The Progress Open Thread is a place to share good news, big or small.
See this post for an explanation of why we have these threads.
Think of this as an org update thread for individuals. You might talk about...
Hillary Greaves laid out a problem of "moral cluelessness" in her paper Cluelessness, http://users.ox.ac.uk/~mert2255/papers/cluelessness.pdf
There are some resources on this problem below, taken from the Oxford EA Fellowship materials:
(Edit: one text deprecated and redacted)
Hilary Greaves on Cluelessness, 80000 Hours podcast (25 min) https://80000hours.org/podcast/episodes/hilary-greaves-global-priorities-institute/
If you value future people, why do you consider short-term effects? (20 min) https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/ajZ8AxhEtny7Hhbv7/if-you-value-future-people-why-do-you-consider-near-term
Simplifying cluelessness (30 min) https://philiptrammell.com/static/simplifying_cluelessness.pdf
Finally there's this half hour talk of Greaves presenting her ideas around cluelessness:
Greaves has the following worry about complex cluelessness:
The cases in question have the following structure:
For some pair of actions of interest A1, A2,
- (CC1) We have some reasons to think that the unforeseeable consequences of A1 would systematically tend to be substantially better than those of A2;
- (CC2) We have some reasons to think that the unforeseeable consequences of A2 would systematically tend to be substantially better than those of A1;
- (CC3) It is unclear
Why are reading groups and journal clubs bad so often?
I think there are two reasons: boring readings and low-energy discussions. This post is about how to avoid those pitfalls.
I have participated in (and organized) some really bad reading groups. This is a shame, because I love a good reading group. They cause me to read more things and read them more carefully. A great group discussion will give me way more than I’d get just by taking notes on a reading.
This is what a bad reading group looks like: six people gather around a table. Two kind of skimmed the reading, and two didn’t read it at all. No one knows quite what to talk about. Someone ventures a, “so, what surprised you about the paper?” Another person flips through their notes, scanning for a possible answer. Most people stay quiet. No one leaves the table feeling excited about...
Presumably this information is public but spread out.
If you know how many hits an EA website got last year, please post it here.
Even better, a link to a public analytics site.
Edited by Jacy Reese Anthis. Many thanks to Ali Ladak, Tobias Baumann, Jack Malde, James Faville, Sophie Barton, Matt Allcock, and the staff at PETRL for reviewing and providing feedback.
Artificial sentient beings could be created in vast numbers in the future. While their future could be bright, there are reasons to be concerned about widespread suffering among such entities. There is increasing interest in the moral consideration of artificial entities among academics, policy-makers, and activists, which suggests that we could have substantial leverage on the trajectory of research, discussion, and regulation if we act now. Research may help us assess which actions will most cost-effectively make progress. Tentatively, we argue that outreach on this topic should first focus on researchers and other stakeholders who have adjacent interests.
Imagine that you develop a brain disease like Alzheimer’s, but that a cutting-edge treatment has been developed. Doctors replace the damaged neurons in your brain with computer chips that are...
[We the authors decided to put this paper up on the EA Forum as we believe it is highly relevant to global catastrophic risk and global priorities research. This a 'preprint' of the accepted for publication version.
The journal Futures has provided 50 days' free access to the final, published version of the article. Anyone clicking on this link before March 24, 2021 will be taken directly to the article on Futures, which they are welcome to read or download. No sign up, registration or fees are required. After March 24th, this is a permalink to the paper.]
Many have claimed that climate change is an imminent threat to humanity, but there is no way to verify such claims. This is concerning, especially given the prominence of some of these claims and the fact that...
In a recent answer to Issa’s Why "cause area" as the unit of analysis?, Michael Plant presents his take on cause prioritization and points to his thesis. As part of my cause prioritization analysis work with QURI I read the relevant parts of his thesis and found them interesting and novel, so I want to bring more attention to it.
In his Ph.D. thesis, Michael Plant (the founder of Happier Lives Institute) reviews the foundations of EA, presents constructive criticism on the importance of saving lives, sheds more light on how we can effectively make more people happier, describes weaknesses in the current approaches to cause prioritization and suggests a practical refinement - "Cause Mapping". In this post, I summarize the key points of chapters 5 and 6 about cause prioritization of Michael's thesis.
In sketch, the challenge of consequentialist cluelessness is the consequences of our actions ramify far into the future (and thus - at least at first glance - far beyond our epistemic access). Although we know little about them, we know enough to believe it unlikely these unknown consequences will neatly ‘cancel out’ to neutrality - indeed, they are likely to prove more significant than those we can assess. How, then, can we judge some actions to be better than others?
For example (which we shall return to), even if we can confidently predict the short-run impact of donations to the Against Malaria Foundation are better than donations to Make-a-Wish, the final consequences depend on a host of recondite matters (e.g. Does reducing child mortality increase or decrease population size? What effect does a larger population have on (among others) economic growth, scientific output, social stability? What effect do these have on...
We’re excited to announce the launch of Probably Good, a new organization that provides career guidance intended to help people do as much good as possible.
For a while, we have felt that there was a need for a more generalist careers organization than 80,000 Hours — one which is more agnostic regarding different cause areas and might provide a different entry point into the community to people who aren’t a good fit for 80K’s priority areas. Following 80,000 Hours’ post about what they view as gaps in the careers space, we contacted them about how a new organization could effectively fill some of those gaps.
After a few months of planning, asking questions, writing content, and interviewing experts, we’re almost ready to go live (we aim to start putting our content online in 1-2 months) and would love to hear more from the community at large.
The most important...