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The Lives You Saved

Living ethically in today’s interconnected world involves helping people who, through no fault of their own, are suffering in ways that we could easily prevent or alleviate. In the last ten years, many people seem to have taken that message to heart.

PRINCETON – A decade ago, I wrote The Life You Can Save: Acting Now to End World Poverty. This month, a fully revised Tenth Anniversary edition was published, and is available, free, as an eBook and audiobook. The chapters of the audiobook are read by celebrities, including Paul Simon, Kristen Bell, Stephen Fry, Natalia Vodianova, Shabana Azmi, and Nicholas D’Agosto. Revising the book has led me to reflect on the impact it has had, while the research involved in updating it has made me focus on what has changed over the past ten years.

The book argues that for middle-class people living in affluent countries, abiding by the traditional moral rules against lying, stealing, maiming, or killing is not enough. Living ethically in today’s interconnected world involves helping people who, through no fault of their own, are suffering in ways that we could easily prevent or alleviate.

The book influenced many readers to change their lives. Among them was Cari Tuna, who with her husband, Dustin Moskovitz, a co-founder of Facebook and Asana, created a foundation aimed at doing the most good possible with the billions of dollars they have given it. They have provided funding to GiveWell, enabling it to expand its team of researchers rigorously assessing charities to find those that save or improve lives the most per dollar.

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