Bluefalcon

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Judgement as a key need in EA

Good judgment is obviously broader than the narrow "forecasting" Tetlock is studying. But it seems to me that, other than high-level values questions (e.g. average vs aggregate utilitarianism) it all comes down to prediction skill in some sense, as a necessary consequence of consequentialism. If you can think of something that's part of jood judgment and not either part of core values or of prediction in a broad sense I'd like to hear what specifically it is, because I can't think of anything.


"Ultimately actions are good or based solely based on their consequences" necessarily implies your chosen actions will be better if you can predict outcomes better (all else being equal of course, especially your degree of adherence to the plan).


All this description of skills that are supposedly separate from forecasting , e.g."picking the right questions", "deciding which kinds of forecasting errors are more acceptable than others", etc. sounds like a failure to rigorously think through what it means to be good at forecasting. Picking the right questions is just Fermi-izing applied at a higher level than the Superforecasters are doing it. "Picking the right kinds of errors" really seems to be about planning for robustness in the face of catastrophe, arguing against this sort of straw man expected value calculation that I don't think an actually good forecaster would be naive enough to make.


Judgment is more about forecasting the consequences of your own actions/the actions you recommend to others, vs. the counterfactual where you/they don't take the action, than computing a single probability for an event you're not influencing. And you will never be able to calibrate it as well as you can calibrate Tetlockian forecasting because the thing you're really interested in is the marginal change between the choice you made and the best other one you could have made, rather than a yes/no outcome. But it's still forecasting.

What is the best way to earn money outside your career?

You may have higher returns from investing in career advancement. I don't have solid answers on any of this, but my best guess is my highest-value career investments have an annualized return of 60% (all numbers after inflation), while being an angel investor has a return of 35% (and unless you're already rich/high income or work in finance, you're limited to investing $2200/year in America), owning an AirBnB and paying someone else to do the work has a return of 22% (but this is wayyyyy higher than regular landlording, so I may not have properly priced in risks such as the pandemic), and investing broadly in the highest-risk, highest-reward sections of the stock market has an 11.4% return.


Figuring out how to invest money into your career may be tricky. The obvious example is education. But anything that provides skill-building or networking opportunities is potentially worth spending money on. And networking in particular I tend to think about more broadly than most people. Real networking comes mostly from working on shared projects, not going to conferences or whatever. So create those opportunities, and be willing to spend money to do it.


Edit: Returns on the stock market overall average 6.96%. I will consider any of the investments I have listed as circumstances warrant. Main thing to keep in mind is you get higher return, on average, by taking higher risk. But not stupid risks.

A curriculum for Effective Altruists

I remember commenting to an economist friend a few months ago that economists have generally much better ethics than philosophers, precisely because of their consistent application of utilitarianism followed by moving on to the interesting questions, as opposed to philosophers wanting to debate ethics to death. So I concur with the decision to include economics over philosophy.

Where the QALY's at in political science?

Well, I think you could if you could 1) do really high quality research, and 2) find ideas that don't require policymakers' buy-in to be implemented, or convince policymakers to be less skeptical of political science than they are. So I guess my original comment is partially incorrect; I think perhaps you could do something useful as a scholar if you talk to policymakers in an issue area you're interested in before starting your research, and ask them what gaps in their knowledge they can't find good information to fill.

Where the QALY's at in political science?

If you were this person, I think you would go into politics rather than political science. Policymakers mostly don't listen to political scientists, and the replication crisis is reason enough that this is mostly the right choice on their part. Even if your work is good, finding it among the trash would require more work than studying the issue in house. So this creates a feedback loop--competent poli sci graduates go into practical politics, lowering the quality of academic political scientists, giving politicians less reason to listen to them, further pushing competent graduates into practical politics...

See, e.g. https://www.questia.com/magazine/1G1-176979334/the-absent-professor-why-politicians-don-t-listen

Will protests lead to thousands of coronavirus deaths?

Look at other superspreader events, like large church choirs. Those are indoors, so probably worse than protests, but you can adjust for that.

Dying for a day at the beach

Never heard of Layard, but the Guardian hates him despite him being Labour Party, so I take that as a strong signal that he's credible.

Dying for a day at the beach

Do you have data or expert analyses to back up that loss of utility? I agree that people might fill out surveys saying their happiness has halved, but I think that's because they lack perspective on how much worse life could be. This is something that calls for some hard analysis of the factors that contribute to quality of life, from experts (economists, psychologists, public health people, I'd accept anyone in the general vicinity).

Dying for a day at the beach

A 1/2 drop in quality of life sounds wildly implausible for what this caller is describing, or for any of the hardships of social distancing unless basically everything that could go wrong does. I could plausibly see it looking like that big a drop if you've never experienced anything really bad, and maybe it's halfway between a normal day and the worst day in a pretty easy life. But it's not halfway to zero.

If you lose your job, don't have any savings, and it forces you to be long-term separated from your spouse/your significant other, on top of losing your favorite recreational activities, mayyyybe that's a loss of 1/2 of your quality of life for that timeframe. But being healthy and the people you care about not dying is a pretty big part of total quality of life in itself. Unless you specifically enjoy the crowds, you can find ways to relax outdoors without being exposed to crowds. And maybe it's only 1/2 as fun as the crowded beach, but that's not a 1/2 drop in your total quality of life, only a 1/2 drop in enjoyment of that one activity.

Cortés, Pizarro, and Afonso as Precedents for Takeover

If you really want to know I suggest this book. But it's pretty dry reading so let me sum up what I got out of it. Logistics of war have changed a lot and it changes the economics of conquest. Before guns, everything you needed could be supplied from your enemy's countryside. Conquest was economically useful to the conqueror because you could take your surplus population of single men and feed them and maybe otherwise enrich them at the enemy's expense instead of your own. But the more stuff you need that can't be taken directly from nature or from a farm, the more of a supply chain you have to establish. Gunpowder was the first issue. But then guns evolved, and you went from re-using bullets that were just little metal balls that could be picked up from the battlefield and re-used to bullets that had to precision-manufactured to fit a rifled barrel. And on and on. Now you need oil, and modern standards of living mean you have to give the troops better food and housing and medical care, and none of your vehicles or weapons or fancy communication equipment can be replaced by pillaging the countryside. Whatever you get from the damaged country you conquer isn't going to be as valuable as what you spent to get it.


So if the economics of conquest were to change back in some fundamental way, or the non-economic goals of the actors changed enough to make them able and willing to pay the economic price, then there probably would be more conquest.

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