The big and awful problem of suffering is now being tackled more directly and “as a whole”, thanks to several recent initiatives. Let us bring together what best contributes, within this new movement, to advancing our global management efforts.
- A coalition of individuals and organizations was created in 2011, proposing that the alleviation of suffering in the world must be “organized”. Its various contributions are reported in our chapter about the Algosphere Alliance.
- David Pearce is a British philosopher who advocates the abolition of suffering through biotechnology. He published on the internet around 1995 a brilliant manifesto entitled The Hedonistic Imperative. To find out more, see our chapter on BLTC Research.
- Suffering-focused ethics, according to Wikipedia, are those positions in ethics that give moral priority to the reduction of suffering. A group that is representative of this indispensable trend is dealt with in our chapter about the Center for Reducing Suffering.
- Jonathan Leighton is the founder and executive director of a think-and-do tank that promotes evidence-based global decision-making where the prevention and alleviation of intense suffering are given the highest priority. This organization is designing and promoting blueprints for a compassionate society, as described in our chapter about the Organisation for the Prevention of Intense Suffering (OPIS).
- Brian Tomasik, Bruno Contestabile, and Ronald Anderson are three noteworthy writers who produced extensive works on suffering. We will take a closer look at them in our chapter on Reducing Suffering, our chapter on Socrethics, and our chapter on World Suffering.
Before we move on to the following chapters about those undertakings, let us deal hereafter with some other relevant initiatives.
– Effective altruism or rather a part of it !!!
– Foundational Research Institute (see also https://qri.org/blog/against-functionalism)
– Partners for a Global Management of Suffering (partners may be organizations or individuals)
We are the editors of this book titled About Suffering: Our Evolving Action Plan. We act as a group with a worldwide concern for regulating the occurrences of consciousness that we deem too unpleasant. We want to operate a kind of global management of suffering. The first thing we are doing is to ensure that our idea gets up and running, thanks to a partnership group like ours. The second thing we are doing is to keep up-to-date with this book in order to identify and coordinate what we do together. Everything else we do flows from these two actions.
Let us emphasize that we manage suffering and not what belongs to other competence like for instance healthcare or economics ………works about suffering, be it in ethics or any other field, do not have suffering as their first object of interest, but rather ethics or any other interest: we can use those works for doing our management, and vice-versa (other fields can use our management), but we should take care not to confound different specialties, whose approaches are always uniquely intended. We are interested, however, to share with any field what we are both doing about suffering. This may have to do, for instance, with medical pain management or welfare economics, but it may go much further.
From https://qri.org/blog/state-of-the-qualia-fall-2020: “One day you decide to destroy hell. What happens next? First you figure out what hell is. Making war on the correct thing is important. For QRI that thing is suffering. Second you assemble people who believe what you’re doing is possible and noble. Third you build technical capabilities for detecting suffering, with the expectation that what you can measure you can manage. Fourth you identify an intervention that can actually help people. Ideally it’s non-invasive, inexpensive, and fun, something people would actually use. Fifth you network — building alliances and marshalling resources for scaling research and interventions. Preparing the actual assault.”
- Develop a precise mathematical language for describing subjective experience
- Understand the nature of emotional valence (happiness and suffering)
- Map out the full space of possible conscious experiences
- Build technologies to improve the lives of sentient beings
“Rethink Priorities was founded in 2018 to pursue research on pressing questions. From our founding, we have focused on finding tractable and neglected opportunities for high impact across different cause areas. We work to identify crucial questions where empirical research could produce trajectory changes in charitable work on animal welfare, the longterm future of humanity, global health and development, and the behavior and demographics of the effective altruism community.”
Searching Google with “site:rethinkpriorities.org suffering” yields 186 results. We hereby invite someone to look at those results for us and enter, here in this book, any contribution this organization is making to our global management of suffering. For instance, from https://rethinkpriorities.org/publications/next-steps-in-invertebrate-welfare-part-1-fundamental-research, let us retain “Whether invertebrates have a capacity for valenced experience is still uncertain. Given that uncertainty, we argue that supporting the cause of invertebrate welfare means, at present, promoting additional research.”
– Sentience Research and other suffering-focused animal-centered initiatives
– X-Risks, S-Risks (see Wikipedia), and other eschatology-centered initiatives, possibly beyond humans and animals (plants, AI, cosmic, etc.) See CRS and CLTR and Rethink Priorities
List of authors, organizations, books, articles, etc. in this area of interest. Put them in Back Matters?
See other possible entries in Preparatory notes drawn from various (re)sources