Srinivasan - Stop the Robot Apocalypse.pdf - Stop the Robot Apocalypse � LRB 23 September 2015 Vol 37 No 18 � 24 September 2015 Stop the Robot

Srinivasan - Stop the Robot Apocalypse.pdf - Stop the Robot...

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09/01/2020 Stop the Robot Apocalypse · LRB 23 September 2015 1/10 Vol. 37 No. 18 · 24 September 2015 Stop the Robot Apocalypse Amia Srinivasan D±²³´ G±±µ B¶··¶¸: E¹¹¶º·²»¶ A¼·¸½²¾¿ À³µ À RÀµ²ºÀ¼ N¶Á WÀ ·± MÀö À D²¹¹¶¸¶³º¶ by William MacAskill (/search-results?search=William MacAskill) . Guardian Faber, 325 pp., £14.99, August 2015, 978 1 78335 049 0 P IJ¼±¾±ÅÄÂ, Wittgenstein said, ‘leaves everything as it is’. It sounds like a complaint, but actually it was a recommendation. Philosophy at its best, Wittgenstein thought, resists the scientiÆc impulse to treat the world as a theoretical construct. It is not a view shared in the main by contemporary philosophers. What is philosophy supposed to do if not theorise? At the same time most philosophers are happy to leave everything as it is in a more prosaic sense: that is, by not really changing anything. Philosophers may talk about justice or rights, but they don’t oÇen try to reshape the world according to their ideals. Maybe that’s for the best. Philosophers have a tendency to slip from sense into seeming absurdity: a defence of abortion ends up defending infanticide; an argument for vegetarianism turns into a call for the extermination of wild carnivores. A new generation of moral philosophers is determined to break with this tradition of ineÈectuality. The goal of the ‘eÈective altruists’ is not only to theorise the world, but to use their theories to leave the world a better place than they found it. Their leader is William MacAskill, a 28-year-old lecturer at Oxford. As graduate students MacAskill and his friend Toby Ord committed themselves to donate most of their future earnings to charity (in MacAskill’s case anything above £20,000, in Ord’s £18,000), and set themselves the task of Æguring out how to make best use of the money they had pledged. The result was Giving What We Can, a charity that encourages people to hand over at least 10 per cent of their future incomes for philanthropic purposes, and advises them on how to get the most out of their money. Since the charity was founded in 2009 it has received more than $400 million in pledges, much of it from young philosophers. In 2011, MacAskill set up 80,000 Hours (the name refers to the number of hours the average person works over a lifetime), a charity that helps people make career choices with the aim of maximising social beneÆt; it raised eyebrows early on by advising graduates to become philanthropic bankers rather than NGO workers. The two organisations are incorporated as the Centre for EÈective Altruism, based in Oxford, and are in the van of a global movement, encompassing groups such as GiveWell (founded by two hedge-fund managers at around the same time as MacAskill and Ord started their work), The Life You Can Save (founded by the philosopher Peter Singer), Good Ventures (founded by the Facebook cofounder Dustin Moskovitz and his wife, Cari Tuna, who have pledged to give away most of their money), Animal Charity Evaluators (an 80,000 Hours spin-oÈ) and the Open Philanthropy Project (a collaboration between GiveWell and Good Ventures).
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