloop, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Johannes Kepler, John Conway, life extension, mandelbrot fractal, mass immigration, megacity, nuclear winter, pattern recognition, quantitative hedge fund, Ray Kurzweil, Rodney Brooks, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, smart grid, speech recognition, Stanford marshmallow experiment, Stanislav Petrov, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, Stuxnet, supervolcano, technological singularity, the scientific method, Tunguska event, uranium enrichment, Walter Mischel, Yogi Berra

A special obligation lies on those in academia or on self-employed entrepreneurs; they have more freedom to engage in public debate than those employed in government service or in industry. Academics, moreover, have the special opportunity to influence students. Polls show, unsurprisingly, that younger people, who expect to survive most of the century, are more engaged and anxious about long-term and global issues. Student involvement in, for instance, ‘effective altruism’ campaigns is burgeoning. William MacAskill’s book Doing Good Better8 is a compelling manifesto. It reminds us that urgent and meaningful improvements to people’s lives can be achieved by well-targeted redeployment of existing resources towards developing or destitute nations. Wealthy foundations have more traction (the archetype being the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has had a massive impact, especially on children’s health)—but even they cannot match the impact that national governments could have if there were pressure from their citizens.

The accessible book The Meaning of Science, by Tim Lewens (New York: Basic Books, 2016), offers a clear critique of the viewpoints of Popper, Kuhn, and others.   6.  Jared Diamond, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed (New York: Penguin, 2005).   7.  Lewis Dartnell, The Knowledge: How to Rebuild Our World from Scratch (New York: Penguin, 2015). Books such as this are educative. It’s surely regrettable that so many of us are ignorant of the basic technologies we depend on.   8.  William MacAskill, Doing Good Better: Effective Altruism and How You Can Make a Difference (New York: Random House, 2016).   9.  The Future of Man (1959). INDEX Africa: information technology in, 27, 28, 83, 84; Mo Ibrahim Prize for leadership in, 28–29; papal message resonating in, 34; population trends in, 30–31; solar energy in, 49 aging. See lifespan agriculture: beginning of, 1; driverless machines in, 92; energy and water used for, 23–24; genetically modified (GM) organisms in, 23, 24–25, 66; internet in developing world and, 84; modern techniques of, 23–25, 84.

., 100–101 drug design, by computers, 191–92 Dyson, Freeman, 78–79, 106, 161, 179–80 Dyson sphere, 161 Earth: Gaia hypothesis about, 216; history of, over 45 million centuries, 1–2; no escape in space from problems of, 150; as only world known to harbor life, 121; possible twins of, 131; stewards in a crucial era for, 10 earthquakes, 16 economic growth, sparing of resources, 26 education: global inequality and, 26, 220; internet and, 83, 220; life-long learning, 98–99; now improved for most people, 6; of women, 30 edX, 98 E-ELT (European Extremely Large Telescope), 134–35, 137 effective altruism, 224 Ehrlich, Paul, 22 Einstein, Albert, 168 Einstein’s theory of relativity: black holes and, 166; constant speed of light and, 204; the general theory, 166, 180, 184; relation to Newtonian physics, 205 electric cars, 46–47, 50 electricity grids: catastrophic breakdown of, 108–9; cyberattack on, 21; disrupted by solar flares, 16; high-voltage direct current (HVDC), 50; optimised by AI, 88 embryo research, 65, 73–74 emergent properties, 176–77, 187, 214 Enceladus, 128 energy demands: for agriculture, 23–24; of computers, 88; of growing population, 215; need of global planning for, 217, 219 energy efficiency, 46–47 energy generation, low-carbon, 47–57 energy management, of Google’s data farms, 88 energy storage, 48, 49–50, 51 engineering: aeronautical, 192; in agriculture, 23; basic physics and, 166; challenge of, 202 environmental degradation, 21, 215, 226 environmentalist worldview, 33 environmental policies, planning horizon for, 45 ethics: artificial intelligence and, 105; in biotech, 73–75; medical advances and, 69–74; scientists’ involvement with issues of, 74–75, 221–24; technology guided by, 226; of values that science can’t provide, 227 eugenics, 22, 69 Europa, 128, 129 European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), 134–35, 137 evolution: bottlenecks in, 155–56, 158; creationism and, 195, 196; as great unifying idea, 175; intelligent design and, 196, 197; religious students of science and, 200; as vital part of common culture, 214.


pages: 513 words: 152,381

The Precipice: Existential Risk and the Future of Humanity by Toby Ord

3D printing, agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA, availability heuristic, Columbian Exchange, computer vision, cosmological constant, cuban missile crisis, decarbonisation, defense in depth, delayed gratification, demographic transition, Doomsday Clock, Drosophila, effective altruism, Elon Musk, Ernest Rutherford, global pandemic, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Mikhail Gorbachev, mutually assured destruction, Nash equilibrium, Norbert Wiener, nuclear winter, p-value, Peter Singer: altruism, planetary scale, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, Stanislav Petrov, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, supervolcano, survivorship bias, the scientific method, uranium enrichment

And finding that my own money could do hundreds of times as much good for those in poverty as it could do for me, I made a lifelong pledge to donate at least a tenth of all I earn to help them.5 I founded a society, Giving What We Can, for those who wanted to join me, and was heartened to see thousands of people come together to pledge more than £1 billion over our lifetimes to the most effective charities we know of, working on the most important causes. Together, we’ve already been able to transform the lives of tens of thousands of people.6 And because there are many other ways beyond our donations in which we can help fashion a better world, I helped start a wider movement, known as effective altruism, in which people aspire to use evidence and reason to do as much good as possible. Since there is so much work to be done to fix the needless suffering in our present, I was slow to turn to the future. It was so much less visceral; so much more abstract. Could it really be as urgent a problem as suffering now? As I reflected on the evidence and ideas that would culminate in this book, I came to realize that the risks to humanity’s future are just as real and just as urgent—yet even more neglected.

Only we can make sure we get through this period of danger, that we navigate the Precipice and find our way to safety; that we give our children the very pages on which they will author our future. RESOURCES BOOK WEBSITE Videos • Mailing list • FAQs • Errata Supporting articles and papers • Quotations • Reading lists theprecipice.com AUTHOR WEBSITE Find out about my other projects • Read my papers Contacts for media and speaking tobyord.com EFFECTIVE ALTRUISM Meet others interested in having the greatest impact they can effectivealtruism.org CAREERS Advice on how to use your career to safeguard our future 80000hours.org DONATIONS Join me in making a lifelong commitment to helping the world through effective giving givingwhatwecan.org ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Few books are shaped by author alone. I think most of us already know this.

Thank you to Josie Axford-Foster, Beth Barnes, Nick Beckstead, Haydn Belfield, Nick Bostrom, Danny Bressler, Tim Campbell, Natalie Cargill, Shamil Chandaria, Paul Christiano, Teddy Collins, Owen Cotton-Barratt, Andrew Critch, Allan Dafoe, Max Daniel, Richard Danzig, Ben Delo, Daniel Dewey, Luke Ding, Peter Doane, Eric Drexler, Peter Eckersley, Holly Elmore, Sebastian Farquhar, Richard Fisher, Lukas Gloor, Ian Godfrey, Katja Grace, Hilary Greaves, Demis Hassabis, Hiski Haukkala, Alexa Hazel, Kirsten Horton, Holden Karnofsky, Lynn Keller, Luke Kemp, Alexis Kirschbaum, Howie Lempel, Gregory Lewis, Will MacAskill, Vishal Maini, Jason Matheny, Dylan Matthews, Tegan McCaslin, Andreas Mogensen, Luke Muehlhauser, Tim Munday, John Osborne, Richard Parr, Martin Rees, Sebastian Roberts, Max Roser, Anders Sandberg, Carl Shulman, Peter Singer, Andrew Snyder-Beattie, Pablo Stafforini, Jaan Tallinn, Christian Tarsney, Ben Todd, Susan Trammell, Brian Tse, Jonas Vollmer, Julia Wise and Bernadette Young. Thanks also to Rose Linke, for her advice on how to name this book, and Keith Mansfield, for answering my innumerable questions about the world of publishing. This project benefited from a huge amount of operational support from the Future of Humanity Institute (FHI), the Centre for Effective Altruism (CEA) and the Berkley Existential Risk Initiative (BERI). My thanks to Josh Axford, Sam Deere, Michelle Gavin, Rose Hadshar, Habiba Islam, Josh Jacobson, Miok Ham Jung, Chloe Malone, Kyle Scott, Tanya Singh and Tena Thau. The actual writing of this book took place largely in the many wonderful libraries and cafés of Oxford—I especially need to thank Peloton Espresso, where I may have spent more time than in my own office.


pages: 1,034 words: 241,773

Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress by Steven Pinker

3D printing, access to a mobile phone, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, anti-communist, Anton Chekhov, Arthur Eddington, artificial general intelligence, availability heuristic, Ayatollah Khomeini, basic income, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, Black Swan, Bonfire of the Vanities, business cycle, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon footprint, clean water, clockwork universe, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, Columbine, conceptual framework, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, dark matter, decarbonisation, deindustrialization, dematerialisation, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, distributed generation, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, Doomsday Clock, double helix, effective altruism, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, end world poverty, endogenous growth, energy transition, European colonialism, experimental subject, Exxon Valdez, facts on the ground, Fall of the Berlin Wall, first-past-the-post, Flynn Effect, food miles, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, frictionless, frictionless market, germ theory of disease, Gini coefficient, Hans Rosling, hedonic treadmill, helicopter parent, Hobbesian trap, humanitarian revolution, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, income inequality, income per capita, Indoor air pollution, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of writing, Jaron Lanier, Joan Didion, job automation, Johannes Kepler, John Snow's cholera map, Kevin Kelly, Khan Academy, knowledge economy, l'esprit de l'escalier, Laplace demon, life extension, long peace, longitudinal study, Louis Pasteur, Martin Wolf, mass incarceration, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Mikhail Gorbachev, minimum wage unemployment, moral hazard, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, Nate Silver, Nathan Meyer Rothschild: antibiotics, Nelson Mandela, New Journalism, Norman Mailer, nuclear winter, obamacare, open economy, Paul Graham, peak oil, Peter Singer: altruism, Peter Thiel, precision agriculture, prediction markets, purchasing power parity, Ralph Nader, randomized controlled trial, Ray Kurzweil, rent control, Republic of Letters, Richard Feynman, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Rodney Brooks, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Rory Sutherland, Saturday Night Live, science of happiness, Scientific racism, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Simon Kuznets, Skype, smart grid, sovereign wealth fund, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, Stuxnet, supervolcano, technological singularity, Ted Kaczynski, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, the scientific method, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas Malthus, total factor productivity, union organizing, universal basic income, University of East Anglia, Unsafe at Any Speed, Upton Sinclair, uranium enrichment, urban renewal, War on Poverty, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, women in the workforce, working poor, World Values Survey, Y2K

Many of the jobs that robots will take over are jobs that people don’t particularly enjoy, and the dividend in productivity, safety, and leisure could be a boon to humanity as long as it is widely shared. The specter of anomie and meaninglessness is probably exaggerated (according to studies of regions that have experimented with a guaranteed income), and it could be met with public jobs that markets won’t support and robots can’t do, or with new opportunities in meaningful volunteering and other forms of effective altruism.69 The net effect might be to reduce inequality, but that would be a side effect of raising everyone’s standard of living, particularly that of the economically vulnerable. * * * Income inequality, in sum, is not a counterexample to human progress, and we are not living in a dystopia of falling incomes that has reversed the centuries-long rise in prosperity. Nor does it call for smashing the robots, raising the drawbridge, switching to socialism, or bringing back the 50s.

Newspapers are supplementing shoe leather and punditry with statisticians and fact-checking squads.93 The cloak-and-dagger world of national intelligence is seeing farther into the future by using the Bayesian reasoning of superforecasters.94 Health care is being reshaped by evidence-based medicine (which should have been a redundant expression long ago).95 Psychotherapy has progressed from the couch and notebook to Feedback-Informed Treatment.96 In New York, and increasingly in other cities, violent crime has been reduced with the real-time data-crunching system called Compstat.97 The effort to aid the developing world is being guided by the Randomistas, economists who gather data from randomized trials to distinguish fashionable boondoggles from programs that actually improve people’s lives.98 Volunteering and charitable giving are being scrutinized by the Effective Altruism movement, which distinguishes altruistic acts that enhance the lives of beneficiaries from those that enhance the warm glow in benefactors.99 Sports has seen the advent of Moneyball, in which strategies and players are evaluated by statistical analysis rather than intuition and lore, allowing smarter teams to beat richer teams and giving fans endless new material for conversations over the hot stove.100 The blogosphere has spawned the Rationality Community, who urge people to be “less wrong” in their opinions by applying Bayesian reasoning and compensating for cognitive biases.101 And in the day-to-day functioning of governments, the application of behavioral insights (sometimes called Nudge) and evidence-based policy has wrung more social benefits out of fewer tax dollars.102 In area after area, the world has been getting more rational.

Though scientific literacy itself is not a cure for fallacious reasoning when it comes to politicized identity badges, most issues don’t start out that way, and everyone would be better off if they could think about them more scientifically. Movements that aim to spread scientific sophistication such as data journalism, Bayesian forecasting, evidence-based medicine and policy, real-time violence monitoring, and effective altruism have a vast potential to enhance human welfare. But an appreciation of their value has been slow to penetrate the culture.46 I asked my doctor whether the nutritional supplement he had recommended for my knee pain would really be effective. He replied, “Some of my patients say it works for them.” A business-school colleague shared this assessment of the corporate world: “I have observed many smart people who have little idea of how to logically think through a problem, who infer causation from a correlation, and who use anecdotes as evidence far beyond the predictability warranted.”


pages: 173 words: 53,564

Fair Shot: Rethinking Inequality and How We Earn by Chris Hughes

"side hustle", basic income, Donald Trump, effective altruism, Elon Musk, end world poverty, full employment, future of journalism, gig economy, high net worth, income inequality, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, job automation, knowledge economy, labor-force participation, Lyft, M-Pesa, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, new economy, oil rush, payday loans, Peter Singer: altruism, Potemkin village, precariat, randomized controlled trial, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, side project, Silicon Valley, TaskRabbit, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, traveling salesman, trickle-down economics, uber lyft, universal basic income, winner-take-all economy, working poor, working-age population, zero-sum game

His provocation stuck in my head. Holden’s question of whether he could run his own “cash transfer” program, shorthand for just giving people cash directly, wasn’t just a passing curiosity. The GiveWell team and he felt a responsibility to investigate what it would mean to do exactly that, just as they ran down every single other way of giving to assess its impact. As GiveWell grew, it became an anchor for the “effective altruism” movement, a philanthropic approach moving away from pull-the-heartstrings inspiration and toward empirical, transparent, and rigorous evaluation of impact. The Princeton philosopher Peter Singer pioneered this utilitarian approach to philanthropy, and not without controversy. “By donating a relatively small amount of money, you could save a child’s life,” he writes in The Life You Can Save.

“Maybe it takes more than the amount needed to buy a pair of shoes—but we all spend money on things we don’t really need, whether on drinks, meals out, clothing, movies, concerts, vacations, new cars, or house renovation. Is it possible that by choosing to spend your money on such things rather than contributing to an aid agency, you are leaving a child to die, a child you could have saved?” Singer, GiveWell, and the effective altruism movement are in pursuit of a practical ethics that seeks not just to give away money, but to rethink our collective responsibility to one another and create a tradition in philanthropy focused on maximizing the return of each dollar invested. Holden’s post only came to tentative initial conclusions, but I marveled at the simplicity of the idea of giving cash directly. My curiosity grew over the course of weeks and then months.


Playing With FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early): How Far Would You Go for Financial Freedom? by Scott Rieckens, Mr. Money Mustache

Airbnb, cryptocurrency, effective altruism, financial independence, index fund, job satisfaction, McMansion, passive income, remote working, Vanguard fund

Money Mustache: mrmoneymustache.com Mad Fientist: madfientist.com Frugalwoods: frugalwoods.com Physician on Fire: physicianonfire.com Early Retirement Extreme: earlyretirementextreme.com The Simple Path to Wealth: jlcollinsnh.com Millennial Revolution: millennial-revolution.com ChooseFI: choosefi.com Afford Anything: affordanything.com PLAYING WITH FIRE Inclusion on this list is based on 2018 Alexa rankings. 26 A couple of years before, I’d been excited about starting my own podcast project, which I’d dropped because I couldn’t find the time. If we could achieve FIRE, maybe I’d become a podcaster. Maybe I’d finally be able to donate my time to causes I believed in, like the Ocean Cleanup project or raising awareness of the Effective Altruism movement. Maybe Taylor would have the time to pursue some of her passions — like THE MILLION-DOLLAR IDEA volunteering at a senior center or starting a nonprofit helping single moms. I thought about getting to eat lunch with my wife and daughter more often. Waking up without a schedule. Spending winters in the Caribbean and summers in Lake Tahoe. All the moments I wanted to have with Jovie before she was grown — teaching her how to surf, showing her the reefs off the coast of Belize, hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, coaching her soccer team, and learning to play piano together.

See also Barrett, Brad; Mendonsa, Jonathan Christmas gifts, 142–44, 150, 152–53 Chucky (author’s cousin), 139–41, 148, 183 club memberships, 15, 52, 61–62, 74 Coach Carson (blog), 109 coffee, 55–56, 163 college funds, 146 college savings accounts, 146 Collins, JL, 101, 109, 110–11, 114, 148 community, 121 commuting, 51 comparisons, 134 compound interest, 115–16, 145 compromise, 179 Confucius, 2 consumerism, 20, 84–85, 183–84 consumption, minimization of, 169 control, 120–21 Coronado (CA), 14; author’s departure from, 74, 82–85, 86–88, 137, 144; author’s extravagant lifestyle in, 12–18; author’s house hunt in, 160; author’s net worth in, 179–80; author’s relocation to, 14; author’s residence in, 75, 131; cost of living in, 75, 77, 79, 126, 131, 162; Taylor’s Take on leaving, 87–88 Costco, 55, 56 Craigslist, 74, 158 credit card debt, 133 credit card rewards, 51 Dallas (TX), 124–25 dating, 133, 173 debt, 7–8, 9, 45–46, 189 depreciation, 158 Deschutes National Forest, 157 dining out, 9, 12–13, 50, 52, 57–58, 144, 150, 168 Early Retirement Extreme (blog), 25, 26 eBay, 74 eco-friendliness, 68 economic recession (2008), 7, 69, 70 Ecuador FIRE retreat: author’s experience, 109–11, 116, 117–22; in author’s travel plan, 83; FIRE community at, 109, 117–19, 124, 171; frugality and attendance at, 119–20 Effective Altruism, 26 employment, choice of, 70 Encinitas (CA), 75 entertainment, 9, 50–51, 52, 53–54 entrepreneurs, 118–19 Eric (author’s childhood friend), 137, 138 expense cutting: author’s experience, 5–6, 183–84; author’s ten-step plan for, 50–51; cars, 60–61, 126, 129–30, 169, 188–89; club memberships, 61–62; daily expenses, 188; food expenses, 55–58, 150, 188–89; geo-arbitrage for, 93, 94; holiday gifts and, 142–44, 150, 152–53; housing, 126, 188–89; “sunk cost fallacy” and, 62–63 expenses: “Big Three,” 50; financial independence and, 149; “fun,” 50; keeping less than earnings, 126–29; “lifestyle creep” and, 9; medical, 45–46; retirement calculator using, 39–41; tracking, 51–55, 102, 188 extra-income opportunities, 51 families: large, and financial independence, 45–47; living with, 81, 92, 93 Ferriss, Tim, 18–21, 94, 142 1500 Days to Freedom (blog), 125 financial advisers, 114–15 financial independence, 146; FIRE Stories, 45–47; as self-defined, 149 “Financially Independent Retired Early: Flaws with the Philosophy?”


Super Thinking: The Big Book of Mental Models by Gabriel Weinberg, Lauren McCann

affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, anti-pattern, Anton Chekhov, autonomous vehicles, bank run, barriers to entry, Bayesian statistics, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, Black Swan, Broken windows theory, business process, butterfly effect, Cal Newport, Clayton Christensen, cognitive dissonance, commoditize, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Attenborough, delayed gratification, deliberate practice, discounted cash flows, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, Douglas Hofstadter, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, Edward Snowden, effective altruism, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, experimental subject, fear of failure, feminist movement, Filter Bubble, framing effect, friendly fire, fundamental attribution error, Gödel, Escher, Bach, hindsight bias, housing crisis, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, illegal immigration, income inequality, information asymmetry, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, John Nash: game theory, lateral thinking, loss aversion, Louis Pasteur, Lyft, mail merge, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Metcalfe’s law, Milgram experiment, minimum viable product, moral hazard, mutually assured destruction, Nash equilibrium, Network effects, nuclear winter, offshore financial centre, p-value, Parkinson's law, Paul Graham, peak oil, Peter Thiel, phenotype, Pierre-Simon Laplace, placebo effect, Potemkin village, prediction markets, premature optimization, price anchoring, principal–agent problem, publication bias, recommendation engine, remote working, replication crisis, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, Richard Thaler, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Metcalfe, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, school choice, Schrödinger's Cat, selection bias, Shai Danziger, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, speech recognition, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, survivorship bias, The Present Situation in Quantum Mechanics, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, transaction costs, uber lyft, ultimatum game, uranium enrichment, urban planning, Vilfredo Pareto, wikimedia commons

Which job will give you the best opportunity to advance your career? Which home renovations might most increase the value of your home in an upcoming sale or most increase its livability? Which activities will most help your kids in the future, or bring them the most joy? To which causes or charities would your cash contributions make the most difference (a mental model itself called effective altruism)? How much and what type of exercise do you need to do to get the most benefits in the least amount of time? Thinking about leverage helps you factor opportunity cost into your decision making. As a rule, the highest leverage activities have the lowest opportunity cost. The Pareto principle can help you find high-leverage activities. It states that in many situations, 80 percent of the results come from approximately 20 percent of the effort.

., 201 diet, 1, 87, 102, 103, 130 Difficult Conversations (Stone, Patton, and Heen), 19 Diffusion of Innovation (Rogers), 116 diffusion of responsibility, 259 digital photography, 308–10 Dilbert, 140 diminishing returns, 81–83 diminishing utility, 81–82 dinosaurs, 103 diplomacy, 231 directly responsible individual (DRI), 258–59 disclosure law, 45 disconfirmation bias, 27 discounted cash flow, 85 discounting, hyperbolic, 87 discounting the future, 85–87 discount rate, 85–87, 180–82, 184, 185 discoveries, multiple, 291–92 Disney World, 96–97 dispersion, 147 disruptive innovations, 308, 310–11 distribution, see probability distributions distributive justice versus procedural justice, 224–25 divergent thinking, 203 diversity debt, 57 diversity of opinion, 205, 206, 255 divide and conquer, 96 divorce, 231, 305 Dollar Shave Club, 240 domino effect, 234–35, 237 done, calling something, 89–90 Donne, John, 209 don’t bring a knife to a gunfight, 241 drinking, 217, 218 drunk drivers, 157–58 drugs, 236 DuckDuckGo, 18, 32, 68, 258, 278 Dubner, Stephen, 44–45 Dunbar, Robin, 278 Dunbar’s number, 278 Dunning, David, 269 Dunning-Kruger effect, 268–70, 317 Dweck, Carol, 266, 267 early adopters, 116–17, 289, 290, 311–12 early majority, 116–17, 312 Eastman Kodak Company, 302–3, 308–10, 312 eBay, 119, 281, 282, 290 echo chambers, 18, 120 Ecker, Ullrich, 13 economies of scale, 95 Economist, 14–15 economy, 122, 125 inflation in, 179–80, 182–83 financial crisis of 2007/2008, 79, 120, 192, 271, 288 recessions in, 121–22 Edison, Thomas, 289, 292 education and schools, 224–25, 241, 296 expectations and, 267–68 mindsets and, 267 school ranking, 137 school start times, 110, 111, 130 selection bias and, 140 textbooks in, 262 see also college effective altruism, 80 egalitarian versus hierarchical, in organizational culture, 274 80/20 arrangements, 80–81, 83 Einstein, Albert, 8, 11 Eisenhower, Dwight, 72 Eisenhower Decision Matrix, 72–74, 89, 124, 125 elections, 206, 218, 233, 241, 271, 293, 299 Ellsberg, Michael, 220 email spam, 161, 192–93, 234 Emanuel, Rahm, 291 emotion, appeal to, 225, 226 emotional quotient (EQ), 250–52 empathy, 19, 21, 23 ruinous, 264 employee engagement survey, 140, 142 endgame, 242, 244 endorsements, 112, 220, 229 endpoints, 137 ends justify the means, 229 energy: activation, 112–13 potential, 111–12 engineering, 247 Enron, 228 entrepreneurs, 301 cargo cult, 316 entropy, 122–24 entry, barriers to, 305 environmental issues, 38 climate change, 42, 55, 56, 104, 105, 183, 192 EpiPen, 283 EQ (emotional quotient), 250–52 equilibrium, 193 Ericsson, K.


pages: 254 words: 61,387

This Could Be Our Future: A Manifesto for a More Generous World by Yancey Strickler

basic income, big-box store, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Cass Sunstein, cognitive dissonance, corporate governance, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Graeber, Donald Trump, Doomsday Clock, effective altruism, Elon Musk, financial independence, gender pay gap, global supply chain, housing crisis, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, invention of the printing press, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Nash: game theory, Joi Ito, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, Louis Pasteur, Mark Zuckerberg, medical bankruptcy, new economy, Oculus Rift, off grid, offshore financial centre, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, Richard Thaler, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, Snapchat, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, stem cell, Steve Jobs, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Travis Kalanick, universal basic income, white flight

his final user experience: Steve Jobs’s last words were reported by his sister, Mona Simpson (“A Sister’s Eulogy for Steve Jobs,” New York Times, October 30, 2011). ten years old in our species’ life span: Will MacAskill’s perspective on the age of humanity comes from a 2018 TED Talk called “What Are the Most Important Moral Problems of Our Time?” MacAskill is also cofounder of a movement called effective altruism, which seeks to maximize the altruistic impact people create in their lives. CHAPTER TWO: THE NO-LEFT-TURN RULE the world of retail planning: I came across the “no-left-turn rule” after reading about Robert Gibbs, an urban retail planner, in a 1994 article in The Atlantic. Gibbs told the reporter that “the traffic advisor is the one that has all the sway . . . He vetoed so many sites that he was called The Terminator.”


pages: 579 words: 183,063

Tribe of Mentors: Short Life Advice From the Best in the World by Timothy Ferriss

23andMe, A Pattern Language, agricultural Revolution, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Bayesian statistics, bitcoin, Black Swan, blockchain, Brownian motion, Buckminster Fuller, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, Colonization of Mars, corporate social responsibility, cryptocurrency, David Heinemeier Hansson, dematerialisation, don't be evil, double helix, effective altruism, Elon Musk, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, family office, fear of failure, Gary Taubes, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, Google Hangouts, Gödel, Escher, Bach, haute couture, helicopter parent, high net worth, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, income inequality, index fund, Jeff Bezos, job satisfaction, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Kevin Kelly, Lao Tzu, Law of Accelerating Returns, Lyft, Mahatma Gandhi, Marc Andreessen, Marshall McLuhan, Mikhail Gorbachev, minimum viable product, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Naomi Klein, non-fiction novel, Peter Thiel, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ray Kurzweil, Saturday Night Live, side project, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart cities, smart contracts, Snapchat, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, TaskRabbit, Tesla Model S, too big to fail, Turing machine, uber lyft, web application, Whole Earth Catalog, Y Combinator

As a European Poker Tour and World Series of Poker Champion with more than $3.5 million in tournament winnings, she is one of the best-known faces on the international poker circuit and has been nicknamed the “Iron Maiden.” Liv is a member of Team PokerStars Pro and is a four-time winner of European Female Player of the Year. Her biggest passion is science, and she holds a first class honors degree in physics with astrophysics from the University of Manchester. Liv is a strong supporter of the Effective Altruism movement, the philosophy of using evidence and rational decision-making to achieve the most good. In 2014, she co-founded Raising for Effective Giving, a fundraising organization that raises money for the world’s most cost-effective and globally impactful charities. * * * What is the book (or books) you’ve given most as a gift, and why? Or what are one to three books that have greatly influenced your life?

See also Food(s); Nutrition at Aoki Bootcamp, 522 cutting out sugar, 405, 434 improving live through, 118, 434, 448 lactose intolerance, 406 low-carb, 480–81 meat industry, 295–96 misinformation on, 488 no-carb, 508 slow-carb, 448 Whole30, 295 DigiCash, 507 Dillard, Annie, 375 Diller, Barry, 206 Dim Mak Collection, 519 Dim Mak Records, 519, 520 Disney, Walt, 93 Disraeli, Benjamin, 210 Disruptive technology, 222–23, 295, 346 Doctor, Ken, 437 Dogspotting, 101–2 Douglas, Michael, 328 Douglass, Frederick, 210 Dropbox, 456 Drucker, Peter, 140, 205, 458 Duffin, Chris, 317 Duke, Annie, 171–74 Duncan, Graham, 56–63 Duolingo, 250 Duterimbere, 324 Dyson, Esther, 222, 243–45 E East Rock Capital, 56 eBay, 92 Ebroji, 79 Echelon Front, 536 Education Networks of America, Inc., 289 EDventure Holdings, 243 Effective Altruism, 300 Efferding, Mark, 318 Efferding, Stan, 318 Egg boxing, 516 Einstein, Albert, 51, 232, 356, 375, 515 Ek, Daniel, 286–88 Eligible, 243 Elizabeth Arden, 87 Ellison, Larry, 446 El Rey Network, 541, 544 Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 21, 123, 178, 253, 528–29 Eminem, 239 Emotional intelligence, 557–58 Endeavor Global, 349–51 Enlightenment Intensive, 343 Enneagram, 456–57 Environmental Institute for Golf, 283 Epicurus, 418 Epinions.com, 31 Epitaph Test, 47, 49 Erwin, Brian, 221 Ethereum, 153, 501 Évora, Cesária, 12 Exercise, 493, 522.


pages: 258 words: 74,942

Company of One: Why Staying Small Is the Next Big Thing for Business by Paul Jarvis

Airbnb, big-box store, Cal Newport, call centre, corporate social responsibility, David Heinemeier Hansson, effective altruism, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, endowment effect, follow your passion, gender pay gap, glass ceiling, Inbox Zero, index fund, job automation, Kickstarter, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, Naomi Klein, passive investing, Paul Graham, pets.com, remote working, Results Only Work Environment, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ruby on Rails, side project, Silicon Valley, Skype, Snapchat, software as a service, Steve Jobs, supply-chain management, Tim Cook: Apple, too big to fail, uber lyft, web application, Y Combinator, Y2K

Vallerand, “On the Psychology of Passion: In Search of What Makes People’s Lives Most Worth Living,” January 2007, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/228347175_On_the_Psychology_of_Passion_In_Search_of_What_Makes_People’s_Lives_Most_Worth_Living. 82 following your passion is fundamentally flawed: Cal Newport, So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love (New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2012), xviii. engaging work helps you develop passion: William MacAskill, Doing Good Better: How Effective Altruism Can Help You Make a Difference (New York: Avery, 2015), 147–178. 86 not be just a job but an adventure: Jeffrey Jensen Arnett and Elizabeth Fishel, “Is 30 the New 20 for Young Adults?” AARP, Washington, D.C., November 1, 2010, http://www.aarp.org/relationships/parenting/info-10-2010/emerging_adulthood_thirtysomethings.html. 86always winners: M. P. Mueller, “How to Manage (and Avoid) Entitled Employees,” New York Times, March 23, 2012, https://boss.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/23/managing-and-avoiding-entitled-employees/. 88 attempting to focus on more than one priority: Mary Czerwinski, Eric Horvitz, and Susan Wilhite, “A Diary Study of Task Switching and Interruptions,” Microsoft Research, Redmond, WA, January 1, 2004, http://erichorvitz.com/taskdiary.pdf, 4–6. 88reduced by more than ten points: “‘Infomania’ Worse Than Marijuana,” BBC News, April 22, 2005, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/4471607.stm. 88for every interruption: Gloria Mark, Daniela Gudick, and Ulrich Klocke, “The Cost of Interrupted Work: More Speed and Stress,” https://www.ics.uci.edu/~gmark/chi08-mark.pdf. 91 we make bad decisions: Cara Feinberg, “The Science of Scarcity: A Behavioral Economist’s Fresh Perspectives on Poverty,” Harvard Magazine, May/June 2015, https://www.harvardmagazine.com/2015/05/the-science-of-scarcity. 92 fifty-five hours a week: John Pencavel, “The Productivity of Work Hours,” IZA Discussion Paper 8129, Institute for the Study of Labor, Bonn, Germany, April 2014, http://ftp.iza.org/dp8129.pdf, 52–54. 6.


pages: 324 words: 93,606

No Such Thing as a Free Gift: The Gates Foundation and the Price of Philanthropy by Linsey McGoey

activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, agricultural Revolution, American Legislative Exchange Council, bitcoin, Bob Geldof, cashless society, clean water, cognitive dissonance, collapse of Lehman Brothers, colonial rule, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, crony capitalism, effective altruism, Etonian, financial innovation, Food sovereignty, Ford paid five dollars a day, germ theory of disease, hiring and firing, Howard Zinn, income inequality, income per capita, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, Joseph Schumpeter, liquidationism / Banker’s doctrine / the Treasury view, M-Pesa, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microcredit, Mitch Kapor, Mont Pelerin Society, Naomi Klein, obamacare, Peter Singer: altruism, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, price mechanism, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, rent-seeking, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, school choice, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), Silicon Valley, Slavoj Žižek, Steve Jobs, strikebreaker, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, trickle-down economics, urban planning, wealth creators

Teacher Evaluation Redesign Bogs Down’, Washington Post, 5 June 2011. 54Caroline Preston, ‘Gates Reorganizes Global Staff and Listens to School Critics’, Chronicle of Philanthropy, 16 October 2012. 55Valerie Strauss, ‘Gates Foundation Backs Two-Year Delay in Linking Common Core to Teacher Evaluation, Student Promotion,’ Washington Post, 10 June 2014. 56Paul Wells, ‘Why Bill Gates is Stephen Harper’s Favourite American’, Maclean’s, 4 March 2015. 57Peter Singer, ‘The Why and How of Effective Altruism’ (TED talk, March 2013), ted.com. 58Valerie Strauss, ‘An Educator Challenges the Gates Foundation,’ Washington Post, 8 October 2010. See also Anthony Cody, The Educator and the Oligarch: A Teacher Challenges the Gates Foundation (New York: Garn Press, 2014). 59I first make this point in Linsey McGoey, ‘Philanthrocapitalism and Its Critics’, Poetics, vol. 40, 185–99, drawing on work by Michael Power and James Ferguson.


pages: 343 words: 101,563

The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming by David Wallace-Wells

"Robert Solow", agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, anthropic principle, Asian financial crisis, augmented reality, basic income, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon footprint, carbon-based life, cognitive bias, computer age, correlation does not imply causation, cryptocurrency, cuban missile crisis, decarbonisation, Donald Trump, effective altruism, Elon Musk, endowment effect, energy transition, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, failed state, fiat currency, global pandemic, global supply chain, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of agriculture, Joan Didion, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, labor-force participation, life extension, longitudinal study, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, megacity, megastructure, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, nuclear winter, Pearl River Delta, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, postindustrial economy, quantitative easing, Ray Kurzweil, rent-seeking, ride hailing / ride sharing, Sam Altman, Silicon Valley, Skype, South China Sea, South Sea Bubble, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, the built environment, the scientific method, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, universal basic income, University of East Anglia, Whole Earth Catalog, William Langewiesche, Y Combinator

This is how the forces that unleashed climate change—namely, “the unchecked wisdom of the market”—were nevertheless presented as the forces that would save the planet from its ravages. It is how “philanthrocapitalism,” which seeks profits alongside human benefits, has replaced the loss-leader model of moral philanthropy among the very rich; how the winners of our increasingly winner-take-all tournament economy use philanthropy to buttress their own status; how “effective altruism,” which measures even not-for-profit charity by metrics of return borrowed from finance, has transformed the culture of giving well beyond the billionaire class; and how the “moral economy,” a rhetorical wedge that once expressed a radical critique of capitalism, became the calling card of do-gooder capitalists like Bill Gates. It is also, on the other end of the pecking order, how struggling citizens are asked to be entrepreneurs, indeed to demonstrate their value as citizens with the hard work of entrepreneurship, in an exhausting social system defined above all else by relentless competition.


pages: 688 words: 147,571

Robot Rules: Regulating Artificial Intelligence by Jacob Turner

Ada Lovelace, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, AI winter, algorithmic trading, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA, autonomous vehicles, Basel III, bitcoin, blockchain, brain emulation, Clapham omnibus, cognitive dissonance, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, distributed ledger, don't be evil, Donald Trump, easy for humans, difficult for computers, effective altruism, Elon Musk, financial exclusion, financial innovation, friendly fire, future of work, hive mind, Internet of things, iterative process, job automation, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Loebner Prize, medical malpractice, Nate Silver, natural language processing, nudge unit, obamacare, off grid, pattern recognition, Peace of Westphalia, race to the bottom, Ray Kurzweil, Rodney Brooks, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Stanislav Petrov, Stephen Hawking, Steve Wozniak, strong AI, technological singularity, Tesla Model S, The Coming Technological Singularity, The Future of Employment, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, Turing test, Vernor Vinge

Eerdmans Publishing Co, 1996). 108Though one academic has even gone as far as writing a “message to future AI”, suggesting various instrumental reasons why a superintelligent entity (which might one day come to read the paper) ought not to destroy humanity: Alexey Turchin, “Message to Any Future AI: ‘There are Several Instrumental Reasons Why Exterminating Humanity Is Not in Your Interest’”, http://​effective-altruism.​com/​ea/​1hj/​message_​to_​any_​future_​ai_​there_​are_​several/​, accessed 1 June 2018. 109Dylan Hadfield-Menell, Anca Dragan, Pieter Abbeel, and Stuart Russell, “The Off-Switch Game”, arXiv preprint arXiv:1611.08219 (2016), 1. 110The exact location is a secret guarded by the US Forest Service. 111Roslin Institute, “The Life of Dolly”, University of Edinburgh Centre for Regenerative Medecine, http://​dolly.​roslin.​ed.​ac.​uk/​facts/​the-life-of-dolly/​index.​html, accessed 1 June 2018. 112Art. 20a, Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany.


pages: 669 words: 210,153

Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers by Timothy Ferriss

Airbnb, Alexander Shulgin, artificial general intelligence, asset allocation, Atul Gawande, augmented reality, back-to-the-land, Ben Horowitz, Bernie Madoff, Bertrand Russell: In Praise of Idleness, Black Swan, blue-collar work, Boris Johnson, Buckminster Fuller, business process, Cal Newport, call centre, Charles Lindbergh, Checklist Manifesto, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, Colonization of Mars, Columbine, commoditize, correlation does not imply causation, David Brooks, David Graeber, diversification, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, effective altruism, Elon Musk, fault tolerance, fear of failure, Firefox, follow your passion, future of work, Google X / Alphabet X, Howard Zinn, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Jeff Bezos, job satisfaction, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, Lao Tzu, lateral thinking, life extension, lifelogging, Mahatma Gandhi, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Mason jar, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, MITM: man-in-the-middle, Nelson Mandela, Nicholas Carr, optical character recognition, PageRank, passive income, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, peer-to-peer, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, Peter Singer: altruism, Peter Thiel, phenotype, PIHKAL and TIHKAL, post scarcity, post-work, premature optimization, QWERTY keyboard, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, rent-seeking, Richard Feynman, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, selection bias, sharing economy, side project, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, Skype, Snapchat, social graph, software as a service, software is eating the world, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, superintelligent machines, Tesla Model S, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas L Friedman, Wall-E, Washington Consensus, Whole Earth Catalog, Y Combinator, zero-sum game

“If you earn $68K per year, then globally speaking, you are the 1%.” * * * Will MacAskill Will MacAskill (TW: @willmacaskill, williammacaskill.com) is an associate professor of philosophy at Lincoln College, University of Oxford. Just 29 years old, he is likely the youngest associate (i.e., tenured) professor of philosophy in the world. Will is the author of Doing Good Better and a co-founder of the “effective altruism” movement. He has pledged to donate everything he earns over ~$36K per year to whatever charities he believes will be most effective. He has also co-founded two well-known nonprofits: 80,000 Hours, which provides research and advice on how you can best make a difference through your career, and Giving What We Can, which encourages people to commit to give at least 10% of their income to the most effective charities.


pages: 1,737 words: 491,616

Rationality: From AI to Zombies by Eliezer Yudkowsky

Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, anthropic principle, anti-pattern, anti-work, Arthur Eddington, artificial general intelligence, availability heuristic, Bayesian statistics, Berlin Wall, Build a better mousetrap, Cass Sunstein, cellular automata, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, correlation does not imply causation, cosmological constant, creative destruction, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, dematerialisation, different worldview, discovery of DNA, Douglas Hofstadter, Drosophila, effective altruism, experimental subject, Extropian, friendly AI, fundamental attribution error, Gödel, Escher, Bach, hindsight bias, index card, index fund, Isaac Newton, John Conway, John von Neumann, Long Term Capital Management, Louis Pasteur, mental accounting, meta analysis, meta-analysis, money market fund, Nash equilibrium, Necker cube, NP-complete, P = NP, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, Pierre-Simon Laplace, placebo effect, planetary scale, prediction markets, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, risk tolerance, Rubik’s Cube, Saturday Night Live, Schrödinger's Cat, scientific mainstream, scientific worldview, sensible shoes, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Singularitarianism, Solar eclipse in 1919, speech recognition, statistical model, Steven Pinker, strong AI, technological singularity, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, the map is not the territory, the scientific method, Turing complete, Turing machine, ultimatum game, X Prize, Y Combinator, zero-sum game

Though Yudkowsky was moved to write these essays by his own philosophical mistakes and professional difficulties in AI theory, the resultant material has proven useful to a much wider audience. The original blog posts inspired the growth of Less Wrong, a community of intellectuals and life hackers with shared interests in cognitive science, computer science, and philosophy. Yudkowsky and other writers on Less Wrong have helped seed the effective altruism movement, a vibrant and audacious effort to identify the most high-impact humanitarian charities and causes. These writings also sparked the establishment of the Center for Applied Rationality, a nonprofit organization that attempts to translate results from the science of rationality into useable techniques for self-improvement. I don’t know what’s next—what other unconventional projects or ideas might draw inspiration from these pages.