All of AronM's Comments + Replies

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.

Hmm this doesn't answer any of your questions directly, but might be helpful context to set: My impression is that relatively few people actually set out to become generalists! I think it's more accurate of an explanation to think of some people being willing to do what needs to get done (or doing things they find interesting, or has high exploration value, or a myriad of other reasons). And if those things keep seeming like highly impactful things to do (or continues to be interesting, has high learning/exploration value, etc), they keep doing t... (read more)

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 F... (read more)

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.

2RobertHarling1yConsidering evolutionary timelines is definitely very hard because it's such a chaotic process. I don't have too much knowledge about evolutionary history and am hoping to research this more. I think after most human existential events, the complexity of the life that remains would be much greater than that for most of the history of the Earth. So although it took humans 4.6 billion years to evolve "from scratch", it could take significantly less time for intelligent life to re-evolve after an existential event as a lot of the hard evolutionary work has already been done. I could definitely believe it could take longer than 0.5 billion years for intelligent life to re-evolve, but I'd be very uncertain on that and give some credence that it could take significantly less time. For example, humanity evolved "only" 65 million years after the asteroid that caused the dinosaur extinction. The consideration of how "inevitable" intelligence is in evolution is very interesting. One argument that high intelligence would be likely to re-emerge could be that humanity has shown it to be a very successful strategy. So it would just take one species to evolve high levels of intelligence for there to then become a large number of intelligent beings on Earth again. (Apologies for my slow reply to your comment!)
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 ment
... (read more)
4NunoSempere1yBecause the question asks about a very specifical technical definition of famine, and I think that the crowd forecasters were anchoring on "things will get bad", rather than on "this specific technical definition will be met". I'd appreciate it having more bins. I also looked into the FEWS reports, and none of them forecasted the highest level. Looking into the Our World in Data [https://ourworldindata.org/famines] page on famines, the base rate isn't high.
We're Rethink Priorities. AMA.

It seems like RP's team is working remotely. If not please ignore my questions.

How do you deal with the challenges of researchers working remotely? How do you make sure you are having frequent exchanges and smooth communication?

In case you have some people working at one place (eg office) and some people working remotely:

How do you maintain a coherent team feeling? Do you think one requires such a feeling?


Hi,

You're correct that we have a remote team located in many countries.

1)Challenges

Time zone challenges are definitely present with such a global team, especially for scheduling. There is also a barrier to having natural interactions in the way that would randomly happen in an office.

2)Frequent & Smooth communication

Slack is immensely useful for quick and easy communication. We have daily check-ins on Slack to let each other know what we are working on. We share what we are working on in Google Docs for others to comment and collaborate on. Some team m

... (read more)
ALLFED 2019 Annual Report and Fundraising Appeal

We can't give a public statement yet. We are expecting one on December 13. The intention of the institute is to cover GCR, x-risks and futurology/foresight.

As soon as we have something to publish I will update this comment and then report accordingly.

EA Handbook 3.0: What content should I include?

2 key information helped me to have impact (after I read about EA, the core ideas and values).

Short version:

1. Not only AI-researchers can do impactful work. Also engineers and other fields. See: http://effectivethesis.com/

2. Most of EAs focus is on preventing x-risks/GCR which is correct because we can't afford to have them occur even once. Work on surviving and lessen the far future impact of x-risks is neglected. ALLFED (Alliance to Feed the Earth in Disasters) is working on feeding everyone in a catastrophe and has alot of low hanging fruits to wo... (read more)