Aaron Bergman

Wiki Contributions


aaronb50's Shortform

Effective Altruism Georgetown will be interviewing Rob Wiblin for our inaugural podcast episode this Friday! What should we ask him? 

The unthinkable urgency of suffering

You're welcome and thanks for the comment. I too want to preserve what is good, but I can't help but think that EAs tend to focus too much on preserving the good instead of reducing the bad, in large part because we tend to be relatively wealthy, privileged humans who rarely if ever undergo terrible suffering. 

The unthinkable urgency of suffering

Yes, I believe things would change a lot. Hopefully we can find some way to induce this kind of cognitive empathy without making people actually suffer for first hand experience.

The unthinkable urgency of suffering

Yes, this was a bit puzzling for me. Good to see it redeemed a bit. I could see the post being disliked for a few reasons:

  • An image of EA as focused on suffering might be bad for the movement
  • It's preaching to the choir (which it definitely is)

Anyway, thanks for the reassuring comment!

Should Effective Altruists Focus More on Movement Building?

Thanks for all those references. Don't know how I missed the 80,000 page on the topic, but that's a pretty big strike against it being ignored. Regarding your second point, I largely agree but there are surely some MB interventions that don't require full-time generalists. For example, message testing and advertising (I assume) can be mostly outsourced with enough money. 

Should Effective Altruists Focus More on Movement Building?

Thanks so much for the feedback - just edited with the improved formatting. Regarding your thoughts:

  • Point well taken that MB likely receives a higher proportion of hours. However, it still seems plausible that its share of hours is too low; there a lot of people with full time positions dedicated to direct work (though insofar as these people are earning a salary for themselves that they'd have to earn in some position, not all of this time can be thought of as being spent on an EA cause unless we discount their salary from the 'donation' side of things). Also, seems that a reason that the main forms of MB are cheap is because MB isn't well-funded. If AI safety was underfunded, the main forms of AI safety work would be cheap too. 
  • Seems perfectly reasonable that the 80k podcast, etc. should consider entertainment, non-EA engagement, and similar considerations. That said, an unintended consequence might be that people like me get the wrong impression that more experienced folks have concluded that MB isn't super important/neglected/tractable. 
  • Yeah, the 10 vs 4 utils/dollar example might have been misleading and I agree with your point. One thought: perhaps this might be a sort of coordination problem, where it isn't rational for an individual to fund MB in isolation, but everyone would prefer that everyone give more funding to MB if they could coordinate. Haven't given this idea much thought though.
  • Good point that non-MB work has a sort of MB 'externality.' This has to be balanced against the obvious ways that MB helps direct causes.
  • Probably shouldn't have used the Future Perfect example, as it was fallacious to think that funding was its main constraint. Thanks for the correction.  
EA Forum Writing Workshop on Monday

Will the Zoom be recorded for those of us unable to join live? If so, would you be willing to post the link as a comment under this post?

Reducing long-term risks from malevolent actors

Another type of intervention that could plausibly reduce the influence of malevolent actors is to decrease intergenerational transfer of wealth and power. If competent malevolence both (i) increases one's capacity to gain wealth and/or power and (ii) is heritable, then we should expect malevolent families amass increasing wealth and power. This could be one reason that the global shift away from hereditary monarchies is associated with global peace (I sense that both of these things are correct, but am not positive).

For example, North Korea's Kim family is almost certainly malevolent in the way that this post describes, and the country's political structure enables this family to continually keep power.

On a broader scale, larger estate taxes and other economic policies to decrease wealth transfer might have a similar effect.