#612: Will MacAskill of Effective Altruism Fame — The Value of Longtermism, Tools for Beating Stress and Overwhelm, AI Scenarios, High-Impact Books, and How to Save the World and Be an Agent of Change

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Will MacAskill of Effective Altruism Fame — The Value of Longtermism, Tools for Beating Stress and Overwhelm, AI Scenarios, High-Impact Books, and How to Save the World and Be an Agent of Change | Brought to you by LinkedIn Jobs recruitment platform with 800M+ users, Vuori comfortable and durable performance apparel, and Theragun percussive muscle therapy devices. More on all three below.

William MacAskill (@willmacaskill) is an associate professor in philosophy at the University of Oxford. At the time of his appointment, he was the youngest associate professor of philosophy in the world. A Forbes 30 Under 30 social entrepreneur, he also cofounded the nonprofits Giving What We Can, the Centre for Effective Altruism, and Y Combinator-backed 80,000 Hours, which together have moved over $200 million to effective charities. You can find my 2015 conversation with Will at tim.blog/will.

His new book is What We Owe the Future. It is blurbed by several guests of the podcast, including Sam Harris, who wrote, “No living philosopher has had a greater impact upon my ethics than Will MacAskill. . . . This is an altogether thrilling and necessary book.”

Please enjoy!

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[07:20] Recommended reading.

[13:26] How Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment changed Will’s life.

[18:12] Maintaining optimism in the age of doomscrolling.

[23:41] What is effective altruism?

[26:04] Resources for maximizing the impact of your philanthropy.

[27:45] How adopting a check-in system has most improved Will’s life.

[32:32] Caffeine limits.

[34:08] Effective back pain relief.

[41:18] What is longtermism, and why did Will write What We Owe the Future?

[43:44] Future generations matter.

[46:42] Finding the line between apathy and fatalism that spurs action toward ensuring there’s a future.

[52:23] What Will hopes readers take away from What We Owe the Future.

[55:56] What is value lock-in?

[1:01:38] Most concerning threats projected over the next 10 years.

[1:09:28] Most promising developments happening now.

[1:13:47] How Will refocuses during periods of overwhelm.

[1:18:48] Perils of AI considered plausible by the people who create it.

[1:30:42] Longtermist-minded resources and actions we can take now.

[1:36:29] Parting thoughts.

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For show notes and past guests on The Tim Ferriss Show, please visit tim.blog/podcast.

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Past guests on The Tim Ferriss Show include Jerry Seinfeld, Hugh Jackman, Dr. Jane Goodall, LeBron James, Kevin Hart, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Jamie Foxx, Matthew McConaughey, Esther Perel, Elizabeth Gilbert, Terry Crews, Sia, Yuval Noah Harari, Malcolm Gladwell, Madeleine Albright, Cheryl Strayed, Jim Collins, Mary Karr, Maria Popova, Sam Harris, Michael Phelps, Bob Iger, Edward Norton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Neil Strauss, Ken Burns, Maria Sharapova, Marc Andreessen, Neil Gaiman, Neil de Grasse Tyson, Jocko Willink, Daniel Ek, Kelly Slater, Dr. Peter Attia, Seth Godin, Howard Marks, Dr. Brené Brown, Eric Schmidt, Michael Lewis, Joe Gebbia, Michael Pollan, Dr. Jordan Peterson, Vince Vaughn, Brian Koppelman, Ramit Sethi, Dax Shepard, Tony Robbins, Jim Dethmer, Dan Harris, Ray Dalio, Naval Ravikant, Vitalik Buterin, Elizabeth Lesser, Amanda Palmer, Katie Haun, Sir Richard Branson, Chuck Palahniuk, Arianna Huffington, Reid Hoffman, Bill Burr, Whitney Cummings, Rick Rubin, Dr. Vivek Murthy, Darren Aronofsky, and many more.

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