I was a bit worried about some possible methodological issues with the GiveWell measures of life satisfaction. I looked into the data, and the issue doesn't completely undermine the result, but I think having looked closely I am now moderately less convinced that the negative spillover effect observed is a real problem.
Some measures of "life evaluation" use a technique like the Cantril Ladder; this is often used as a measure of happiness or subjective well-being (e.g., in the World Happiness Report 2021). In the words of that report, the Cantril ladder que... (read more)
I'm the same. I'm a "member" and even a "community leader" in the "EA movement", and happy to identify as such. But calling yourself an "Effective Altruist" is to call yourself an "altruist", at least in the ears of someone who isn't familiar with the movement. I think it will sound morally pretentious or self-aggrandizing. Generally the label of "altruist" should be given to an individual by others, not claimed, if it should ever be applied to describe a specific individual, which actually seems a bit weird regardless of whoever is bestowing the label.
Yeah, I'm an EA: an Estimated-as-Effective-in-Expectation (in Excess of Endeavors with Equivalent Ends I've Evaluated) Agent with an Audaciously Altruistic Agenda.
The job in question, for those curious:
PostDoc Position on The Science of Well-Being at Yale
Dr. Laurie Santos in the Department of Psychology at Yale University is seeking a Postdoctoral Research Associate to start by June 1, 2021. The ideal candidate will have a PhD in Psychology, Cognitive Science, Behavioral Science, or a related field; research interests in positive psychology; a strong background in statistics and data science; and experience working with adolescents and adults in school settings. This is a one-year appointment with possib... (read more)
Which distribution would you use? Why the particular weights you've chosen and not slightly different ones?
I think you just have to make your distribution uninformative enough that reasonable differences in the weights don't change your overall conclusion. If they do, then I would concede that the solution to your specific question really is clueless. Otherwise, you can probably find a response.
come up with a probability distribution for the fraction of heads over 1,000,000 flips.
Rather than thinking of directly of appropriate distribution for the 1,... (read more)
A good point.
There are things you can do to correct for this sort of thing-for instance, go one level more meta, estimate the probability of unforeseen consequences in general, or within the class of problems that your specific problem fits into.
We couldn't have predicted the fukushima disaster, but perhaps we can predict related things with some degree of certainty - the average cost and death toll of earthquakes worldwide, for instance. In fact, this is a fairly well explored space, since insurers have to understand the risk of earthquakes.
The ongoing pa... (read more)
Thanks! That was helpful, and my initial gut reaction is I entirely agree :-)Have you had an opportunity to see how Hillary Greaves might react to this line of thinking? If I had to hazard a guess I imagine she'd be fairly sympathetic to the view you expressed.
There is an argument from intuition that carry some force by Schoenfield (2012) that we can't use a probability function:
(1) It is permissible to be insensitive to mild evidential sweetening.(2) If we are insensitive to mild evidential sweetening, our attitudes cannot be represented by a probability function.(3) It is permissible to have attitudes that are not representable by a probability function. (1, 2)...You are a confused detective trying to figure out whether Smith or Jones committed the crime. You have an enormous body of evidence that to evaluate.
(1) It is permissible to be insensitive to mild evidential sweetening.(2) If we are insensitive to mild evidential sweetening, our attitudes cannot be represented by a probability function.(3) It is permissible to have attitudes that are not representable by a probability function. (1, 2)
You are a confused detective trying to figure out whether Smith or Jones committed the crime. You have an enormous body of evidence that to evaluate.
> Hope this helps.
It does, thanks--at least, we're clarifying where the disagreements are.
If you think that choosing a set of probability functions was arbitrary, then having a meta-probability distribution over your probability distributions seems even more arbitrary, unless I'm missing something. It doesn't seem to me like the kind of situations where going meta helps: intuitively, if someone is very unsure about what prior to use in the first place, they should also probably be unsure about coming up with a second-order probability distribution
Her choice to use multiple, independent probability functions itself seems arbitrary to me, although I've done more reading since posting the above and have started to understand why there is a predicament.
Instead of multiple independent probability functions, you could start with a set of probability distributions for each of the items you are uncertain about, and then calculate the joint probability distribution by combining all of those distributions. That'll give you a single probability density function on which you can base your decision.
If you start... (read more)
Thanks for your remarks. I'm looking forward to her full article being published, because I agreed that as it is, she's been pretty vague. The full article might clear up some of the gaps here.
From what you and others have said, the most important gap seems to be "why we should not be consequentialists", which is much bigger than just EA! I think there is something compelling; I might reconstruct her argument something like:
I think the main solution is to develop strong and resilient institutions. Areas for improvement could be:
James Lindsay has already created something like this, except he is very much "anti-woke" and his dictionary reflects his perspective. https://newdiscourses.com/translations-from-the-wokish/
Hi Michael, I was searching for demandingness discussion on the forum here and found your comment.Are you are aware of any discussion on this before or since your comment?One recent article is: https://faculty.wharton.upenn.edu/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Effectiveness-and-Demandingness.pdf which claims "EAs must endorse the view that well off people have at least fairly demanding unconditional obligations" to donate money to effective charities.
It's not my prior view at all. I think the most good will be done by people partaking in activities that are not ... (read more)
Awesome, will love to have you! I'll message you direct with a couple of details.
Sounds like a great attempt to fill a very salient gap! We will be discussing your project at the EA Auckland meetup tomorrow night (Tuesday 6.30pm utc+13). Let me know if you have any interest in zooming into chat.
Right now, the field is focusing on doing its empirical work better - the "open science" movement. I think that social scientists do engage in what we call "theoretical" work, but it is generally simply theories about how things empirically work (e.g., if religion is unique in its ability to produce high eudamonia for a large number of people, how can we conceptualize it as a eudamonia-producing system? Or which systems in the brain are responsible for production of pain experience; how is physical pain related to other forms of emotion... (read more)
I second this question. Intuitively, your argument makes sense and you have something here.
But I would have more confidence in the conclusion if a False Discovery Rate correction was applied. This is also called a Benjamini-Hochberg procedure (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_discovery_rate#Controlling_procedures).
In R, the stats package makes it very easy to apply the false discovery rate correction to your statistics - see https://stat.ethz.ch/R-manual/R-devel/library/stats/html/p.adjust.html. You would do something like
p.adjust(p, method = "fdr
Yes you're right.
I will try a slightly different claim that links neuropsychology to moral philosophy then. If you think maximizing well-being is the key aim of morality, and you do this with some balance of positive and negative affect, then I predict your balance of positive and negative affect at least as an empirical matter will change your ideal number of people to populate the Earth and other environments with in the total view.
Maybe it's too obvious: if we're totally insensitive to negative affect, then adding any number of people who experience any... (read more)
A few random thoughts from a researcher with a background in psychology research:
Yes, I tend to think that any one individual's impact on the world around them probably balances out roughly neutral.
So I don't use the argument that your own children might do a lot of good for the world and therefore you should raise children. That seems too speculative. And so the more known direct impact of having children on your own happiness and their happiness balances out the very speculative, almost entirely uninformed prior of the indirect effects having children might lead to.
Where you have a clear idea of a high and direct impact career that w
It's worth checking out this very much ongoing twitter thread with Lamme about related issues.
I arrived here from Jay Shooster's discussion about the EA community's attitude to eating animals.
I wasn't aware of the current scientific consensus about consciousness; this article was a good primer on the state of the field for me in terms of which theories are preferred. I do like your though and I think it's an interesting challenge or way to approach thinking about consciousness in machines. I've typed out/deleted this reply several times as it does make me re-evaluate what I think about panpsychism. I believe I like your app... (read more)
Thanks. This is a challenging response to reply to. (3) risks "proving too much" but it seems like a valid argument on its face.
I've been trying to evaluate career decisions about studying psychology and neuroscience. Do you think that studying motivation from a neuroscientific perspective is an effective way to contribute to AI alignment work? Do you think that-considering the scale of mental illnesses such as anxiety of depression-doing work on better understanding anxiety and depression is also highly effective?