Anonymous asked: Why do you need effective feminism? Let's say you're an extreme feminist who only cares about women and doesn't value men's lives at all. In that case, you should still donate to GIveDirectly, because even with half of the money being wasted on men it's still more efficient than anything NOW will do.
First: why are you sending me mean asks instead of working? That is probably TEN MINUTES you could have been spending earning money to donate to the Schistosomiasis Control Institute! YOU ARE MURDERING BABIES HERE. THEY ARE DYING OF WORMS BECAUSE OF YOU. MURDERER.
Second: the thing I reblogged was literally a list of research about interpersonal techniques for making people less racist. That is totally unrelated to one’s donations. It’s like asking why I recycle instead of donating to GiveDirectly, or turn off the lights when I leave the room instead of donating to Give Directly, or eat vegetarian instead of donating to GiveDirectly. They’re… totally fucking unrelated? It is almost as if how much money you donate and where is not the sole relevant moral issue!
Third: GiveDirectly’s benefits are more quantifiable than NOW’s but that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily less, particularly given NOW’s involvement in international feminist movements. (Really, GiveDirectly ought to be understood as a bare minimum: if your intervention is not at least as effective as just giving people cash, you should stop.) Your comment reflects two tendencies in effective altruist movements which I find quite pernicious: to devalue things which are hard to measure and to neglect political activism as a way of achieving change.
Fourth: feminism is obviously directly relevant to effective altruism. Gender discrimination or a hostile environment can make women (or men!) less likely to become effective altruists. The gender pay gap reduces the effectiveness of the earning to give strategy for women. Gender inequality is strongly correlated with later overpopulation, which is itself correlated with a whole host of maladies from famine to war.
Fifth: obviously the extreme version of being pro-gender-equality is only caring about women and not valuing men’s lives at all. It is totally reasonable to conceptualize feminism as a continuum with Mary Daly as the most feminist, rather than as a continuum with Mary Daly over in the racist, transphobic, ableist, sexist, pro-genocide end. This definitely sounds like a productive way to understand the feminist movement.
Sixth: you are never going to get everyone in the world to agree to work on only the most pressing problem. (Nor would that be a good idea, for the same reason that “invest all your money in the best stock” is a terrible investment strategy.) Even a lot of effective altruists donate some money to warm fuzzies causes. However, I think it is useful to take the set of ideas effective altruists want to apply to charity— empiricism, quantification, randomized controlled trials, etc.— and apply them to, well, all charities. Just because something is not the literally most effective cause you can be working on doesn’t mean that you can’t work on it in a more effective way, nor does it mean that working on it in a more effective way is somehow bad.
Seventh: I notice that I never get hate about being insufficiently effective altruist when I talk about spending money on things (even expensive things like vacations) that aren’t charity, or when I talk about how I want to be a housespouse rather than earn an income, or when I major in a deeply non-renumerative major, or even when I geek out about Frozen. No, I ONLY get hate about it when I’m talking about doing altruism in a way that is maybe less effective than the message-sender likes. This is fucking stupid. Spending money on basically any charity (except really awful ones like Autism Speaks) creates more utility than spending money on myself. If you punish the former more than the latter, you are not doing consequentialism. You are working from purity moral intuitions, and you should stop.
#seven deadly smackdowns
Anonymous asked: What I don't get about transhumanism, because it mostly makes sense to me, is ending death. I can't help but see death as a natural and important part of life. If no one ever dies then there are two options, as I see it. Either, we stop reproducing and start to stagnate as a species, we stop evolving and people stop having new ideas, or we keep reproducing and quickly burn out all available resources. Plus the idea of living forever terrifies me. I'm not sure I can handle 50 more years.
Most anti-death people are less anti-death and more pro-death-choice. We totally support death being an option! (For instance, I support euthanasia, and I totally have well-thought-out reasons for this that aren’t just ableist bullshit.) It just shouldn’t be mandatory for everyone.
I almost speculated about future anti-deathist technologies and how they would cope with your scenario, but then I remembered my whole “people suck at predicting technology stop doing it” thing. But anyway I suspect that is a solvable problem because of accidents, suicide, etc.
Well, in a perfect transhuman world, there probably wouldn’t be a reason to want to die because everything is fun/interesting enough to want to see more of it. But yeah, being anti-death is mostly about making death optional, not outlawing it.
I’d also like to respond to the two options this Anon gives:
1) Making death optional doesn’t solve a host of other issues. People will still have unbearable pain, people will still be depressed, accidents probably will continue to happen. In this scenario, humans would need to be bred for replacing the fallen. Stopping to evolve isn’t something transhumanists fear, because a lot of us are convinced that we can do evolutions work ourselves and probably better. Finally, you don’t strictly need new humans to have new ideas. It’s just that most humans are horrible at changing their minds, but that’s an issue you can actually solve.
But anyway, I’ve said it before and I don’t think a future without humans reproducing is a very good future.
2) Statistics show us that an increased quality of living decreases the birth-rate. So in a “transhuman future”, most people probably wouldn’t breed like crazy. What strikes me most with this scenario is that you seem to underestimate the available resources. We’re not limited to one planet, or even one solar system.
So I’d like to propose a third scenario:
3) Humanity gets its shit together. Children are taught from a young age that being able to change your mind is a valuable skill and they are trained in how to update their beliefs based on evidence. Humans start being serious about their resources and start to innovate in how energy is produced. At the same time, experiments with space colonization are paying off. Standards of living throughout the world rise steadily. It is then that humans start becoming immortal.
Of course, that’s very pie in the sky, so here a more cynical, but still optimistic scenario:
4) Some big company figures out how to make people immortal and the same company (or another, doesn’t matter) figures out how to painlessly stop cancer. At first this miracle drug is crazy expensive, either because it’s hard to make, took long to figure out or because artificial scarcity sells units. So the 1% starts becoming immortal. Some of them probably try to take over the world (being immortal is great for your long-term plans) but those quickly discover that not aging doesn’t mean your skull can stop bullets or that a Molotov cocktail to your face doesn’t hurt like hell.
The rest of the powerful people figure out that they need to start rethinking their life. Being actually immortal means you need to care about the future of humanity and the Earth and so they start projects to make this planet and its inhabitants better (you can probably do both and still turn a profit).
Eventually, the market of crazy-rich people dries out or the drug gets reversed engineered and it spreads towards the middle-class.
(Yes, this scenario is bad for poorer people. This critique is important and I think @Stormingtheivory makes an excellent point when he says that socialism is extremely compatible and even necessary for a good transhumanist future.)
Finally (and this is getting quite long), I understand that you don’t want to live forever. The world just doesn’t work very well right now. This is also something transhumanists want to change. They want you to be happy and have fun in meaningful ways.
This lamp absorbs 150 times more CO2 than a tree
It’s still in the “so crazy it just might work” stage, but these microalgae-powered lamps, invented by French biochemist Pierre Calleja, could absorb a ton of carbon from the air every year. That’s as much as 150 to 200 trees. [x]
YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND. This is ingenious.
The design is a light bulb surrounded by a glass casing. The glass is filled with (water based) media and microalgae. The top is permeable to gasses so that gas exchange can occur. All of the wiring is linked to the grid underground.
Since the light source is inside, it gets scattered and “dimmed” by the water and algae. This makes it less glaringly bright and scatters the light wider, which is good for a street light. It is not longer white light as well, which helps make it easier on the eyes while still providing light.
At the same time, it provides the light for photosynthesis in the algae, so they are continuously exchanging CO2 for O2, not just in the day. It also provides a source of heat, which helps keep the algae from going dormant during cold weather (as in the snowy picture above).
And notice how I did not specify permeability - that’s because NOx’s (NO and NO2) are also permeable and can be used as nitrogen sources to microalgae. In fact, algae are relatively low maintenance. As autotrophs, they don’t require super complex media, not does it really need to be changed/added to. (I’m actually fairly certain that there would still be algae in these tanks a year later; it may need to be cleaned or something, but there would be some living algae.)