Headline, September 04 2022/ ''' '' GREATEST GOOD GRASPING '' '''


 GRASPING '' '''

AT 11 - STUDENT NIELBOWERMAN TRIED TO ENCOURAGE his London classmates to carpool to help combat climate change. As a 13-year-old in suburban Richmond, Va., student Julia Wise began giving away her allowance.

The summer before his senior year at Stanford, Alexander Berger signed up to donate a kidney to a stranger.

Sixteen-year-old Benjamin Todd conducted an audit to show how his school could reduce carbon emissions; in response, the school started an organic garden. ''That wasn't really what I had in mind,'' he says now laughing.

At Cambridge University, MacAskill became vegetarian, got involved in climate activism, and started attending lectures on political philosophy, feminism, and global governance. It was during his final year that the urge to do good began to bubble more strongly.

He spent the summer after graduation working for a humanitarian nonprofit. ''All day, every day, I was thinking about extreme poverty,'' he says.

Shortly after he arrived at Oxford for graduate studies in Philosophy, MacAskill was introduced to the Australian philosopher Toby Ord, who had pledged to give more than half of his future earnings to charity and was thinking about how to connect others interested in doing something similar.

The 22-year-old MacAskill volunteered to help him, and in 2009 they launched ''Giving What We Can'' to encourage more people to take the 10% donation pledge.

Two years later, in 2011, MacAskill and Todd, a fellow Oxford graduate, cofounded the nonprofit 80,000 Hours [named for how long the average person spends at work over their lifetime] to provide advice on using your career to make a positive difference in the world.

After debating a bunch of terms for their burgeoning community - from ''good maximizers'' to ''rational altruism'' - MacAskill and his colleagues found the Centre for Effective Altruism [CEA] in 2012, as an umbrella organization for the two projects.

Their first significant donations came from a couple in Boston : Julia Wise, the former allowance gifter, who was by then a social worker donating a significant portion of her salary, and her husband Jeff Kaufman. After years of working in cafes and libraries, CEA rented its first office in the basement of a real estate office; about a dozen people worked there, eating bread and hummus for lunch.

Nne years on, I met MacAskill outside Trajan House in Oxford, a sleek, glass-walled building that several EA organizations share with Oxford University. There's a small gym, weekly yoga classes, and a nap room. Our lunch from office canteen is a Tuscan ribollita stew, garlic bread, and salad provided by vegan caterers Greenbox.

MacAskill says he sometimes misses the bread-in-basement days, which felt consistent with the mission. But CEA now has an annual budget of $28 million, which allows for the sorts of amenities one doesn't typically associate with shoestring nonprofits.

MacAskill says the comforts help to maximize productivity and well-being, and they're cautious about not overdoing the perks. ''We don't want to go for obscene luxury,'' he says, ''but the main thing is to focus on how much impact we're having.''

When assessing a potentially worthy cause, EAs calculate impact using three components : importance or scale [how much good could arise from working on it], tractability [how solvable it is], and neglectedness [how overlooked it is in terms of committed resources]. 

One result of filtering the world's problems through a lens of where an extra dollar or hour would have the most impact is that EA donations can seem to lack any obvious connection : among Open Philanthropy's causes are South Asian air quality, farm-animal welfare, and the risks of advanced AI.

The emphasis on neglected causes has led many EA leaders to focus more on how to maximize the good not just for those alive today, but also for the many, many generations to come.

As more intellectual excitement and resources have started flowing to causes like existential threats, some in the movements have worried that the reasons they all got into this - to help tackle urgent, overlooking suffering- could end up falling by the wayside.

MacAskill seems acutely aware of the trade-offs of prioritizing future people, though he believes they are uniquely disempowered by the incentives of our current political and economic systems.

"If you're a small force in the world, then there's an argument that you should be going all in on one thing,'' he says, noting that far more money goes to foreign humanitarian aid than to pandemic preparedness, AI safety, and preventing nuclear war.

''EA is always fundamentally asking : What can be done on the margin? Moving the global allocation of resources potentially just a little bit in one direction can have an outsize impact,'' he says.

The Honour and Serving of the Latest Global Operational Research on Great Ideas, Great Accomplishments, and Great Thoughts in the service of Humanity, continues. The World Students  Society thanks and honours Associate Philosophy Professor William MaCaskill, Oxford.

With respectful dedication to Mankind, Leaders, and then Students, Professors and Teachers of the world. See Ya all prepare and register for Great Global Elections on The World Students Society - the exclusive ownership of every student in the world : wssciw.blogspot.com and Twitter - !E-WOW! - The Ecosystem 2011 :

Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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