816 karmaJoined Oct 2021


throw e/acc on there too

Thanks, that's helpful context! 

I find it a bit weird - possibly unhelpful - to blend a big picture cause prioritization argument and the promotion of a specific matching campaign.  

GiveDirectly, Effective Altruism Australia, EA Aotearoa New Zealand, Every.org, The Life You Can Save

What's going on with the coauthorship here - multiple organizations wrote this post together? Should this be read as endorsements, or something else?

(1) The topic is often sensationalised by many who talk about it 

Many things are sensationalized. This is not good evidence for or against fertility being a problem. Many accuse AIXR of being sensationalized. 

(2) some of these people, infer that it could result in humanity going extinct. 

I do not think smart fertility advocates believe that populations would slowly dwindle until there was one person left. Obviously that is a silly model. The serious model, described in Ch. 7 of What We Owe the Future, is that economic growth will slow to a crawl, and the time of perils will be extended. You can also see this model in Aschenbrenner 2020.

(3) If it's a sociological phenomenon, it's substantially less likely to result in x-risk, because presumably when faced with extinction, future humans would be willing to have more children. 

This is why I think "sociological phenomenon" is confusing more than it is enlightening here. Humans make fertility decisions - based on a wide variety of factors which we do not fully understand - and those decisions matter long before we are on the verge of extinction from depopulation. We do have a number of handles to influence these decisions, should we choose to use them.

Ultimately, I do not believe fertility is a risk because AI will accelerate economic growth even as populations decline, but it is frustrating to see people fail to appreciate the key factors here in their model, and instead dismiss the issue as sensationalized. 

It seems somewhat irresponsible to title this post "every mention of EA in Going Infinite" if it only includes a handful of the many mentions of EA in Going Infinite. Appreciate you for clarifying!

sociological (e.g. richer people want less kids)

This misunderstands the fertility problem. Most fertility advocates focus on the fertility gap - the gap between how many children people want to have and actually have (which is fewer than they want). It's also not that richer people (within countries) want to have less kids. We're seeing U shaped fertiliy trends, where the rich have more children than the middle class.

This implies it is not a "sociological phenomenon" (except in a trivial sense) and is instead a complex mix of social, cultural and economic factors that we do not yet totally understand.

biological (e.g. sperm counts are declining).

It's extremely dubious whether these are a factor at all. See Ritchie here, for example. 


But the crux of of my disagreement was your phrasing:

so behaviour change could occur if/when time occurs

I'm still not sure what that means, but if your general point is that we can't influence behavioral changes through interventions (economic, education, etc) that is obviously incorrect. 

It's very likely a sociological phenomena, and so behaviour change could occur if/when time occurs

This is extremely vague and hard to parse.

Answer by burnerOct 06, 20232

Chapter 7 of What We Owe the Future has some discussion along these lines. I hope that most EAs are not prioritizing this issue not because it's not important, but because short to medium AI timelines present a more urgent problem.

Yes, instead they should take a play money low liquidity prediction market at face value

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