Buck's Shortform

by Buck13th Sep 202063 comments
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Here's a crazy idea. I haven't run it by any EAIF people yet.

I want to have a program to fund people to write book reviews and post them to the EA Forum or LessWrong. (This idea came out of a conversation with a bunch of people at a retreat; I can’t remember exactly whose idea it was.)

Basic structure:

  • Someone picks a book they want to review.
  • Optionally, they email me asking how on-topic I think the book is (to reduce the probability of not getting the prize later).
  • They write a review, and send it to me.
  • If it’s the kind of review I want, I give them $500 in return for them posting the review to EA Forum or LW with a “This post sponsored by the EAIF” banner at the top. (I’d also love to set up an impact purchase thing but that’s probably too complicated).
  • If I don’t want to give them the money, they can do whatever with the review.

What books are on topic: Anything of interest to people who want to have a massive altruistic impact on the world. More specifically:

  • Things directly related to traditional EA topics
  • Things about the world more generally. Eg macrohistory, how do governments work, The Doomsday Machine, history of science (eg Asimov’s “A Short History of Chemistry”)
  • I think that books about self-help, productivity, or skill-building (eg management) are dubiously on topic.

Goals:

  • I think that these book reviews might be directly useful. There are many topics where I’d love to know the basic EA-relevant takeaways, especially when combined with basic fact-checking.
  • It might encourage people to practice useful skills, like writing, quickly learning about new topics, and thinking through what topics would be useful to know more about.
  • I think it would be healthy for EA’s culture. I worry sometimes that EAs aren’t sufficiently interested in learning facts about the world that aren’t directly related to EA stuff. I think that this might be improved both by people writing these reviews and people reading them.
    • Conversely, sometimes I worry that rationalists are too interested in thinking about the world by introspection or weird analogies relative to learning many facts about different aspects of the world; I think book reviews would maybe be a healthier way to direct energy towards intellectual development.
  • It might surface some talented writers and thinkers who weren’t otherwise known to EA.
  • It might produce good content on the EA Forum and LW that engages intellectually curious people.

Suggested elements of a book review:

  • One paragraph summary of the book
  • How compelling you found the book’s thesis, and why
  • The main takeaways that relate to vastly improving the world, with emphasis on the surprising ones
  • Optionally, epistemic spot checks
  • Optionally, “book adversarial collaborations”, where you actually review two different books on the same topic.

I worry sometimes that EAs aren’t sufficiently interested in learning facts about the world that aren’t directly related to EA stuff.

I share this concern, and I think a culture with more book reviews is a great way to achieve that (I've been happy to see all of Michael Aird's book summaries for that reason).

CEA briefly considered paying for book reviews (I was asked to write this review as a test of that idea). IIRC, the goal at the time was more about getting more engagement from people on the periphery of EA by creating EA-related content they'd find interesting for other reasons. But book reviews as a push toward levelling up more involved people // changing EA culture is a different angle, and one I like a lot.

One suggestion: I'd want the epistemic spot checks, or something similar, to be mandatory. Many interesting books fail the basic test of "is the author routinely saying true things?", and I think a good truth-oriented book review should check for that.

One suggestion: I'd want the epistemic spot checks, or something similar, to be mandatory. Many interesting books fail the basic test of "is the author routinely saying true things?", and I think a good truth-oriented book review should check for that.

I think that this may make sense / probably makes sense for receiving payment for book reviews. But I think I'd be opposed to discouraging people from just posting book summaries/reviews/notes in general unless they do this. 

This is because I think it's possible to create useful book notes posts in only ~30 mins of extra time on top of the time one spends reading the book and making Anki cards anyway (assuming someone is making Anki cards as they read, which I'd suggest they do). (That time includes writing key takeaways from memory or adapting them from rough notes, copying the cards into the editor and formatting them, etc.) Given that, I think it's worthwhile for me to make such posts. But even doubling that time might make it no longer worthwhile, given how stretched my time is. 

Me doing an epistemic spot check would also be useful for me anyway, but I don't think useful enough to justify the time, relative to focusing on my main projects whenever I'm at a computer, listening to books while I do chores etc., and churning out very quick notes posts when I finish.

All that said, I think highlighting the idea of doing epistemic spot checks, and highlighting why it's useful, would be good. And Michael2019 and MichaelEarly2020 probably should've done such epistemic spot checks and included them in book notes posts (as at that point I knew less and my time was less stretched), as probably should various other people. And maybe I should still do it now for the books that are especially relevant to my main projects.

I think that this may make sense / probably makes sense for receiving payment for book reviews. But I think I'd be opposed to discouraging people from just posting book summaries/reviews/notes in general unless they do this. 

Yep, agreed. If someone is creating e.g. an EAIF-funded book review, I want it to feel very "solid", like I can really trust what they're saying and what the author is saying. 

But I also want Forum users to feel comfortable writing less  time-intensive content (like your book notes). That's why we encourage epistemic statuses, have Shortform as an option, etc.

(Though it helps if, even for a shorter set of notes, someone can add a note about their process. As an example: "Copying over the most interesting bits and my immediate impressions. I haven't fact-checked anything, looked for other perspectives, etc.")

Yeah, I entirely agree, and your comment makes me realise that, although I make my process fairly obvious in my posts, I should probably in future add almost the exact sentences "I haven't fact-checked anything, looked for other perspectives, etc.", just to make that extra explicit. (I didn't interpret your comment as directed at my posts specifically - I'm just reporting a useful takeaway for me personally.)

I wonder if there's something in between these two points:

  • they could check the most important  1-3 claims the author makes.   
  • they could include the kind of evidence and links for all claims that are made so readers can quickly check themselves

Yeah, I really like this. SSC currently already has a book-review contest running on SSC, and maybe LW and the EAF could do something similar? (Probably not a contest, but something that creates a bit of momentum behind the idea of doing this)

This does seem like a good model to try.

I'd be interested in this. I've been posting book reviews of the books I read to Facebook - mostly for my own benefit. These have mostly been written quickly, but if there was a decent chance of getting $500 I could pick out the most relevant books and relisten to them and then rewrite them.

I haven't read any of those reviews you've posted on FB, but I'd guess you should in any case post them to the Forum! Even if you don't have time for any further editing or polishing.

I say this because:

  • This sort of thing often seems useful in general
  • People can just ignore them if they're not useful, or not relevant to them

Maybe there being a decent chance of you getting $500 for them and/or you relistening and rewriting would be even better - I'm just saying that this simple step of putting them on the Forum already seems net positive anyway.

Could be as top-level posts or as shortforms, depending on the length, substantiveness, polish, etc.

Perhaps it would be worthwhile to focus on books like those in this list of "most commonly planned to read books that have not been read by anyone yet"

I've thought about this before and I would also like to see this happen.

I would also ask these people to optionally write  or improve a summary of the book in Wikipedia if it has an Wikipedia article (or should have one). In many cases, it's not only EAs who would do more good if they knew ideas in a given book, especially when it's on a subject like pandemics or global warming rather than topics relevant to non-altruistic work too like management or productivity. When you google a book, Wikipedia is often the first result and so these articles receive a quite lot of traffic (you can see here how much traffic a given article receives). 

Yeah, this seems good to me. 

I also just think in any case more people should post their notes, key takeaways, and (if they make them) Anki cards to the Forum, as either top-level posts or shortforms. I think this need only take ~30 mins of extra time on top of the time they spend reading or note-taking or whatever for their own benefit. (But doing what you propose would still add value by incentivising more effortful and even more useful versions of this.)

There are many topics where I’d love to know the basic EA-relevant takeaways [...]

The main takeaways that relate to vastly improving the world, with emphasis on the surprising ones

Yeah, I think this is worth emphasising, since:

  • Those are things existing, non-EA summaries of the books are less likely to provide
  • Those are things that even another EA reading the same book might not think of
    • Coming up with key takeaways is an analytical exercise and will often draw on specific other knowledge, intuitions, experiences, etc. the reader has

Also, readers of this shortform may find posts tagged effective altruism books interesting.

Quick take is this sounds like a pretty good bet, mostly for the indirect effects. You could do it with a 'contest' framing instead of a 'I pay you to produce book reviews' framing; idk whether that's meaningfully better.

I don't think it's crazy at all. I think this sounds pretty good.

You can already pay for book reviews - what would make these different?

That might achieve the "these might be directly useful goal" and "produce interesting content" goals, if the reviewers knew about how to summarize the books from an EA perspective, how to do epistemic spot checks, and so on, which they probably don't. It wouldn't achieve any of the other goals, though.

I wonder if there are better ways to encourage and reward talented writers to look for outside ideas - although I agree book reviews are attractive in their simplicity!

I’ve recently been thinking about medieval alchemy as a metaphor for longtermist EA.

I think there’s a sense in which it was an extremely reasonable choice to study alchemy. The basic hope of alchemy was that by fiddling around in various ways with substances you had, you’d be able to turn them into other things which had various helpful properties. It would be a really big deal if humans were able to do this.

And it seems a priori pretty reasonable to expect that humanity could get way better at manipulating substances, because there was an established history of people figuring out ways that you could do useful things by fiddling around with substances in weird ways, for example metallurgy or glassmaking, and we have lots of examples of materials having different and useful properties. If you had been particularly forward thinking, you might even have noted that it seems plausible that we’ll eventually be able to do the full range of manipulations of materials that life is able to do.

So I think that alchemists deserve a lot of points for spotting a really big and important consideration about the future. (I actually have no idea if any alchemists were thinking about it this way; that’s why I billed this as a metaphor rather than an analogy.) But they weren’t really very correct about how anything worked, and so most of their work before 1650 was pretty useless. 

It’s interesting to think about whether EA is in a similar spot. I think EA has done a great job of identifying crucial and underrated considerations about how to do good and what the future will be like, eg x-risk and AI alignment. But I think our ideas for acting on these considerations seem much more tenuous. And it wouldn’t be super shocking to find out that later generations of longtermists think that our plans and ideas about the world are similarly inaccurate.

So what should you have done if you were an alchemist in the 1500s who agreed with this argument that you had some really underrated considerations but didn’t have great ideas for what to do about them? 

I think that you should probably have done some of the following things:

  • Try to establish the limits of your knowledge and be clear about the fact that you’re in possession of good questions rather than good answers.
  • Do lots of measurements, write down your experiments clearly, and disseminate the results widely, so that other alchemists could make faster progress.
  • Push for better scientific norms. (Scientific norms were in fact invented in large part by Robert Boyle for the sake of making chemistry a better field.)
  • Work on building devices which would enable people to do experiments better.

Overall I feel like the alchemists did pretty well at making the world better, and if they’d been more altruistically motivated they would have been even better.

There are some reasons to think that pushing early chemistry forward is easier than working on improving the long term future, In particular, you might think that it’s only possible to work on x-risk stuff around the time of the hinge of history.

Huh, interesting thoughts, have you looked into the actual motivations behind it more? I'd've guessed that there was little "big if true" thinking in alchemy and mostly hopes for wealth and power.

Another thought, I suppose alchemy was more technical than something like magical potion brewing and in that way attracted other kinds of people, making it more proto-scientific? Another similar comparison might be sincere altruistic missionaries that work on finding the "true" interpretation of the bible/koran/..., sharing their progress in understanding it and working on convincing others to save them.

Regarding pushing chemnistry being easier than longtermism, I'd have guessed the big reasons why pushing scientific fields is easier are the possibility of repeating experiments and profitability of the knowledge. Are there really longtermists who find it plausible we can only work on x-risk stuff around the hinge? Even patient longtermists seem to want to save resources and I suppose invest in other capacity building. Ah, or do you mean "it's only possible to *directly* work on x-risk stuff", vs. indirectly? It just seemed odd to suggest that everything longtermists have done so far has not affected the probability of eventual x-risk, in the very least it has set in motion the longtermism movement earlier and shaping the culture and thinking style and so forth via institutions like FHI.

Edited to add: I think that I phrased this post misleadingly; I meant to complain mostly about low quality criticism of EA rather than eg criticism of comments. Sorry to be so unclear. I suspect most commenters misunderstood me.

I think that EAs, especially on the EA Forum, are too welcoming to low quality criticism [EDIT: of EA]. I feel like an easy way to get lots of upvotes is to make lots of vague critical comments about how EA isn’t intellectually rigorous enough, or inclusive enough, or whatever. This makes me feel less enthusiastic about engaging with the EA Forum, because it makes me feel like everything I’m saying is being read by a jeering crowd who just want excuses to call me a moron.

I’m not sure how to have a forum where people will listen to criticism open mindedly which doesn’t lead to this bias towards low quality criticism.

1. At an object level, I don't think I've noticed the dynamic particularly strongly on the EA Forum (as opposed to eg. social media). I feel like people are generally pretty positive about each other/the EA project (and if anything are less negative than is perhaps warranted sometimes?). There are occasionally low-quality critical posts (that to some degree reads to me as status plays) that pop up, but they usually get downvoted fairly quickly.

2. At a meta level, I'm not sure how to get around the problem of having a low bar for criticism in general. I think as an individual it's fairly hard to get good feedback without also being accepting of bad feedback, and likely something similar is true of groups as well?

I feel like an easy way to get lots of upvotes is to make lots of vague critical comments about how EA isn’t intellectually rigorous enough, or inclusive enough, or whatever. This makes me feel less enthusiastic about engaging with the EA Forum, because it makes me feel like everything I’m saying is being read by a jeering crowd who just want excuses to call me a moron.

Could you unpack this a bit? Is it the originating poster who makes you feel that there's a jeering crowd, or the people up-voting the OP which makes you feel the jeers?

As counterbalance...

Writing, and sharing your writing, is how you often come to know your own thoughts. I often recognise the kernel of truth someone is getting at before they've articulated it well, both in written posts and verbally. I'd rather encourage someone for getting at something even if it was lacking, and then guide them to do better. I'd especially prefer to do this given I personally know that it's difficult to make time to perfect a post whilst doing a job and other commitments.

This is even more the case when it's on a topic that hasn't been explored much, such as biases in thinking common to EAs or diversity issues. I accept that in liberal circles being critical on basis of diversity and inclusion or cognitive biases is a good signalling-win, and you might think it would follow suit in EA. But I'm reminded of what Will MacAskill said about 8 months ago on an 80k podcast that he was awake thinking his reputation would be in tatters after posting in the EA forum, that his post would be torn to shreds (didn't happen). For quite some time I was surprised at the diversity elephant in the room on EA, and welcomed when these critiques came forward. But I was in the room and not pointing out the elephant for a long time because I - like Will - had fears about being torn to shreds for putting myself out there, and I don't think this is unusual.

I also think that criticisms of underlying trends in groups are really difficult to get at in a substantive way, and though they often come across as put-downs from someone who wants to feel bigger, it is not always clear whether that's due to authorial intent or reader's perception. I still think there's something that can be taken from them though. I remember a scathing article about yuppies who listen to NPR to feel educated and part of the world for signalling purposes. It was very mean-spirited but definitely gave me food for thought on my media consumption and what I am (not) achieving from it. I think a healthy attitude for a community is willingness to find usefulness in seemingly threatening criticism. As all groups are vulnerable to effects of polarisation and fractiousness, this attitude could be a good protective element.

So in summary, even if someone could have done better on articulating their 'vague critical comments', I think it's good to encourage the start of a conversation on a topic which is not easy to bring up or articulate, but is important. So I would say go on ahead and upvote that criticism whilst giving feedback on ways to improve it. If that person hasn't nailed it, it's started the conversation at least, and maybe someone else will deliver the argument better. And I think there is a role for us as a community to be curious and open to 'vague critical comments' and find the important message, and that will prove more useful than the alternative of shunning it.

I have felt this way as well. I have been a bit unhappy with how many upvotes in my view low quality critiques of mine have gotten (and think I may have fallen prey to a poor incentive structure there). Over the last couple of months I have tried harder to avoid that by having a mental checklist before I post anything but not sure whether I am succeeding. At least I have gotten fewer wildly upvoted comments!

I've upvoted some low quality criticism of EA. Some of this is due to emotional biases or whatever, but a reason I still endorse is that I haven't read strong responses to some obvious criticism.

Example: I currently believe that an important reason EA is slightly uninclusive and moderately undiverse is because EA community-building was targeted at people with a lot of power as a necessary strategic move. Rich people, top university students, etc. It feels like it's worked, but I haven't seen a good writeup of the effects of this.

I think the same low-quality criticisms keep popping up because there's no quick rebuttal. I wish there were a post of "fallacies about problems with EA" that one could quickly link to.

I think that EAs, especially on the EA Forum, are too welcoming to low quality criticism.

can you show one actual example of what exactly you mean?

I thought this post was really bad, basically for the reasons described by Rohin in his comment. I think it's pretty sad that that post has positive karma.

I actually strong upvoted that post, because I wanted to see more engagement with the topic, decision-making under deep uncertainty, since that's a major point in my skepticism of strong longtermism. I just reduced my vote to a regular upvote. It's worth noting that Rohin's comment had more karma than the post itself (even before I reduced my vote).

I pretty much agree with your OP. Regarding that post in particular, I am uncertain about whether it's a good or bad post. It's bad in the sense that its author doesn't seem to have a great grasp of longtermism, and the post basically doesn't move the conversation forward at all. It's good in the sense that it's engaging with an important question, and the author clearly put some effort into it. I don't know how to balance these considerations.

I agree that post is low-quality in some sense (which is why I didn't upvote it), but my impression is that its central flaw is being misinformed, in a way that's fairly easy to identify. I'm more worried about criticism where it's not even clear how much I agree with the criticism or where it's socially costly to argue against the criticism because of the way it has been framed.

It also looks like the post got a fair number of downvotes, and that its karma is way lower than for other posts by the same author or on similar topics. So it actually seems to me the karma system is working well in that case.

(Possibly there is an issue where "has a fair number of downvotes" on the EA FOrum corresponds to "has zero karma" in fora with different voting norms/rules, and so the former here appearing too positive if one is more used to fora with the latter norm. Conversely I used to be confused why posts on the Alignment Forum that seemed great to me had more votes than karma score.)

It also looks like the post got a fair number of downvotes, and that its karma is way lower than for other posts by the same author or on similar topics. So it actually seems to me the karma system is working well in that case.

That's what I thought as well. The top critical comment also has more karma than the top level post, which I have always considered to be functionally equivalent to a top level post being below par.

I agree with this as stated, though I'm not sure how much overlap there is between the things we consider low-quality criticism. (I can think of at least one example where I was mildly annoyed that something got a lot of upvotes, but it seems awkward to point to publicly.)

I'm not so worried about becoming the target of low-quality criticism myself. I'm actually more worried about low-quality criticism crowding out higher-quality criticism. I can definitely think of instances where I wanted to say X but then was like "oh no, if I say X then people will lump this together with some other person saying nearby thing Y in a bad way, so I either need to be extra careful and explain that I'm not saying Y or shouldn't say X after all".

I'm overall not super worried because I think the opposite failure mode, i.e. appearing too unwelcoming of criticism, is worse.

I've proposed before that voting shouldn't be anonymous, and that (strong) downvotes should  require explanation (either your own comment or a link to someone else's). Maybe strong upvotes should, too?

Of course, this is perhaps a bad sign about the EA community as a whole, and fixing forum incentives might hide the issue.

This makes me feel less enthusiastic about engaging with the EA Forum, because it makes me feel like everything I’m saying is being read by a jeering crowd who just want excuses to call me a moron.

How much of this do you think is due to the tone or framing of the criticism rather than just its content (accurate or not)?

I've proposed before that voting shouldn't be anonymous, and that (strong) downvotes should  require explanation (either your own comment or a link to someone else's). Maybe strong upvotes should, too?

It seems this could lead to a lot of comments and very rapid ascending through the meta hierarchy! What if I want to strong downvote your strong downvote explanation?

It seems this could lead to a lot of comments and very rapid ascending through the meta hierarchy! What if I want to strong downvote your strong downvote explanation?

I don't really expect this to happen much, and I'd expect strong downvotes to decay quickly down a thread (which is my impression of what happens now when people do explain voluntarily), unless people are actually just being uncivil. 

I also don't see why this would be a particularly bad thing. I'd rather people hash out their differences properly and come to a mutual understanding than essentially just call each other's comments very stupid without explanation.

I thought the same thing recently.

Doing lots of good vs getting really rich

Here in the EA community, we’re trying to do lots of good. Recently I’ve been thinking about the similarities and differences between a community focused on doing lots of good and a community focused on getting really rich.

I think this is interesting for a few reasons:

  • I found it clarifying to articulate the main differences between how we should behave and how the wealth-seeking community should behave.
  • I think that EAs make mistakes that you can notice by thinking about how the wealth-seeking community would behave, and then thinking about whether there’s a good reason for us behaving differently.

—— Here are some things that I think the wealth-seeking community would do.

  • There are some types of people who should try to get rich by following some obvious career path that’s a good fit for them. For example, if you’re a not-particularly-entrepreneurial person who won math competitions in high school, it seems pretty plausible that you should work as a quant trader. If you think you’d succeed at being a really high-powered lawyer, maybe you should do that.
  • But a lot of people should probably try to become entrepreneurs. In college, they should start small businesses, develop appropriate skills (eg building web apps), start trying to make various plans about how they might develop some expertise that they could turn into a startup, and otherwise practice skills that would help them with this. These people should be thinking about what risks to take, what jobs to maybe take to develop skills that they’ll need later, and so on.

I often think about EA careers somewhat similarly:

  • Some people are natural good fits for particular cookie-cutter roles that give them an opportunity to have a lot of impact. For example, if you are an excellent programmer and ML researcher, I (and many other people) would love to hire you to work on applied alignment research; basically all you have to do to get these roles is to obtain those skills and then apply for a job.
  • But for most people, the way they will have impact is much more bespoke and relies much more on them trying to be strategic and spot good opportunities to do good things that other people wouldn’t have otherwise done.

I feel like many EAs don’t take this distinction as seriously as they should. I fear that EAs see that there exist roles of the first type—you basically just have to learn some stuff, show up, and do what you’re told, and you have a bunch of impact—and then they don’t realize that the strategy they should be following is going to involve being much more strategic and making many more hard decisions about what risks to take. Like, I want to say something like “Imagine you suddenly decided that your goal was to make ten million dollars in the next ten years. You’d be like, damn, that seems hard, I’m going to have to do something really smart in order to do that, I’d better start scheming. I want you to have more of that attitude to EA.”

Important differences:

  • Members of the EA community are much more aligned with each other than wealth-seeking people are. (Maybe we’re supposed to be imagining a community of people who wanted to maximize total wealth of the community for some reason.)
  • Opportunities for high impact are biased to be earlier in your career than opportunities for high income. (For example, running great student groups at top universities is pretty high up there in impact-per-year according to me; there isn’t really a similarly good moneymaking opportunity for which students are unusually well suited.)
  • The space of opportunities to do very large amounts of good seems much narrower than the space of opportunities to make money. So you end up with EAs wanting to work with each other much more than the wealth-maximizing people want to work with each other.
  • It seems harder to make lots of money in a weird, bespoke, non-entrepreneurial role than it is to have lots of impact. There are many EAs who have particular roles which are great fits for them and which allow them to produce a whole bunch of value. I know of relatively fewer cases where someone gets a job which seems weirdly tailored to them and is really high paid.
    • I think this is mostly because my sense is that in the for-profit world, it’s hard to get people to be productive in weird jobs, and you’re mostly only able to hire people for roles that everyone involved understands very well already. And so even if someone would be able to produce a huge amount of value in some particular role, it’s hard for them to get paid commensurately, because the employer will be skeptical that they’ll actually produce all that value, and other potential employers will also be skeptical and so won’t bid their price up.

Thanks, this is an interesting analogy. 

If too few EAs go into more bespoke roles, then one reason could be risk-aversion. Rightly or wrongly, they may view those paths as more insecure and risky (for them personally; though I expect personal and altruistic risk correlate to a fair degree). If so, then one possibility is that EA funders and institutions/orgs should try to make them less risky or otherwise more appealing (there may already be some such projects).

In recent years, EA has put less emphasis on self-sacrifice, arguing that we can't expect people to live on very little. There may be a parallel to risk - that we can't expect people to take on more risk than they're comfortable with, but instead must make the risky paths more appealing.

I like this chain of reasoning. I’m trying to think of concrete examples, and it seems a bit hard to come up with clear ones, but I think this might just be a function of the bespoke-ness.

Something I imagined while reading this was being part of a strangely massive (~1000 person) extended family whose goal was to increase the net wealth of the family. I think it would be natural to join one of the family businesses, it would be natural to make your own startup, and also it would be somewhat natural to provide services for the family that aren't directly about making the money yourself. Helping make connections, find housing, etc.

Reminds me of The House of Saud (although I'm not saying they have this goal, or any shared goal):
"The family in total is estimated to comprise some 15,000 members; however, the majority of power, influence and wealth is possessed by a group of about 2,000 of them. Some estimates of the royal family's wealth measure their net worth at $1.4 trillion"
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_of_Saud
 

I'm commenting on a few Shortforms I think should be top-level posts so that more people see them, they can be tagged, etc. This is one of the clearest cases I've seen; I think the comparison is really interesting, and a lot of people who are promising EA candidates will have "become really rich" as a viable option, such that they'd benefit especially from thinking about this comparisons themselves.

Anyway, would you consider making this a top-level post? I don't think the text would need to be edited all — it could be as-is, plus a link to the Shortform comments.

Thanks for writing this up. At the risk of asking obvious question, I'm interested in why you think entrepreneurship is valuable in EA.

One explanation for why entrepreneurship has high financial returns is information asymmetry/adverse selection: it's hard to tell if someone is a good CEO apart from "does their business do well", so they are forced to have their compensation tied closely to business outcomes (instead of something like "does their manager think they are doing a good job"), which have high variance; as a result of this variance and people being risk-averse, expected returns need to be high in order to compensate these entrepreneurs.

It's not obvious to me that this information asymmetry exists in EA. E.g. I expect "Buck thinks X is a good group leader" correlates better with "X is a good group leader" than "Buck thinks X will be a successful startup" correlates with "X is a successful startup".

It seems like there might be a "market failure" in EA where people can reasonably be known to be doing good work, but are not compensated appropriately for their work, unless they do some weird bespoke thing.

You seem to be wise and thoughtful, but I don't understand the premise of this question or this belief:

One explanation for why entrepreneurship has high financial returns is information asymmetry/adverse selection: it's hard to tell if someone is a good CEO apart from "does their business do well", so they are forced to have their compensation tied closely to business outcomes (instead of something like "does their manager think they are doing a good job"), which have high variance; as a result of this variance and people being risk-averse, expected returns need to be high in order to compensate these entrepreneurs.

It's not obvious to me that this information asymmetry exists in EA. E.g. I expect "Buck thinks X is a good group leader" correlates better with "X is a good group leader" than "Buck thinks X will be a successful startup" correlates with "X is a successful startup".

But the reasoning [that existing orgs are often poor at rewarding/supporting/fostering new (extraordinary) leadership] seems to apply:

For example, GiveWell was a scrappy, somewhat polemical startup, and the work done there ultimately succeeded and created Open Phil and to a large degree, the present EA movement. 

I don't think any of this would have happened if Holden Karnofsky and Elie Hassenfeld had to say, go into Charity Navigator (or a dozen other low-wattage meta-charities that we will never hear of) and try to turn it around from the inside. While being somewhat vague, my models of orgs and information from EA orgs do not suggest that they are any better at this (for mostly benign, natural reasons, e.g. "focus"). 

It seems that the main value of entrepreneurship is the creation of new orgs to have impact, both from the founder and from the many other staff/participants in the org. 

Typically (and maybe ideally) new orgs are in wholly new territory (underserved cause areas, untried interventions) and inherently there are fewer people who can evaluate them.

It seems like there might be a "market failure" in EA where people can reasonably be known to be doing good work, but are not compensated appropriately for their work, unless they do some weird bespoke thing.

It seems that the now canonized posts Really Hard and Denise Melchin's experiences suggest this has exactly happened, extensively even. I think it is very likely that both of these people are not just useful, but are/could be highly impactful in EA and do not "deserve" the experiences their described.

[I think the main counterpoint would be that only the top X% of people are eligible for EA work or something like that and X% is quite small. I would be willing to understand this idea, but it doesn't seem plausible/acceptable to me. Note that currently, there is a concerted effort to foster/sweep in very high potential longtermists and high potential EAs in early career stages, which seems invaluable and correct. In this effort, my guess is that the concurrent theme of focusing on very high quality candidates is related to experiences of the "production function" of work in AI/longtermism. However, I think this focus does not apply in the same way to other cause areas.]

Again, as mentioned at the top, I feel like I've missed the point and I'm just beating a caricature of what you said.

Thanks! "EA organizations are bad" is a reasonable answer.

(In contrast, "for-profit organizations are bad" doesn't seem like reasonable answer for why for-profit entrepreneurship exists, as adverse selection isn't something better organizations can reasonably get around. It seems important to distinguish these, because it tells us how much effort EA organizations should put into supporting entrepreneur-type positions.)

Maybe there's some lesson to be learned. And I do think that EAs should often aspire to be more entrepreneurial.

But maybe the main lesson is for the people trying to get really rich, not the other way round. I imagine both communities have their biases. I imagine that lots of people try entrepreneurial schemes for similar reasons to why lots of people buy lottery tickets. And Id guess that this often has to do with scope neglect, excessive self confidence / sense of exceptionalism, and/or desperation.

I know a lot of people through a shared interest in truth-seeking and epistemics. I also know a lot of people through a shared interest in trying to do good in the world.

I think I would have naively expected that the people who care less about the world would be better at having good epistemics. For example, people who care a lot about particular causes might end up getting really mindkilled by politics, or might end up strongly affiliated with groups that have false beliefs as part of their tribal identity.

But I don’t think that this prediction is true: I think that I see a weak positive correlation between how altruistic people are and how good their epistemics seem.

----

I think the main reason for this is that striving for accurate beliefs is unpleasant and unrewarding. In particular, having accurate beliefs involves doing things like trying actively to step outside the current frame you’re using, and looking for ways you might be wrong, and maintaining constant vigilance against disagreeing with people because they’re annoying and stupid.

Altruists often seem to me to do better than people who instrumentally value epistemics; I think this is because valuing epistemics terminally has some attractive properties compared to valuing it instrumentally. One reason this is better is that it means that you’re less likely to stop being rational when it stops being fun. For example, I find many animal rights activists very annoying, and if I didn’t feel tied to them by virtue of our shared interest in the welfare of animals, I’d be tempted to sneer at them. 

Another reason is that if you’re an altruist, you find yourself interested in various subjects that aren’t the subjects you would have learned about for fun--you have less of an opportunity to only ever think in the way you think in by default. I think that it might be healthy that altruists are forced by the world to learn subjects that are further from their predispositions. 

----

I think it’s indeed true that altruistic people sometimes end up mindkilled. But I think that truth-seeking-enthusiasts seem to get mindkilled at around the same rate. One major mechanism here is that truth-seekers often start to really hate opinions that they regularly hear bad arguments for, and they end up rationalizing their way into dumb contrarian takes.

I think it’s common for altruists to avoid saying unpopular true things because they don’t want to get in trouble; I think that this isn’t actually that bad for epistemics.

----

I think that EAs would have much worse epistemics if EA wasn’t pretty strongly tied to the rationalist community; I’d be pretty worried about weakening those ties. I think my claim here is that being altruistic seems to make you overall a bit better at using rationality techniques, instead of it making you substantially worse.

I tried searching the literature a bit, as I'm sure that there are studies on the relation between rationality and altruistic behavior. The most relevant paper I found (from about 20 minutes of search and reading) is The cognitive basis of social behavior (2015). It seems to agree with your hypothesis. From the abstract:

Applying a dual-process framework to the study of social preferences, we show in two studies that individuals with a more reflective/deliberative cognitive style, as measured by scores on the Cognitive Reflection Test (CRT), are more likely to make choices consistent with “mild” altruism in simple non-strategic decisions. Such choices increase social welfare by increasing the other person’s payoff at very low or no cost for the individual. The choices of less reflective individuals (i.e. those who rely more heavily on intuition), on the other hand, are more likely to be associated with either egalitarian or spiteful motives. We also identify a negative link between reflection and choices characterized by “strong” altruism, but this result holds only in Study 2. Moreover, we provide evidence that the relationship between social preferences and CRT scores is not driven by general intelligence. We discuss how our results can reconcile some previous conflicting findings on the cognitive basis of social behavior.

Also relevant is This Review (2016) by Rand:

Does cooperating require the inhibition of selfish urges? Or does “rational” self-interest constrain cooperative impulses? I investigated the role of intuition and deliberation in cooperation by meta-analyzing 67 studies in which cognitive-processing manipulations were applied to economic cooperation games. My meta-analysis was guided by the social heuristics hypothesis, which proposes that intuition favors behavior that typically maximizes payoffs, whereas deliberation favors behavior that maximizes one’s payoff in the current situation. Therefore, this theory predicts that deliberation will undermine pure cooperation (i.e., cooperation in settings where there are few future consequences for one’s actions, such that cooperating is not in one’s self-interest) but not strategic cooperation (i.e., cooperation in settings where cooperating can maximize one’s payoff). As predicted, the meta-analysis revealed 17.3% more pure cooperation when intuition was promoted over deliberation, but no significant difference in strategic cooperation between more intuitive and more deliberative conditions.

And This Paper (2016) on Belief in Altruism and Rationality claims that 

However, contra our predictions, cognitive reflection was not significantly negatively correlated with belief in altruism (r(285) = .04, p =.52, 95% CI [-.08,.15]).

Where belief in altruism is a measure of how much people believe that other people are acting out of care or compassion to others as opposed to self-interest.

Note: I think that this might be a delicate subject in EA and it might be useful to be more careful about alienating people. I definitely agree that better epistemics is very important to the EA community and to doing good generally and that the ties to the rationalist community probably played (and plays) a very important role, and in fact I think that it is sometimes useful to think of EA as rationality applied to altruism. However, many amazing altruistic people have a totally different view on what would be good epistemics (nevermind the question of "are they right?"), and many people already involved in the EA community seem to have a negative view of (at least some aspects of) the rationality community, both of which call for a more kind and appreciative conversation. 

In this shortform post, the most obvious point where I think that this becomes a problem is the example

For example, I find many animal rights activists very annoying, and if I didn’t feel tied to them by virtue of our shared interest in the welfare of animals, I’d be tempted to sneer at them. 

This is supposed to be an example of a case where people are not behaving rationally since that would stop them from having fun. You could have used a lot of abstract or personal examples where people in their day to day work are not taking time to think something through or seek negative feedback or update their actions based on (noticing when they) update their beliefs. 

When I was 19, I moved to San Francisco to do a coding bootcamp. I got a bunch better at Ruby programming and also learned a bunch of web technologies (SQL, Rails, JavaScript, etc).

It was a great experience for me, for a bunch of reasons.

  • I got a bunch better at programming and web development.
    • It was a great learning environment for me. We spent basically all day pair programming, which makes it really easy to stay motivated and engaged. And we had homework and readings in the evenings and weekends. I was living in the office at the time, with a bunch of the other students, and it was super easy for me to spend most of my waking hours programming and learning about web development. I think that it was very healthy for me to practice working really long hours in a supportive environment.
    • The basic way the course worked is that every day you’d be given a project with step-by-step instructions, and you’d try to implement the instructions with your partner. I think it was really healthy for me to repeatedly practice the skill of reading the description of a project, then reading the step-by-step breakdown, and then figuring out how to code everything.
    • Because we pair programmed every day, tips and tricks quickly percolated through the cohort. We were programming in Ruby, which has lots of neat little language features that it’s hard to pick up all of on your own; these were transmitted very naturally. I also was pushed to learn my text editor better.
    • The specific content that I learned was sometimes kind of fiddly; it was helpful to have more experienced people around to give advice when things went wrong.
    • I think that this was probably a better learning experience than most tech or research internships I could have gotten. If I’d had access to the best tech/research internships, maybe that would have been better. I think that this was probably a much better learning experience than eg most Google internships seem to be.
  • I met rationalists and EAs in the Bay.
  • I spent a bunch of time with real adults who had had real jobs before. The median age of students was like 25. Most of the people had had jobs before and felt dissatisfied with them and wanted to make a career transition. I think that spending this time with them helped me grow up faster.
  • I somehow convinced my university that this coding bootcamp was a semester abroad (thanks to my friend Andrew Donnellan for suggesting this to me; that suggestion plausibly accelerated my career by six months), which meant that I graduated on schedule even though I then spent six months working for App Academy as a TA (which incidentally was also a good experience.)

Some ways in which my experience was unusual:

  • I was a much stronger programmer on the way in to the program than most of my peers.
  • I am deeply extroverted and am fine with pair programming every day.

It seems plausible to me that more undergrad EAs should do something like this, especially if they can get college credit for it (which I imagine might be hard for most students—I think I only got away with it because my university didn’t really know what was going on). The basic argument here is that it might be good for them the same way it was good for me.

More specifically, I think that there are a bunch of EAs who want to do technical AI alignment work and who are reasonably strong but not stellar coders. I think that if they did a coding bootcamp between, say, freshman and sophomore year, they might come back to school and be a bunch stronger. The bootcamp I did was focused on web app programming with Ruby and Rails and JavaScript. I think that these skills are pretty generically useful to software engineers. I often am glad to be better than my coworkers at quickly building web apps, and I learned those skills at App Academy (though being a professional web developer for a while also helped). Eg in our current research, even aside from the web app we use for getting our contractors to label data, we have to deal with a bunch of different computers that are sending data back and forth and storing it in databases or Redis queues or whatever. A reasonable fraction of undergrad EAs would seem like much more attractive candidates to me if they’d done a bootcamp. (They’d probably seem very marginally less attractive to normal employers than if they’d done something more prestigious-seeming with that summer, but most people don’t do very prestigious-seeming things in their first summer anyway. And the skills they had learned would probably be fairly attractive to some employers.)

This is just a speculative idea, rather than a promise, but I’d be interested in considering funding people to do bootcamps over the summer—they often cost maybe $15k. I am most interested in funding people to do bootcamps if they are already successful students at prestigious schools, or have other indicators of talent and conscientious, and have evidence that they’re EA aligned.

Another thing I like about this is that a coding bootcamp seems like a fairly healthy excuse to hang out in the Bay Area for a summer. I like that they involve working hard and being really focused on a concrete skill that relates to the outside world.

I am not sure whether I’d recommend someone do a web programming bootcamp or a data science bootcamp—though data science might seem more relevant, I think the practical programming stuff in the web programming bootcamp might actually be more helpful on the margin. (Especially for people who are already doing ML courses in school.)

I don’t think there are really any bootcamps focused on ML research and engineering. I think it’s plausible that we could make one happen. Eg I know someone competent and experienced who might run a bootcamp like this over a summer if we paid them a reasonable salary.

See my comment here, which applies to this Shortform as well; I think it would be a strong top-level post, and I'd be interested to see how other users felt about tech bootcamps they attended.

This seems like really good advice, thanks for writing this!

Also, I'm compiling a list of CS/ML bootcamps here (anyone should feel free to add items).

[This is an excerpt from a longer post I'm writing]

Suppose someone’s utility function is

U = f(C) + D

Where U is what they’re optimizing, C is their personal consumption, f is their selfish welfare as a function of consumption (log is a classic choice for f), and D is their amount of donations.

Suppose that they have diminishing utility wrt (“with respect to”) consumption (that is, df(C)/dC is strictly monotonically decreasing). Their marginal utility wrt donations is a constant, and their marginal utility wrt consumption is a decreasing function. There has to be some level of consumption where they are indifferent between donating a marginal dollar and consuming it. Below this level of consumption, they’ll prefer consuming dollars to donating them, and so they will always consume them. And above it, they’ll prefer donating dollars to consuming them, and so will always donate them. And this is why the GWWC pledge asks you to input the C such that dF(C)/d(C) is 1, and you pledge to donate everything above it and nothing below it.

This is clearly not what happens. Why? I can think of a few reasons.

  • The above is what you get if the selfish and altruistic parts of you “negotiate” once, before you find out how high your salary is going to be. If instead, you negotiate every year to spend some fair share of your resources on altruistic and selfish resources, you get something like what we see.
  • People aren’t scope sensitive about donations, and so donations also have diminishing marginal returns (because small ones are disproportionately good at making people think you’re good).
  • When you’re already donating a lot, other EAs will be less likely to hold consumption against you (perhaps because they want to incentivize rich and altruistic people to hang out in EA without feeling judged for only donating 90% of their $10M annual expenditure or whatever).
  • When you’re high income, expensive time-money tradeoffs like business class flights start looking better. And it’s often pretty hard to tell which purchases are time-money tradeoffs vs selfish consumption, and if your time is valuable enough, it’s not worth very much time to try to distinguish between these two categories.
  • Early-career people want to donate in order to set themselves up for a habit of donating later (and in order to signal altruism to their peers, which might be rational on both a community and individual level).
  • As you get more successful, your peers will be wealthier, and this will push you towards higher consumption. (You can think of this as just an expense that happens as a result of being more successful.)

I think that it seems potentially pretty suboptimal to have different levels of consumption at different times in your life. Like, suppose you’re going to have a $60k salary one year and a $100k salary the next. It would be better from both an altruistic and selfish perspective to concentrate your donations in the year you’ll be wealthier; it seems kind of unfortunate if people are unable to make these internal trades.


EDIT: Maybe a clearer way of saying my main point here: Suppose you're a person who likes being altruistic and likes consuming things. Suppose you don't know how much money you're going to make next year. You'll be better off in expectation from both a selfish and altruistic perspective if you decide in advance how much you're going to consume, and donate however much you have above that. Doing anything else than this is Pareto worse.

The GWWC pledge is akin to a flat tax, as opposed to a progressive tax - which gives you a higher tax rate when you earn more.

I agree that there are some arguments in favour of "progressive donations".

One consideration is that extremely high "donation rates" - e.g. donating 100% of your income above a certain amount - may affect incentives to earn more adversely, depending on your motivations. But in a progressive donation rate system with a more moderate maximum donation rate that would probably not be as much of a problem.

Below this level of consumption, they’ll prefer consuming dollars to donating them, and so they will always consume them. And above it, they’ll prefer donating dollars to consuming them, and so will always donate them. And this is why the GWWC pledge asks you to input the C such that dF(C)/d(C) is 1, and you pledge to donate everything above it and nothing below it.


Wait the standard GWWC pledge is a 10% of your income, presumably based on cultural norms like tithing which in themselves might reflect an implicit understanding that (if we assume log utility) a constant fraction of consumption is equally costly  to any individual, so made for coordination rather than single-player reasons.

Yeah but this pledge is kind of weird for an altruist to actually follow, instead of donating more above the 10%. (Unless you think that almost everyone believes that most of the reason for them to do the GWWC pledge is to enforce the norm, and this causes them to donate 10%, which is more than they'd otherwise donate.)

I thought you were making an empirical claim with the quoted sentence, not a normative claim. 

Ah, fair.

[epistemic status: I'm like 80% sure I'm right here. Will probably post as a main post if no-one points out big holes in this argument, and people seem to think I phrased my points comprehensibly. Feel free to leave comments on the google doc here if that's easier.]

I think a lot of EAs are pretty confused about Shapley values and what they can do for you. In particular Shapley values are basically irrelevant to problems related to coordination between a bunch of people who all have the same values. I want to talk about why. 

So Shapley values are a solution to the following problem. You have a bunch of people who can work on a project together, and the project is going to end up making some total amount of profit, and you have to decide how to split the profit between the people who worked on the project. This is just a negotiation problem. 

One of the classic examples here is: you have a factory owner and a bunch of people who work in the factory. No money is made by this factory unless there's both a factory there and people who can work in the factory, and some total amount of profit is made by selling all the things that came out of the factory. But how should the profit be split between the owner and the factory workers? The Shapley value is the most natural and mathematically nice way of deciding on how much of the profit everyone gets to keep, based only on knowing how much profit would be produced given different subsets of the people who might work together, and ignoring all other facts about the situation.

Let's talk about why I don't think it's usually relevant. The coordination problem EAs are usually interested in is: Suppose we have a bunch of people, and we get to choose which of them take which roles or provide what funds to what organizations. How should these people make the decision of what to do?

As I said, the input to the Shapley value is the coalition value function, which, for every subset of the people you have, tells you how much total value would be produced in the case where just that subset tried to work together.

But if you already have this coalition value function, you've already solved the coordination problem and there’s no reason to actually calculate the Shapley value! If you know how much total value would be produced if everyone worked together, in realistic situations you must also know an optimal allocation of everyone’s effort. And so everyone can just do what that optimal allocation recommended.

Another way of phrasing this is that step 1 of calculating the Shapley value is to answer the question “what should everyone do” as well as a bunch of other questions of the form “what should everyone do, conditioned on only this subset of EAs existing”. But once you’ve done step 1, there’s no reason to go on to step 2.

A related claim is that the Shapley value is no better than any other solution to the bargaining problem. For example, instead of allocating credit according to the Shapley value, we could allocate credit according to the rule “we give everyone just barely enough credit that it’s worth it for them to participate in the globally optimal plan instead of doing something worse, and then all the leftover credit gets allocated to Buck”, and this would always produce the same real-life decisions as the Shapley value.

--

So I've been talking here about what you could call global Shapley values, where we consider every action of everyone in the whole world. And our measure of profit or value produced is how good the whole world actually ends up being. And you might have thought that you could apply Shapley values in a more local sense. You could imagine saying “let's just think about the value that will be produced by this particular project and try to figure out how to divide the impact among the people who are working on this project”. But any Shapley values that are calculated in that way are either going to make you do the wrong thing sometimes, or rely on solving the same global optimization problem as we were solving before. 

Let's talk first about how the purely local Shapley values sometimes lead to you making the wrong decision. Suppose that some project that requires two people in order to do and will produce $10,000 worth of value if they cooperate on it. By symmetry, the Shapley value for each of them will be $5,000.

Now let’s suppose that one of them has an opportunity cost where they could have made $6,000 doing something else. Clearly, the two people should still do the $10,000 project instead of the $6,000 project. And so if they just made decisions based on the “local Shapley value”, they’d end up not doing the project. And that would end up making things overall worse. The moral of the story here is that the coalition profit function is measured in terms of opportunity cost, which you can’t calculate without reasoning globally. So in the case where one of the people involved had this $6,000 other thing they could have done with their time, the amount of total profit generated from the project is now actually only $4,000. Probably the best way of thinking about this is that you had to pay a $6,000 base salary to the person who could have made $6,000 doing something else. And then you split the $4k profit equally. And so one person ends up getting $8k and the other one ends up getting $2k. 

--

I think a lot of EAs are hoping that you can use Shapley values to get around a lot of these problems related to coordination and figuring out counterfactual impact and all this stuff. And I think you just basically can't at all. 

I think Shapley values are more likely to be relevant to cases where people have different values, because in this case you have more like a normal negotiation problem, but even here, I think people overstate their relevance. Shapley values are just a descriptive claim about what might happen in the world rather than a normative claim about what should happen. In particular, they assume that everyone has equal bargaining power to start with which doesn't seem particularly true.

I think the main way that Shapley values are relevant to coordination between people with different values is that they're kind of like a Schelling fair way of allocating stuff. Maybe you want to feel cooperative with other people and maybe you don't want to spend a lot of time going back and forth about how much everyone has to pay, and Shapley values are maybe a nice, fair solution to this. I haven’t thought this through properly yet.

In conclusion, Shapley values are AFAICT not relevant to figuring out how to coordinate between people who have the same goals.

But if you already have this coalition value function, you've already solved the coordination problem and there’s no reason to actually calculate the Shapley value! If you know how much total value would be produced if everyone worked together, in realistic situations you must also know an optimal allocation of everyone’s effort. And so everyone can just do what that optimal allocation recommended.

This seems correct


A related claim is that the Shapley value is no better than any other solution to the bargaining problem. For example, instead of allocating credit according to the Shapley value, we could allocate credit according to the rule “we give everyone just barely enough credit that it’s worth it for them to participate in the globally optimal plan instead of doing something worse, and then all the leftover credit gets allocated to Buck”, and this would always produce the same real-life decisions as the Shapley value.

This misses some considerations around cost-efficiency/prioritization. If you look at your distorted "Buck values", you come away that Buck is super cost-effective; responsible for a large fraction of the optimal plan using just one salary. If we didn't have a mechanistic understanding of why that was, trying to get more Buck would become an EA cause area.

In contrast, if credit was allocated according to Shapley values, we could look at the groups whose Shapley value is the highest, and try to see if they can be scaled.


The section about "purely local" Shapley values might be pointing to something, but I don't quite know what it is, because the example is just Shapley values but missing a term? I don't know. You also say "by symmetry...", and then break that symmetry by saying that one of the parts would have been able to create $6,000 in value and the other $0. Needs a crisper example.


Re: coordination between people who have different values using SVs, I have some stuff here, but looking back the writting seems too corny.


Lastly, to some extent, Shapley values are a reaction to people calculating their impact as their counterfactual impact. This leads to double/triple counting impact for some organizations/opportunities, but not others, which makes comparison between them more tricky. Shapley values solve that by allocating impact such that it sums to the total impact & other nice properties. Then someone like OpenPhilanthropy or some EA fund can come and see which groups have the highest Shapley value (perhaps highest Shapley value per unit of money/ressources) and then try to replicate them/scale them. People might also make better decisions if they compare Shapley instead of counterfactual values (because Shapley values mostly give a more accurate impression of the impact of a position.)

So I see the benefits of Shapley values as fixing some common mistakes arising from using counterfactual values. This would make impact accounting slightly better, and coordination slightly better to the extent it relies on impact accounting for prioritization (which tbh might not be much.)

I'm not sure to what extent I agree with the claim that people are overhyping/misunderstanding Shapley values. It seems a plausible.

Redwood Research is looking for people to help us find flaws in our injury-detecting model. We'll pay $30/hour for this, for up to 2 hours; after that, if you’ve found interesting stuff, we’ll pay you for more of this work at the same rate. I expect our demand for this to last for maybe a month (though we'll probably need more in future).

If you’re interested, please email adam@rdwrs.com so he can add you to a Slack or Discord channel with other people who are working on this. This might be a fun task for people who like being creative, being tricky, and figuring out how language models understand language.

You can try out the interface here. The task is to find things that the model classifies as non-injurious that are actually injurious according to our definition. Full instructions here

This is in service of this research project

EDIT: update wage from $20/hour to $30/hour.

If you tweet about this I'll tag it with @effective_jobs.