80,000 Hours Podcast with Rob Wiblin

#10 Classic episode - Dr Nick Beckstead on spending billions of dollars preventing human extinction

80,000 Hours Podcast with Rob Wiblin

Rebroadcast: this episode was originally released in October 2017.

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.

Links to learn more, episode summary & full transcript

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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 of this episode 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?
* What are the greatest risks to human civilisation?
* To stop malaria is it more cost-effective to use technology to eliminate mosquitos than to distribute bed nets?
* Should people who want to improve the future work for changes that will be very useful in a specific scenario, or just generally try to improve how well humanity makes decisions?
* What specific jobs should our listeners take in order for Nick to be able to spend more money in useful ways to improve the world?
* Should we expect the future to be better if the economy grows more quickly - or more slowly?

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The 80,000 Hours Podcast is produced by Keiran Harris.

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