On doing good vs fighting bad

1 minute read


What if the best way to end all suffering is by getting the privileged to realize that there is infinite Good for everyone, see through silly games and thus make civilization much more effective at redistribution?

It might be much cheaper to further empower the relatively well-off than starting by reducing suffering itself.

I take this proposition seriously because it seems within reach for most of the world to have material abundance - which currently isn’t the case - within 2-5 generations. Other than working on AI safety and general human survival, nothing seems similarly pivotal in the short- to mid-term for our perception of the net value of life.

That’s because there currently are very few people who believe that their individual survival is not threatened at all, such that they can become fully altruistic (either because of resource abundance or because of spiritual enlightenment).

It seems reasonable to bet on getting 100s of millions to the point of living in abundance within the next 100 years.

Alleviating resource constraints will make mass spiritual enlightenment much easier. We’re psychologically much more malleable and faster to adapt once survival is guaranteed. It’ll also make finding mates easier. So, loads of evolutionary pressures will be eased, and many more people can focus on genuinely helping others. And I believe most of them would actually do so.

Reducing suffering directly isn’t obviously the most effective intervention to make material abundance happen within the next century, is it? I can see how it could be with longer timelines for abundance. Has this been discussed somewhere?

And as I posit in this post, focusing on doing good over preventing bad might trigger further positive feedback loops.