No, it's definitely not about being depressed. That's very far from it. But I also don't want to argue about the claims here. Seems maybe beside the point.
I think I could reword my original argument in a way that wouldn't be a problem. I just wasn't careful in my languaging, but I personally think it's fine? I think you might be reading a lot into my usage of the word "So".
I dunno if I was clear enough here about what it means to feel persecuted.
So the way I'm using that phrase, 'feeling persecuted' is not desirable whether you are actually being persecuted or not.
'Feeling persecuted' means feeling helpless, powerless, or otherwise victimized. Feeling like the universe is against you or your tribe, and that things are (in some sense) inherently bad and may forever be bad, and that nothing can be done.
If, indeed, you are part of a group that has fewer rights and privileges than the dominant groups, you can acknowledge to yourself "my people don't have the same rights as other people" but you don't have to feel any sense of persecution around that. You can just see that it is true and happening, without feeling helpless and like something is inherently broken or that you are inherently broken.
Seeing through the egregore would help a person realize that 'oh there is an egregore feeding on my beliefs about being persecuted but it's not actually a fundamental truth about the world; things can actually be different; and I'm not defined by my victimhood. maybe i should stop feeding this egregore with these thoughts and feelings that don't actually help anything or anyone and isn't really an accurate representation of reality anyway.'
"Learning to run workshops where people often "wake up" and are more conscious/alive/able-to-reflect-and-choose, for at least ~4 days or so and often also for a several-month aftermath to a lesser extent"
I permanently upgraded my sense of agency as a result of CFAR workshops. Wouldn't be surprised if this happened to others too. Would be surprised if it happened to most CFAR participants.
I think CFAR's effects are pretty difficult to see and measure. I think this is the case for most interventions?
I feel like the best things CFAR did were more like... fertilizing the soil and creating an environment where lots of plants could start growing. What plants? CFAR didn't need to pre-determine that part. CFAR just needed to create a program, have some infrastructure, put out a particular call into the world, and wait for what shows up as a result of that particular call. And then we showed up. And things happened. And CFAR responded. And more things happened. Etc.
CFAR can take partial credit for my life starting from 2015 and onwards, into the future. I'm not sure which parts of it. Shrug.
Maybe I think most people try to slice the cause-effect pie in weird, false ways, and I'm objecting to that here.
I think a careful and non-naive reading of your post would avoid the issues I was trying to address.
But I think a naive reading of your post might come across as something like, "Oh CFAR was just not that good at stuff I guess" / "These issues seem easy to resolve."
So I felt it was important to acknowledge the magnitude of the ambition of CFAR and that such projects are actually quite difficult to pull off, especially in the post-modern information age.
I wish I could say I was speaking from an interest in tackling the puzzle. I'm not coming from there.
The main ones are:
These three egregores benefit from people feeling powerless, worthless, or apathetic (malware). Basically the opposite of heroic, worthy, and compassionate (liberated, loving sovereignty). Helping to start uninstalling the malware is, like, one of the things CFAR has to do in order to even start having conversations about AI with most people.
And, unfortunately... like... often, buying into one of these egregores (usually this would be unconsciously done) actually makes a person more effective. Sometimes quite 'successful' according to the egregore's standards (rich, powerful, well-respected, etc). The egregores know how to churn out 'effective' people. But these people are 'effective' in service to the egregore. They're not necessarily effective outside of that context.
So, any sincere and earnest movement has to contend with this eternal temptation:
The egregore tempts you with its multitude of resources. To some extent, I think you have to engage. Since you're trying to ultimately change the direction of history, right?
Still, ahhh, tough. Tough call. Tricky.
I probably don't have the kinds of concepts you're interested in, but...
Some significant conceptual pieces in my opinion are:
The hypotheses listed mostly focus on the internal aspects of CFAR.
This may be somewhat misleading to a naive reader. (I am speaking mainly to this hypothetical naive reader, not to Anna, who is non-naive.)
What CFAR was trying to do was extremely ambitious, and it was very likely going to 'fail' in some way. It's good FOR CFAR to consider what the org could improve on (which is where its leverage is), but for a big picture view of it, you should also think about the overall landscape and circumstances surrounding CFAR. And some of this was probably not obvious at the outset (at the beginning of its existence), and so CFAR may have had to discover where certain major roadblocks were, as they tried to drive forward. This post doesn't seem to touch on those roadblocks in particular, maybe because they're not as interesting as considering the potential leverage points.
But if you're going to be realistic about this and want the big-picture sense, you should consider the following:
Honestly my sense is that CFAR was significantly crippled by one or more of these egregores (partially due to its own cowardice). But that's a longer conversation, and I'm not going to have it out here.
All of this is just to give a taste of how difficult the original problems were that CFAR was trying to resolve. We're not in a world that's like, "Oh yeah, with your hearts and minds in the right place, you'll make it through!" Or even "If you just have the best thoughts compared to all the other people, you'll win!" Or even "If you have the best thoughts, a slick and effective team, lots of money, and a lot of personal agency and ability, you'll definitely find the answers you seek."
And so the list of hypotheses + analyses above may make it sound like if CFAR had its shit more 'together', it would have done a better job. Maybe? How much better though? Realistically?
As we move forward on this wild journey, it just seems to become clearer how hard this whole situation really is. The more collective clarity we have on the "actual ground-level situation" (versus internal ideas, hopes, wishes, and fears coloring our perspective of reality), ... honestly the more confronting it all is. The more existentially horrifying. And just touching THAT is hard (impossible?) for most people.
(Which is partially why I'm training at a place like MAPLE. I seem to be saner now about x-risk. And I get that we're rapidly running out of time without feeling anxious about that fact and without needing to reframe it in a more hopeful way. I don't have much need for hope, it seems. And it doesn't stop me from wanting to help.)
Just noting here that Elizabeth wasn't at one of MAPLE's retreats (from what I understand; I'd never set foot on MAPLE at the time of her visit). MAPLE hosts a silent meditation week about once a month. The rest of the weeks are called Responsibility Weeks. While the residents are expected to meditate throughout the day during these Weeks (but it's really hard to because they have to use computers and stuff), guests are not expected to. Guests can just experience a different way of living and being. MAPLE has a handful of 'jock hippies'. Jock hippies believe things turn out all right generally. Their visceral experience is embodied. They often experience pleasurable sensations. They're happy despite a lot of turmoil. They like walking barefoot through nature, doing vigorous forms of exercise, and interacting with strangers. Elizabeth was on the phone with one such person, who explained things to her in a way that failed to comprehend a more typical rationalist way of experiencing the world. But it was good of Elizabeth to come and teach MAPLE something new, and MAPLE is always learning how to better engage with their guests. There are heated debates about this where people get passionate about giving guests a more comfortable experience vs. giving guests a more monastic experience. There is always a tension here, but I do think it's worth MAPLE understanding how to treat different people and know where they're coming from. MAPLE's 'demographic' is one of the most diverse (culturally) that I have seen (for something that is super niche and not mainstream or well-funded), and it brings up a lot of complex scenarios. Each different cultural demographic uses language and communication in different ways, and so lots of communication errors are possible. I believe trial and error learning is needed to grow in this area. But it would be nice if there were a way to feel more resolution with Elizabeth in particular. I will consider it myself, but, Elizabeth, if you wanted to let me know what would be beneficial for making things right, that would also be helpful.
I'm in favor of totally resolving human greed and hatred, but this doesn't seem tractable to me either. (It is literally possible to do it within an individual, through a particular path, but it's not the path most choose.)
Instead it seems more tractable to create and promote systems and cultures that heavily incentivize moderating greed and hate.
Yeah, it seems like ... the rationalization might be sort of a cover-story for certain bad habits or patterns that they don't want to fix in themselves. shrug. I'm not a huge fan.