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The expected value of funding anti-aging research has probably dropped significantly

I think the billionaire space race may be a good example of the public disliking weird stuff that billionaires are doing, but public opinion not significantly impacting their ability to do the weird stuff.

But what if they could be doing way more? If being a civilian space tourist was seen as the coolest person anyone could do, there would probably be even more of a market incentive for Branson.

I am also not too worried about bad PR keeping good scientists away since I think high salaries should help to overcome their fears / misunderstandings surrounding anti-ageing research.

I think that's true for now, but

  1. If longevity research was high-status, maybe salaries would be lower and you could have twice as many scientists
  2. Many you end up with fewer smart young people going into longevity research and the field starts to dry up
The expected value of funding anti-aging research has probably dropped significantly

I think it's still under-appreciated how much people hate billionaire-funded research into areas perceived to be weird, creepy or potentially inequality-exacerbating.

Consider some of the comments on that same article from the SlateStarCodex subreddit:

I'll give a longevity startup the time of day when they show me a year old drosophila. And "slaps roof of longevity startup this bad boy can fit so much fraud in it"

Or a semi-popular reply to the tweet you shared:

Getting for longevity research from ageing billionaires is the bio equivalent of taking candy from a baby. Wish this big money was going towards solving global problems, not just making rich old people live longer.

Or some headlines from a Google search for silicon valley longevity:

  • The Guardian: Is Silicon Valley's quest for immortality a fate worse than death?
  • The Conversation: Silicon Valley's quest for immortality – and its worrying sacrifices

I don't know if public blowback will result in fewer scientists and engineers wanting to work on these companies, or will lead to reduced enthusiasm from investors. But it's possible, and would be very tragic. EA has historically not been very good at PR, but making the case that longevity research benefits everyone and is not just a toy for the rich could still be very important.

Who do intellectual prizewinners follow on Twitter?

Would be interested to see a list of accounts by:

  • Follower count among prize-winners
  • Divided by overall follower count

It's not that interesting to be that Barack Obama is #1, since he's just the #1 Twitter account overall. But it would be super interesting to see who prize-winners follow that other people do not.

Thanks for this analysis and dataset, super interested in this kind of work and would love to see more!

Lifetime Impact of a GiveWell Researcher?

I sort of interpret that post as typical EA scrupulosity. They write:

Overall, the more suspect the estimates, the less you should update on the results and the more weight you should put on your prior.

But I didn't really have a strong prior to begin with. Maybe the hire's salary, but that's really just the lower bound.

Lifetime Impact of a GiveWell Researcher?

Thanks! Glad you did this analysis. You might also be interested in the numbers here, where surveyed EA leaders said they would be willing to sacrifice $250k in donations to keep their most recent junior hire ($1m for senior).

That's not the question you're asking exactly, but it's another interesting angle.

Share your journey to EA?

Hey Simone, this is more high level than you're asking for, but you might like the How People Get Involved in EA report: https://rethinkpriorities.org/publications/eas2020-how-people-get-involved-in-ea

How to Train Better EAs?

Yeah again, for highly creative intellectual labor on multi-decade timescale, I'm not really convinced that working super hard or having no personal life or whatever is actually helpful. But I might be fooling myself since this view is very self-serving.

What is the role of public discussion for hits-based Open Philanthropy causes?

a post, a few pages long, with a perspective about New Science that point out things that are useful and interesting would certainly would be well received

Okay that's helpful to hear.

A lot of this question is inspired by the recent Charter Cities debate. For context:

  • Charter Cities Institute released a short paper a while back arguing that it could be as good as top GiveWell charities
  • Rethink Priorities more recently shared a longer report, concluding that it was likely not as good as GiveWell charities
  • Mark Lutter (who runs CCI) replied, arguing that more optimistic model parameters are reasonable

This all makes sense within the GiveWell-style of philanthropy where we're making cost-effectiveness estimates on short-run goods like increased consumption or decreased mortality.

But in the HoldenOpenPhil model, where we're debating things like:

  • Is this is an important cause area
  • Does the organization seem well run
  • Are there trusted expert advisors who endorse the organization

I'm unclear on what kind of EA Forum post is:

  • Appropriate (meaning it's not just shilling for a charity, feels like substantial analysis, not just gossip over which organizations and causes are exciting or not among certain groups)
  • Useful (meaning it carries some weight w/r/t to grant decisions by funders, specifically HoldenOpenPhil in this case, not necessarily that it's decisive or sufficient)
What EA projects could grow to become megaprojects, eventually spending $100m per year?

Is there a good writeup anywhere on cost estimates for this kind of refuge? Or what it would require?

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