Akash Kulgod

241 karmaJoined May 2022


I'm a recent Cognitive Science graduate from UC Berkeley.

My primary focus is fleshing out an early stage research project funded by Emergent Ventures India aiming to leverage neurotechnology and machine learning to augment canine disease detection and complement machine olfaction development.

My family has been running  a non-profit for almost a decade - Rajalakshmi Children Foundation - in Northern Karnataka that works on improving the health and education floor of underprivileged children.  We recently started a talent search program that I've described in a post. While I'm not actively involved in operations, I'm keyed into the work and would love to spark beneficial collaborations.


Substack - https://akashkulgod.substack.com/

Rajalakshmi Children Foundation- rajalakshmifoundation.in


Thanks for this Robert, gives me more context on some of the EA flavours. I have a sense that even OP hits-based giving isn't fully aligned with the point Shruti is making (after all EA is not EV - Emergent Ventures) but I wouldn't be sure how to articulate the difference. Think it could be a great conversation for your podcast to host :))

[disclaimer that I'm not Shruti so can only offer my interpretation of the argument she makes]

I think this paragraph from her piece does a good job of distilling the challenge of air pollution -

"It takes decades, maybe centuries to develop high state capacity that can tackle commons problems, mitigate pollution and create a world-class clean public transportation system. And this requires increases in economic growth and government revenue as well as well aligned political incentives. The problem is there is no simple solution that can be easily implemented. Unlike malaria, the impact of air pollution cannot be avoided by handing out air purifiers. They they don’t even make a dent in lowering the hazardous AQI in Delhi. The problem can only be solved though better governance mechanisms and innovation. Innovation can take the form of better construction technology that doesn’t contribute as much to particulate matter pollution. Or by developing cleaner fuel for vehicles. Or through better carbon capture and particulate matter capture technology. But none of this is legible or predictable."

I think the last sentence is the crux, solutions to air pollution are neither legible or predictable. I'd claim that legibility and predictability are pretty central to EA based giving, at least GiveWell flavour EA, because they bear on how measures of tractability and impact are calculated.

On predictability, I'd be interested to know why you'd associate EA with high-risk hits based giving. From reading GiveWell cost-effectiveness reports (on say Iron Fortification for instance), I recall there being discounts based on how uncertain members evaluating the grant thought the evidence was. I thought this was fairly standard practice across such grants.

On legibility, I think Shruti is making the point that it would be really difficult to know the precise interventions needed to make sure Delhi's air pollution problem never got as bad as it did and it still isn't totally clear what the best ones are. What we do seem to know is that improving state capacity (strongly linked to economic growth), and driving technological innovation (funding carbon capture startups for instance) are likely the best approaches to tackling air pollution in India. And neither of those two options seem particularly EA-aligned.


How would he respond to Shruti Rajagopalan's core argument against EA solutions being effective in the case of India (specifically Delhi's) air pollution causes - https://srajagopalan.substack.com/p/altruism-and-development-its-complicated

Reading this made me realize how the view that all suffering matters is quite well-represented in Jainsm - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahimsa_in_Jainism. 

The biodefense market opportunities dovetails nicely with the recently announced market shaping accelerator by UChicago - https://marketshaping.uchicago.edu/challenge/

Just a note, that the Chicago folks are not using biosecurity as exclusively x-risk pandemic prevention, but more general infection containment (confirmed with them via email)

FYI I was intrigued by this post/concept but am thrown off that the vision is application based. I don't think this is the optimal way to get this going but I could be wrong

Just found about this today — seems amazing and I hope it's on most EA's radars!

Chiming in with an elaboration/downstream to points you make and are perhaps specific for people who are first-timers to an EAG/new to EA. I came into the conference 'knowing' a few people but not having friends that I could just hang out with, or as another EA attendee put it, be comfortable asking to sit in silence for 20mins. The high stakes busy frantic vibes + not having chill hangs = always being on and getting super tired. Thankfully, my non-EAG partner was with me and we hung out together in the evenings and this really helped me, but I know other people didn't have the same affordance.

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