The burden of knowing

It’s clear that we live in unprecedented times. There is a minority of the global population that is in the process of realizing what X-Risk means. Some got it much earlier than others but for the rest of us mere mortals out there it was a bit more difficult to bear. It’s not important if someone is in the camp of 100% doom or of 20% doom. (I dismiss the 100% non-doomers having a normalcy bias issue).

There are many issues arising right now most of which have been discussed and pinpointed by EA and LW communities but I would like to focus on something else. The mental burden of knowing. There are also the obvious objections. Who cares if it’s mentally tough or not. Would it matter if concentration camp inmates sentenced to death could cope with their reality or should we just try to avoid it happening. On the other hand, cancer diagnosis victims can and do get mental help as a default.

That’s precisely the two situations where we put ourselves in right now but with a twist. There was never a scenario where your death would mean also everyone else’s and that is another philosophical question with apparently no answer. Does the fact that all humanity will go with you change the way you feel about it?

In any case, lately I have been feeling like I got a cancer diagnosis along with all the rest of us. It’s not a certain death but there is a high probability of dying much earlier than what was predicted when you were born. On this subject I also have another dichotomy, I think there is no physical death from natural causes. We either all live forever or we all die from terminators. No in-between.

I want to explain my thought process right now and hope to hear others expand on the topic, a form of collective psychotherapy. I have been seeing the topic more and more on Twitter from people I follow breaking for some short time but then the human algo of nature takes over and brings chemical balance in the brain. That is most certainly because I don’t follow many people with mental health issues. That is far from society norms though.

What would it look like for society to realize the risk we are running right now en masse? I am sure many of you have watched Di Caprio’s film about the professor yelling that we are all going to die (Eliezer?) and people dismiss it until they don’t. Will society break down?

In the meantime, how do you live your life? If we follow the great stoics that advised that you need to live your life as if it is your last day and realize that you might die tomorrow. I am privileged and I have not experienced this feeling but I am sure you can experience it in Africa, in Ukraine and many other places around the world. With a twist again. Victory would mean normality again. If Ukraine wins, the said stoic soldiers would feel like their ancestors that returned to a normal (cold-war but still normal) world. That will never be the same for us.

Victory or if you want to call it alignment would mean a totally changed world. How fast and soon should one adapt? Will people start to sell all their belongings and yolo on vacations? What is the purpose of planning ahead for pension or family and kids? If timelines are like they seem to be currently, most kids born today would never be adults in a world resembling the one we grew up in and we have no idea how that would look like. I have heard that some from the EA community decided to have no kids because of these thoughts.

I realize now I wrote too many words to ask a simple question: How does Eliezer sleep at night?

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