All of BrianTan's Comments + Replies

Database of orgs relevant to longtermist/x-risk work

You can share this link instead, which is better than the Softr view, and this means people don't need to get comment access to be able to view the Airtable grid. It also prevents people from being able to see each other's emails if they check the base collaborators. To find that link, I just pressed "Share" at the top right of the base, and scrolled down to the bottom of that modal/pop-up to find the link.

4MichaelA10dAh, nice, thanks for that! It seems that that indeed allows for changing both "Filtered by" and "Sorted by", including from each of my pre-set views, without that changing things for other people, so that's perfect! I still want to provide the comment access version as well, so people can more easily make suggestions on specific entries. But I'll edit my post to swap the softr link for the link you suggested and to make the comment access link less prominent.
Database of orgs relevant to longtermist/x-risk work

Cool that you made this, and that you even made a Softr page! Although I think the Softr page is worse than just sharing a public grid view of the Airtable.

I realize it would be cool to have a similar database for all EA-related organisations. Jamie Gittins made one on Notion and has a Forum post here listing EA orgs, but they're both not easily filterable. It could have similar attributes to the Airtable you have. I saw that Taymon also has a Google Sheet, but it would be nice to have it on an Airtable and have it have more attributes, to make it more eas... (read more)

4MichaelA10dCan you share a public grid view of the Airtable in a way that allows people to filter and/or sort however they want but then doesn't make that the filtering/sorting that everyone else sees? I wasn't aware of how to do that, which is the sole reason I added the Softr option. I think the set of Airtable views I also link people to is probably indeed better if people are happy with the views (i.e., combos of filters and orders) that I've already set up. Agreed that an all-of-EA version of this would also be useful, and that Airtable would be better for that than Notion, a Forum post, or a Google Sheet. I also expect it's something that literally anyone reading this could set up in less than a day, by: * duplicating my database * manually adding things from Gittins' and Taymon's database * maybe removing anything that was in mine that might be out of scope for them (e.g., if they want to limit the scope to just orgs that are in or "aware of & friendly to" EA, since a database of all orgs that are merely quite relevant to any EA cause area may be too large a scope) * looking up how to do Airtable stuff whenever stuck (I found the basics fairly easy, more so than expected)
EA Forum feature suggestion thread

Hey Will, no worries and thanks for the response! Yeah I think I updated my views a bit from some of these discussions I had with others on the Forum about whether it should have profile photos. I'm now probably just 50% in favor of the EA Forum having profile photos, whereas I was probably 80% in favor before.

I think a good compromise is maybe there are ways to make the Forum seem friendlier and more welcoming to newcomers without having to use profile photos. That's the problem I wanted to solve anyway. I see how profile photos can degrade the experience for more engaged Forum users, so maybe there are other solutions, but I won't try to talk about them here.

2willbradshaw18dDefinitely interested in seeing this explored more!
Opinion: Digital marketing is under-utilized in EA

Thanks for sharing your experience! We haven't tried Instagram ads. Would like to hear if Facebook ads ends up working for you!

What are your favourite ways to buy time?

Thanks for the recommendations! I don't think I'll listen to these, though Wendover Productions looks cool.  I might try listening to some EA Global videos or GPI lectures via audio on YouTube premium.

What are your favourite ways to buy time?

50% of why I got YouTube Premium just now is because of your recommendation. Thanks!

3eca24dWell I hope it works out for ya! Thanks haha In case you are looking for content and have interests similar to me I like the following for audio: * Institute for Advanced Study lectures (random fun science) * Yannic Kilcher (ML paper summaries) * Wendover Productions/ Kurzgesagt (random probably not as useful but interesting science and econ funfacts) * LiveOverflow (Security) And i find that searching for random academics names is more likely to turn up lectures/ convos than podcasts
Make a $100 donation into $200 (or more)

Did they charge your Paypal or not at all?

3AviNorowitz1moAs far as I can tell, not at all.

Was this supposed to be posted? It seems the same as the other post

Make a $100 donation into $200 (or more)

Thanks so much for posting this! For those who want to know, as of now, the 2:1 match is still ongoing, and there are still $213,811 left in matching funds (see live count here). I assume this will run out within the next 1-3 days.

Miranda_Zhang's Shortform

On #1: There has been  a large-scale EA-themed debate tournament targeting debaters (mainly undergraduates I believe) organized by Dan Lahav from EA Israel, talked about here!

3Miranda_Zhang1moVery useful, thank you! Apparently they did a trial with high schoolers, so I've reached out : )
1SjirH1moThank you Brian!
Donating money, buying happiness: new meta-analyses comparing the cost-effectiveness of cash transfers and psychotherapy in terms of subjective well-being

This is amazing work! I have a bunch of thoughts, which I'll number so it's easier for you or others to respond to. Sorry that this comment is a bit long; you can respond to the numbers one-by-one instead of all at once if you'd like:

  1. I would love to hear what GiveWell's response is to your findings here. As you show, I think there's a strong case to be made for why StrongMinds should be a GiveWell top charity. I'm definitely not an expert in this though, and maybe there are good reasons GiveWell or others have for why StrongMinds shouldn't be a GiveWell to
... (read more)
5JoelMcGuire1moBrian, I am glad to see your interest in our work! 1.) We have discussed our work with GiveWell. But we will let them respond :). 2.) We're also excited to wade deeper into deworming. The analysis has opened up a lot of interesting questions. 3.) I’m excited about your search for new charities! Very cool. I would be interested to discuss this further and learn more about this project. 4.) You’re right that in both the case of CTs and psychotherapy we estimate that the effects eventually become zero. We show the trajectory of StrongMinds effects over time in Figure 5. I think you’re asking if we could interpret this as an eventual tendency towards depression relapse. If so, I think you’re correct since most individuals in the studies we summarize are depressed, and relapse seems very common in longitudinal studies. However, it’s worth noting that this is an average. Some people may never relapse after treatment and some may simply receive no effect. 5.) I'll message you privately about this for the time being. 6.) In general we hope to get more people to make decisions using SWB. 7.) I am going to pass the buck on making a comment on this :P. This decision will depend heavily on your view of the badness of death for the person dying and if the world is over or underpopulated. We discuss this a bit more in our moral weights piece [] . In my (admittedly limited) understanding, the goodness of improving the wellbeing of presently existing people is less sensitive to the philosophical view you take.
List of EA funding opportunities

Thanks for making this. Did you consider making this into an Airtable? It could also be a Google spreadsheet, but I think an Airtable would work better. 

An Airtable would be slightly easier to manage and update over time than a post, and it would also be easier to filter and scan through (i.e. if you had columns for cause areas, usual grant amounts, and application deadlines)

8MichaelA1moYeah, I think complementing this with an Airtable would indeed be handy, and I'd be in favour of someone making such an Airtable based on this post (and then maybe giving me edit access as well, so I can help maintain it) :)
Forum Update: New Features (October 2021)

Thanks! I think these updates are good. Some thoughts/suggestions:

  1. Maybe instead of saying "unique clients" you can say "unique devices" in the note about the data collection issue.
  2. I'm unsure about how valuable or apt "Views by unique devices > 5 minutes" because some Forum posts take less than 5 minutes to read. So that data point will be irrelevant for those points.
  3. I think some people will not know what "Bounce rate" is, so maybe you still need an icon that people can click or hover on to explain what that means and/or how it's calculated. Maybe you can also say in that tooltip that "The lower the bounce rate, the better".
I’m Offering Free Coaching for Software Developers in the EA community

This is nice of you to offer.  Could I or others refer EAs who are still taking their undergraduate degree, but are interested in and/or working towards a career in software development? 

I know ~3 Filipinos interested in EA who are 3rd year or 4th year university students, and might want to have a call (or more than one, i.e. a monthly mentoring call) with someone who could give them some advice or mentorship about software engineering.

5Yonatan Cale1moHey, TL;DR: Feel free to contact me The main thing that would help me estimate how much I can help would be 2-3 examples of actual questions you'd ask if we'd talk today
Forum Update: New Features (October 2021)

On #3, yeah I'd be interested to hear other's views too.

On #4 and 4.5, ah I see. Personally I think # of reads (i.e. # of views where the user spent at least 50% of the time it takes to read the article) or average time spent would be more interesting to me than the bounce rate, although I'm unsure.

6JP Addison1moI made some updates that should address a lot of this. Let me know what you think!
Listen to more EA content with The Nonlinear Library

Got it re: Google assistant, EA Forum podcast, and Speechify!

Re: Natural reader:

  1. do you use the Premium or the Plus plan? The Premium plan is only $5/month if paid annually, while the Plus one is $9/month if paid annually.
  2. Have you tried using the mobile app? I downloaded it just now. The reviews aren't great but maybe the latest update fixed some issues. I don't think it has the ability to let you queue next articles though, so I might try out @Voice again.
Listen to more EA content with The Nonlinear Library

This is cool! I have some specific thoughts and questions on the TTS software that you list for personal use, and how other TTS / podcast options might compete with this Library:

  1. What I personally do to listen to an article I'm on is I say "Read it" to the Google Assistant on my phone, and it reads aloud any article I view on my phone in a really nice AI voice. They have a few nice voices to choose from, with different accents. I think it's even a bit more human-like than the current one used by The Nonlinear Library, which is already pretty human-like. So
... (read more)
7Kat Woods1moThanks for the thoughtful reply! Re: google assistant, the way I use TTS is I queue up a lot of posts and listen to it while I’m getting ready in the morning or working out, etc, so having to select a new one each time would stop me from using it. Additionally I often am listening to long articles, so it losing my spot if I stopped listening wouldn’t work. Pocket has that glitch for me about 30% of the time, which is a huge reason I don’t use it. Re: Speechify, I haven’t tried it! If somebody does and finds it good, please say so in the comments! Re: Natural Reader, I do indeed pay. I found the 20 minutes a day limit prohibitive. I’d recommend it to other people if the cost isn’t too high for them and they’ll use it regularly. ($10/month). Re: EA Forum podcast, I think there still could be use for that because lots of people will continue to have a strong preference for human voices. It would especially be useful for posts that are heavy in math or graphs which they would be able to describe out loud, like how the Astral Codex Ten podcast does it.
Forum Update: New Features (October 2021)

Glad to hear! Numbering my responses:

  1. To clarify, the data collection issue was in getting the daily # of views by unique devices in the first half of 2021 right? That's unfortunate, but anyway hopefully it doesn't happen again. 
  2. I don't see anything at all about that note on posts older than June 2021. So yes it would be good to mke that noticeable.
  3. Yeah I think this dashboard would be more useful than the current implementation. It would take authors 3 clicks to go see the analytics of their post currently, and it's much more valuable and easier to see
... (read more)
2JP Addison1mo1. Yep. 2. Oh, interesting. I think this is a bug related to me viewing the data as an admin. Thanks for the catch. 3. 👀, still interested in other's view. 4. Yeah, you can think of what we're measuring as "bounce rate". I was thinking of giving it a relatively "uninterpreted" treatment (ie: leaving the data raw, rather than calculating bounce rate), but I think more interpretation combined with tooltips seems better. 4.5. Re "average time", this turned out to be harder than I expected, so I decided to wait to see if anyone asked for it, but now I have my excuse to spend time figuring it out, mwahaha.
Forum Update: New Features (October 2021)

Cool to see post metrics released! Some thoughts:

  1. I saw that for my posts that I viewed the analytics of, even if they were published before June 2021, the graphed "Daily Data" only goes as far back as June 2021. But I thought based on the PR FAQ for this feature that the data is "based on engagement going back to March 30, 2020." So is the "Daily Data" graph only able to show data as far back as June 2021, or is it only able to show the last 4 months? Maybe for posts that were published more than 4 months ago, you can state something like "This graph shows
... (read more)
2JP Addison1moThanks for your feedback, this is super valuable! Re 1&2, we should definitely add a note about how early the data goes (it does go all the way back to March 2020). Unfortunately the data I felt was most valuable to plot (views by unique devices), we suffered from a data collection issue in the first half of 2021. Fortunately we do have a note that appears on posts older than June 2021, unfortunately it apparently wasn't noticeable. Re 3, I had not thought of a dashboard like that, but I like the idea a lot, thanks for making it. (I'd be curious if other authors reading this also like it, let us know!)
Resources around shame and striving and EA

Glad to hear! I like your contributions to the forum too.

Resources around shame and striving and EA

There's a book and audiobook for Overcoming Perfectionism, and I think some EAs may score high in perfectionism, especially when it comes to their work and/or in trying to be highly impactful. 

I've listened to the first hour of the audiobook, which is newly released, and it's been somewhat helpful. I'm not sure if I'll finish the book though, and I may not. I wouldn't quite recommend it fully yet, given I haven't finished it, but I like what I've listened to so far. 

I think I am somewhat of a perfectionist, so just knowing that this is a problem ... (read more)

4HowieL2moI haven't read the whole thing but I like this book and know another person or two who also liked it.
Resources around shame and striving and EA

Nate Soares's Replacing Guilt series could be helpful if you haven't listened to it yet. 

I found it a bit helpful for lessening my guilt in feeling that I could spend more hours working on EA stuff, or that I could be achieving more impact. But I've only listened to the first ~8 articles so far. I was listening to the audiobook version, which is pretty good quality.

5Nathan Young2moYour comments are useful to me, I've noticed over time. So thanks for that, Brian.
EA Survey 2020: Geography

Got it, thanks for the info!

EA Survey 2020: Geography

Ah I see. Is the ~15 months gap between surveys to avoid survey fatigue? Or are there other reasons?

5David_Moss2mo~15 months isn't necessary a target for the future. I think we could actually increase the gap to ~1.5 years going forward. But yes, the reasons for that would be to get the best balance between getting more repeated measurements (which increases the power, loosely speaking, of our estimates), being able to capture meaningful trends (looking at cross-year data, most things don't seem to change dramatically in the course of only 12 months), and reducing survey fatigue. That said, whatever the average frequency of the survey going forward, I expect there to be some variation as we shuffle things around to fit other organisations' timelines and to not clash with other surveys (like the EA Groups Survey) and so on.
We’re discontinuing the standout charity designation

My understanding is that most of these standout charities are not likely to become future top charities within the next few years. 

GiveWell instead gives incubation grants to organizations/projects that would support the development of future top charities, and the organizations they grant to are usually not their standout charities (except for their 2020 grant to DMI and a 2017 grant to Zusha!). Some organizations they have given incubation grants to are Fortify Health, Pure Earth, and Centre for Pesticide Suicide Prevention.

I'm not sure if it's nece... (read more)

EA Survey 2020: Geography

Thanks for this post!  I'm curious around when the EA Survey 2021 will be distributed?

8David_Moss2moThanks for the question. We're planning to release the next EA Survey sometime in the middle of 2022. Historically, the average length of time between EA Surveys has been ~15 months, rather than every 12 months, and last year's survey was run right at the end of the year, so there won't be a survey within 2021 (the last time this happened was 2016).
Noticing the skulls, longtermism edition

Sorry to jump in the conversation, but Toby Ord has another book? Maybe you're talking about Will MacAskill's upcoming book on longtermism?

2Davidmanheim2moRight - fixed. Whoops!
The most important century and the representativeness of EA

Thanks so much for taking these notes! I've put some suggestions. We normally phrase EA Philippines as EA PH and not EAP, but that's a minor thing. And it's a community building grant I'm on, not a community grant.

Could I ask the Hispanic EA community to even link to your notes in the YouTube video's description? That might help people find it.

Another thing I would have liked for the video was there to be timestamps to certain questions/topics, so people wondering what my answers were can view those. But anyway I think these notes work too.

3Luke Eure2moNo problem, thanks for doing the Q&A and for the suggestions! Happy if you want to share it with the Hispanic EA community
The most important century and the representativeness of EA

I could say much more about this topic, but I'll keep my comment short for lack of time:

I agree that it would be better if EA was more representative and had more geographic and ethnic diversity. I think that's true though regardless of if this century is the most important century. I still strongly upvoted this post though because it highlights how EA's diversity is important from a longtermist perspective too.

If you or anyone else is interested about the topic of growing EA in developing countries, you can watch this Q&A I did with the Hispanic EA co... (read more)

3Luke Eure2moThank you so much for sharing! Agreed that it's important regardless of if the century is the most important. If you're interested, see my response to Linch above on this. I watched the Q&A and wrote up notes to it as I was watching - thought I would make them sharable in case anyone else involved in community organising wants to see the main points but doesn't have time to watch! Notes here [] .
Honoring Petrov Day on the EA Forum: 2021

Yeah I guess you can read into it in terms of negligence, lack of caution or impulsiveness.

Honoring Petrov Day on the EA Forum: 2021

Thanks for this interesting exercise. Three things I want to say:

#1: For people unaware, pressing the red button means you cannot un-press it, though nothing bad will happen unless you enter a launch code. 

After I read this page carefully, I thought it was going to be fine and harmless/reversible for me to press the red button, since I had not received a launch code.  I have no intention of bringing the LessWrong site down, and don't plan on entering any launch code, whether random or someone else's, into the page.  I also thought pressing t... (read more)

-3Yoav_Ravid2moYou shouldn't read too much into the amount of people pressing the button in terms of malice, but you can read into it in terms of negligence, lack of caution or impulsiveness. It's how many people saw a big red button and pressed it without first checking what it does. It's how many people took the chance that pressing it may do something bad even without the launch codes. I was also curious what happens if you press the button and don't enter the code, but didn't check, because I view pressing the button as something you just don't do - I wouldn't do it even if a site admin specifically told me "you can press the button without any consequence". Though, having pressed the button, it was a good idea to publish how it looks, and you satisfied my curiosity.
6Ruby2moLessWrong mod speaking here. Just wanted to confirm that everything written here is correct. To be clear, only the identities of the account that enters a valid code will be shared.
Why AI alignment could be hard with modern deep learning

It could just be me, but it was unclear to me whether this was written by Ajeya or by Holden before I clicked on the linked post. My assumption was that all Cold Takes blog posts are by Holden. 

The linked post clarified that this is a guest post by Ajeya on the Cold Takes blog. Maybe you could indicate that at the top of this article, to help avoid a few others from wondering who wrote it!

4Aaron Gertler2moI specifically removed the notice when I cross-posted this for Ajeya, since starting a post by Ajeya with the words "guest post by Ajeya Cotra" seemed odd. I've now added a notice back in.
What is your favorite EA meme?

I'm not sure if this counts as a meme, but the satirical Centre for Applied Eschatology website is amazingly clever and funny.

I saw this when it was shared (to much laughter and reactions) here on the Dank EA Memes FB group.

How would you gauge random undergrads' "EA potential"?

Highly engaged EAs, such as those who would rate themselves a level 4 or a 5 on the self-reported engagement question in the EA survey.

How would you gauge random undergrads' "EA potential"?

I like your question of "On a scale from 1-10, how much does maximizing positive impact guide your career thinking/planning?"

However, 10 = "It's the sole deciding factor" is phrased in a way that's worryingly demanding. I think many EAs wouldn't see maximizing positive impact as the sole deciding factor in their career thinking/planning. Where the job is located and how much it pays could easily be other deciding factors.

Given this, I think some people who might become hardcore EAs would be wary of rating that question highly - they might just give a 5/10.... (read more)

1Jack R3moWhat meaning of the phrase "hardcore EA" are you meaning to use here?
Announcing the Open Philanthropy Undergraduate Scholarship

You mean people drop out of university to do EA-aligned work or skill-building? I don't see how that is necessary or something we'd want to particularly encourage, though I'd like to hear OpenPhil's thoughts.

1david_reinstein3moYes, or to find alternatives to university, directly working on projects, internships, self-learning and writing. Perhaps small clusters of very motivated and talented people working with experienced professionals. If a ‘credential’ is necessary along the I thought we might align ourselves with a flexible community college.
Announcing the Open Philanthropy Undergraduate Scholarship

I see, then technically one student's tuition at Brown could fund 56 people's tuitions at ETH Zurich? And I assume living costs are expensive in both U.S. universities and Zurich, so the living costs should cancel out?

1david_reinstein3moOr tuition plus several years of post-study research support
1david_reinstein3moZurich might be a little more expensive, but still. I don’t think Zurich is necessarily an outlier. I think US universities (esp private) are simply massively overcharging.
7casebash3moZurich is way more expensive than the US, but maybe US universities are more expensive?
Announcing the Open Philanthropy Undergraduate Scholarship

Another suggestion on how to make the application form slightly better is to state in the form's description that the form autosaves your answers even after you close the tab, allowing people to not have to complete the form in one go. (I presume Paperform does this for all forms).

5Bastian_Stern3moThanks - I’ve now added something along those lines to the description.
Announcing the Open Philanthropy Undergraduate Scholarship

Also, some people's parents would be quite hesitant to disclose what they actually make to their child. So that would just make it much harder for a student to get accurate figures on what their parents make. 

I'm not sure what the solution there is, but potentially you want to account for that scenario some way, such as giving the student the option to just give a rough ballpark of what their parents/family make, especially at just the 1st stage of the application. 

5jlemien3moStrongly agree. In the USA it wouldn't be considered too abnormal for a child to tell a parent that he/she is applying for a scholarship for college and needs family income information. But because this scholarship is targeted at people from other cultures we should take those US-centric (or perhaps UK-centric) assumptions. Perhaps a drop-down menu in which an applicant could select from various ranges might be a better shop: "To the best of your knowledge, what was your households total annual income for the previous calendar year: 0-10k, 10k-30k, 31k to 50k..."
Announcing the Open Philanthropy Undergraduate Scholarship

Thanks for this post and scholarship! This is an exciting opportunity for international high school students. If this scholarship were available 6 years ago when I was a high school student, and I was as excited about EA as I am now, I would definitely have applied.

 I've publicized the scholarship to the EA Philippines community, my network, and through EA Philippines's social media, such as through this post on Facebook.  I don't think any of our active community members are still high school students, but maybe a few people in our extended netw... (read more)

5Bastian_Stern3moWe did consider asking for less detailed information in the financial information section for the exact reason you point out, but we ultimately felt that the current approach struck the best balance between a number of countervailing considerations. (For example, having to ask all of the most promising candidates to provide additional information at a second stage would have added to turnaround times, which would in turn have required us to set earlier application deadlines.) Note that the financial section of our application form already requires applicants to provide meaningfully less granular information than the CSS/FAFSA forms and most of the university-specific financial aid forms I have seen, so I’m hoping that this won’t be too onerous on candidates.
7BrianTan3moAnother suggestion on how to make the application form [] slightly better is to state in the form's description that the form autosaves your answers even after you close the tab, allowing people to not have to complete the form in one go. (I presume Paperform does this for all forms).
6BrianTan3moAlso, some people's parents would be quite hesitant to disclose what they actually make to their child. So that would just make it much harder for a student to get accurate figures on what their parents make. I'm not sure what the solution there is, but potentially you want to account for that scenario some way, such as giving the student the option to just give a rough ballpark of what their parents/family make, especially at just the 1st stage of the application.
Announcing the Open Philanthropy Undergraduate Scholarship

I believe OpenPhil plans on providing the scholarship decision before being admitted to the school for those applying to the listed U.S. universities, based on this line:

We plan to inform successful candidates by mid- to late October, in order to allow them to include information about the scholarship they have been awarded in their early decision/early action applications.

3jlemien3moThat's good. I'm glad that they thought of this. I can't imagine the difficulties in attempting to apply for a US university (and visa) as a non-US citizen without documentation of funding.
Announcing the Open Philanthropy Undergraduate Scholarship

Did you mean to say $12,000/year instead of $1,200/year tuition at ETH Zurich? 

5david_reinstein3moI think it's actually about $1350/year. Closer to $1200 than to $12,000. US universities are way more expensive than universities in most other countries. I don't think they are a good value.
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