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49jpaddison3mo Appreciation post for Saulius I realized recently that the same author [] that made the corporate commitments [] post and the misleading cost effectiveness post [] also made all three of these excellent posts on neglected animal welfare concerns that I remembered reading. Fish used as live bait by recreational fishermen [] Rodents farmed for pet snake food [] 35-150 billion fish are raised in captivity to be released into the wild every year [] For the first he got this notable comment [] from OpenPhil's Lewis Bollard. Honorable mention includes this post [] which I also remembered, doing good epistemic work fact-checking a commonly cited comparison.
42Stefan_Schubert2mo The Nobel Prize in Economics [] awarded to Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer "for their experimental approach to alleviating global poverty".
36Raemon6mo Mid-level EA communities, and cultivating the skill of thinking I think a big problem for EA is not having a clear sense of what mid-level EAs are supposed to do. Once you've read all the introductory content, but before you're ready to tackle anything real ambitious... what should you do, and what should your local EA community encourage people to do? My sense is that grassroots EA groups default to "discuss the basics; recruit people to give money to givewell-esque charities and sometimes weirder things; occasionally run EAGx conferences; give people guidance to help them on their career trajectory." I have varying opinions on those things, but even if they were all good ideas... they leave an unsolved problem where there isn't a very good "bread and butter" activity that you can do repeatedly, that continues to be interesting after you've learned the basics. My current best guess (admittedly untested) is that Mid-Level EAs and Mid-Level EA Communities should focus on practicing thinking. And a corresponding bottleneck is something like "figuring out how to repeatedly have things that are worth thinking about, that are important enough to try hard on, but where it's okay if to not do a very good job because you're still learning." I have some preliminary thoughts on how to go about this. Two hypotheses that seem interesting are: * LW/EA-Forum Question Answering hackathons (where you pick a currently open question, and try to solve it as best you can. This might be via literature reviews, or first principles thinking * Updating the Cause Prioritization wiki (either this one [] or this one [], I'm not sure if either one of them has become the schelling-one), and meanwhile posting those updates as EA Forum blogposts. I'm interested in chatting with local community organizers about it, and with established researchers that have ideas about how to make this the most productive vers
28Linch3mo cross-posted from Facebook []. Sometimes I hear people who caution humility say something like "this question has stumped the best philosophers for centuries/millennia. How could you possibly hope to make any progress on it?". While I concur that humility is frequently warranted and that in many specific cases that injunction is reasonable [1], I think the framing is broadly wrong. In particular, using geologic time rather than anthropological time hides the fact that there probably weren't that many people actively thinking about these issues, especially carefully, in a sustained way, and making sure to build on the work of the past. For background, 7% of all humans who have ever lived are alive today, and living people compose 15% of total human experience [2] so far!!! It will not surprise me if there are about as many living philosophers today as there were dead philosophers in all of written history. For some specific questions that particularly interest me (eg. population ethics, moral uncertainty), the total research work done on these questions is generously less than five philosopher-lifetimes. Even for classical age-old philosophical dilemmas/"grand projects" (like the hard problem of consciousness), total work spent on them is probably less than 500 philosopher-lifetimes, and quite possibly less than 100. There are also solid outside-view reasons to believe that the best philosophers today are just much more competent [3] than the best philosophers in history, and have access to much more resources[4]. Finally, philosophy can build on progress in natural and social sciences (eg, computers, game theory). Speculating further, it would not surprise me, if, say, a particularly thorny and deeply important philosophical problem can effectively be solved in 100 more philosopher-lifetimes. Assuming 40 years of work and $200,000/year per philosopher, including overhead, this is ~800 millio
25BenMillwood3mo LEAD WITH THE PUNCHLINE WHEN WRITING TO INFORM The convention in a lot of public writing is to mirror the style of writing for profit, optimized for attention. In a co-operative environment, you instead want to optimize to convey your point quickly, to only the people who benefit from hearing it. We should identify ways in which these goals conflict; the most valuable pieces might look different from what we think of when we think of successful writing. * Consider who doesn't benefit from your article, and if you can help them filter themselves out. * Consider how people might skim-read your article, and how to help them derive value from it. * Lead with the punchline – see if you can make the most important sentence in your article the first one. * Some information might be clearer in a non-discursive structure (like… bullet points, I guess). Writing to persuade might still be best done discursively, but if you anticipate your audience already being sold on the value of your information, just present the information as you would if you were presenting it to a colleague on a project you're both working on.
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