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124: Effective altruism

Problem:

Our hyper-consumer world soils, hurts and exhausts the Planet.

Solution:

Giving of time and money more effectively.


In 2009, Toby Ord and William MacAskill, philosophy professors at Oxford University launched a community around Ord’s “Giving What We Can”, and MacAskill’s “80,000 Hours” (You have 80,000 hours in your career. How can you best use them to help solve the world’s most pressing problems?).

Ord’s earlier work had explored the ethics of global health and global poverty, demonstrating that aid has been highly successful on average and has the potential to be even more successful if we were to improve our priority setting

This led him to create an international society called Giving What We Can, whose members have pledged over $600 million to the most effective charities helping to improve the world.

Giving What We Can (GWWC) members have pledged to donate at least 10% of their income for the remainder of their working lives to the causes that they believe are the most effective.

Ord and MacAskill founded the wider effective altruism movement, encouraging thousands of people to use reason and evidence to help others as much as possible.

The Centre for Effective Altruism inspires critical thinking by applying evidence and reasoning to determine the most effective ways to improve the world.

Effective altruism can add meaning to our lives and can help us in finding fulfilment in what we do. Many effective altruists say that in doing good, they feel good.

Ord has advised the World Health Organization, the World Bank, the World Economic Forum, the US National Intelligence Council, the UK Prime Minister’s Office, Cabinet Office, and Government Office for Science. His work has been featured more than a hundred times in the national and international media.

Factoring in these aspects, EA activists usually come to the conclusion that the three most-pressing issues for humanity are: extreme poverty, animal suffering, and what they call “long-term future.” This is basically the minimization of global catastrophic risks, also known as existential risks.

What you can do: Be altruistic and help others less fortunate than yourself.

Tomorrow’s solution: Electric boats supplying the grid

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