Aidan O'Gara


The emerging school of patient longtermism

I really like this kind of post from 80,000 Hours: a quick update on their general worldview. Patient philanthropy isn’t something I know much about, but this article makes me take it seriously and I’ll probably read what they recommend.

Another benefit of shorter updates might be sounding less conclusive and more thinking-out-loud. Comprehensive, thesis-driven articles might give readers the false impression that 80K is extremely confident in a particular belief, even when the article tries to accurately state the level of confidence. It’s hard to predict how messages will spread organically over time, but frequently releasing smaller updates might highlight that 80K’s thinking is uncertain and always changing. (Of course, the opposite could be true.)

EA Forum feature suggestion thread

I meant the body text of posts could be darker - I wouldn't change the buttons or other light-grey text.

Interesting that the study found serif fonts more readable. I'm not aware of conclusive evidence in either direction, I'd just heard folk wisdom that sans-serif is more readable on a computer screen.

My general opinion is that the comments section on this forum is extremely easy to read and clean to look at, some of my favorite formatting anywhere, but personally I find the body text of posts much more difficult to read than most sites. I wonder what most people think, I wouldn't expect everyone to have the same experience.

Civilization Re-Emerging After a Catastrophic Collapse

Ben Garfinkel made an interesting comment here:

“...the historical record suggests that permanent collapse is unlikely. (Complex civilizations were independently developed multiple times; major collapses, like the Bronze Age Collapse or fall of the Roman Empire, were reversed after a couple thousand years; it didn't take that long to go from the Neolithic Revolution to the Industrial Revolution; etc.).”
AMA or discuss my 80K podcast episode: Ben Garfinkel, FHI researcher

What resources would you recommend on ethical non-naturalism? Seems like a plausible idea I don’t know much about.

What skill-building activities have helped your personal and professional development?

Volunteering to write research summaries for Faunalytics, an animal advocacy organization, improved my writing skills.

Reading Cal Newport's blog and books has improved my productivity skills. I'd recommend Deep Work to anyone, and college students might like his blogging on student success.

Reading FiveThirtyEight and playing with my own toy models of elections and sports taught me a lot about statistics, data, and prediction.

Best resources for introducing longtermism and AI risk?

Cool! Thanks for asking for clarification, I didn't quite realize how much ambiguity I left in the question.

I'm mainly interested in persuading people I know personally who are already curious about EA ideas. Most of my successful intros in these situations consist of (a) an open-ended free flowing conversation, followed by (b) sending links to important reading material. Conversations are probably too personal and highly varied to advice that's universally applicable, so I'm most interested in the links and reading materials you send to people.

So, my question, better specified: What links do you send to introduce AI and longtermism?

EA Forum feature suggestion thread

Two consecutive hyphens should autocorrect to an em dash!

That way, a parenthetical clause in the middle of your sentence - like this one - isn't offset by "space hyphen space" on either side--or, even worse, by "hyphen hyphen". Instead, autocorrect two hyphens to a nice, clean em dash—like that.

I think this is a common feature for text editors - Microsoft Word definitely uses it.

richard_ngo's Shortform

“...whether there's some divergence between what's most valuable for them and what's most valuable for infrequent browsers.”

I’d strongly guess that this is the case. Maybe Community posts should be removed from Forum favorites?

AMA or discuss my 80K podcast episode: Ben Garfinkel, FHI researcher

Good idea, thanks! I've posted a question here.

More broadly, should AMA threads be reserved for direct questions to the respondent and the respondent's answers? Or should they encourage broader discussion of those questions and ideas by everyone?

I'd lean towards AMAs as a starting point for broader discussion, rather than direct Q&A. Good examples include the AMAs by Buck Shlegeris and Luke Muehlhauser. But it does seem that most AMAs are more narrow, focusing on direct question and answer.

[For example, this question isn't really directed towards Ben, but I'm asking anyways because the context and motivations are clearer here than they would be elsewhere, making productive discussion more likely. But I'm happy to stop distracting if there's consensus against this.]

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