January 2019 Meetup: Modern Humans’ Quality of Life

1. There feels like a recurring theme in SSC of trying to find meaningful ways to talk about modern humans’ quality of life in general. I’m sure there are more of his essays that address these issues, but here are a few:

How bad are things? http://slatestarcodex.com/2015/12/24/how-bad-are-things/

Would we be happier (or at least prefer life) as hunter-gatherers? http://web.archive.org/…/squid314.livejournal.c…/340809.html

Can we be excused for not fitting into society in a typically ‘productive’ way? http://slatestarcodex.com/2014/08/16/burdens/


2. In the more quantitative direction, I think making an explicit mathematical model of estimated QALYS for different potential worlds seems like a maybe-powerful hammer I’d be interested in taking a swing with.

I’ve been wondering lately about whether Bill Gates has done more good via Microsoft or via direct philanthropy, but why not choose our own? If we want to get our hands dirty:

A little homework:

Everyone brings a question, the group splits up to do research, and subgroups actually try to return with an policy recommendation by the end of the session.

A little more homework:

Everyone actually works out a tentative model beforehand and brings a some work to show. Then divide into groups, and talk through the models, their pitfalls/applicability as a decision-making tool, etc.


3. I don’t know how everyone else feels about instrumental rationality stuff, but I was pretty psyched on last month’s discussion. If y’all find this direction compelling also, I imagine either:

a. Continuing the sequence we started last month or trying to get through a solid chunk of it before the next meeting starting with Hammertime Day 4: https://radimentary.wordpress.com/2018/02/01/hammertime-day-4-design/

b. Beginning the sequence “The Science of Winning at Life” on LessWrong: https://www.lesswrong.com/s/oi873FWi6pHWxswSa