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Pivotal acts are acts that substantially change the direction humanity will have taken in 1 billion years. The term is used to denote positive changes, as opposed to existential catastrophe.
An obvious pivotal act would be to create a sovereign AGI aligned with humanity's best interests. An act that would greatly increase the chance of another pivotal act would also count as pivotal.
Pivotal acts often lay outside the Overton window. One such example is stopping or strongly delaying the development of an unaligned (or any) AGI through drastic means such as nanobots which melt all advanced processors, or the disabling of all AI researchers. Eliezer mentions these in AGI Ruin: A List of Lethalities. Andrew Critch argues against such an unilateral pivotal act in “Pivotal Act” Intentions: Negative Consequences and Fallacious Arguments.
For more details, see arbital.