So I had one of those typical mind fallacy things explode on me recently, and it's caused me to re-evaluate a whole lot of stuff.
Is there a list of high-impact questions people tend to fail to ask about themselves somewhere?
If you have some sort of decision-making process you do a lot that you expect is going to become a thing you build intuition around later, make sure you have the right feedback loops in place, so that you have something to help keep that intuition calibrated. (This also applies to processes you engineer for others.)
I'm kind of curious; what do you think CFAR's objective is 5 years from now (assuming they get the data they want and it strongly supports the value of the workshops)?
You might check IRC - #lesswrong, maybe #slatestarcodex, someone is probably willing to help, and you might make a friend.
Out of curiosity, thoughts on the Againstness class?
I REALLY like this question, because I don't know how to approach it, and that's where learning happens.
So it's definitely less bad to grow cows with good life experiences than with bad life experiences, even if their ultimate destiny is being killed for food. It's kind of like asking if you'd prefer a punch in the face and a sandwich, or just a sandwich. Really easy decisions.
I think it'd be pretty suspicious if my moral calculus worked out in such a way that there was no version of maximally hedonistic existence for a cow that I could say that the cow didn't have a damned awesome life and that we should feel like monsters for allowing it to have existed at all.
That having been said, if you give me a choice between cows that have been re-engineered such that their meat is delicious even after they die of natural causes, and humans don't artificially shorten their lives, and they stand around having cowgasms all day -
and a world where cows grow without brains -
and a world where you grew steaks on bushes -
I think I'll pick the bush-world, or the brainless cow world, over the cowgasm one, but I'd almost certainly eat cow meat in all of them. My preference there doesn't have to do with cow-suffering. I suspect it has something to do with my incomplete evolution from one moral philosophy to another.
I'm kind of curious how others approach that question.
So, there's a heuristic that I think is a decent one, which is that less-conscious things have less potential suffering. I feel that if you had a suffer-o-meter and strapped it to the heads of paramecia, ants, centipedes, birds, mice, and people, they'd probably rank in approximately that order. I have some uncertainty in there, and I could be swayed to a different belief with evidence or an angle I had failed to consider, but I have a hard time imagining what those might be.
I think I buy into the notion that most-conscious doesn't strictly mean most-suffering, though - if there were a slightly less conscious, but much more anxious branch of humanoids out there, I think they'd almost certainly be capable of more suffering than humans.
Well, how comparable are they, in your view?
Like, if you'd kill a cow for a 10,000 dollars (which could save a number of human lives), but not fifty million cows for 10,000 dollars, you evidently see some cost associated with cow-termination. If you, when choosing methods, could pick between methods that induced lots of pain, versus methods that instantly terminated the cow-brain, and have a strong preference toward the less-painful methods (assuming they're just as effective), then you clearly value cow-suffering to some degree.
The reason I went basically vegan is I realized I didn't have enough knowledge to run that calculation, but I was fairly confident that I was ethically okay with eating plants, sludges, and manufactured powders, and most probably the incidental suffering they create, while I learned about those topics.
I am basically with you on the notion that hurting a cow is better than hurting a person, and I think horse is the most delicious meat. I just don't eat it any-more. (I'd also personally kill some cows, even in relatively painful ways, in order to save a few people I don't know.)
You can always shoot someone an email and ask about the financial aid thing, and plan a trip stateside around a workshop if, with financial aid, it looks doable, and if after talking to someone, it looks like the workshop would predictably have enough value that you should do it now rather than when you have more time and money.