Dylan Matthews

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Having followed Alvea's journey for a good chunk of this time, I was really impressed by how you all handled the project and your humility in dealing with trial disappointments and winddown.

I don't know that I'm the kind of person OP is thinking of, but beyond opportunity cost there's also a question of reportorial distance/objectivity. I've thought a lot about whether to do a project like this and one sticking point is (a) I identify as an EA (b) I donate to GiveWell and signed the GWWC pledge (c) many of my friends are EAs, so I'm not sure any book I produce would be perceived as having sufficient credibility among non-EA readers.

Email me at the address here, I'm also based in DC and would love to talk.

Hell yes to all of this. I'll also add that as someone who grew up in a small town (not a universal experience but probably a shared one) I found mega-cities like New York or London to be so overwhelming in their scale that just trying to get around was stressful.

DC is, as Anon mentions, a pretty compact city, and young professionals tend to live in a small number of neighborhoods (Petworth, Shaw, Adams Morgan, Columbia Heights, Mt. Pleasant, H St — I'm probably dating myself with this list) that aren't far apart from each other. You can walk from the center of AdMo to the center of Petworth in about 40 minutes. I found that really helpful in getting used to living in a city in general, and getting good at living in a city is useful for doing impactful work.

Anyway, excited to see you all at EAG this month :)

These are all fair points. For myself, I'll say that (a) we have a lot of evidence internally that Vox's readership is pretty left-leaning and (b) I care a lot about persuading people of core EA ideas, like giving impartially and effectively, the importance of global poverty/animals/future people, etc. So naturally when I'm aiming to persuade, I tend to make arguments I think will make sense to the audience I know I have.

I didn't intend the piece to alienate EAs who don't have center-left politics, and apologize if I had that effect anyway. I agree that a strength of the movement is the relative lack of ideological litmus tests, and I hope that continues.

These are great questions; I'd be curious to see some of the major labs write up their answers to 2. As a non-specialist I sometimes struggle to understand the nuances of how what Anthropic's doing differs from what OpenAI does etc etc.

Perhaps helpful: a few years ago Hidden Brain did an episode on my marriage and how my wife (who is a lovely, ethical person, but doesn't identify as EA and has some significant disagreements with some EA ideas) and I (an EA trying his best who's also wrong sometimes) get along. Obviously we're just one couple so our discussions/tensions may not be representative, but I thought Shankar Vedantam and the producer, Rhaina Cohen, did a fantastic job. 

I wonder how much of this is explained by utilitarians selecting out of professional philosophy because of the theory's implications.

I seriously considered philosophy grad school and was discouraged by some mentors who thought that if I took consequentialism seriously, other career options were more promising avenues to impact.

If enough people do that, though, the academy's going to be left leaning against consequentialism.

I appreciate the feedback! I will admit I had not seen Terminator in a while before writing that post. I also appreciate including Paul's follow-up, which is definitely clarifying. Will be clearer about the meaning of "influence" going forward.

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