A podcast episode exploring critiques of effective altruism (with Michael Nielsen and Ajeya Cotra)

Link post

If you’re interested in critiques of EA, you may find my just-released discussion with Michael Nielsen and Ajeya Cotra of interest!

Michael has been one of the most thoughtful EA critics, and Ajeya is an extremely sharp thinker.

Here are the topics we discuss:

What is effective altruism? Which parts of the effective altruism movement are good and not so good? Which groups of people 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?

And here’s a quote from the episode (where Michael complimented Ajeya and other EAs on how they respond to criticism):

Something I have been struck with [about] Ajeya’s responses, and also the response of many other EAs who have read what I wrote, has been the extent to which they’re willing to take criticism seriously and often try and reflect it back or even do the steelmanning thing…

If you’d like to hear or read the transcript of our conversation, you can go to: https://​​clearerthinkingpodcast.com/​​episode/​​118