While I think it's useful to have concrete records like this, I would caution against drawing conclusions about the cultured meat community specifically unless we draw a comparison with other fields and find that forecast accuracy is better anywhere else. I'd expect that overoptimistic forecasts are just very common when people evaluate their own work in any field.
Another two examples off the top of my head:
GiveIndia says donations from India or the US are tax-deductible.
Milaap says they have tax benefits to donations but I couldn't find a more specific statement so I guess it's just in India?
Anyone know a way to donate with tax deduction from other jurisdictions? If 0.75x - 2x is accurate, it seems like for some donors that could make the difference.
(Siobhan's comment elsewhere here suggests that Canadian donors might want to talk to RCForward about this).
You've previously spoken about the need to reach "existential security" -- in order to believe the future is long and large, we need to believe that existential risk per year will eventually drop very close to zero. What are the best reasons for believing this can happen, and how convincing do they seem to you? Do you think that working on existential risk reduction or longtermist ideas would still be worthwhile for someone who believed existential security was very unlikely?
It seems plausible that reasonable people might disagree on whether student groups on the whole would benefit from being more or less conforming to the EA consensus on things. One person's "value drift" might be another person's "conceptual innovation / development".
On balance I think I find it more likely that an EA group would be co-opted in the way you describe than an EA group would feel limited from doing something effective because they were worried it was too "off-brand", but it seems worth mentioning the latter as a possibility.
I think this post doesn't explicitly recognize a (to me) important upside of doing this, which applies to doing all things that other people aren't doing: potential information value.
This post exists because people tried something different and were thoughtful about the results, and now potentially many other people in similar situations can benefit from the knowledge of how it went. On the other hand, if you try it and it's bad, you can write a post about what difficulties you encountered so that other people can anticipate and avoid them better.
By contrast, naming your group Effective Altruism Erasmus wouldn't have led to any new insights about group naming.
Bluntly I think a prior of 98% is extremely unreasonable. I think that someone who had thoroughly studied the theory, all credible counterarguments against it, had long discussions about it with experts who disagreed, etc. could reasonably come to a belief that strong. An amateur who has undertaken a simplistic study of the basic elements of the situation can't IMO reasonably conclude that all the rest of that thought and debate would have a <2% chance of changing their mind.
Even in an extremely empirically grounded and verifiable theory like physics, f... (read more)
I agree with Halstead that this post seems to ignore the upsides of creating more humans. If you, like me, subscribe to a totalist population ethics, then each additional person who enjoys life, lives richly, loves, expresses themselves creatively, etc. -- all of these things make for a better world. (That said, I think that improving the lives of existing people is currently a better way to achieve that than creating more -- but I wouldn't say that creating more is wrong).
Moreover, I think this post misses the instrumental value of people, too. To underst... (read more)
The only place where births per woman are not close to 2 is sub-saharan Africa. Thus, the only place where family planning could reduce emissions is sub-saharan Africa, which is currently a tiny fraction of emissions.
This is not literally true: family planning can reduce emissions in the developed world if the desired births per woman is even lower than the actual births per woman. But I don't dispute the substance of the argument: it seems relatively difficult to claim that there's a big unmet need for contraceptives elsewhere, and that should determine what estimates we use for emissions.
At least in the US women have been having fewer children than they want for many decades:
As a result, the gap between the number of children that women say they want to have (2.7) and the number of children they will probably actually have (1.8) has risen to the highest level in 40 years.
I buy two of your examples: in the case of masks, it seems clear now that the experts were wrong before, and in "First doses first", you present some new evidence that the priors were right.
On nutrition and lockdowns, you haven't convinced me that the point of view you're defending isn't the one that deference would arrive at anyway: it seems to me like the expert consensus is that lockdowns work and most nutritional fads are ignorable.
On minimum wage and alcohol during pregnancy, you've presented a conflict between evidence and priors, but I don't feel li... (read more)
I don't know if this meets all the details, but it seems like it might get there: Singapore restaurant will be the first ever to serve lab-grown chicken (for $23)
Hmm, I was going to mention mission hedging as the flipside of this, but then noticed the first reference I found was written by you :P
For other interested readers, mission hedging is where you do the opposite of this and invest in the thing you're trying to prevent -- invest in tobacco companies as an anti-smoking campaigner, invest in coal industry as a climate change campaigner, etc. The idea being that if those industries start doing really well for whatever reason, your investment will rise, giving you extra money to fund your countermeasures.
I'm sure... (read more)
I don't buy your counterargument exactly. The market is broadly efficient with respect to public information. If you have private information (e.g. that you plan to mount a lobbying campaign in the near future; or private information about your own effectiveness at lobbying) then you have a material advantage, so I think it's possible to make money this way. (Trading based on private information is sometimes illegal, but sometimes not, depending on what the information is and why you have it, and which jurisdiction you're in. Trading based on a belief that... (read more)
Here are a couple of interpretations of value alignment:
I think your claim is not that "all value-alignment is bad" but rather "when EAs talk about value-alignment, they're talking about something much more specific and constraining than this tame interpretation".
To attempt an answer on behalf of the author. The author says "an increasingly narrow definition of value-alignment" and I think the idea is that seeking "value-alignment" has got narrower and narrower over term and further from the goal of wanting to do good.
In my time in EA value alignment has, among some... (read more)
Though betting money is a useful way to make epistemics concrete, sometimes it introduces considerations that tease apart the bet from the outcome and probabilities you actually wanted to discuss. Here's some circumstances when it can be a lot more difficult to get the outcomes you want from a bet:
As an example, I saw someone claim that the US was facing civil war. Someone else ... (read more)
I don't think this is a big concern. When people say "timing the market" they mean acting before the market does. But donating countercyclically means acting after the market does, which is obviously much easier :)
While I think it's important to understand what Scott means when Scott says eugenics, I think:
a. I'm not certain clarifying that you mean "liberal eugenics" will actually pacify the critics, depending on why they think eugenics is wrong,
b. if there's really two kinds of thing called "eugenics", and one of them has a long history of being practiced by horrible, racist people coercively to further their horrible, racist views, and the other one is just fine, I think Scott is reckless in using the word here. I've never ... (read more)
My response to (b): the word is probably beyond rehabilitation now, but I also think that people ought to be able to have discussions about bioethics without having to clarify their terms every ten seconds. I actually think it is unreasonable of someone to skim someone’s post on something, see a word that looks objectionable, and cast aspersions over their whole worldview as a result.
Reminds me of when I saw a recipe which called for palm sugar. The comments were full of people who were outraged at the inclusion of such an exploitative, unsustainable ingre
I'm very motivated to make accurate decisions about when it will be safe for me to see the people I love again. I'm in Hong Kong and they're in the UK, though I'm sure readers will prefer generalizable stuff. Do you have any recommendations about how I can accurately make this judgement, and who or what I should follow to keep it up to date?
Do you think people who are bad at forecasting or related skills (e.g. calibration) should try to become mediocre at it? (Do you think people who are mediocre should try to become decent but not great? etc.)
As someone with some fuzzy reasons to believe in their own judgement, but little explicit evidence of whether I would be good at forecasting or not, what advice do you have for figuring out if I would be good at it, and how much do you think it's worth focusing on?
No one is going to run a prison for free--there has to be some exchange of money (even in public prisons, you must pay the employees). Whether that exchange is moral or not, depends on whether it is facilitated by a system that has good consequences.
In the predominant popular consciousness, this is not sufficient for the exchange to be moral. Buying a slave and treating them well is not moral, even if they end up with a happier life than they otherwise would have had. Personally, I'm consequentialist, so in some sense I agree with you, but even the... (read more)
As my other comment promised, here's a couple of criticisms of your model on its own terms:
My instinctive emotional reaction to this post is that it worries me, because it feels a bit like "purchasing a person", or purchasing their membership in civil society. I think that a common reaction to this kind of idea would be that it contributes to, or at least continues, the commodification and dehumanization of prison inmates, the reduction of people to their financial worth / bottom line (indeed, parts of your analysis explicitly ignore non-monetary aspects of people's interactions with society and the state; as far as I can tell, al... (read more)
As an offtopic aside, I'm never sure how to vote on comments like this. I'm glad the comment was made and want to encourage people to make comments like this in future. But, having served its purpose, it's not useful for future readers, so I don't want to sort it to the top of the conversation.
The number of possible pairs of people in a room of n people is about n^2/2, not n factorial. 10^2 is many orders of magnitude smaller than 10! :)
(I think you are making the mistake of multiplying together the contacts from each individual, rather than adding them together)
I strongly agree with both this specific sentiment and the general attitude that generates sentiments like this.
However, I think it's worth pointing out that you don't have to agree with the Labour Party's current positions, or think that it's doing a good job, to be a good (honest) member. I think as long as you sincerely wish the party to perform well in elections or have more influence, even if you hope to achieve that by nudging its policy platform or general strategy in a different direction from the current one, then I wouldn't think you were being e
I actually thought the "of course I'd rather you'd stay a member" part was odd, since nowhere in the post up to that point had you said anything to indicate that you supported Labour yourself. The post doesn't say anything about whether Labour itself is good or bad, or whether that should factor into your decision to join it at all, but in this comment it sounds like those are crucial questions for whether this step is right or not.
Yeah I think you have to view this exercise as optimizing for one end of the correctness-originality spectrum. Most of what is submitted is going to be uncomfortable admitting in public because it's just plain wrong, so if this exercise is to have any value at all, it's in sifting through all the nonsense, some of it pretty rotten, in the hope of finding one or two actually interesting things in there.
I think there are more than "one or two" interesting things there.
GiveWell used to solicit external feedback a fair bit years ago, but (as I understand it) stopped doing so because it found that it generally wasn't useful. Their blog post External evaluation of our research goes some way to explaining why. I could imagine a lot of their points apply to CEA too.
I think you're coming at this from a point of view of "more feedback is always better", forgetting that making feedback useful can be laborious: figuring out which parts of a piece of feedback are accurate and actionable can be at least as hard ... (read more)
The convention in a lot of public writing is to mirror the style of writing for profit, optimized for attention. In a co-operative environment, you instead want to optimize to convey your point quickly, to only the people who benefit from hearing it. We should identify ways in which these goals conflict; the most valuable pieces might look different from what we think of when we think of successful writing.
Why would the whole community read it? You'd set out in the initial post, as Will has done, why people might or might not be interested in what you have to say, and only people who passed that bar would spend any real time on it. I don't think the bar should be that high.
This is a question I consider crucial in evaluating the work of organizations, so it's sort of embarrassing I've never really tried to apply it to the community as a whole. Thanks for bringing that to light.
I think one thing uniting all your collapse scenarios is that they're gradual. I wonder how much damage could be done to EA by a relatively sudden catastrophe, or perhaps a short-ish series of catastrophes. A collapse in community trust could be a big deal: say there was a fraud or embezzlement scandal at CEA, OPP, or GiveWell. I'm n... (read more)
I’m not entirely sure what you mean by “high-level institutions having a pattern of low-key misbehavior”—are you talking about things like dishonesty and poor treatment of community members, or about endorsing ideas that violate most ethical frameworks?
The list of scenarios I originally brainstormed for this post did include some sudden catastrophes, but I ultimately decided to focus on these four. Here are the sudden ones anyway, in short form:
Economic recession: see this post. I think a recession could pose a real risk to the movement’s survival,... (read more)
Recent EA thinking on this is probably mostly:
Both are claiming to have done a lot of research, but I don't think either Founders' Pledge or Let's Fund have a GiveWell-like track record a... (read more)
I've read both of the reports Ben listed and think their recommendations have both strengths and weaknesses. I'm currently very uncertain about the best options for donating toward reducing CO2.
Your friend's chosen charity seems to do sensible things to reduce CO2 in a transparent way on a reasonable small budget. Seeing as our community is still very uncertain about what's 'optimal' in this space, I wouldn't push EA recommendations too hard.
I don't think that "going silent" or failing to report donations is indication that people are not meeting the pledge. Nowadays I don't pay GWWC as an organisation much / any attention, but I'm still donating 10% a year (and then some).
To be honest I haven't read closely enough to understand where you do and don't account for "quiet pledge-keepers" in your analysis, but I at least think stuff like this is just plain wrong:
total number of people ceasing reporting donations (and very likely ceasing keeping the pledge)
total number of people ceasing reporting donations (and very likely ceasing keeping the pledge)
In this analysis, I'm looking specifically at people who do report donations that are distinctly and clearly inconsistent with pledge keeping. "Quiet pledge-keepers" who do not report any data would not be included in this analysis because they would not be reporting data to the EA Survey. So the phenomena I report here cannot be mere instances of quiet pledge-keeping.
As for the point "total number of people ceasing reporting donations (and very likely ceasing keeping the pledge)" which refers to GWWC analysis that may refer to quiet pledge-keeping, it is
I couldn't find The Clear Fund when I looked just now. Would be interested in someone confirming that it's still there.
If you want to look up the maths elsewhere, it may be helpful to know that a constant, independent chance of death (or survival) per year is modelled by a negative binomial distribution.
Sounds like the fact there was already substantial doubt over whether the program worked was a key part of the decision to shut it down. That suggests that if the same kind of scandal had affected a current top charity, they would have worked harder to continue the project.
I actually think even justifying yourself only to yourself, being accountable only to yourself, is probably still too low a standard. No-one is an island, so we all have a responsibility to the communities we interact with, and it is to some extent up to those communities, not the individuals in isolation, what that means. If Ben Hoffman wants to have a relationship with EAs (individually or collectively), it's necessary to meet the standards of those individuals or the community as a whole about what's acceptable.
When you say "you don't need to justify your actions to EAs", then I have sympathy with that, because EAs aren't special, we're no particular authority and don't have internal consensus anyway. But you seem to be also arguing "you don't need to justify your actions to yourself / at all". I'm not confident that's what you're saying, but if it is I think you're setting too low a standard. If people aren't required to live in accordance with even their own values, what's the point in having values?
It's odd to call Boris an opponent of the government. He's a sitting MP - he's part of the state. To me this seems to be more about the courts being able to hold Parliament accountable.
I like the idea here a great deal, but I expect there's going to be a lot of variation in what creates what effect in whom. I wonder if there's better ways to come up with aggregate recommendations, so we can find out what seems to be consistent in its EA appeal, vs. what's idiosyncratic
There's an unanswered question here of why Good Ventures makes grants that OpenPhil doesn't recommend, given that GV believes in the OpenPhil approach broadly. But I guess I don't find it that surprising that they do so. People like to do more than one thing?
Have you attempted to contact GV or OpenPhil directly about this?
Any forum post absorbs hours of time and attention from the community, so I support there being a norm of getting questions answered by emailing the group that probably knows the answer, where doing so is possible.
I think this is only true with a very narrow conception of what the "EA things that we are doing" are. I think EA is correct about the importance of cause prioritization, cause neutrality, paying attention to outcomes, and the general virtues of explicit modelling and being strategic about how you try to improve the world.
That's all I believe constitutes "EA things" in your usage. Funding bednets, or policy reform, or AI risk research, are all contingent on a combination of those core EA ideas that we take for granted with a series... (read more)
Downvotes aren't primarily to help the person being downvoted. They help other readers, which after all there are many more of than writers. Creating an expectation that they should all be explained increases the burden on the downvoter significantly, making them less likely to be used and therefore less useful.
Just to remark on the "criminal law" point – I think it's appropriate to apply a different, and laxer, standard here than we do for criminal law, because:
And this is a clear case in which I would have first-person authority on whether I did anything wrong.
I think this is the main point of disagreement here. Generally when you make sexual or romantic advances on someone and those advances make them uncomfortable, you're often not aware of the effect that you're having (and they may not feel safe telling you), so you're not the authority on whether you did something wrong.
Which is not to say that you're guilty because they accused you! It's possible to behave perfectly reasonably and ... (read more)
If I heard that a lot of people were feeling uncomfortable following interactions with me, I think it's likely that I would apologize and back off before understanding why they felt that way, and perhaps without even understanding what behaviour was at issue.
I'd trust someone else's judgement comparably with or more than my own, particularly when there were multiple other someones, because I'm aware of many cases where people were oblivious to the harm their own behaviour was causing (and indeed, I don't always know how other peopl... (read more)
This is a relatively minor issue, perhaps, but the graph you show from the EggTrack report seems to have its "n=" numbers wrong. Looking at the report itself, the graph has the same values as (and immediately follows) another one which only includes the reported-against commitments, so I'm betting they just copied the numbers from that one accidentally.
(I haven't yet tried to contact CIWF about this and probably won't get around to it, but I'll update this post if I do)
What was the largest amount that any individual got matched on GT? Given that this year there were only 15 seconds of matching funds, can one person get through enough forms in time to give a lot?