Topic Contributions


Sustained effort, potential, and obligation

I appreciate the kind words. I am glad the analogy works for you!

Overall I would guess this took 12 hours of active work and probably some thinking sprinkled over 2-3 weeks. This is how it went down:
I woke up after 1.5 hours of sleep with clarity about this 'obligation' part above. Eg. why do I feel pressure to improve. Quickly grab my laptop to take some notes with the plan to go to bed again. Start writing.  Feel more clarity than ever before - I can put my thoughts into words. Get into flow state. 80%-90% of the post above were done after 3.5 hours of this. Writing roughly 600-700 words per hour (which would put me into top writer category if I could do this frequently). Spend 2 more hours on formatting, doing the graphs, fixing typos, adding headlines, moving some sentences around, adding emphasis, etc. Reach out to ~5 friends and people in the EA community to provide feedback. Go to bed after 6 hours of still sitting in bed with laptop.
Then I received very helpful comments over the next ~5 days. Grammar improvements, clarifying questions, word change suggestions, and recommended readings. Concept of 'Slack' got added through the discussions in the comments and the emphasis on how noisy your energy/capacity can be. This was another ~3 hours. Then I didn't do anything on the post for 2-3 weeks. Occasionally small comments would trickle in. I would read over the draft a couple times. Having it at the back of my mind. 

To be honest - At this point my motivation to finish it was low. In a way I already got the exchange with people in the community and my friends. And writing it out helped me understand certain thought patterns. But I got the feedback that it was useful to some people who have read the draft. And I liked the idea of sharing something + experimenting with blogging + improving my writing (through exposing it).

The last wrap-up took probably another 3 hours till I hit 'publish' here on the EA forum. This included linking to more resources. Including some more feedback. Redoing the graphics because there are some small formatting issues when copying over from google-docs to the forum. And it included the decision to not improve the section 'Problems that arise when you are aiming at the facilitative stress zone:' . Even though I think it contains most of the value, it is a barely structured list. But I didn't want to spend 80% of the time optimizing the last 10-20% of work. So I just went with it.

FTX EA Fellowships

Thank you very much for this offer. Would this also apply for people who will be accepted. Are travelling in January. And after living for one week do the calculations and see that the expense for ~6 month would be too much?

I am personally surprised by the debate around cost of living but I am also aware that I come from a naive perspective because I can live/survive of less than 1,000 $ per month (including rent and food) in Berlin, Germany.

Disclosure: I applied. 

Making a collection of freely available mental health resources
I'm Linch Zhang, an amateur COVID-19 forecaster and generalist EA. AMA

I would like to hear your thoughts on Generalist vs Specialist debate.

    • Advice for someone early as a generalist?
    • Did you stumble upon these different fields of interest by your own or did you surround yourself with smart people to get good understandings of various fields?
    • Thoughts on impact comparissons? (Eg can a generalist maybe bring knowledge/wisdom from intuitively non-adjacent disciplines into a project and help advance it?)
    • What skills are you lacking \ or which ones would you like to aquire to become a "Jack of all trades"?
    • Are you even aiming to become even more of a generalist? Yes or no - please elaborate.
ALLFED 2019 Annual Report and Fundraising Appeal

Yes, we are looking into cellular agriculture. Right now we have 2 papers in peer-review, which are covering single cell protein from bacteria that either feed on hydrogen or methane. One of these projects was announced in the report above:

The project will investigate using hydrogen-eating single-cell protein as a food source in catastrophes. The hydrogen would be obtained by electricity splitting water into oxygen and hydrogen, or by gasifying (heating without oxygen) solid fuels such as wood, coal, or peat.

And yes we are in contact both with Solar Foods and the Good Food Institute. Even though these forms of food production currently cost more than conventional agriculture they are interesting for ALLFED's mission for 2 reasons:

1) They don't rely on the sun. So these are feasible ways to produce food in a nuclear or volcanic winter.

2) These technologies might help with specific nutrient requirements. Given a scenario in which we would be quickly scaling up the most promising 1-3 solution(s) to meet our caloric demand we might be at risk of malnutrition because not all micronutrients are being covered.

Food Crisis - Cascading Events from COVID-19 & Locusts

Just leaving a quick comment to clarify that I did not downvote your comment.

X-risks to all life v. to humans
Another crucial consideration may be the timeline of intelligent life re-evolving. In scenario B), intelligent life may re-evolve but it may take 100 million years, as opposed to 1 million years in scenario

This is the biggest argument for me against the consideration. I can easily think that it would take way longer than that for intelligent life to reemerge. It took something like 4.6 billion years for us to evolve and in roughly 0.5 billion years the sun will make life on earth uninhabitable. I guess if other primates survive that is a "good" starting point for evolution but intelligent life doesn't seem to be a necessary step for me for survival.

Food Crisis - Cascading Events from COVID-19 & Locusts

Thank you very much for that GJOpen link. On March 30 you estimated a 66% of famine in those regions to be a slight overestimate. Would you mind sharing why you thought this way back then and if you updated in the mean time (and if yes, why)?

Currently the forecast average is at 70%. I put in a 65%.

Reasons for a lower chance:

  • The amount of global kcal locked up due to trade restrictions has gone done in the last week from 4.3 to 2.5% AND the USA joined the pledge to keep food supply chains running (after some hestiation apprently since they weren't mentioned on the 21. April news article but the final version included them).
    • This, together with the fact that relatively high stocks exist, gives me hope that food can be shipped around the world before a famine is declared.
  • From the 5 countries included in the forecast I expect Tanzania and Uganda not to reach famine-levels. (Side note: South Sudan, not part of the forecast, seems to be at higher risk.)
  • Even though we might reach crisis levels of malnutrition, we might not see a famine being declared due to the IPC definition / thresholds.

Reasons for a higher chance:

  • I haven't seen locusts responses that seemed convincing enough to be able to keep the swarms in check. A third wave in Ethiopia and Kenya is a likely possibility.
  • Global supply chains and responses are stressed to their limits due to COVID-19. Even if enough food globally exists, it might not reach those in need on time in sufficient quantities.
  • Due to economic breakdowns (local currencies losing value, export revenue collapsing) the majority (?) of food imports into these nations would need to come from humanitarian aid. It is unclear to me how much foreign aid we will see globally with a lot of debate and spending being national to combat the COVID-19 outbreak within own boarders.

I do except most of these regions to reach crisis levels though (which is a different level from the forecast). This means immense suffering, loss of life and severe poverty for the survivors (for potentially years to come) which is why action should be undertaken.

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