All of atlas's Comments + Replies

Help me find the crux between EA/XR and Progress Studies

There's a variant of attitude (1) which I think is worth pointing out:

  1. b) Progress studies is good and we should put resources into it, because it is a good way to reduce X-risk on the margin.

Some arguments for (1b):

  • Progress studies helps us understand how tech progress is made, which is useful for predicting X-risk.
  • The more wealthy and stable we are as a civilization, the less likely we are to end up in arms-race type dynamics.
  • Some technologies help us deal with X-risk (e.g. mRNA for pandemic risks, or intelligence augmentation for all risks). This argument only works if PS accelerates the 'good' types of progress more than the 'bad' ones, which seems possible.
[Coronavirus] Is it a good idea to meet people indoors if everyone's rapid antigen test came back negative?
Answer by atlasMar 26, 202111

[Another hobbyist here]

I agree with Tsunayoshi's answer.

Another thing to keep in mind that even the best studies on rapid antigen tests usually compare against PCR tests; that is, if they agree with PCR tests in all cases, the sensitivity is reported as 100%. However, the sensitivity of PCR tests is (as far as I can tell) not 100%, and can vary a lot based on factors such as how the sample is collected and transported.

Here's an article on the issue. Key quote:

Whether a SARS-CoV-2 test detects clinical disease depends on biologic factors, pre-analytic facto

... (read more)

I don't have this impression.

In the sentence you quoted, you literally state that 80k tracks the # of calls and # of career plan changes, but doesn't track the long-run impacts of their advisees.

2Milan_Griffes8moSaying "80k tracks the # of calls and # of career plan changes, but doesn't track the long-run impacts of their advisees" is different from saying "80k focus[es] mainly on # of calls"

I also downvoted for the same reason. I've looked at 80k's reports pretty closely (bc I was basing our local EA group's metrics on them) and it seemed pretty obvious to me that the counterfactual impact their advisees have is in fact the main thing they try to track & that they use for decisionmaking.

I haven't looked into the other orgs as deeply, but your statement about 80k makes me disinclined to believe the rest of the list.

Where do you get the impression that they focus mainly on # of calls?

1Milan_Griffes8mo"Where do you get the impression that they focus mainly on # of calls?" I don't have this impression. From the original post: It would be interesting to see a cohort analysis of 80k advisees by year, looking at what each advisee from each cohort has accomplished out in the world in the following years. Maybe that already exists? I haven't seen it, if so.
The ITN framework, cost-effectiveness, and cause prioritisation

So here's a framing that I found useful, maybe someone else will too.

Given some problem area, let's say is the importance of the problem, defined as the total value we gain from solving the whole thing, and write for the proportion of the problem solved depending on the total resources invested (this is the graph in the post).

Now let's say is the amount of resources that are currently being used to combat the problem. We want to estimate the current marginal value of additional resources, which is given by ... (read more)

1ishi2yI think this is on the right track --though as you say its a bit clumsy. There is a similar formalism called the 'Kaya identity' (see google--its well known) with the same issues. i'm trying to develop a slightly different and possibly more useful formalism or formula (but i may not succeed)
Defending Philanthropy Against Democracy

Thanks for pointing that out! I should have read more carefully. I might still be reading you wrong here (if so, sorry) but it feels like this doesn't directly engage with the point.

The paragraph argues that since foundations are currently sanctioned by governments, Reich and other critics ought to respect that decision because it's democratic. I think this is a strawman of their argument; you're assuming an abstract notion of 'democraticness' that infuses everything the government does, whereas the critics don't care whether... (read more)

1Cullen_OKeefe2yThanks for your reply! Isn't this what commitment to democracy entails if you think that democratic governance is procedurally valuable? If a decision derives from a democratic body, then that decision at least prima facie deserves respect as a democratic decision. If this was their criticism, they wouldn't bring up democracy, since it's irrelevant. This is a substantive criticism: our democracy has done the wrong thing here. This is not the same thing as being anti-democratic, which is what they seem to be arguing. I think there is a steelman of this argument which is something like: But the problem is I don’t think “making someone more powerful” is necessarily a procedurally objectionable outcome—I don’t think it necessarily undermines democracy. It seems perfectly reasonable to me for a democracy to decide that it will allow billionaires to make a lot of money if they give it away. What the critics have failed to do, in my estimation, is argue that this is not the type of decision that democracies can ratify. In the absence of such a showing, it seems reasonable to me to conclude that a well-known and easily stoppable pattern of mega-philanthropy has been democratically acquiesced to.
What actions would obviously decrease x-risk?
  • Most actions that seem to make arms races or war more unlikely, e.g. the world's major powers committing to strengthening international institutions and multilateralism.
  • Any well-connected and well-resourced actor dedicating themselves to research ways to improve decision-making that affects the long-term in large institutions.
  • Everyone in the AI research community taking a few weeks to engage deeply with AI risk arguments.

Defending Philanthropy Against Democracy

I agree with the general point that large foundations are a force for good on net. But I also feel like you haven't engaged with the main point of critics like Rob Reich, which (as I understand it) is that philanthropic foundations are a powerful lever that wealthy people can use to build influence―a lever that can be weakened by regulating foundations.

To defend (not that they're in need of much defending) billionaire philanthropy I think you need to argue that foundations provide enough value that having them is worth empowering the wealthy. (fwiw I think this is very likely true)

1Cullen_OKeefe2yI think I address that here: