Comment author: JamesDrain 06 September 2017 03:17:44AM 2 points [-]

I could really have benefited from a list like this three or four years ago! I wasted a lot of time reading prestigious fiction (Gravity’s Rainbow, Infinite Jest, In Search of Lost Time, Ulysses) and academic philosophy – none of which I liked or understood – as well as a lot of sketchy pop psych.

If Doing Good Better, 80,000 Hours, The Life You Can Save, Animal Liberation, and Superintelligence are already taken, then I’d say the five most influential works I’ve read are: All of Steven Pinker’s books The Art and Craft of Problem Solving Here Be Dragons: Science, Technology and the Future of Humanity Nick Bostrom’s Are You Living in a Computer Simulation?, Infinite Ethics, and Astronomical Waste, (I would add Anthropic Bias if I could understand it) The Tell-Tale Brain

Runner-ups include: To Be a Machine, Freakonomics, 1984, Information Theory, Inference and Learning Algorithms, The One World Schoolhouse, Computability Theory, Human Accomplishment, Linear Algebra and Its Applications, Spivak’s Calculus, The Willpower Instinct, Thinking Fast and Slow, The Nurture Assumption, Introduction to Algorithms, Practical Programming (this is about weightlifting – not CS), Surely You’re Joking, Innumeracy and also Beyond Numeracy, An Anthropologist on Mars, The God Delusion, The Righteous Mind, Poor Economics, Mathematics 1001, A Short History of Nearly Everything, The Selfish Gene, and Reasons and Persons. It’s not a book, but I feel like SlateStarCodex also belongs on this list.

Another good vegan book is Eating Animals.

I imagine I would also have been enthralled by a book like Soonish about emerging technologies (it hasn’t come out yet.)

In response to comment by JamesDrain on Open Thread #38
Comment author: Vincent-Soderberg 25 August 2017 08:15:41AM 0 points [-]

The link doesn't work sadly, but it sounds cool!

Message me on facebook or my email (

Comment author: JamesDrain 25 August 2017 03:01:08PM 0 points [-]

I fixed the link.

In response to Open Thread #38
Comment author: Vincent-Soderberg 24 August 2017 10:37:14AM 2 points [-]

An idea i've had for a while: Making an Effective Altruism/DGB board game might might be an high impact project.

The reasons for why that would be are rough, but sensible i think.

1: Games can teach mindsets and viewpoints of the world that other media cannot, and since much of EA is counterintuitive, a game can be a great learning tool.

2: It can serve the same purpose as an documentary (aka: an EA awareness tool)

3: could be fun to whip out at EA hangouts and play with people new to EA ; related to 1st point.

4: Board games are having an golden age right now, with more people buying them then ever, and marketing/releasing a board game is radically cheaper then in the past, as far as i can tell.

what are some reasons not to pursue this project?


1: making a game takes long time, and...

2: Terrible career capital (as far as i can tell)

So unless you have much game design experience, or can persuade a fellow game designer to do it, it's very much not worth your time. 80 000 hours and CEA may be able to do something with this project, but otherwise im drawing a blank.

I have made a rough sketch of how a game like this would work, but it's not very good because i am not a game designer.


Comment author: JamesDrain 25 August 2017 03:29:13AM *  5 points [-]

I have a fully-formed EA board game that I debuted at EA Global in San Francisco a couple weeks ago. EAs seem to really like it! You can see over one hundred of the game's cards here

The way the game works is that every player has a random private morality that they want to satisfy (e.g. preference utilitarianism, hedonism, sadism, nihilism) and all players also want to collaboratively achieve normative good (accumulating 1000 human QALYs, 10,000 animals QALYs, and 10 x-risk points). Players get QALYs and x-risk points by donating to charities and answering trivia questions.

The coolest part of the game is the reincarnation mechanic: every player has a randomly chosen income taken from the real-world global distribution of wealth. Players also unlock animal reincarnation mode after stumbling upon the bad giant pit of suffering (the modal outcome of unlocking animal reincarnation is to be stuck as a chicken until the pit of suffering is destroyed, or until a friendly human acquires a V(eg*n) card.)

I'm also thinking about turning the game into an app or computer game, but I'll probably need an experienced coder to help me with that.