In the first paragraph you say "Effective Altruists are often not leftist, because leftist politics may be incorrect." Can you expand on what leftist politics are incorrect and how you judge what is correct or not?
Ditto on this - I went through the program and am working on tobacco policy, happy to chat with folks who want to ask about what it's like
There's an EA and Policy FB group https://www.facebook.com/groups/450247668487258/
I second this - really interesting post and I would love to hear much more about this!
Just wanted to write that I've seen your comment, I'm on the road and don't have time to respond well now but will try in the next week or so.
Hi, when you say I don't seem to take that into account, do you mean something on the blog post I shared? That's not my research, just some of what I'm using as the basis for considering an intervention into taxation but happy to comment on what I can or at least link to other studies I've read that have been useful too if you're interested.
It depends on your perspective I suppose, and if you think that regulating/taxing anything is paternalistic and believe that everyone is rational, not addicted, truly knows the health effects, etc. then I agree there would be a percentage of the population where consumer surplus would be taken into account and who enjoy smoking (although this population who says they enjoy smoking today may not say that X years later). But given how many people try to quit many times after starting, how many smokers say they wouldn't mind taxes being increased, how many people wish they never started, etc., for this product in particular I think it'd be relatively low. For other products like alcohol, sugar, etc. for non heavy users I think it's a less clear cut case.
On newer forms of tobacco consumption, again it depends. On an individual level it seems like vaping is net positive for health if you're switching from smoking, but may be a net negative to the world if it leads many people who never would have started smoking to get addicted. But overall I'm a fan of innovation in the sector and much less pessimistic about things like vaping than it seems like the global health community is (I'm generalizing but from what I've seen the prevailing wisdom is that it isn't worth the risk of 1) new smokers 2) unknown long term effects 3) playing ball with notoriously bad actors like the big tobacco companies who are offering products in this space as they try to diversify their product portfolio). I personally think probably the thing that would do the most good is a product that mimics the effects (social, chemical, etc.) of smoking but has none of the health risks and that could be sold as a replacement. Unfortunately, I haven't seen any such product out there, nor have I seen any research on something similar.
Just wanted to mention that I also think that improving political institutions and wisdom (and general capacity building) is quite interesting. I think policy in general is a semi-neglected EA area that could be highly valuable. Everything from advocating for known high impact policies to be put in place where they aren't (ex. tobacco taxation) to examining new policies that could be implemented (ex. novel ways of stopping illicit financial outflows from developing countries). I think GiveWell has also been looking into this field so I'm sure they have some thoughts here. I've been researching tobacco tax policy mainly in LMICs (and tobacco policies more broadly as a byproduct of that research) and am happy to chat about that if it's helpful, but I'm a relative novice in the field.
I'm not sure if it would fall into your wheelhouse but some of the folks at Charity Entrepreneurship (including myself) are looking into effective taxation models starting with tobacco and I'm sure we could find a place for some econ help. Happy to chat at firstname.lastname@example.org - more info about tobacco taxation and why it's effective here http://www.charityentrepreneurship.com/blog/tobacco-taxation
The HN thread was definitely interesting, since the pivot of Open AI to a limited for profit company occurred, I am certainly concerned about whether they're going to be allocating as many resources for safety as they were and will be much more focused on commercial application development (which I think is a fair, and probably correct, thing to do when you have shareholders who have invested in you for a potential return rather than as a donor to a specific mission)
A note - you can easily find Greg Brockman (the Cofounder and CTO of Open AI) in the thread by his username gdb. One of the more interesting things that he mentions is that they may keep more tech private or for commercial use, and gives a very soft maybe on being able to possibly eventually publish it.
I'm biased as I was part of the Estonian delegation that attended the latest EAGxNordics event but I have to say that all of this was very useful for me. It was the second EA conference I've attended but I've attended many other conferences and I think that all of these points also hold true for them too.
I especially second the idea of creating goals before the event, finding people who you want to speak with from the attendee list, and contacting them and setting up a time to chat even before the event starts in order to make sure you are getting value even if you don't attend a single talk.