As I prepare for the [salon](, I'll put rough notes and reading ideas here. Want to suggest something for this page? [[Contact me]]. I'm keen to have some 1-1 conversations on these topics ahead of the salon. If you'd like to do a ~30 minute call, please just [suggest a time]( --- Version: 0.0.9 Last updated: 2021-07-21 --- See also: [[Nick Bostrom – An Introductory Reader]]. ## Required reading See the [ii event page]( ## Suggested reading (longlist) ### What to expect - Robin Hanson: The Age of Em, Introduction (2 pages) and Ch. 1 (7 pages) - Holden Karnofsky: - [All possible views about the future are wild]( - - David Roodman: [Modeling the Human Trajectory]( - Tom Davidson: [Report on whether AI could drive explosive economic growth]( - Liv Boeree: [Anders Sandberg interview (YouTube)]( - #todo Who is good on this stuff outside the Open Phil / EA / AI / rationalist communities? (Recommendations please.) - ### What matters - Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek & Peter Singer: Parfit on Objectivity and “The Profoundest Problem of Ethics” - Roger Crisp: The Cosmos of Duty: Henry Sidgwick's _Methods of Ethics_ (there's a good summary of each chapter section at the start) - Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek & Peter Singer: The Point of View of the Universe (start with [this summary]( of each chapter) - [Peter Railton on Moral Learning and Metaethics in AI Systems]( (especially the second half) - - - Bernard Williams, The Human Prejudice ([audio](, [video](, [text]( (60 mins) - ## Longer longlist _Some things I've read or glanced at recently, which were good but maybe less good/relevant than the above._ - Lazari-Radek: [What should we bring about in the world and why pleasure?]( - ## PH longlist _Inbox of things I might read or re-read in advance of the salon._ More Scheffler: Samuel Scheffler: Why Worry About Future Generations ([video]( (60 mins) Other posts from 'Cohen’s Conservatism and Human Enhancement' Savalescu and Pugh'Cohen's_Conservatism_and_Human_Enhancement' Rescuing Conservatism: A Defense of Existing Value G. A. Cohen DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199753673.003.0009 The conservative attitude that I seek to describe, and begin to defend, in this paper is a bias in favour of retaining what is of value, even in the face of replacing it by something of greater value. I consider two ways of valuing something other than solely on account of the amount or type of value that resides in it. In one way, a person values something as the particular valuable thing that it is, and not merely for the value that resides in it. In another way, a person values something because of the special relation of the thing to that person. There is a third idea in conservatism that I more briefly consider: namely, the idea that some things must be accepted as given, that not everything can, or should, be shaped to our aims and requirements. Keywords: Conservatism, intrinsic value, maximization, consequentialism, deontology, the given, Hegel The intro to consequentialism and its critics by Sam Scheffler - AK sees Scheffler and Bostrom as opposite ends of a spectrum. Scheffler very status quo bias. - the Phillipa foot paper about virtue Heidegger Q concerning tech Rebecca Roache transofrmative tech policy paper https:/ Bostrom Human enhancement heuristic paper Film: Bait Agnes Callard on aspiration William James Nietzsche Rorty Yes-saying / healthy-mindedness A couple chapters of the Rees future book? Michelle's PhD? Richard Rorty Greene Moral Tribes metamorality chapters Long Now SALT Seminars Notable 20th century perspectives: - - Apparently Where's My Flying Car has a bunch - ... ## Selected highlights ### Robin Hanson, Age of Em Everyone without exception believes his own native customs, and the religion he was brought up in, to be the best. (Herodotus 440bc) The future is not the realization of our hopes and dreams, a warning to mend our ways, an adventure to inspire us, nor a romance to touch our hearts. The future is just another place in space-time. Its residents, like us, find their world mundane and morally ambiguous. (Hanson 2008a) ... Yes, you admit that lacking your wealth your ancestors couldn’t copy some of your habits. Even so, you tend to think that humanity has learned that your ways are better. That is, you believe in social and moral progress. The problem is, the future will probably hold new kinds of people. Your descendants’ habits and attitudes are likely to differ from yours by as much as yours differ from your ancestors. If you understood just how different your ancestors were, you’d realize that you should expect your descendants to seem quite strange. ... New habits and attitudes result less than you think from moral progress, and more from people adapting to new situations. Also, you likely won’t be able to easily categorize many future ways as either good or evil; they will instead just seem weird. After all, your world hardly fits the morality tales your distant ancestors told; to them you’d just seem weird. Complex realities frustrate simple summaries, and don’t fit simple morality tales. ## Tyler Cowen on Robin Hanson Imagine an intellectual war with Darwin, Fourier, Comte, early Carnap, David Friedman and millenarian Christian eschatology on one side (that’s my mental image of how Robin maps into the history of ideas), with bits from Henry Sidgwick, Hayek, Quine, and William James on the other side, … I am (implicitly) defending gradualism, pluralism, the partial irreduciblity of individual choice, the primacy of civilization, and yes also a certain degree of social artifice.  … Note that Robin is wrong to suggest I don’t reply to his views.  I paint him as engaged in a subjective quest — including on bias — rather than standing from an Archimedean point.  And within the realm of subjective quests, I try to outline a superior one, especially in the last few chapters of the book.  He doesn’t like being relativized in this fashion, and that he doesn’t see me as replying to him is itself an indicator of our underlying differences. ### Stewart Brand on pace layers In recent years a few scientists (such as R. V. O’Neill and C. S. Holling) have been probing a similar issue in ecological systems: How do they manage change, and how do they absorb and incorporate shocks? The answer appears to lie in the relationship between components in a system that have different change rates and different scales of size. Instead of breaking under stress like something brittle these systems yield as if they were malleable. Some parts respond quickly to the shock, allowing slower parts to ignore the shock and maintain their steady duties of system continuity. The combination of fast and slow components makes the system resilient, along with the way the differently paced parts affect each other. Fast learns, slow remembers. Fast proposes, slow disposes. Fast is discontinuous, slow is continuous. Fast and small instructs slow and big by accrued innovation and occasional revolution. Slow and big controls small and fast by constraint and constancy. Fast gets all our attention, slow has all the power. All durable dynamic systems have this sort of structure; it is what makes them adaptable and robust. ... The mathematician and physicist Freeman Dyson makes a related observation about human society: > The destiny of our species is shaped by the imperatives of survival on six distinct time scales. To survive means to compete successfully on all six time scales. But the unit of survival is different at each of the six time scales. On a time scale of years, the unit is the individual. On a time scale of decades, the unit is the family. On a time scale of centuries, the unit is the tribe or nation. On a time scale of millennia, the unit is the culture. On a time scale of tens of millennia, the unit is the species. On a time scale of eons, the unit is the whole web of life on our planet. Every human being is the product of adaptation to the demands of all six time scales. That is why conflicting loyalties are deep in our nature. In order to survive, we have needed to be loyal to ourselves, to our families, to our tribes, to our cultures, to our species, to our planet. If our psychological impulses are complicated, it is because they were shaped by complicated and conflicting demands. Considered operationally rather than in terms of loyalty, I propose six significant levels of pace and size in the working structure of a robust and adaptable civilization. From fast to slow the levels are: • Fashion/art • Commerce • Infrastructure • Governance • Culture • Nature In a healthy society each level is allowed to operate at its own pace, safely sustained by the slower levels below and kept invigorated by the livelier levels above. ![[Pasted image 20210716193627.png]] The division of powers among the layers of civilization allows us to relax about a few of our worries. We should not deplore rapidly changing technology and business while government controls, cultural mores, and so-called wisdom change slowly; that’s their job. Also, we should not fear destabilizing positive-feedback loops (such as the Singularity) crashing the whole system. Such disruption usually can be isolated and absorbed. The total effect of the pace layers is that they provide many-leveled corrective, stabilizing negative feedback throughout the system. It is precisely in the apparent contradictions of pace that civilization finds its surest health.