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Inspired by Jaime's charming rundown of his quarterly(!) output, I'll put something up:

In 2021, I

  • led a study of mask-wearing for COVID at the most zoomed-out level (unpicking heavily confounded national epidemiology stats). This was one of the hardest things I've ever done for a few reasons: my first big Bayesian model, my first big journal paper, the worst peer review I've ever seen, the incredibly poor data, taking on a field I've never taken a class in, a mob of hooting trolls on Twitter.
  • This led to me advising the British government on winter covid policy wtf.
  • recovered from 5 months of that by coming out of pandemic mode. I travelled to Estonia, Czechia, Stonehenge, Iceland, and did my first ever trip to the east coast of America. Saw my family for the first time in 2 years.
  • won an Emergent Ventures grant despite my application being fairly deranged
  • got into a conference, my first AI safety paper (a negative result)
  • won a cybercrime hackathon run with the Dutch Serious Crime Unit
  • taught at two amazing maths camps for teenagers. This was probably the single best thing all year.
  • a blogpost from last year blew up and earned me three job offers (Roam, Neuro, CEA?) and an invite to write for Nature. Some people actually in the field adopted and expanded it.
  • started an EA consultancy, Arb, with a friend. We got three big contracts, and have finished 4 subprojects so far, watch this space.
  • got rejected for an Amazon Research Internship within 4 hours
  • got rejected for the Vitalik AI Safety Fellowship, no reason given.
  • got rejected for the GovAI Summer Fellowship. No reason given, but it might be because my proposal was a little edgy: "Mediocre AI Safety As Existential Risk".
  • couldn't find a venue for our seasonality paper somehow
  • got my first EA grant, to help with executive dysfunction in EA students
  • made a bunch of friends and was adopted as an Irish neoliberal(?)
  • quit caffeine and booze entirely (from low levels)
  • did a bunch of reviews for the AI Safety Camp. The standard is pretty intense now
  • tried vyvanse and wellbutrin
  • turned off all morning alarms and wake whenever
  • finally got some crypto and ended up 10x in 5 months
  • got a laptop for ~free because Lenovo's website was broken
  • Currently doing 3 months at the FTX EA Bahamas thing and have suspended my PhD. It is pretty amazing.

This seems overwhelmingly awesome, congrats and I hope you are doing great in the Bahamas.

As a small point, and a sincere question,  I'm curious about the "personal framework" or beliefs that led you to stop consuming even low levels of caffeine and alchohol, but at the same time, start or try using the medications you indicated. 

I'm curious because some people I met, who foreswear alcohol and caffeine, would also oppose the personal use of many medications too.

To be clear, I find any combination of abstinence/use of any of those 4 things fine (and not my business unless openly discussed).

Thanks Charles!

My reasoning about caffeine is here. For common genomes, I expect it to have no chronic cognitive benefit and to harm sleep quality for basically no gain. I think I'm one of those genomes. Nor do I get the pleasure or motivation others seem to. (The same reasoning probably applies to all stimulants.) Might get into fancy loose-leaf tea one day, but just for fun.

No particular reasoning about booze. Certainly not puritanism. The alleged health benefits fell apart (or rather the credibility of the field studying it did), I don't much like it, and luckily my social life doesn't need the help.

When reading up for Off Road I started to wonder if maybe I am mildly ADHD myself. I opted for the House MD method of diagnosis: suck it and see.

I should mention that some clever friends of mine try "stimulant cycling" instead of quitting caffeine entirely. This might avoid the downregulation trap.

Wow, sounds like an amazing year!

What's the standard for AI Safety Camp these days?

I should have said "median" (supply-side: participants just being really good) rather than "standard" (our setting a high bar).

Bunch of ML PhD students and people whose writing I seriously admired before they applied.

This year is interesting cos we tried hard to get non-ML people to join. We've got a pro Continental philosopher coming for instance!

I liked your post! But I don't find the claim that Ramsey was the first "explicit" longtermist very plausible

. The quote about discounting being "ethically indefensible and arises merely from the weakness of the imagination" echoes points made earlier by other economists, e.g. Pigou:

Generally speaking, everybody prefers present pleasures or satisfactions of given magnitude to future pleasures or satisfactions of equal magnitude, even when the latter are perfectly certain to occur. But this preference for present pleasures does not -- the idea is self-contradictory -- imply that a present pleasure of given magnitude is any greater than a future pleasure of the same magnitude. It implies only that our telescopic faculty is defective, and that we, therefore, see future pleasures, as it were, on a diminished scale

This is from The Economics of Welfare, published when Ramsey was a teenager, and eight years before the essay in which the quote appears.

I was very unclear about what justifies that claim, pardon: 

Ramsey deriving the form of the intertemporal decision and then setting  seems much clearer than Pigou (or Sidgwick, who waved in the direction of the position much earlier than either). 

"First quantitative longtermist"? "First strong longtermist"?

Ah, right. Yes, regardless of what we call him, this is undoubtedly a significant milestone in the historical development of longtermism. (I'm not personally comfortable with calling Ramsey or anyone else the "first" [qualification] longtermist because I think longtermism involves multiple claims, not just an endorsement of a zero discount rate, although that claim is clearly a central one.)

I'd love to see more posts exploring early longtermist or proto-longtermist thinking!

TIL I learned about the Utilitarian Fandom.

(Derives from old Felicifia, and so I guess Pablo wrote a lot of it.)

Several absurd things about this video, but we could learn a lot about delivery from it.

I want to save the world and - you know, money - money's great! I can't get enough money. And you know what i'm going to do with it? I'm going to buy wilderness areas with it! 

Every single cent I get goes straight into conservation. And guess what Charles: I don't give a rip whose money it is mate. I'll use it and i'll spend it on buying land.

Passion can make even bullet-biting instrumental harm sound noble and humane. 

(Obviously this is a symmetric weapon.)

Ben Franklin's diary included the daily exhortation to rise and work some "Powerful Goodness". Better name than Effective Altruism tbf.

Love this!

yeh i never like the name 'effective altruism'

"Effective Accelerationism"

(Kent Brockman: I for one welcome our Vile Offspring.)

PlumX is an academic web analytics service, looking at how papers are shared. It's mostly not very good, but they recently added Overton, which specifically scrapes the occasions a paper is cited in policy documents. This seems important!