Charlie_Guthmann

517Joined Aug 2020

Bio

Founded Northwestern EA club. Studied Math and Econ.

Starting a trading job in a few months  and self-studying python. Talk to me about cost benefit analysis !

Comments
110

He was the northwestern ea staff/professor sponsor for the duration of my time there (this doesn’t mean that much though).

I think what nuno is saying is true to an extent, more people would do argument mapping if they knew about it. I think another reason is that a lot of people are uncomfortable from a technical standpoint engaging with math/logic/proofs, so there is inherently more demand for prose because pretty much everyone who would engage would logic could also engage with prose but not the reverse.

It’s sorta like research papers vs the articles summarizing them. Usually an article that summarizes the paper in a low fidelity way has more demand (even ignoring the fact that it’s printed in a more read space). Of course, lots of research papers are written still. But professors aren’t really writing papers in response to the demand curve of the crowd. They might care but at the end of the day they are following the citation and job incentive gradients. Meanwhile the only incentive I am provided is internet points.

For instance, I posted a mathematical formalization of when to focus on trying to increase the quality of the future vs reduce x-risk. my intuition is that the post would have gotten (a bit) more engagement if I wrote it in prose, even though I think the value of the post is an oom+ higher in the way I wrote it.

Either way strong strong strong agree, writing and reading prose is not an effective way to do research at scale (or perhaps at all, but to a lesser degree).

I'm not sure how I even feel about the price tag mattering considering it is an investment we can sell later but very quick research shows that  there is a 13,000 square foot hotel (12 rooms) in the heart of Chicago for 300,000 a room. So conservatively we could guess that a similar building in downtown chicago would go for about 9 mil. And that is in pretty much the most expensive area in the city - If we are willing to go within an hour of the city center I think you could get something of comparable quality for ~5 million or maybe even less. 

Not saying Chicago would be the right place but I would call it a major city (totally biased though). 

You might want to check out https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/s/AbrRsXM2PrCrPShuZ

pretty much agree that it doesn't seem optimal to have people trying to drum up hype with a blog post when they think there is an opportunity for high impact. It would be nice to have a site that has thousands of very modular forecasts/ impact estimates on things that you can paste together so that people can see the numbers clearly and quickly. 

 

I think this is sorta trying to do that on a less ambitious level.

Yea I agree that is the main crux of our disagreement. I guess a lot of it comes down to what it means for someone to have (de facto) control. Ultimately we are just setting some arbitrary threshold for what control means. I don't think it matters that much to iron out if certain people have "control" or not, but it would probably be useful to think about it in more numerical terms in relation to some sort of median EA. 

Some metrics to use

  1. Ability to set the internal discourse  (e.g. karma/attention multiplier on forum posts compared to a baseline ea)
  2. Ability to set external discourse (e.g. who is going on high viewership media stuff)
  3. Control of the movement of money
  4. Control of organizational direction for ea orgs

To be clear I wasn't necessarily advocating for political organization or centralization, but I disagree that the lack of centralization is an excuse for the thought leaders when they could create centralization If they wanted. It basically serves as a get-out-of-jail-free card for anything they do, since they have de facto control but can always lean back on not having official leadership positions. For the most part the other comments better explain what I meant.

If I want EA to become less decentralized and have some sort of internal political system, what can I do?

I have 0 power or status or ability to influence people outside of persuasive argumentation. On the other hand, McCaskill and Co have a huge ability to do so. 

The idea that we can't blame the high-status people in this community because they aren't de jure leaders when it's incredibly likely they are the only people who could facilitate a system in which there are de jure leaders seems misguided. I'm not especially interested in assigning blame but when you ask the question who could make significant change to the culture or structure of EA I do think the answer falls on the thought leaders, even if they don't have official positions.

EA is not a monolith. There is no book that has the moral framework of EA written in stone. Some people in this community most certainly are utilitarians, others aren't. 

If you want to argue what a decentralized movement is, you need to define who gets included, and then a system for weighting each agent's values as a part of the whole. 

For instance, we might say, EA is composed of any agent who has attended an EAG. Then we might specify that what EA is "based in" is the weighted sum of each agent's values, where the weighting system is how many resources an agent controls.

 I was reached out to by a regranter and got the vibe immediately that they were stressed about providing grants that might be accepted and basically just optimizing for what they perceived to be the most likely things for the team to give the ok. 

Now again I only talked to one person but if they were just shooting ideas at the team to be processed similar to how they were processing general apps the regranter program serves more as a marketing tool to increase applicants and a slight filter of awful apps than it does change who has the power. I would be very interested to say the data on how many regrants were given / how many regrants were suggested compared to the normal funds.

responding to this super late but two quick things. 

But windmills, solar panels, nuclear reactors etc need constant maintenance. Within a couple of generations they'd probably all have stopped functioning at a useful level

Does anyone have incentives to make long-lasting renewable resources?  Curious about what would happen if a significant portion of energy tech switched from trying to optimize efficiency to lifespan (my intuition here is that there isn't much incentive to make long-lasting stuff). Seems like this could be low-hanging fruit and change the decay paradigm - of course, possible this has been extensively looked at and I'm out of my depth.

It doesn't seem realistic to let them develop the economy to settle other planets without getting any harmful tech, though. We don't have good enough rocket technology to send much mass other planets yet, so the future civilisations would have to leapfrog our current capabilities without getting any time to develop eg biotech on the way. And Robert Zubrin, the main voice for Mars colonisation strategies before Elon Musk, thinks it would be almost impossible to set up a permanent Mars base without nuclear technology, so you'd need to develop nuclear energy without getting nuclear weaponry.

I guess I wouldn't see this as a binary. Can we set up a civilization that will get to space before creating nukes, via well-placed knowledge about spaceships that conveniently don't include stuff about weapons? probably not, but it's not a binary. We could in theory push in this direction to reduce the time of perils length or magnitude. 

and regarding the phosphorus stuff, I've unfortunately exposed my knowledge of the hard sciences. 

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