Unilat­er­al­ist’s curse

TagLast edit: 28 Apr 2021 17:02 UTC by EA Wiki assistant

The unilateralist’s curse is the phenomenon whereby, when each of many altruistic agents have the power to bring about some state of affairs whose net value is negative but unknown to these agents, the probability that the state will be realized grows with the number of agents who decide to act based on their own private judgement.


Bostrom, Nick, Thomas Douglas & Anders Sandberg (2016) The unilateralist’s curse and the case for a principle of conformity, Social Epistemology, vol. 30, pp. 350-371.

Lewis, Gregory (2018) Horsepox synthesis: A case of the unilateralist’s curse?, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, February 19.
Usefully connects the curse to other factors

Schubert, Stefan & Ben Garfinkel (2017) Hard-to-reverse decisions destroy option value, Centre for Effective Altruism, March 17.

Zhang, Linchuan (2020) Framing issues with the unilateralist’s curse, Effective Altruism Forum, January 17.

Unilateralist’s curse [EA Concepts].

Related entries

accidental harm | information hazard

Max Dal­ton and Jonas Vol­lmer: How to avoid ac­ci­den­tally hav­ing a nega­tive im­pact with your project

EA Global26 Oct 2018 22:20 UTC
6 points
0 comments9 min readEA link