Indirect long-term effects

Bibliography

Beckstead, Nick (2013) On the overwhelming importance of shaping the far future, Doctoral thesis, Rutgers University.

Gaensbauer, Evan (2016) Effective altruism, environmentalism, and climate change: an introduction, Effective Altruism Forum, March 10.

Greaves, Hilary (2016) Cluelessness, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, vol. 116, pp. 311–339.

Karnofsky, Holden (2013) Flow-through effects, The GiveWell Blog, May 15.

Karnofsky, Holden et al. (2013) Flow through effects conversation, Jeff Kaufman’s Blog, August 19.

Shulman, Carl (2013) What proxies to use for flow-through effects?, Reflective Disequilibrium, December 11.

Snowden, James (2017) The economic benefits of malaria eradication, The Giving What We Can blog, January 18.

Whittlestone, Jess (2017) The long-term future, Effective Altruism, November 16.

Wiblin, Robert (2016) Making sense of long-term indirect effects, Effective Altruism, August 7.

Maybe in future this entry should draw a bit on discussion (within or outside EA) of "unintended consequences" of the kinds described here.

1Charlotte7moI am confused as to how this relates to trajectory changes (https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/tag/trajectory-changes). When Beckstead (2013) talks about ripple effects, I understand him to talk about trajectory changes, ie., a certainclass of interventions which might be very effective for longtermists, compared to x-risk mitigation. Independent of this and whether one agrees with longtermism, it might be still relevant to think about info hauards, replacability (the bullet point). I would suggest that the first paragraph should be moved to trajectory changes instead. Sorry, if I have overseen something.
2MichaelA7mo* I think "effects on the long-run future from interventions targeted at the short-term" are distinct from trajectory changes. * These effects may be trajectory changes, or increase or decrease the chance of trajectory changes, but trajectory changes can also occur as a result of things other than interventions targeted at the short-term (e.g., they can occur due to interventions targeted at the long-term). * Less relevantly for this comment, trajectory changes can include existential catastrophes or the prevention of them; "trajectory change" is a broader term that includes both that and "smaller" changes to the long-term future. * But I now realise that "indirect long-term effects" probably shouldn't actually be defined as only effects on the long-term future from interventions targeted at the short term * It seems like the most natural interpretation of the term would also cover long-term effects of interventions that were targeted at the long-term future, as long as the effects weren't what was intended * E.g., I think this article itself, as currently written, wants to imply that information hazards from research intended to reduce x-risk would be an example of indirect long-term effects. And that seems natural to me. But there the intervention was aimed at the long-term, not the short-term. * Wiblin's talk doesn't offer any clear definition, actually. * In some places, he seems to imply that the term covers examples where the original actions were aimed at influencing the long-term. * In other places, he does focus on how things * So I think this article should probably either use a different key term for its name (though I'm not sure what the best name would be) or should broaden the definition (highlighting the current definition as just one type of indirect

The first sentence of this article had been:

Indirect long-term effects (also called flow-through effects (Karnofsky 2013; Karnofsky et al. 2013; Shulman 2013; Wiblin 2016), ripple effects (Beckstead 2013; Whittlestone 2017), knock-on effects (Gaensbauer 2016; Greaves 2016; Snowden 2017) and cascading effects) are effects on the long-run future from interventions targeted at the short-term.

But many of the terms in brackets were not necessarily limited to effects on the long-run future from interventions targeted at the short-term. E.g., I think some or all of those terms could've also been used to describe things like unintended effects in the coming decades of bednet distribution, such as (maybe) more meat consumption, more greenhouse gas emissions, more economic growth, or more innovation.

The sentence also fit a lot of info in brackets mid-way through it.

So I've now split it into two and tweaked it to be more consistent with the idea that those other terms might not be about a totally identical concept.

2Pablo7moThank you, that looks good.

Indirect long-term effects (also calledare effects on the long-run future from interventions targeted at the short-term. Other terms that have been used for this concept or somewhat similar concepts include flow-through effects (Karnofsky 2013; Karnofsky et al. 2013; Shulman 2013; Wiblin 2016), ripple effects (Beckstead 2013; Whittlestone 2017), knock-on effects (Gaensbauer 2016; Greaves 2016; Snowden 2017) and cascading effects) are effects on the long-run future from interventions targeted at the short-term..

When evaluating the outcome of an action, a distinction can be made between the action’s direct and indirect effects. Although the boundary between these two categories is often imprecise, direct effects are those effects that are relatively obvious and intended. Indirect effects, in turn, are effects which are either non-obvious - meaning that(i.e., it is difficult to determine whether or to what extent they follows from the relevant actions - or unintendedactions), unintended, or both.

For instance, reduced malaria incidence is a relatively direct effect of bed-net distribution, whereas more indirect effects may include improved education and increased GDP growth (which in turn may have even further long-run effects)effects).

I am copying below the original contents of the 'Future considerations' article, which we decided to delete for being redundant, in case some of it should be incorporate here, or into some other article.

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The value of any action taken today will depend on what happens in the future. This is of course true in a trivial sense. For instance, if we were to discover that there was a meteor hurtling for Earth, and that humanity had only a few years of life left, then this would decrease the expected value of work on climate change.

However, future events can also determine the value of present actions in more subtle ways. First, some actions taken to address present-day problems may turn out to have long-term indirect effects that dwarf their short-term impact. For example, work that lessens the burden of disease in the developing world could have an economic impact that compounds across generations.

Second, the value of progress on many present-day problems will depend on how the severity of the problems and the attention they receive evolve over time. If synthetic meat will make factory farming disappear, for instance, then this could lessen the value of present efforts to end factory farming.

Third, it is possible that some of the most high-value actions available today, such as actions to combat climate change, are ones that will not have any payoff until significantly in future.

Considerations related to the long-term future and new transformative technologies may be particularly decision-relevant.

When evaluating the outcome of an action, a distinction can be made between the action’s direct and indirect effects. Although the boundary between these two categories is often imprecise, direct effects are those effects that are relatively obvious and intended. Indirect effects, in turn, are effects which are either non-obvious - meaning that it is difficult to determine whether or to what extent they follows from the relevant actions - or unintended or both.

For instance, reduced malaria incidence is a relatively direct effect of bed-net distribution, whereas more indirect effects may include improved education and increased GDP growth (which in turn may have even further long-run effects).

Many kinds of indirect effects have received attention within the effective altruism community, including the following:

Indirect long-term effects (also called flow-through effects (Karnofsky 2013; Karnofsky et al. 2013; Shulman 2013; Wiblin 2016), ripple effects (Beckstead 2013; Whittlestone 2017), knock-on effects (Gaensbauer 2016; Greaves 2016; Snowden 2017) and cascading effects) are effects on the long-run future from interventions targeted at the short-term.

Created by Pablo at 10mo