Monday, November 20, 2023

Michael Lewis on Effective Altruists

From Going Infinite, his book about Sam Bankman-Fried, quoted in this 30,000-word review:

One day some historian of effective altruism will marvel at how easily it transformed itself. It turned its back on living people without bloodshed or even, really, much shouting. You might think that people who had sacrificed fame and fortune to save poor children in Africa would rebel at the idea of moving on from poor children in Africa to future children in another galaxy. They didn’t, not really—which tells you something about the role of ordinary human feeling in the movement. It didn’t matter. What mattered was the math. Effective altruism never got its emotional charge from the places that charged ordinary philanthropy. It was always fueled by a cool lust for the most logical way to lead a good life.

And from this review:

the abstruse grandiosity that allows generalities about benefiting humanity [in the future] to justify various smaller-scale inhumanities in the moment 

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