Erik J. Larson and The Myth of Artificial Intelligence

Source: Frank Chamaki via Unsplash.

The field of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is no stranger to prophesy. At the Ford Distinguished Lectures in 1960, the economist Herbert Simon declared that within 20 years machines would be capable of performing any task achievable by humans. In 1961, Claude Shannon — the founder of information theory — predicted…

Photo by Oliver Roos @fairfilter

The Against Malaria Foundation distributes insecticide treated bednets to regions to Africa, Asia, and South America. According to the charity evaluator GiveWell, they require just over $3,000 USD to save a life. This is remarkably cost-effective, especially compared to the value of life used by most governments. The American Department…

Source: Getty Images

These ideas express one of the oldest dreams of mankind — the dream of prophecy, the idea that we can know what the future has in store for us, and that we can profit from such knowledge by adjusting our policy to it.

- Karl Popper, Conjectures and Refutations


For many, 2020 has been a challenging year.

The global disruption wrought by the pandemic has caused loneliness, estrangement, and sorrow. We have witnessed death and injustice, poverty and sickness. It is a rare person who has been untouched by tragedy. …

“If you hand me your wallet,” says the mugger to Pascal, “I will perform magic that will give you an extra 1,000 quadrillion happy days of life.” So goes the thought experiment named Pascal’s mugging, created by Nick Bostrom.

The setting is as follows. You are approached by a mugger…

Source: 80,000 Hours

The new moral philosophy of longtermism has staggering implications if widely adopted. In The Case for Strong Longtermism, Hilary Greaves and Will MacAskill write

The idea, then, is that for the purposes of evaluating actions, we can in the first instance often simply ignore all the effects contained in the…

Ben Chugg

Research Fellow at Stanford, co-host of the Increments podcast. Lukewarm takes on twitter (@BennyChugg), and more havoc at

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