Altruists Should Prioritize Artificial Intelligence

We can expect smarter-than-human artificial intelligence (AI) to be better than humans at self-preservation and goal preservation. If we want our actions to have an influence on the very long-term future, we should consider focusing on outcomes with AI.

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Reducing Risks of Astronomical Suffering:
A Neglected Priority

Will we go extinct, or will we succeed in building a flourishing utopia? Discussions about the future trajectory of humanity often center around these two possibilities, which tends to ignore that survival does not always imply utopian outcomes, or that outcomes where humans go extinct could differ tremendously in how much suffering they contain.

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Risks of Astronomical Future Suffering

Space colonization would likely increase rather than decrease total suffering. Because many people care nonetheless about humanity’s spread into the cosmos, we should reduce risks of astronomical future suffering without opposing others’ spacefaring dreams. In general, we recommend to focus on making sure that an intergalactic future will be good if it happens rather than making sure there will be such a future.

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How the Simulation Argument Dampens Future Fanaticism

The simulation argument suggests a non-trivial chance that most of the copies of ourselves are instantiated in relatively short-lived ancestor simulations run by superintelligent civilizations. If so, when we act to help others in the short run, our good deeds are duplicated many times over. This reasoning dramatically upshifts the relative importance of short-term helping over focusing on the far future.

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Artificial Intelligence and Its Implications for Future Suffering

Artificial intelligence (AI) will likely transform the world later this century. Whether uncontrolled or controlled AIs would create more suffering in expectation is a question to explore further. Regardless, the field of AI safety and policy seems to be a very important space where altruists can make a positive-sum impact along many dimensions.

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How Feasible Is the Rapid Development of Artificial Superintelligence?

Two crucial questions in discussions about the risks of artificial superintelligence are: 1) How much more powerful could an AI become relative to humans, and 2) how easily could superhuman capability be acquired? To answer these questions, this article reviews the literature on human expertise and intelligence and discusses its relevance for AI.

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Backup Utility Functions: A Fail-Safe AI Technique

Setting up the goal systems of advanced AIs in a way that results in benevolent behavior is expected to be difficult. We should account for the possibility that the goal systems of AIs fail to implement our values as originally intended. In this paper, we propose the idea of backup utility functions: Secondary utility functions that are used in case the primary ones “fail”.

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Charity Cost-Effectiveness in an Uncertain World

Evaluating the effectiveness of our actions, or even just whether they're beneficial or harmful, is very difficult. One way to deal with uncertainty is to focus on actions that likely have positive effects across many scenarios. This approach often amounts to meta-level activities like promoting positive-sum institutions, reflectiveness, and effective altruism in general.

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Against Wishful Thinking

Some people hold more hopeful beliefs about the world than justified. These include the feeling that life for wild animals isn't so bad and the expectation that humanity's future will reduce more suffering than it creates. By feeding these dreams, optimistic visions of suffering reduction may in fact cause net harm. We should explore ways of increasing empathy that also expose the true extent of suffering in the world.

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Identifying Plausible Paths to Impact and their Strategic Implications

FRI’s research seeks to identify the best intervention(s) for suffering reducers to work on. Rather than continuing our research indefinitely, we will eventually have to focus our efforts on an intervention directly targeted at improving the world. This report outlines plausible candidates for FRI’s “path to impact” and distills some advice on how current movement building efforts can best prepare for them.

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