Loved this post! Thank you for writing and sharing!
I really liked your point about symmetry—if we don’t use aesthetics, other movements will, and by not leaning into it and crafting our own aesthetics, they’ll be defined haphazardly and incidentally, which we don’t want. The Mill + Wordsworth example is also so touching! ❤️
As for the suggestions, classical and solarpunk are both good options (I personally prefer classical), and I’d throw in psychedelic art like Alex Grey’s as a contender! 😋
To the points that folks are making in the comments about how much resources should be allocated to aesthetics: art is not something that can be printed en masse like mosquito nets. It wells up and forms organically from the artist, and so we shouldn’t push people to create EA-aligned artistic works if they don’t feel the desire to do so, otherwise the art will just be lame, canned, or inauthentic.
I’d love to see art, poems, sculptures, songs, and more about / inspired by EA, and I think an improved aesthetic would be a boon to the movement!
Well phrased! I’d bet you’re right that something akin to this will happen in the future. Solid prediction.
I guess I’m just trying to not be that guy, and I hope everyone else tries to not be that guy too.
Great post - always fun to see Will weighing in on hot-button issues. 🎉
As for where to draw the line on personal spending and frugality, the example of flying business class on an airplane is a perfect illustration: no one needs to fly business class, and the marginal benefits of extra legroom and early boarding are so not worth the 2x or 3x ticket price, imo.
To the concern about value drift and optics, our reputation as a movement would obviously be tarnished if folks like Will and Toby (or any of us) bought yachts and mansions. If we can avoid flagrantly conspicuous consumption, that’d be great. Beyond that, we shouldn’t be eating rice and beans every night. I want a well-balanced diet of kale and quinoa for every EA doing good work out there!
Let’s not forget that SBF cooks his own meals
Also relevant, I once asked Peter Singer why we don’t all walk around in ash and sackcloth in order to donate every spare penny, and his response was “if everyone in a movement you had never heard of before were walking around in ash and sackcloth, would you really want to join?” So even my homeboy Peety acknowledges the importance of optics.
Last point: take the Further Pledge if you’re concerned about individual value drift. I took the pledge in July 2021 (capped my salary at $70k USD) and I can attest that it feels fabulous! It’s definitely increased my overall felicity. ❤️
This is a great post and my feelings have been almost identical over the years.
Thank you for sharing! I also appreciate you being so candid with your depression—I’ve found that many EAs are reticent bring up personal/health issues given that the movement mostly impacts us on a quasi-professional basis.
Thank you for sharing this! It’s always so heartbreaking to learn of something new that causes so much pain and suffering, but identifying it is the first step to ameliorating it! Hoping some plucky and dedicated EAs take this on as a potential cause area, and the radio + testing combination seems like a great place to start!
Love this idea! 😍
“Wow, we need to help current people, current animals, and future people and future animals, all with a subset of present-day resources. What a tremendous task.”
Surely you mean we have a tremendous OPPORTUNITY! 😋
In all seriousness, this is a great post. In recent months with everybody talking about how wealthy EA is as a movement, we risk alienating individual donors—but it’s still important for folks to donate. There is SOO much good we can do as individuals.
This post is excellent—thank you for writing and sharing. ❤️
Regarding this suggestion:
“Given the unilateralist’s curse, perhaps there should be some central forum for EA funders to coordinate / agree upon policies with an optics perspective in mind.”
I think this would be hugely helpful, and that such a forum should be open and accessible to the rest of the EA community. I agree that SBF and Dustin+Cari have made amazing strides and are funding generally awesome things, but there’s something unsettling about them being able to unilaterally move the needle so significantly. They hire staff and researchers, and I think that’s wonderful (since determining where to deploy money effectively is one of the hardest problems we face), but one proposal to move the community more in line with what you had suggested would be a donor voting system.
Imagine Open Phil has its team of dozens of researchers write up proposals that then get widely distributed among the EA community—some researchers advocating more spending in biorisk, others on public health, etc. - and then members of the EA community vote on which proposal they think would be most effective. OP’s yearly budget for giving could then be spent proportionally according to the votes that each proposal receives. This has the benefits of incorporating the wisdom of the crowd (enlisting the help of tens of thousands of intelligent, thoughtful EAs rather than on the few dozen OP researchers themselves), while also acting as a yearly referendum on the values of EA. Wouldn’t it be interesting to find out concretely how much money EA would dedicate to each cause area if we were all collectively voting on where to spend it?
It’s kind of like a reverse donor lottery—everyone pools their money, then you collectively determine where to spend it, knowing that your preferred cause area might not be the one that’s favored by others, but trusting that tens of thousands of EAs are smarter than one.
Love you all!
These are all great suggestions! ❤️
I’d add that even for those who aren’t willing/able to put the time into working on projects like these, there’s still so much you can do by merely talking about EA and bringing it up slightly more often in casual conversations. Word of mouth is far more powerful than people give it credit for, so simply talking about EA and why it matters to you could be a huge force for good!
Woo! Way to go Ken! This is dope!
Thank you for writing this, Michelle. It’s so inspiring to see.
I agree with your sentiment that EA can be a demanding, onerous philosophy at times. It’s really heartening to hear that there are so many people who join the movement despite its demandingness.
In my eyes, EA is such a tremendous opportunity—a genuine gift—that I’ve stopped thinking of it over the past year as something that we ought to do, but as something we get to do.
I’d be curious to hear if you feel similarly!
WOOOHOOO!! Way to go!
Lost it at Toby Ordering! 😂