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Existential Hope: Reasons for Optimism

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Existential Risk and Existential Hope - Owen Cotton-Barratt, Toby Ord. Introduces the term Existential Hope. “Just as we tend to talk about the existential risk rather than existential catastrophe, we want to be able to refer to the chance of an existential eucatastrophe; upside risk on a large scale. We could call such a chance an existential hope… The word ‘eucatastrophe’ is made of the Greek root ‘eu-’ meaning ‘good’ and the word ‘catastrophe’ in its classical sense of a sudden turn. It was coined by Tolkien to refer to the sudden and unexpected turn for the better frequently found at the end of fairy tales.”

Rationality: From AI to Zombies - Eliezer Yudkowsky. Especially the books Meta Ethics Sequence with chapters such as “The Moral Void”, “Whither Moral Progress? Morality as Fixed Computation”, “Arbitrary”, and “Existential Angst Factory”. Also the book Mere Reality with chapters such as “Shut Up and Do the Impossible”, “Making an Extraordinary Effort”, “Tsuyoki Naritay”, “A Sense That More Is Possible”, “Beyond The Reach of God”, “Incremental Progress and The Valley”, “Something To Protect”, “The Gift We Can Give Tomorrow”, and “Joy in the Merely Real”. “If it seems to you like nothing you do makes you happy, and you can't even imagine what would make you happy, it's not because the universe is made of particle fields. It's because you're still solving the wrong problem. Keep searching, until you find the visualizable state of affairs in which the existential angst seems like it should go away—that might (or might not) tell you the real problem; but at least, don't blame it on reductionism.” 

The Beginning of Infinity - David Deutsch. On the power of explanations to unlock futures of infinite potential. Chapter 8 and 9 are especially recommended.

Why Will They Be Happy? - Paul Christiano. On why the future may be shaped by altruistic values to a higher degree than the present.

Anti-Natalism and the Future of Suffering - Magnus Vinding. On why, even from a negative utilitarian perspective, human extinction may not be an attractive goal.

Spreading Happiness To The Stars Seems Little Harder Than Just Spreading, Are Pain And Pleasure Equally Energy Efficient? - Carl Schulman. On why the future may favor beneficial states as evaluated from a utilitarian perspective.

Existential Hope - Foresight Institute Youtube playlist. A collection of interview recordings on positive future visions, strategies, and projects.

A Nihilist’s Guide to Meaning - Kevin Simler. A rationalist approach to meaning. 

What is Meaningness? - David Chapman. A philosophical blog on meaning.

Pragmatic Optimism - Nell Watson. Quotes Petrarch who lived in 1343 CE: "My fate is to live among varied and confusing storms. But for you perhaps, if as I hope and wish you will live long after me, there will follow a better age.” 

Optimistic Nihilism, An Antidote to Dissatisfaction - Kurzgesagt. Illustrative explainer videos on optimism based in realism.

The Human Project - Erika Ilves, Anna Stillwell: “It may sound like a tall order but we believe that for a learning species nothing should be impossible. To keep the human project going as an infinite game, each generation needs to know the game we are playing and learn to play their round well.” 

Future Perfect Newsletter - Twice a week, Dylan Mattews, Sigal Samuel, and Kelsey Piper break down the big, complicated problems the world faces and the most efficient ways to solve them.

WARP Institute & WARP News - Fact-based optimistic news every Sunday.

Unsung Hero Award - FLI. An award given to individuals who, without having received much recognition at the time, have helped make today dramatically better than it may otherwise have been.

The New Right Stuff - Loretta Whitesides. An optimistic, practical handbook of advice for the next generation working on long-term futures.

Advice - Patrick Collison. General advice for the next generation working on ambitious projects. 

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