What if you were in a position to give away billions of dollars to improve the world? What would you do with it? This is the problem facing Program Officers at the Open Philanthropy Project – people like Dr Nick Beckstead.
Following a PhD in philosophy, Nick works to figure out where money can do the most good. He’s been involved in major grants in a wide range of areas, including ending factory farming through technological innovation, safeguarding the world from advances in biotechnology and artificial intelligence, and spreading rational compassion.
This episode is a tour through some of the toughest questions ‘effective altruists’ face when figuring out how to best improve the world, including:
- Should we mostly try to help people currently alive, or future generations? Nick studied this question for years in his PhD thesis, On the Overwhelming Importance of Shaping the Far Future. (The first 31 minutes is a snappier version of my conversation with Toby Ord.)
- Is clean meat (aka in vitro meat) technologically feasible any time soon, or should we be looking for plant-based alternatives?
- To stop malaria is it more cost-effective to use technology to eliminate mosquitos than to distribute bed nets?
- What are the greatest risks to human civilisation continuing?
- Should people who want to improve the future work for changes that will be very useful in a specific scenario,