Innovating Institutions: Robin Hanson Arguing for Conducting Field Trials on New Institutions

by EdoArad31st Mar 20193 comments


Robin Hanson
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From the comments of the post:

Comment: My knowledge concerning Effective Altruism is pretty superficial, so this might be a naive question: Have you gotten feedback on this from folks in the EA community? If so (or if EA supporters reading this have such feedback) I'd love to hear about it.
Robin Hanson: I haven't gotten feedback, and would also like to hear.

I would give him feedback, but frankly I find his proposal too confusing to critique. I've read it twice over three days now. At first, I thought he was referring to social institutions, especially because he used an example about driving. Then he claimed businesses are willing to do late-stage innovation and charities should fill in the gap.

What does he want innovated? Private institutions like charities and businesses, or public institutions?

If he had given any references to this allegedly thriving literature or any concrete examples of how one idea could go from academic to charity to business, that would have been more helpful. If he's just talking about people trying out academic ideas in, say, schools, we already do that, so that's not a very exciting argument for me.

I agree with Robin that this is a criminally neglected cause areas. Especially for people who put strong probability on AGI, Bioweapons, and other technological risks, more research into institutions that can make better decisions and outcompete our current institutions seems to be important.