A great write up on how optimization, particularly for a good cause, is actually really exciting! Sometimes people seem to think being interested in effective altruism means giving up your passion. I've found the opposite to be true. My passion is helping people, optimizing for it feels more successful. The comparison to athletic mantras seems to fit well: "Athletes sometimes talk about “giving 110%” or “leaving it all on the field” – they can’t be satisfied with their effort if they feel they held anything back." This is what effective altruism feels like; it feels like not holding back.
Words cannot express how much I love this article. I particularly loved his analogy of homework. This theory and way of approaching school work is what got me through college. Most people looked at me like I was crazy when I explained it, so eventually I just stopped trying to explain.
"I personally find that shooting for the minimum acceptable quality is usually fun. Doing the homework assignment is boring, but finding a way to get the homework assignment up to an acceptable level with as little total effort as possible is an interesting optimization problem that actually engages my wits, an optimization problem which both my inner perfectionist and my inner rebel can get behind."
If you've never heard of basic income it is the idea that everyone is given certain basic amount of money so that they can exist happily in modern society. No job necessary. This seems pretty awesome to me, for a number of reasons, and I'm looking forward to talking with more people about the idea. This author talks about how technology is moving this closer to a reality, or even maybe an imperative.
For those of you out there where philosophy and coding collide. Very funny.
A photo story book from UNICEF. Beautiful photography paired with stats and achievements in helping children. A good reminder of why to give, and why giving makes a difference.
The number of children out of school has fallen from 106 million in 1999 to 58 million in 2012. But with population growth considered, if our rate of progress remains the same, roughly as many children will be out of school in 2030 as there are today.