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This is a wonderful book in many ways and I am in total agreement with the author that we should help human beings live long, healthy and happy lives. Our views on how that might best be accomplished differ. My view on how to achieve that goal looks to the ultimately long run, while MacAskill’s is aimed more at the immediate satisfaction of those needs. His method will continue the maximizing of population growth in the immediate future, and mine will maximize the total number of human years lived as measured from the infinitely distant future when humanity no longer exists. In general we both want to maximize human happiness, but it is an abstract question that we are addressing. We will never know the 7.3 billion human beings now living, nor the potentially hundreds of billions to come, so it is not a personal involvement with people that’s the problem we are engaged in, but a humane one, of helping humanity.

My thoughts, efforts and blogs have been aimed at potentially doable projects, such as The Earth Ark Project, The Life Haven Project, and presently I am trying to create an organizational structure that would help humans develop a relationship with reality that would have each person help every other person they encounter to live, and live more abundantly in the long run. Each of these ideas is aimed at the same thing, to maximize the total number of hours of happy human living. There are a lot of assumptions in these ideas, as to what each of these words really mean, but if we remember that the ultimate goal is human happiness, and that happiness requires free, living human beings, the spins on the exact qualities of the words remain focused.

In Doing Good Better: How Effective Altruism Can Help You Make a Differenceby William MacAskill, on page 151 he gets to the essence of what kind of job to look for if you want to be an effective altruist. He applies standard Job Characteristics Theory to his theory of effective altruism.

  1. Independence
  2. Sense of completion
  3. Variety
  4. Feedback from the job
  5. Contribution

MacAskill supports finding your “personal fit” rather than “following your heart” and that is well covered by your personally exploring what your real talents are, as opposed to what you find interesting at the moment. Times change and your interests will change, but your basic talents are less flexible, so it becomes important to build those skills and credentials that will get you the jobs that you can do well to achieve lasting success.

Ultimately where there is a Black Swan payoff for success in your chosen field it is worthwhile to take the associated risks.