Ben Dean

16 karmaJoined


Unsolicited procedural suggestions:

  • It might be helpful for a third party to take notes in a real time argument map. There is a technique for this called "flowing" in high school / college debate in the US:
  • Maybe consider hybrid text / oral debates? Each participant could have a written document of their position to start with. These would be more information dense than speeches. Like meetings at Amazon, where everybody apparently spends the first 10 minutes reading a text memo.
  1. If you already have a technical background like bioinformatics or maybe even hardware, I think you could learn the sort of web development stuff they do at big tech companies in a few months of self-study or less, at least at a junior level. A lot of programming and CS skills are very general and transferable. ML researcher is more specialized and a master's / PhD would probably help. But you might be able to skip the postgraduate degree by e.g. getting an ML ops job first, or just with lots of self-study. Note that I only have experience in software / web dev. I'm not sure what the answer to your question about career change at 50 is... I'm sure it's possible, but I have heard it gets harder to find software jobs because of ageism
  2. Hm, I think the question about cause areas changing is really hard, and I don't know the answer.

Finally, I think it's hard to say you're interested in something

Fair enough! It is good that you are interested in a lot of fields

To answer your question about CS (I'm a programmer): Generally, I think your impression that it's easy to change jobs and subfields is right. My coworker at a web app company used to do some kind of bioinformatics thing, for example. Many CS jobs care less about credentials, so self-study is usually an option.

More generally: Do you have a sense of what you want to do, like what you would actually find more interesting? This is important even just in terms of maximizing impact IMO, and of course it also matters for its own sake.

Also, echoing comments on your other post -- this stuff is inherently uncertain, you realistically won't be able to perfectly plan out your career, and that's fine.


How dare EA/utilitarianism prioritize other things


I think a more likely explanation of the authors' position includes cruxes like:

Speaking generally, it does seem like EA critics often  equivocate between these two positions. For example, saying EA is bad for diverting money from soup kitchens to bednets but not being willing to say money should be diverted the other way. IMO focus on philosophical issues like utilitarianism can have the effect of equivocating further by implying more specific disagreements without really defending them.

(I don't have any opinions about this book in particular).

I think an important distinction is that her position focuses on the intrinsic nature of pleasure and pain as feelings, not any relationship they have either to some even more fundamental concept of "objective value" or to our judgements, thoughts, and desires. We know pleasure feels good in the same way we know what the redness of red is like. Defining pleasure in terms of behaviors, beliefs, or desires can't capture this in the same way that the wavelength of red light doesn't convey the experience of seeing red. The power of this argument comes from taking this direct concept of phenomenal goodness ("feels good") and inflating it into a full fledged account of moral goodness (hedonic utilitarianism).

Put another way: If we started out with no language for normativity, we wouldn't be able to describe pleasure and pain without inventing one. (Try it!).

So pleasure has a "what we should value" property in the sense that "should" is already defined in terms of pleasure. But at a more basic level, value just is pleasure in the way water just is H2O.

Since moral knowledge in this view is just a special kind of descriptive knowledge the subjective position seems to flow from the objective one in a relatively straightforward way.

This argument is a bit circular, but I think that's hard to avoid in general re: qualia. Of course discussion of qualia in your OP is relevant.

But Hewitt Rawlette's theory is naturalist ("synthetic naturalism").

It is extremely important that it be understood that I am not suggesting that our normative phenomenology represents some further realm of normativity, that it somehow acquaints us with normative properties that also exist detached from phenomenal experience, perhaps in actions or in non-mental states of affairs...

My proposal is that intrinsic goodness and badness just are felt qualities.

Emphasis in original. As she points out, arguments like Hare's don't really work against this kind of realism ("Hare's dismissal of objective value...") .