Mar 16, 2021
38: "Sentientism captures everything - it's future proof" - Michael Dello-Iacovo - Sentientist Conversation
Play • 54 min

Michael Dello-Iacovo ( and is a PhD candidate in space science, looking at off-Earth exploration, mining & asteroid impact risk. Michael hosts the Morality is Hard podcast where he examines ethical questions and argues that everyday ethical choices are harder than we think they are. He is currently on the New South Wales state committee for the Animal Justice Party and is a committee member of the party’s youth wing. Michael has dedicated his life to giving back and making the world a better place for all. To that end, in 2016 he pledged to donate all of his income above AUS$45,000 each year to the most effective charities and causes, a pledge which he will uphold with his parliamentary income, if elected. Michael was previously the CEO of Effective Altruism Australia. 

In these Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?”

Sentientism is "evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings."

Our conversation is also on the Sentientism YouTube Channel - don't forget to subscribe and hit the bell for notifications.

We discuss:

- Michael's PhD (pending) in space mining, terraforming, colonisation and asteroid deflection

- Effective Altruism. Earning to give to do good vs. doing good directly

- Peter Singer's TED talk

- Leaving industry for a full time PhD and becoming an Animal Justice Party political candidate

- Michael's Morality is Hard podcast, blog and Vegan Space Scientist YouTube

- Growing up Catholic and attending a very religious school

- Taking the Christian god, hell and heaven for granted. Being told every day it was true

- Struggling with the fear of death without an afterlife. The comforting fiction of heaven

- The painful realisation at 19 yrs that "not any of it was true" and becoming an atheist

- The centrality of our own experience and the difficulty of conceiving of not existing

- Searching for meaning after religion. Exploring and identifying with utilitarianism and consequentialism

- "The only things sentient minds can value are suffering and wellbeing". Everything else we think we value is a means to an end or we're tricking ourselves

- Our common evolutionary history with other sentient beings

- Panpsychism and whether atoms are sentient/conscious

 - If electrons are "conscious" it must be very boring and they're still not sentient

- Caring for companion animals but eating other animals as a child

- Going vegetarian for environmental reasons, becoming more open to ethical veganism, then switching

- Insect, digital mind and alien sentience

- "Sentientism just captures everything and its future proof"

- CosmicSkeptic grudgingly identifying as Sentientist: "The term has absolutely no wit about it"

- Is Sentientism the only moral discrimination?

- And much more!

Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at Join Michael on our "wall" using this form:

Everyone interested, Sentientist or not, is welcome to join our groups. Our main one is on FaceBook

Thanks Graham for the post-prod:

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