i kind of like the approach of just throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks. it seems genuinely true that many different ethical systems and arguments converge in some form towards caring about x-risk, even if there are contradictions. i personally find the "option value" argument the most compelling: humanity doesn't know all that much for certain about what matters and what we should do etc. but if we don't prevent extinction then probably we'll never find out or make progress there. so given moral uncertainty, x-risk reduction is something like a minimal ethical goal for the near-term, and should be prioritized.

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Jan 27, 2022·edited Jan 27, 2022Author

I think there are two cases for appealing to the 'respecting your ancestors' view - a strategic case and a philosophical case. The strategic case has quite a bit going for it - it's probably true that (with enough people coming across Ord and his writing) some people will buy into this argument and take a strong view on x-risks when they otherwise may not have cared so much (a friend made the point to me that non-WEIRD societies place much more value on preserving the traditions of your ancestors). That being said, I'm not sure the strategy is much less effective if you just explicitly say 'by the way, I don't totally buy into this argument myself, but it may appeal to some readers'.

I'm more dubious about the philosophical case. The moral parliament idea has some appeal, but I remain sceptical of 'this doesn't sound like a good argument but we can't be certain about what's right, so it still boosts the case for eliminating x-risks a little bit'.

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I would suggest we are doing a disservice to our future generations by desensitizing our youth to risk, on a grand scale. Video games are partly to blame, making our youth believe they can dodge bullets, jump off buildings, etc... Social media contributes to the problem as well, no need to risk rejection by actually go up to a girl and asking her out, just swipe right.... Participation trophies in school mitigate the risk of losing ....here, take this vaccine.... Everywhere you look society is desensitizing our youth to risk, it is no wonder much of humanity can not comprehend existential risk. Enjoy your column very much!

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