So funny to me that this has “-14” right now. What are people downvoting—scholarship? Me having consulted relevant experts? Does anyone want to explain?
That I didn’t know about, Sean, nor did you mention it. If you look at my profile, it hasn’t been updated in years. (It says that I still write for Motherboard and live in Carrboro, which haven’t been the case for years.)
You repeatedly lied if your comments above. Unprofessional. I don’t know how you can keep your job while lying about a colleague like that. I will delete the LinkedIn profile immediately. I honestly didn’t even remember that I had it. Had you mentioned it earlier, of course I would have
Your malicious behavior here is unacceptable. I have been nothing but willing to apologize, concede points, reconsider ideas, and change my views in response to you. When you’ve been rude and hurtful to me, and I’ve asked for an apology, you’ve refused.
[Apologies for getting mad. But the truth is, being lied about is upsetting, and as a human being, it would be odd if I weren’t hurt.]
Haydn, Michael Plant, etc. etc. I am happy to release screenshots of everything to show that Sean is lying. Over and over again, above, he lies. Here is proof of his lie about about me “misrepresenting [myself] as working at CSER on various media (unclear if deliberate or not).” I absolutely did no such thing! The only medium this was an issue on was FB, and I corrected it immediately (although there was some delay, for reasons I don’t understand) with an explicit apology (because, I say in the screenshot from 2019, I genuinely, honestly didn’t realize that it still says “works at”). Indeed, throughout our exchanges, I am repeatedly open and receptive to criticisms, constantly hedging, frequently apologizing, while Sean is, well, not exactly the interlocutor I’d hoped. Ask me about any of his silly, hurtful accusations above and I’ll address them with verifiable evidence. What is wrong with this community? https://c8df8822-f112-4676-8332-ad89713358e3.filesusr.com/ugd/d9aaad_d37202b3a9014315ba15d1220421d682.pdf (Check timestamps, please. I think one screenshot is out of order—apologies for that.)
How can someone lie this much about a colleague and still have a job?
(Sorry for cursing. The dishonest rancor of Sean is just pretty hard to deal with.)
I am trying to stay calm, but I am honestly pretty f*cking upset that you repeatedly lie in your comments above, Sean. See here for a screenshot: https://c8df8822-f112-4676-8332-ffffad89713358e3.filesusr.com/ugd/d9aaad_5494c7f6e8034730afb01cdbc9bd5a62.pdf. I won’t include your response, Sean, because I’m not a jerk like you.
Again, Sean, more intellectual dishonesty: “I have been informed by Torres that I owe him an apology for not siding with him.” I’m tempted to take screenshots and share them here. These are lies.
For whatever it’s worth, I show in a forthcoming, peer-reviewed philosophy paper that Ord’s view is, in fact, worse than Bostrom’s in multiple ways. I will, of course, happily share a link to he document once it’s published (although I know some folks at FHI have a copy right now).
“I argue that while many of the criticisms of Bostrom strike true, newer formulations of longtermism and existential risk – most prominently Ord’s The Precipice (but also Greaves, MacAskill, etc) – do not face the same challenges.”
“He has unfortunately misrepresented himself as working at CSER on various media (unclear if deliberate or not).” No, I haven’t, Sean, and you know this from our personal exchanges. I forgot to change the CSER affiliation on FB—and only FB—for a few months after leaving. As soon as you pointed it out, I changed it immediately. Your intellectual dishonesty here is really upsetting.
“He characterises various long-termists as white supremacists on the flimsiest grounds imaginable.” I would encourage you to contact, well, quite literally anyone who studies “white supremacy.” This is precisely what I did BEFORE making the criticisms I made. Literally every single scholar I spoke with—including some at Princeton—were shocked and appalled by that quote from Nick Beckstead, as well as some other quotes I provided to them (in context, of course). The “white supremacy” claim is not mine, John. I’m just relaying what anyone who studies the issue will tell you, if you were sufficiently curious to contact the relevant scholars. Furthermore, I have never once called you a “white supremacist.” That is an egregious and defamatory lie that you should taken back immediately (or you should provide, for all to see, evidence to the contrary).
Don’t work on “longtermist” issues, please! You are very right to feel the pull of suffering right now. See this for more: https://www.xriskology.com/mini-book.
[Responding to Alex HT above:]
I’ll try to find the time to respond to some of these comments. I would strongly disagree with most of them. For example, one that just happened to catch my eye was: “Longtermism does not say our current world is replete with suffering and death.”
So, the target of the critique is Bostromism, i.e., the systematic web of normative claims found in Bostrom’s work. (Just to clear one thing up, “longtermism” as espoused by “leading” longtermists today has been hugely influenced by Bostromism—this is a fact, I believe, about intellectual genealogy, which I’ll try to touch upon later.)
There are two main ingredients of Bostromism, I argue: total utilitarianism and transhumanism. The latter absolutely does indeed see our world the way many religious traditions have: wretched, full of suffering, something to ultimately be transcended (if not via the rapture or Parousia then via cyborgization and mind-uploading). This idea, this theme, is so prominent in transhumanist writings that I don’t know how anyone could deny it.
Hence, if transhumanism is an integral component of Bostromism (and it is), and if Bostromism is a version of longtermism (which it is, on pretty much any definition), then the millennialist view that our world is in some sort of “fallen state” is an integral component of Bostromism, since this millennialist view is central to the normative aspects of transhumanism.
Just read “Letter from Utopia.” It’s saturated in a profound longing to escape our present condition and enter some magically paradisiacal future world via the almost supernatural means of radical human enhancement. (Alternatively, you could write a religious scholar about transhumanism. Some have, in fact, written about the ideology. I doubt you’d find anyone who’d reject the claim that transhumanism is imbued with millennialist tendencies!)
One is here: https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/d9aaad_64ac5f0da7ea494ab48f54181b249ce4.pdf. And my critique of the radical utopianism and valuation of imaginary lives that undergirds the most prominent notion of “existential risk” today is here: https://c8df8822-f112-4676-8332-ad89713358e3.filesusr.com/ugd/d9aaad_33466a921b2646a7a02482acb89b07b8.pdf
Have you seen my papers on the topic, by chance? One is published in Inquiry, the other is forthcoming. Send me an email if you’d like!
John: Do I have your permission to release screenshots of our exchange? You write: ”… including persistently sending me messages on Facebook.” I believe that this is very misleading.
You don’t even have the common courtesy of citing the original post so that people can decide for themselves whether you’ve accurately represented my arguments (you haven’t). This is very typical “authoritarian” (or controlling) EA behavior in my experience: rather than given critics an actual fair hearing, which would be the intellectually honest thing, you try to monopolize and control the narrative by not citing the original source, and then reformulating all the arguments while at the same time describing these reformulations as “steelmanned” versions (which some folks who give EA the benefit of the doubt might just accept), despite the fact that the original author (me) thinks you’ve done a truly abysmal job at accurately presenting the critique. As mentioned, this will definitely get cited in a forthcoming article; it really does embody much of what’s epistemically wrong with this community.
Your “steelmanning” is abysmal, in my opinion. It really doesn’t represent the substance of my criticisms. I will definitely be citing this post in a forthcoming journal paper on the issue.
Virtually every point here misrepresents what I wrote. I commend your take-down of various straw men, but you really did miss the main thrust (and details) of the critique. I suspect that you would (notably) fail an Ideological Turing Test.