What I’m reading

Here’s what I’ve read/watched/heard recently and found thought provoking, by category.

Anything you think should be on the list or that I should read? Let me know!

Favourite podcasts

Our Hen House

Sam Harris

Skeptics Guide to the Universe

Rationally Speaking

Planet Money

Planetary Radio

Politics

Jason Brennan on “Against democracy” (Rationally Speaking with Julia Galef)

This podcast discusses different systems of government, including one we haven’t really tried before – epistocracy. This podcast shifted me from thinking that democracy was the best choice (bar a perfect, benevolent dictator). Epistocracy might be better.

Wild animal suffering

Environmental ethics – The case of wild animals

A thesis on the ethics of helping wild animals.

Animal activism

“Is Shame Necessary?” Calls Consumer Activism and Humane Labeling Into Question

Interventions we’d like to see – Animal Charity Evaluators

ANIMAL ADVOCACY LESSONS FROM THE 2016 DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL CONVENTION – Animal Charity Evaluators

Psychology

Living on the edge of incompetence – Larissa Hesketh-Rowe

A blog post on impostor syndrome. As someone who experiences this a lot, this was a good reminder that I (and maybe you) am not alone.

Fiction

Seveneves – Neal Stephenson

Near future science fiction, where the only major difference seems to be the International Space Station is somewhat larger and more technologically advanced. It’s an end of the world scenario which raises some great ethical questions, which I’ve outlined here.

Feersum Endjin – Iain M. Banks

Covering the uploading of minds to a digital state, artificial intelligence and an existential risk in science fiction format. Iain Banks is a great author and if you haven’t read anything from his Culture series (not related to this book), you’re missing out.

Limit – Frank Schatzing

An epic, 960 page book, but well worth a read if you’re into near future sci-fi’s with plausible technology. Themes covered include cyber espionage, political activism in China, Moon mining, orbital elevators and rocket science, neatly wrapped in an entertaining story.

Fool’s Quest – Robin Hobb

A new installment of an old favourite – just old fashioned fantasy fun. Probably my favourite fantasy (excluding sci-fi) series to date. This series shaped a lot of my early (16-ish) ethics, which revolved around honour and duty. I’ve since shifted my ethical thought, though the series still holds a very special place in my heart.

Ethics

On the overwhelming importance of shaping the far future – Nick Beckstead (thesis – 2013)

“In slogan form, the thesis of this dissertation is that shaping the far future is overwhelmingly important. More precisely, I argue that: Main Thesis: From a global perspective, what matters most (in expectation) is that we do what is best (in expectation) for the general trajectory along which our descendants develop over the coming millions, billions, and trillions of years.”

Burning the cosmic commons – Robin Hanson (paper – 1998)

A somewhat technical but chilling account of both a) what the far future might look like, and b) a possible reason we haven’t been contacted by an alien species. Maybe they already passed through but had to keep moving.