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Critiquing Effective Altruism (with Michael Nielsen and Ajeya Cotra)

Radio Bostrom

Audio narrations of academic papers by Nick Bostrom.


Read the full transcript here.

What is Effective Altruism? Which parts of the Effective Altruism movement are good and not so good? Who outside of the EA movement are doing lots of good in the world? What are the psychological effects of thinking constantly about the trade-offs of spending resources on ourselves versus on others? To what degree is the EA movement centralized intellectually, financially, etc.? Does the EA movement's tendency to quantify everything, to make everything legible to itself, cause it to miss important features of the world? To what extent do EA people rationalize spending resources on inefficient or selfish projects by reframing them in terms of EA values? Is a feeling of tension about how to allocate our resources actually a good thing?

Ajeya Cotra is a Senior Research Analyst at Open Philanthropy, a grantmaking organization that aims to do as much good as possible with its resources (broadly following effective altruist methodology); she mainly does research relevant to Open Phil's work on reducing existential risks from AI. Ajeya discovered effective altruism in high school through the book The Life You Can Save, and quickly became a major fan of GiveWell. As a student at UC Berkeley, she co-founded and co-ran the Effective Altruists of Berkeley student group, and taught a student-led course on EA. Listen to her 80,000 Hours podcast episode or visit her LessWrong author page for more info.

Michael Nielsen was on the podcast back in episode 016. You can read more about him there!