Artūrs Kaņepājs

Chair of the Board @ Effective Altruism Latvia
122 karmaJoined Working (6-15 years)


  • Organizer of Effective Altruism Latvia
  • Completed the In-Depth EA Virtual Program
  • Completed the AGI Safety Fundamentals Virtual Program
  • Attended an EA Global conference
  • Attended an EAGx conference
  • Attended more than three meetings with a local EA group
  • Received career coaching from 80,000 Hours


My impression is that these concerns are in practice pretty much recognized, which is behind the EA focus on extinction or similar permanent changes, i.e. absorbing states. Forecast precision becomes irrelevant after entering an absorbing state, and so becomes "diminution" and "washing out" ("option unawareness" still seems relevant).

Thanks. A general point is that I stripped the model of all nonessential elements (such as non-labor inputs, multiple goods, flexible prices, gradual automation with some firms remaining nonautomated, intl trade) to drive home the basic point that automation does not necessarily lead to an increase in output. That the interests of the firm owners are aligned with the output they get, not that of the total economy. One parallel (non-generous to firm owners) is to a dictator who may wish to increase grip of power at a huge cost to their country. 

Now, if workers can find new jobs, possibly even in other industries, this is not a problem. This is the default argument and, at least over timelines that span generations, empirical observation. But this no longer holds when there are no other jobs, i.e. under fool automation. I am now not sure if the "full economy-wide automation" idea was clear in the post, maybe I should clarify it...

It does not seem that Perfect Competition alone would influence the result: the firms that automate would outcompete those that don't. Also, it does not seem like constant per-unit of output costs (e.g. oil) would change much. Semi-fixed or fixed costs (cars, computers) could have more complex effects, probably dependent on the parametrization. I agree the model can be extended in a number of ways, this could be one.

Thanks, added an example which I hope clarifies things. In the example, taxi firm owners go ahead with the automation if they become slightly better off as a result, even if it nullifies the output for everyone else.

The example refers to a single firm. To bring this even closer to reality, the situation could be modelled with multiple firms that decide to automate simultaneously, but with fewer available rides, e.g. due to longer average time of the rides. I haven't done the modelling explicitly but think the basic result would be the same. I.e. firm owners automate even if this leads to lower aggregate output.

A very interesting and fresh (at least to my mind) take, thanks again! I also think "Pause AI" is a simple ask, hard to misinterpret. In contrast, "Align AI", "Regulate AI", Govern, Develop Responsibly and others don't have such advantages. Resonates with asks for a "ban" when campaigning for animals, as opposed to welfare improvements.

I do fear however that inappropriate execution can alienate supporters. Over the last several years when I told someone that I was advocating a fur farming ban, often the first reply was that they don't support "our" tacticsm, namely - spilling paint on fur coats and letting animals out of their cages, which is not something my organisation ever did. And that's from generally neutral or sympathetic acquaintances. 

The common theme here is a Victim - either the one with a ruined fur coat, or the farmers. For AI the situation is better: the most salient Victims to my mind are a few megarich labs (assuming that the AI Pause applies to the most advanced models/capabilities). It would seem important to stress that products people already use will not be affected (to avoid loss aversion like with meat); and a limited effect on small businesses with open source solutions. 

P.S. I am broadly aware about the potential of nonviolent action & that PETA is competent. But do worry that the backlash can be sizeable and lasting enough to make the expected impact negative. 

Insightful stats! They also show 
1) attitudes in Europe close to those in the US. My hunch is that in the EU there could be comparable or even more support for "Pause AI", because of the absence of top AI labs. 
2) A correlation with factors such as GDP and freedom of speech. Not sure which effect dominates and what to make of it. But censorship in China surely won't help advocacy efforts.

So the stats make me more hopeful for advocacy impact also in EU & UK. But less so China, which is a relevant player (mixed recent messages on that with the chip advances & economic slowdown).

Thank you David, upvoted. Coming from a small country with one big city and a small community, I read this with Global vs National  in mind, as opposed to National vs City EA groups. I still think it's probably useful for new engagement and retention to have some minimum regular online as well as physical activities (e.g. at least quarterly meetups). Though there are some ongoing and semi-fixed costs, like IT infrastructure and database maintenance. Any specific words of caution you have w.r.t. relating what you wrote to Global vs (small) National?

Thank you, very informative! Impressive numbers for the new HEAs. Suggests there could be significant untapped potential in other Baltic countries, which is inspiring. 

Though the "Active members" number has remained roughly the same throughout 2022. Do you have any explanation why is that? Is there some sort of saturation? Would be interesting to know other year-on-year numbers also e.g. for HEAs, if you have them.

P.S. Coming the top mushroom hunter nation I respectfully nod about the mushroom scientists fact.

Yes Russia had convinced others and FSB had convinced Putin that it's military was much better than it actually was; a key reason why the advances stalled and probably also why Putin launched the war. 

But specifically about underestimating Ukraine's chances, I think the "agency"  did impact outcomes a lot. The willingness and ability by society to decide and agree on what's best for the country and act accordingly is roughly what I mean by "agency" in this context. 

Had Zelensky accepted offers to flee and had UA society and military accepted the outside views in the first days of the war, then the RU military could have advanced relatively easily. Even in the poor condition that it was in.  But resistance had a huge backing from Ukrainians, that is why Zelensky's popularity soared from 27% to 80-90% when he declined offers to flee. Seems likely to me that Putin did not expect that, expected a large part of population to welcome his soldiers are liberators from the unpopular government.

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