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Longtermism

TagLast edit: 19 Apr 2021 16:33 UTC by EA Wiki assistant

Longtermism is the view that what matters most about our actions is their impact over the long-term future.

When judging the value of an action, future considerations may be highly relevant. Ethical theories according to which future people are moral patients, whose wellbeing is of comparable importance to the wellbeing of present-day people, imply that we ought to consider the long-term future of humanity, rather than just the next hundred years or so.

In fact, since it is possible that nearly everyone who will ever live has not yet been born, these ethical theories tend to imply that if there is anything that can be done to positively shape the long-term future, then this will be more valuable than any other possible action.

On the other hand, if it is impossible to influence the long-term future—for instance, if humans are doomed to go extinct within the next century, or if we simply lack sufficient foresight, then one should focus on the short- and medium-term impact of one’s actions, regardless of one’s ethical views on future potential people.

Related entries

APPG on Future Generations | existential risk | patient altruism

Further reading

Centre for Effective Altruism. Cause profile: The Long-Term Future

Beckstead, Nick. 2013. On the overwhelming importance of shaping the far future.
A philosophy dissertation that is likely the most thorough treatment of the subject.

Todd, Benjamin. 2013. How important are future generations?
An examination of the decision-relevance of the long-term future.

‘Longter­mism’

William_MacAskill25 Jul 2019 21:27 UTC
99 points
56 comments9 min readEA link

The Epistemic Challenge to Longter­mism (Tarsney, 2020)

MichaelA4 Apr 2021 3:09 UTC
59 points
28 comments2 min readEA link
(globalprioritiesinstitute.org)

The Case for Strong Longtermism

Global Priorities Institute3 Sep 2019 1:17 UTC
11 points
0 comments6 min readEA link
(globalprioritiesinstitute.org)

Every­day Longtermism

Owen_Cotton-Barratt1 Jan 2021 17:39 UTC
116 points
28 comments9 min readEA link

Cru­cial ques­tions for longtermists

MichaelA29 Jul 2020 9:39 UTC
76 points
16 comments19 min readEA link

Ob­jec­tives of longter­mist policy making

Henrik Øberg Myhre10 Feb 2021 18:26 UTC
45 points
7 comments22 min readEA link

Com­mon ground for longtermists

Tobias_Baumann29 Jul 2020 10:26 UTC
65 points
8 comments4 min readEA link

Blueprints (& lenses) for longter­mist de­ci­sion-making

Owen_Cotton-Barratt21 Dec 2020 17:25 UTC
42 points
2 comments6 min readEA link

A full syl­labus on longtermism

jtm5 Mar 2021 22:57 UTC
88 points
9 comments8 min readEA link

Pos­si­ble mis­con­cep­tions about (strong) longtermism

jackmalde9 Mar 2021 17:58 UTC
70 points
41 comments19 min readEA link

My per­sonal cruxes for fo­cus­ing on ex­is­ten­tial risks /​ longter­mism /​ any­thing other than just video games

MichaelA13 Apr 2021 5:50 UTC
47 points
21 comments3 min readEA link

Are we liv­ing at the most in­fluen­tial time in his­tory?

William_MacAskill3 Sep 2019 4:55 UTC
183 points
146 comments25 min readEA link

How to think about an un­cer­tain fu­ture: les­sons from other sec­tors & mis­takes of longter­mist EAs

weeatquince5 Sep 2020 12:51 UTC
35 points
30 comments14 min readEA link

Re­sponse to Phil Tor­res’ ‘The Case Against Longter­mism’

HaydnBelfield8 Mar 2021 18:09 UTC
67 points
31 comments5 min readEA link

[Question] What do you make of the dooms­day ar­gu­ment?

niklas19 Mar 2021 6:30 UTC
12 points
8 comments1 min readEA link

On fu­ture peo­ple, look­ing back at 21st cen­tury longtermism

Joe_Carlsmith22 Mar 2021 8:21 UTC
91 points
13 comments12 min readEA link

For­mal­is­ing the “Wash­ing Out Hy­poth­e­sis”

dwebb25 Mar 2021 11:40 UTC
84 points
24 comments12 min readEA link

On the longter­mist case for work­ing on farmed an­i­mals [Uncer­tain­ties & re­search ideas]

MichaelA11 Apr 2021 6:49 UTC
58 points
12 comments8 min readEA link

Ask Me Any­thing!

William_MacAskill14 Aug 2019 15:52 UTC
150 points
138 comments3 min readEA link

Toby Ord’s ‘The Precipice’ is pub­lished!

matthew.vandermerwe4 Mar 2020 21:09 UTC
140 points
18 comments2 min readEA link

A bunch of new GPI papers

Pablo25 Sep 2019 13:32 UTC
102 points
6 comments2 min readEA link

In­sti­tu­tions for Fu­ture Generations

tylermjohn11 Nov 2019 20:33 UTC
107 points
52 comments5 min readEA link

Eight high-level un­cer­tain­ties about global catas­trophic and ex­is­ten­tial risk

SiebeRozendal28 Nov 2019 14:47 UTC
80 points
9 comments5 min readEA link

Book Re­view: The Precipice

Aaron Gertler9 Apr 2020 21:21 UTC
39 points
0 comments17 min readEA link
(slatestarcodex.com)

An­nounc­ing the new Forethought Foun­da­tion for Global Pri­ori­ties Research

William_MacAskill4 Dec 2018 10:36 UTC
62 points
0 commentsEA link

In­tro­duc­ing GPI’s new re­search agenda

Global Priorities Institute15 Feb 2019 17:11 UTC
61 points
11 comments1 min readEA link

Quan­tify­ing an­thropic effects on the Fermi paradox

Lukas_Finnveden15 Feb 2019 10:47 UTC
63 points
3 comments41 min readEA link

Age-Weighted Voting

William_MacAskill12 Jul 2019 15:21 UTC
63 points
39 comments6 min readEA link

AMA: Toby Ord, au­thor of “The Precipice” and co-founder of the EA movement

Toby_Ord17 Mar 2020 2:39 UTC
66 points
82 comments1 min readEA link

The Long-Term Fu­ture: An At­ti­tude Survey

Aron_Vallinder16 Sep 2019 15:57 UTC
62 points
15 comments8 min readEA link

Should Longter­mists Mostly Think About An­i­mals?

abrahamrowe3 Feb 2020 14:40 UTC
69 points
41 comments20 min readEA link

If you value fu­ture peo­ple, why do you con­sider near term effects?

Alex HT8 Apr 2020 15:21 UTC
88 points
76 comments13 min readEA link

Clar­ify­ing ex­is­ten­tial risks and ex­is­ten­tial catastrophes

MichaelA24 Apr 2020 13:27 UTC
23 points
3 comments7 min readEA link

[Question] What are the lead­ing cri­tiques of “longter­mism” and re­lated concepts

AlasdairGives30 May 2020 10:54 UTC
40 points
27 comments1 min readEA link

Differ­en­tial tech­nolog­i­cal de­vel­op­ment

james_aung25 Jun 2020 10:54 UTC
28 points
7 comments5 min readEA link

Rep­re­sent­ing fu­ture gen­er­a­tions in the poli­ti­cal process

Tobias_Baumann25 Jun 2020 15:31 UTC
35 points
6 comments1 min readEA link
(centerforreducingsuffering.org)

Civ­i­liza­tion Re-Emerg­ing After a Catas­trophic Collapse

MichaelA27 Jun 2020 3:22 UTC
30 points
17 comments2 min readEA link
(www.youtube.com)

Venn di­a­grams of ex­is­ten­tial, global, and suffer­ing catastrophes

MichaelA15 Jul 2020 12:28 UTC
60 points
2 comments7 min readEA link

Why I’m skep­ti­cal about un­proven causes (and you should be too)

Peter_Hurford7 Aug 2013 4:00 UTC
34 points
0 commentsEA link

Why long-run fo­cused effec­tive al­tru­ism is more com­mon sense

Benjamin_Todd21 Nov 2014 0:12 UTC
19 points
19 commentsEA link

Why might the fu­ture be good?

Paul_Christiano27 Feb 2013 5:00 UTC
2 points
0 commentsEA link

A pro­posed ad­just­ment to the as­tro­nom­i­cal waste argument

Nick_Beckstead27 May 2013 4:00 UTC
15 points
1 commentEA link

Con­ver­sa­tion with Holden Karnofsky, Nick Beck­stead, and Eliezer Yud­kowsky on the “long-run” per­spec­tive on effec­tive altruism

Nick_Beckstead18 Aug 2014 4:30 UTC
4 points
7 commentsEA link

EA read­ing list: longter­mism and ex­is­ten­tial risks

richard_ngo3 Aug 2020 9:52 UTC
34 points
3 comments1 min readEA link

Cause pri­ori­ti­za­tion for down­side-fo­cused value systems

Lukas_Gloor31 Jan 2018 14:47 UTC
61 points
9 comments47 min readEA link

The ex­pected value of ex­tinc­tion risk re­duc­tion is positive

JanBrauner9 Dec 2018 8:00 UTC
34 points
21 comments61 min readEA link

Link: Longter­mist In­sti­tu­tional Reform

Dale30 Jul 2020 20:36 UTC
28 points
2 comments1 min readEA link

Toby Ord: Selected quo­ta­tions on ex­is­ten­tial risk

Aaron Gertler6 Aug 2020 17:41 UTC
25 points
0 comments38 min readEA link
(theprecipice.com)

The emerg­ing school of pa­tient longtermism

80000_Hours7 Aug 2020 16:28 UTC
62 points
11 comments2 min readEA link

EA read­ing list: fu­tur­ism and transhumanism

richard_ngo4 Aug 2020 14:29 UTC
19 points
1 comment1 min readEA link

[Question] What are novel ma­jor in­sights from longter­mist macros­trat­egy or global pri­ori­ties re­search found since 2015?

Max_Daniel13 Aug 2020 9:15 UTC
77 points
55 comments1 min readEA link

Thoughts on pa­tient philanthropy

Tobias_Baumann8 Sep 2020 12:00 UTC
14 points
5 comments1 min readEA link
(s-risks.org)

For­mal­iz­ing longtermism

Michael_Wiebe16 Sep 2020 5:00 UTC
9 points
15 comments2 min readEA link

Ev­i­dence, clue­less­ness, and the long term—Hilary Greaves

james_aung1 Nov 2020 17:25 UTC
79 points
36 comments19 min readEA link

Longter­mism and an­i­mal advocacy

Tobias_Baumann11 Nov 2020 17:44 UTC
80 points
7 comments1 min readEA link
(centerforreducingsuffering.org)

Com­pet­i­tive Ethics

mwcvitkovic24 Nov 2020 1:00 UTC
18 points
7 comments4 min readEA link

First S-Risk In­tro Seminar

stefan.torges8 Dec 2020 9:23 UTC
62 points
2 comments1 min readEA link

[Feed­back Re­quest] The com­pound in­ter­est of sav­ing lives

MaxG22 Dec 2020 13:50 UTC
35 points
10 comments2 min readEA link

Web of virtue the­sis [re­search note]

Owen_Cotton-Barratt1 Jan 2021 16:21 UTC
48 points
1 comment9 min readEA link

Global Pri­ori­ties In­sti­tute: Re­search Agenda

Aaron Gertler20 Jan 2021 20:09 UTC
19 points
0 comments2 min readEA link
(globalprioritiesinstitute.org)

In­tro­duc­tion to Longtermism

finm27 Jan 2021 16:01 UTC
70 points
13 comments31 min readEA link
(www.finmoorhouse.com)

The Up­per Limit of Value

Davidmanheim27 Jan 2021 14:15 UTC
31 points
6 comments1 min readEA link

AMA: Ajeya Co­tra, re­searcher at Open Phil

Ajeya28 Jan 2021 17:38 UTC
83 points
107 comments1 min readEA link

Were the Great Tragedies of His­tory “Mere Rip­ples”?

philosophytorres8 Feb 2021 14:56 UTC
−9 points
11 comments1 min readEA link

Ex­is­ten­tial risk and the fu­ture of hu­man­ity (Toby Ord)

EA Global18 Oct 2019 18:05 UTC
8 points
0 comments14 min readEA link
(www.youtube.com)

Re. Longter­mism: A re­sponse to the EA fo­rum (part 2)

vadmas1 Mar 2021 18:13 UTC
11 points
5 comments1 min readEA link

Re­sponse to re­cent crit­i­cisms of EA “longter­mist” thinking

kbog6 Jan 2020 4:31 UTC
15 points
46 comments11 min readEA link

Why I find longter­mism hard, and what keeps me motivated

Michelle_Hutchinson22 Feb 2021 23:01 UTC
173 points
11 comments7 min readEA link

Good v. Op­ti­mal Futures

RobertHarling11 Dec 2020 16:38 UTC
29 points
10 comments6 min readEA link

Hilary Greaves: Ev­i­dence, clue­less­ness and the long term

EA Global25 Oct 2020 5:48 UTC
6 points
0 comments1 min readEA link
(www.youtube.com)

In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Law and the Fu­ture of Hu­man­ity: A The­ory of the Crime of Omnicide

philosophytorres22 Mar 2021 12:19 UTC
7 points
1 comment1 min readEA link

Chris­tian Tarsney: Can we pre­dictably im­prove the far fu­ture?

EA Global18 Oct 2019 7:40 UTC
6 points
0 comments1 min readEA link
(www.youtube.com)

Robert Wiblin: Mak­ing sense of long-term in­di­rect effects

EA Global6 Aug 2016 0:40 UTC
6 points
0 comments16 min readEA link
(www.youtube.com)

What we owe the fu­ture (Will MacAskill)

EA Global5 Jun 2020 19:36 UTC
6 points
0 comments19 min readEA link
(www.youtube.com)

Longter­mism: More to explore

EA Fellowship2 Jan 2021 2:28 UTC
1 point
0 comments1 min readEA link

Thoughts on “tra­jec­tory changes”

evelynciara7 Apr 2021 2:18 UTC
15 points
0 comments1 min readEA link

Peter Singer on the 80K podcast

Jon_Behar18 Dec 2019 17:17 UTC
31 points
0 comments1 min readEA link
(80000hours.org)

Mo­ral plu­ral­ism and longter­mism | Sunyshore

evelynciara17 Apr 2021 0:14 UTC
25 points
0 comments5 min readEA link
(sunyshore.substack.com)

On Progress and Prosperity

Paul_Christiano15 Oct 2014 7:03 UTC
37 points
33 commentsEA link

The asym­me­try and the far future

Halstead9 Mar 2017 22:05 UTC
10 points
14 commentsEA link

Ac­tu­ally pos­si­ble: thoughts on Utopia

Joe_Carlsmith18 Jan 2021 8:27 UTC
58 points
3 comments13 min readEA link

Causal di­a­grams of the paths to ex­is­ten­tial catastrophe

MichaelA1 Mar 2020 14:08 UTC
40 points
10 comments13 min readEA link

Quotes about the long reflection

MichaelA5 Mar 2020 7:48 UTC
52 points
12 comments13 min readEA link

[Link and com­men­tary] Beyond Near- and Long-Term: Towards a Clearer Ac­count of Re­search Pri­ori­ties in AI Ethics and Society

MichaelA14 Mar 2020 9:04 UTC
17 points
0 comments6 min readEA link

[Question] Will the coro­n­avirus pan­demic ad­vance or hin­der the spread of longter­mist-style val­ues/​think­ing?

MichaelA19 Mar 2020 6:07 UTC
12 points
1 comment1 min readEA link

Differ­en­tial progress /​ in­tel­lec­tual progress /​ tech­nolog­i­cal development

MichaelA24 Apr 2020 14:08 UTC
31 points
14 comments7 min readEA link

Ex­is­ten­tial risks are not just about humanity

MichaelA28 Apr 2020 0:09 UTC
18 points
0 comments5 min readEA link

Some thoughts on Toby Ord’s ex­is­ten­tial risk estimates

MichaelA7 Apr 2020 2:19 UTC
54 points
31 comments9 min readEA link

[Question] What are some re­sources to learn how Tech­nol­ogy af­fects longter­mism in Poli­cy­mak­ing?

Venkatesh12 Jun 2020 14:50 UTC
2 points
1 comment2 min readEA link

Model­ing the Hu­man Tra­jec­tory (Open Philan­thropy)

Aaron Gertler16 Jun 2020 9:27 UTC
49 points
4 comments2 min readEA link
(www.openphilanthropy.org)

Long-term in­vest­ment fund at Founders Pledge

SjirH10 Jan 2020 19:09 UTC
135 points
28 comments3 min readEA link

[Question] Put­ting Peo­ple First in a Cul­ture of De­hu­man­iza­tion

jhealy22 Jul 2020 3:31 UTC
16 points
3 comments1 min readEA link

[Question] For those work­ing on longter­mist pro­jects, how do you stay mo­ti­vated in the short-term?

warrenjordan8 Aug 2020 19:21 UTC
13 points
2 comments1 min readEA link

[Question] Is ex­is­ten­tial risk more press­ing than other ways to im­prove the long-term fu­ture?

evelynciara20 Aug 2020 3:50 UTC
23 points
1 comment1 min readEA link

“Why Na­tions Fail” and the long-ter­mist view of global poverty

Ben_Kuhn16 Jul 2019 7:59 UTC
114 points
20 comments13 min readEA link
(www.benkuhn.net)

Timeline Utilitarianism

Bob Jacobs9 Oct 2020 20:12 UTC
14 points
12 comments2 min readEA link

Re­ward­ing pri­vate pro­vi­sion of pub­lic goods

VictorSintNicolaas24 Oct 2020 10:00 UTC
34 points
0 comments5 min readEA link

The Case for Space: A Longter­mist Alter­na­tive to Ex­is­ten­tial Threat Reduction

Giga18 Nov 2020 13:09 UTC
8 points
5 comments2 min readEA link

Dy­lan Matthews: The case for car­ing about the year 3000

Pablo18 Dec 2019 1:07 UTC
27 points
1 comment3 min readEA link

A rel­a­tively athe­o­ret­i­cal per­spec­tive on as­tro­nom­i­cal waste

Nick_Beckstead6 Aug 2014 0:55 UTC
9 points
8 commentsEA link

The ‘far fu­ture’ is not just the far future

David_Kristoffersson16 Jan 2020 15:30 UTC
29 points
8 comments3 min readEA link

New in­fo­graphic based on “The Precipice”. any feed­back?

michael.andregg14 Jan 2021 7:29 UTC
36 points
4 comments1 min readEA link

In­com­pat­i­bil­ity of moral re­al­ism and time discounting

wuschel12 Dec 2020 18:47 UTC
13 points
6 comments8 min readEA link

A case against strong longtermism

vadmas15 Dec 2020 20:56 UTC
52 points
79 comments1 min readEA link

Longter­mism which doesn’t care about Ex­tinc­tion—Im­pli­ca­tions of Be­natar’s asym­me­try be­tween pain and pleasure

jushy19 Dec 2020 12:31 UTC
17 points
11 comments1 min readEA link

Strong Longter­mism, Ir­refutabil­ity, and Mo­ral Progress

ben_chugg26 Dec 2020 19:44 UTC
44 points
99 comments10 min readEA link

Le­gal Pri­ori­ties Re­search: A Re­search Agenda

jonasschuett6 Jan 2021 21:47 UTC
56 points
4 comments1 min readEA link

What I be­lieve, part 1: Utili­tar­i­anism | Sunyshore

evelynciara10 Jan 2021 17:58 UTC
10 points
1 comment4 min readEA link
(sunyshore.substack.com)

Is GDP the right met­ric?

Lars Mennen20 Jan 2021 10:20 UTC
15 points
8 comments5 min readEA link
(larsmennen.me)

[Pod­cast] Ajeya Co­tra on wor­ld­view di­ver­sifi­ca­tion and how big the fu­ture could be

evelynciara22 Jan 2021 23:57 UTC
54 points
17 comments1 min readEA link
(80000hours.org)

[Question] Should pa­tient in­vestors try to cor­re­late port­fo­lio hold­ings with po­ten­tial cause ar­eas?

shepardspie31 Jan 2021 22:11 UTC
20 points
2 comments2 min readEA link

Stu­art Rus­sell Hu­man Com­pat­i­ble AI Roundtable with Allan Dafoe, Rob Re­ich, & Ma­ri­etje Schaake

Mahendra Prasad11 Feb 2021 7:43 UTC
15 points
0 comments1 min readEA link

Prov­ing too much: A re­sponse to the EA forum

vadmas15 Feb 2021 19:00 UTC
21 points
7 comments1 min readEA link

What is the ar­gu­ment against a Thanos-ing all hu­man­ity to save the lives of other sen­tient be­ings?

somethoughts7 Mar 2021 8:02 UTC
2 points
11 comments3 min readEA link

What con­se­quences?

Milan_Griffes23 Nov 2017 18:27 UTC
27 points
22 commentsEA link

“Just take the ex­pected value” – a pos­si­ble re­ply to con­cerns about cluelessness

Milan_Griffes21 Dec 2017 19:37 UTC
14 points
31 commentsEA link

How tractable is clue­less­ness?

Milan_Griffes29 Dec 2017 18:52 UTC
16 points
2 commentsEA link

Do­ing good while clueless

Milan_Griffes15 Feb 2018 5:04 UTC
39 points
6 commentsEA link

Ex­is­ten­tial risk as com­mon cause

technicalities5 Dec 2018 14:01 UTC
31 points
22 commentsEA link

[Question] Name for the larger EA+ad­ja­cent ecosys­tem?

RyanCarey18 Mar 2021 14:21 UTC
25 points
20 comments1 min readEA link

As­sump­tions about the far fu­ture and cause priority

Jc_Mourrat13 Nov 2019 20:06 UTC
45 points
30 comments21 min readEA link

Hay­den Wilk­in­son: Do­ing good in an in­finite, chaotic world

EA Global18 Feb 2020 23:29 UTC
27 points
1 comment18 min readEA link
(www.youtube.com)

[Question] How should longter­mists think about eat­ing meat?

lukasberglund16 May 2020 20:21 UTC
17 points
29 comments1 min readEA link

[Question] What would a pre-mortem for the long-ter­mist pro­ject look like?

Azure11 Apr 2020 14:51 UTC
18 points
8 comments1 min readEA link

Tiny Prob­a­bil­ities of Vast Utilities: A Prob­lem for Long-Ter­mism?

kokotajlod8 Nov 2018 10:09 UTC
23 points
17 commentsEA link

Tiny Prob­a­bil­ities of Vast Utilities: De­fus­ing the Ini­tial Worry and Steel­man­ning the Problem

kokotajlod10 Nov 2018 9:12 UTC
24 points
6 commentsEA link

Tiny Prob­a­bil­ities of Vast Utilities: Solutions

kokotajlod14 Nov 2018 16:04 UTC
20 points
5 commentsEA link

Tiny Prob­a­bil­ities of Vast Utilities: Con­clud­ing Arguments

kokotajlod15 Nov 2018 21:47 UTC
21 points
5 comments10 min readEA link

Tiny Prob­a­bil­ities of Vast Utilities: Bibliog­ra­phy and Appendix

kokotajlod20 Nov 2018 17:34 UTC
9 points
0 comments24 min readEA link
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