Extropia’s Children

Jon Evans explores how the “extropians” mailing list from the 90’s led to AI risk, effective altruism, the rise of rationalism, demon-haunted cults, and the birth of Bitcoin.

Back in the nineties, a self-taught teenage supergenius joined an obscure mailing list. That odd seed led directly, via Harry Potter fanfic, to today’s prominent Effective Altruism and AI Risk movements; to bizarre, cult-like communities whose highly intelligent members feared demons in their minds might cause them to create hells or accidentally exterminate humanity; and, indirectly, to the birth of Bitcoin. Intrigued? Come down the rabbit hole into the epic, surreal, barely plausible saga of Extropia’s Children.

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