On What We Owe the Future, Part 2 (some polemic)

by Eric Schliesser on November 26, 2022

This is the second post on MacAskill’s book. (The first one is here; it lists some qualities about the book that I admire.)

Two ground-rules about what follows:

  1. I ignore all the good non-longtermist, effective altruism (EA) has done. It’s mostly wonderful stuff, and no cynicism about it is warranted.
  2. I ignore MacAskill’s association with SBF/FTX. I have said what I want to say about it (here), although if any longtermists associated with the EA movement come to comment here, I hope they remember that the EA community directly benefitted from fraud (and that there is an interesting question to what degree it was facilitated by the relentless mutual backscratching of the intellectual side of the EA community and SBF); and perhaps focus on helping the victims of SBF.
  • Perhaps, for some consequentialists (1) and (2) cancel each other out?

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There has been a lot of talk lately about a revival of nuclear power, partly in response to the need to replace the energy previously supplied by Russia, and partly as a longer-term response to climate change. To the extent that this means avoiding premature closure of operational nuclear plants, while coal is still operating, this makes sense. But new nuclear power does not.

The misconception that nuclear makes economic sense remains widespread, but has been refuted many times. Less remarked on is the misconception is that the big obstacle to nuclear power is opposition from environmentalists.
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