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Essays

2022 Apr Valley of the timeflowers Sci-fi short exploring a species of plant that can erase its predators from history.
2022 Mar Grief as a toolkit

Properly understood, the grieving process resembles everyday rational problem-solving.

2022 Mar Parallel insights for AI safety By zeroing in on where AI safety overlaps with other domains, we can see more clearly what to try, what works, and what doesn't.
2022 Feb Symbol-pushing spiders To understand AI existential risk, we need new intuition pumps—like the machine that can mimic human writing with no more brainpower than an insect.
2021 Nov Teaching adults about Santa

We shouldn't pretend Santa exists. We should know it.

2021 Nov Dumbledore's shadow

Deep down, Harry Potter suggests we can master our own darkness by intellectualizing it away.

2021 Nov We shouldn't execute all parties to a Supreme Court verdict

You can reduce frivolous lawsuits by killing both parties after every verdict—but there are also downsides.

2021 Nov Why are logic puzzles so fascist?

The simplified universe of the logic puzzle is often delivered at gunpoint.

2021 Oct A cutaway view of life

Spirited Away builds trust like a documentary; we like seeing behind the scenes.

2021 Oct Into the World

Over the Garden Wall uses fantasy to tell an important story about growing up.

2021 Oct Clearly thinking about something else

Rosenberg has written an otherwise colorful and engaging philosophical book about death which is unfortunately narrow-minded about what it means to survive.

2020 Jan When Cinderella strikes out

Dahl's James and the Giant Peach tells us a new Cinderella story: even if you miss the opportunity of a lifetime, the universe follows its own peculiar mechanisms.

2019 Oct The Blueprint How a tax haven became a premier medical institute. (Short story)


Works in progress

(2021 Nov) The world of learning The quest to catch all the Pokémon stands for the child's quest to understand the whole world.
(2021 Nov) The wickedness of nano-billionaires As an archetype, a billionaire is a transformative power wasted by selfishness. We each have our own spark of power to use.
(2021 Dec) Participant-free morality If morality is mostly about individuals, we'll need a more expansive theory for when identity and agency get complicated.