Economics @ Global Priorities Institute
Working (0-5 years experience)
616Oxford, UKJoined Jul 2019



I am a Predoctoral Research Fellow in Economics at the Global Priorities Institute and a Grants Consultant at Longview. I read Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at the University of Warwick, led the local EA group, co-moderated our first fellowship. Previously, I interned at the European Parliament and the Future of Life Institute working on the EU AI White Paper consultation. I learned about outer space governance during a research project with the German foreign service. 


Topic Contributions

Hi Robi, thanks for your response. Are you referring to the endogenous growth models, where additional people have growth effects rather than level effects as in the semi-endogenous growth model (they increase the future growth rate)? or are you referring to historical trends? I am personally not very convinced of both.

"they're another person all eight billion previous people can bounce ideas off of"

This seems to depend on whether people actually have more connections. Even if they have more connections AND you think that research is driven by bouncing off ideas, you might think that this positive effect is smaller than the negative effect of research duplication when the population becomes bigger. But I agree it is plausible that the relevant parameter in the semi-endogneous growth model, lambda, is greater than 1. 

I also feel appalled. Thanks for sharing this.

I think scope insensitivity could be a form of risk aversion over the difference you make in the world (=difference-making) (scope insensitivity is related at least). I explain here why I think that risk aversion over the difference you make is irrational even though risk aversion over states of the world is not. 

Hi, thanks for writing this. As others have pointed out I am a bit confused how the conclusion (more diversification in EA careers etc) follows from the assumption (high uncertainty about cause prioritisations.

  1. You might think that we should be risk averse with respect to our difference-making, i.e. that the EA community does some good in many worlds. See here a summary post from me which collects the arguments against the "risk averse difference-making" view. One might still justify increased diversification for instrumental reasons (e.g. welcomingness of the community), but I don't think that's what you explicitly argue for.
  2. You might think that updating that we are more uncertain means that we are more likely to change our minds about causes in the future. If we change our minds about priorities in e.g. 2 or 10 years , it is really advantageous if X members of the community already worked in the relevant cause area. Hence, we should spread out.
    1. However, I don't think that this argument works. First, more uncertainty now might also mean more uncertainty later - hence unclear that I should update that it is more likely that we will change our mind
    2. Secondly, if you think that we can resolve that uncertainty and update in the future, then I think this is a reason for people to work as cause prioritisation researchers and not a reason to spread out among more cause areas.

Thanks for your comment

. I believe the things are fixed now. 

Definitions: Longtermism, Temporalism and Anti-speciesism

This short form is to point out that lots of -ism definitions, including speciesism and longtermism, share the same form. Also credits to Loren for thoughts.

  1. Speciesism/Temporalism/Racism = the discrimination based on species membership/time/ethnic membership
    1. Sexism = unjust differentiation of treatment based on sex
    2. Perhaps it also includes the statement that this kind of discrimination is widespread and systematic.
  2. Anti-speciesism/ anti-temporalism/ anti-racism/anti-sexism= considering the discrimination morally unjustifiable
    1. Perhaps it also includes the willingness to stand up to reduce that kind of discrimination
      1. Actions are necessary to call oneself an anti-racist or anti-speciesist.
  3.  Sentienism?/Longtermism/Anti-Racism?/Feminism?
    1. 3a) the claim that helping these discriminated groups respectively should be a global priority.
    2. OR: 3b) the claim that helping these discriminated groups (reducing the discrimination) is the most important thing to do at the current margin
    3. 3a) and 3b) are different.

Is a marginal unit of politics really that cheap?

Crossposting a response I wrote in December 2020.

Half a year ago, Scott Alexander argued that there is surprisingly little money spent in US politics. Stefan Torges responded and argued that there is less German money spent on politics than on chocolate . Is it correct that this means that an additional marginal unit of political influence is really that cheap?

I was curious to think about the European institutions, why Brussels one might argue and why about the little money in politics? This is a good thing, right?

Stefan found something between 1 and 3bn for Germany. However, there is also Brussels. And the European Union does partly create policy for Germans and German business (especially the internal market policy). It should be added to the German numbers.

There is this dataset of all registered groups in Brussels that had at least one meeting with the European Commission. I took the smallest number for every organization that fell within a budget interval. This makes 1,750,213,248 Euros overall. One might argue that a few countries might have added their complete budget instead of their policy budget. On the other hand, it seems plausible that most of the organizations have drastically underestimated their numbers (I am pretty sure Google spends more than 8 million in EU politics). In this data set, there are over 4000 organizations which self-report that they have a budget smaller than 500 Euros but 0.5 or even more full-time positions. If we assume that they all spend 50,000 per year and the others also slightly underestimate their numbers, we end up with approximately 3 Billion Euros. If you do not want to add everything you could also just take the organizations with headquarters in Germany (300,000,000). This would be an underestimate as you don’t take the European association which has headquarters in Brussels. 

Why do ordinary people not give money?

And only 4.5 million for the EU elections are spent by all German parties.  Almost no German gives money to election campaigns. We have strict institutional rules. However, almost no one gives money to lobby groups, e.g. environmental groups. Similarly to the little funding of any charity we are just faced with a classical tragedy of the commons. In addition, I believe that the knowledge that you can buy and might have to buy political influence – even if you are on the good side – is just not that widely known.

Should we only count the German numbers or everything to calculate the german budget?

I think it makes more sense to take the whole set of lobby groups in Brussels. Why?

My interest in the total political budget stems from the question of how crowded the political field is and why not more organizations or interest groups ‘buy’ political influence. 

Because of this intention, it makes more sense to take everyone who is fighting about the same regulation. I believe that this gives us a better intuition about the crowdedness.

Is there more left? Perhaps, something else is the limiting factor

There is only a 0.45 correlation between the Budget of the lobby organizations and European Parliament accreditations as well as European Commission meetings.

Maybe this means that you cannot simply buy political influence but there are greater coordination issues and other bottlenecks. 

The bottleneck might be something like ” knowing the right people in politics” rather than money and a much more limited good.

And maybe this is a good thing, stabilizing a political system. Other things are also bottle-necked. I would bet that the numbers in Washington are somewhat higher once we would really compulsory register and check everything.

Load More