A few months later, I want to note that my impression is that the Red Cross is indeed quite ineffective in this regard (helping Ukraine in the war). Other options are better. I came to this conclusion soon after writing the above comment, but I didn't come back here (till now) to correct myself. I still think that the original comment in this thread was made in good faith, and thus I wouldn't downvote it. I did, however, want to make clear that my thoughts had evolved significantly after writing the above comment.
Convergence also does a lot of work on the strategic level.
This is a legit suggestion, so I'm going to strongly upvote the comment. Not sure why the downvotes are coming in, other than, as you say, perhaps indicating that people think that the Red Cross is ineffective, or that Canadian-specific multipliers aren't highly relevant for this discussion.
Most of these are pithy statements that serve as reminders of much more complicated and nuanced ideas. This is a mix of recitation types, only some of which are explicitly related to motivation. I've summarized, rephrased, and expanded most of these for clarity, and cut entire sections that are too esoteric. Also, something I'd love to try, but haven't, is putting some of these into a spaced repetition practice (I use Anki), since I've heard surprisingly positive things about how well that works.
For me what leaps to mind is all of the in-between stuff, like proofreading, LateX issues, graphics, plots, etc. Of course, I've also tried to hire help on some of these fronts with very mixed results (generally negative). So I guess I'd say that fundamentally, independent work can really suffer from its independence (not having various supports and connections that would make it better). Building relationships and collaborations that alleviate these problems is part of being an effective independent researcher.
Prioritize ruthlessly. Very few ideas can even be examined, let alone pursued.
Productivity + meta: Learn to be an effective Red Team, and use this ability on your own ideas and plans.
Motivation: Find a way to remind yourself about what you care about (and if needed, why you care about it). This could manifest in any way that works for your. A post-it could be useful. A calendar notification. A standing meeting with colleagues where you do a moment of reflection (a technique that I've seen used to great effect at the Human Diagnosis Project). A list of recitations embedded among TODO list items (my personal technique).
Allocate some time to "meta", like studying habit formation and self-management. For starters I might recommend Atomic Habits and some of Cal Newport's work.
Sad that I missed this! Only saw this the day after it closed.
I agree that there's a lot to like about this vision. Some of my own work aims in this direction (see Ruling Ourselves if you're interested). Tractability is a major concern however. Major changes like these may very well be possible, but it's very difficult to demonstrate (huge burden of proof) that particular actions can create a world like this. To develop these ideas further, I suggest taking the part of this vision that excites you most (perhaps part that seems more important and tractable than the rest) and really dig deep for a while. It is really u... (read more)
(I'm not a lawyer. I'm commenting based on some experience doing similar things in the U.S.)It depends on what area you are working on. There are a variety of orgs whose mandates span large parts of EA-space. If you know what area you're working on, I suggest focusing on orgs that are closely related to that area. I think that nonprofits have to be able to show how their activities relate to their declared mandate/mission.
Just off the top of my head, take a look at the things done by BERI, SERI, other "existential risk initiative" projects, FLI, Effective Thesis, GovAI, ALLFED, and various projects of CSER and OpenPhil that support universities (e.g., the Forethought Foundation, 80,000 Hours). This list is very incomplete, but it gestures in the direction of the kinds of things that I see as EA-Academia collaborations or cross-pollinations.
People interested in High Impact Medicine may also be interested in the Human Diagnosis Project (see http://humandx.org and the "Human Dx" app on the main app stores). The Project intends to solve the problem of medical diagnosis for all of humanity. Currently it allows physicians to train their skills and collaborate on answering thorny medical questions. Eventually it will hopefully provide significant diagnostic help (via both collaboration and decision support) for both medical workers everywhere as well as the broader public. The Project would b... (read more)
I looked into this a bit during 2014-2017. At the time I thought it was plausible that mechanisms similar to state failure (including even significant underdevelopment such that effective policing never becomes possible) might be the source of a noteworthy amount of existential risk. I mentioned this in passing in Ruling Ourselves.
Bostrom's "Vulnerable World Hypothesis" also contains some ideas that point in this direction.Since then I've updated pretty strongly in the direction of focusing on advanced nations and great powers. As far as I can tell, ... (read more)
Interesting, thanks for the reply! Let me unpack what I'm thinking of when I say "if such a system existed". Here are some things I'm imagining in such a scenario:
Ideally, there is a market already (not just the potential for one, as that link indicates), or there is a clear plan and a number of EAs that I know the names of who have said that they will participate. I'm willing to be an early adopter, but I'm not in a position where I can vet the fundamentals of the project. For example, I'd like to see people who were involved in the prior attempts to do C... (read more)
Credible qualitative and/or quantitative evidence on the effectiveness of habits, tools, and techniques for knowledge work.
I pursued related research prior to learning about EA, attended EA Global a few times, joined a startup that is EA-aligned (the Human Diagnosis Project), conducted more research on the side, and provided both mentorship and collaboration for other researchers.
I'll try to directly answer some of the questions raised.
I'm generally interested in this project. If such a system existed, I'd probably issue certificates for research artifacts (papers, blog posts, software, datasets, etc.) and would advocate for the usage of impact certificates more broadly.
If I were able to reliably buy arbitrary fractions of certificates on an open market, I'd probably do so somewhat often (every several weeks) in order to send signals of value. My personal expenditures would be very small (a few hundreds of dollars per year pr... (read more)
The Human Diagnosis Project (disclaimer: I currently work there). If successful, it will be a major step toward accurate medical diagnosis for all of humanity.
I'm late to the party on this reply, but I'll try to reply as if I'm doing so in late 2020.Yes, I'm more engaged than I was in 2019, and that's saying something considering that I was pretty engaged in 2019: working at an EA-aligned org (the Human Diagnosis Project), participating in EAG, joining Modeling Cooperation, building other collaborations, writing blog posts, etc.What changed?1. The Human Diagnosis Project continues to make headway toward the possibility of (very) significant impact and my role there increased substantially in responsibility.
2. Du... (read more)
An update here: This COVID-19 forward triage tool now also allows anyone to get a doctor to look at their particular case for an extremely low fee ($12 USD - though free service is currently available if needed).
Thanks for this piece, I thought it was interesting!
A small error I noticed while reading through one of the references is that the line "For example, France’s GDP per capita is around 60% of US GDP per capita." is incorrectly summarizing the cited material. The value needs to be 67% to make this sentence correct. The relevant section in the underlying material is: "As an example, suppose we wish to compare living standards in France and the United States. GDP per person is markedly lower in France: France had a per capita GDP in 2... (read more)
I believe that regional talent pools could also be another factor in favor of the multiple organization scenario. For example, something I think a lot about is how the USA could really use an institution like the Future of Humanity Institute (FHI) in the long run. In addition to all of the points made in the original post, I think that such an institution would improve the overall health of the ecosystem of "FHI-like research" by drawing on a talent pool that is at least somewhat non-overlapping with that drawn upon by FHI.
I think that the talen... (read more)
This line of inquiry (that rebuilding after wars is quite different from other periods of time) is explored in G. John Ikenberry's After Victory: Institutions, Strategic Restraint, and the Rebuilding of Order After Major Wars. A quick and entertaining summary of the book - and how it has held up since its publication - was written by Ikenberry in 2018: Reflections on After Victory.
While I'm sympathetic to this view (since I held it for much of my life), I have also learned that there are very significant risks to developing this capacity naively.
To my knowledge, one of the first people to talk publicly about this was Carl Sagan, who discussed this in his television show Cosmos (1980), and in these publications:
Harris, A., Canavan, G., Sagan, C. and Ostro, S., 1994. The Deflection Dilemma: Use Vs. Misuse of Technologies for Avoiding Interplanetary Collision Hazards.
Epistemic status: I don't have a citation handy for the following arguments, so any reader should consider them merely the embedded beliefs of someone who has spent a significant amount of time studying the solar system and the risks of asteroids.
No, I believe that dark Damocloids will be largely invisible (when they are far away from the sun) even to the new round of telescopes that are being deployed for surveying asteroids. They're very dark and (typically) very far away.
Luckily, I think the consensus is that they're only a small portion... (read more)
Thanks for taking a look at the arguments and taking the time to post a reply here! Since this topic is still pretty new, it benefits a lot from each new person taking a look at the arguments and data.
I agree completely regarding information hazards. We've been thinking about these extensively over the last several months (and consulting with various people who are able to hold us to task about our position on them). In short, we chose every point on that poster with care. In some cases we're talking about things that have been explored extensiv... (read more)
After reviewing the literature pretty extensively over the last several months for a related project (the risks of human-directed asteroids), it seems to me that there is a strong academic consensus that we've found most of the big ones (though definitely not all - and many people are working hard to create ways for us to find the rest). See this graphic for a good summary of our current status circa 2018: https://www.esa.int/spaceinimages/Images/2018/06/Asteroid_danger_explained
Recently, I've been part of a small team that is working on the risks posed by technologies that allow humans to steer asteroids (opening the possibility of deliberately striking the Earth). We presented some of these results in a poster at EA Global SF 2019.
At the moment, we're expanding this work into a paper. My current position is that this is an interesting and noteworthy technological risk that is (probably) strictly less dangerous/powerful than AI, but working on it can be useful. My reasons include: mitigating a risk that is largely orth... (read more)
Factfulness by Hans Rosling is currently my go-to recommendation for the most important single book I could hand to a generic person.
Why do I hold it in such high regard? I think that it does a good job of teaching us both about the world and about ourselves at the same time. It helps the reader achieve better knowledge and better ability to think clearly (and come to accurate beliefs about the world). It's also very hopeful despite its tendency to tackle head-on some of the darker aspects of our world.
The other day was my mother's birthday and, not knowing what to buy her, I suddenly remembered this thread and comment, and decided to get her a copy of Rosling's excellent book, which had conveniently just been translated into Spanish.
True, my mother is not a teenager (I'm not that young), but as you point out the book makes a great gift for anyone.
Under "Decision-making and Forecasting" I would add these two:
Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction
Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World--and Why Things Are Better Than You Think
(Though Factfulness also touches on numerous other categories in the list.)
Following up on this more than a year later, I can vouch for some but not all of these conclusions based on my experience at the high-impact organization I work for, the Human Diagnosis Project (www.humandx.org).
We've found it very difficult to recruit high-quality value-aligned engineers despite the fact that none of the above items really apply to us.