All of Alexis Carlier's Comments + Replies

Ben Garfinkel's Shortform

I think that’s mostly right, with a couple of caveats:

  • You only mentioned non-profits, but I think most of this applies to other longtermists organizations with pretty illegible missions. Maybe Anthropic is an example.
  • Some organizations with longtermists missions should not aim to maximise something particularly illegible. In these cases, entrepreneurialism will often be very important, including in highly autonomous roles. For example, some biosecurity organization could be trying to design and produce, at very large scales, “Super PPE”, such as masks, eng
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2Ben Garfinkel3mo
Good points - those all seem right to me!
Law school vs MPP in Australia for those who have strong verbal skills but are weak at maths

Hey Cullen, I'm a bit confused about why you should assume that you would do traditional lawyering for so long. The fact it's the modal path could just mean most law-schoolers want to be lawyers—which seems probably true. So maybe if you want to do policy, you can jump in straight away. 

Fair points. My impression is that it's actually just hard to get into those lines of work without substantial experience. US law school is also just structured to make getting traditional law jobs much easier than policy jobs. I also think it's often prudent to model oneself as the median person in the reference class, even if there's good reason to think that one is not. Finally, empirically, most EAs that I knew in law school did in fact end up working as traditional lawyers.
1Vilfredo's Ghost1y
Idk about Australia but in America politics is patronage-based and you're not getting a political job without connections. You might get lucky and have those connections right out of school, through professors, work on a campaign, etc., or you might not. And if your boss leaves office you're probably out of a job. So a lot depends on how long it takes you to get connections that have a job opening you want. Also, if you're not in DC, your state capital, or some other policy hub (i.e. major cities where federal agencies have regional offices), your only route into policy may be running for office yourself, which requires being established in your community. There is the civil service in theory but even that is political, just in a different way. You won't get a civil service job without experience, and getting experience requires connections. But it's less about having helped your Congressman get elected and more about knowing the DA's cousin so you can get a job as an Assistant DA and then go to work as a fed in 5 years once you have the experience.
Longtermist reasons to work for innovative governments

Hi Jia, I don't know much about policy diffusion, unfortunately. From the brief reading I have done, both seem to occur. Learning from other governments appears to be important; according to some researchers, exchange via membership in international organisations is a central causal factor. "Intentional" governments could make active engagement in these a higher priority.

Thanks for this post - this seems like an important and under-discussed idea! I think that that should indeed help increase the status that people can expect from pursuing this path, and thereby reduce the extent to which worries about status will stop people going into this path. But I'd guess that what Jia had in mind might've been primarily about status within EA/among EAs. In general, EAs might be biased towards roles in explicitly EA organisations partly because that gives them more status among other EAs, because it's easier for other EAs to understand whether and why those roles are important. If you're doing a really important role in some important government/foundation/company, other EAs may just not know whether or why that role or org is important. (See e.g. here [] and here [] for some similar arguments.) And this issue may be more intense the less well known or influential-seeming the government/foundation/company is. So this might make EAs biased towards working at EA orgs rather than the US government, and being towards the latter rather than a smaller and more innovation government. This definitely isn't a reason why we shouldn't highlight the value of this path, though - if anything, it would push in favour of saying more loudly and more often how useful this path would be! (Conditional on this path indeed being a good idea, which I'd currently guess it is.) That way, we can increase how well EAs understand the value of this path, and thus allow people pursuing this path to get a more appropriate level of status (relative to e.g. people working at EA orgs). (I'd probably prefer it if people in general cared less about status. But I think a lot of people do care about status, myself included, and it seems hard to make oneself car
Longtermist reasons to work for innovative governments

Thanks for this Tyler!

The references are great, I wasn't aware of them. Re the first, how exactly do you think low institutional path-dependence and institutional innovativeness interact? They seem like related but distinct concepts to me.

I agree that it would be great to see more research on those questions, though I wonder if a thorough review of the policy diffusion literature might be sufficient. I definitely would like a clearer characterization of governmental innovativeness; I felt kind of hand-wavey in this post.

What posts do you want someone to write?

When to use quantitative vs qualitative research

Without a framework for thinking about this, I'm often unsure what I should be learning from qualitative studies, and I don't always know when it makes sense to conduct them. (This seems related to the debate between cleometricians and counterfactual narrative historians; some discussion here, page 18)

I don't think this can be taught in one post, because you have to be able to actually use the research methods before you can decide which one to use.
What posts do you want someone to write?

I doubt that there is any one answer re the marginal value of such projects, because the value depends on what is being governed. For instance, I think a successful implementation of regulatory markets for AI safety would be very valuable, but regulatory markets for corporate law wouldn't be; yet the same basic framework is being implemented.

For this reason, I'd be more interested in analysis of governance innovation for a particular cause area.