Copying Catherine's message from the Group Organizers Slack:
I dont know whether this is the right place to post it: But why are we caring about the risk of the coronavirus for us as EAs? Why are people thinking about canceling EAG or other local meetings?
(are we caring for selfish reasons or because this indirectly reduces the extent the virus spreads?
If we believe that a young healthy person has a 0.5 percent of doing from the virus and 5 percent of the world will be infected in expectation and all these actions (cancellation of EA events) reduces my chance of being infected by 5 percent:
(This seems super optimistic as most of the attendees wont change other behavior just because EA events are cancelled. They will just go to other events.)then we are talking about roughly 10 micromorts. It seems like that the EA events might be worth the cost. If we want to reduce micromorts telling EAs to stop drinking alcohol seems like a better idea (1 micromort =0.5 liter wine) than changing the way we spend our time because of the coronavirus.
I am interested to hear why this argument is wrong
I am planning on writing a post summarizing the existing discussion of information cascades in EA and when doing and the different forms and possibilities to do something against it. Lastly, I discuss why the concept of the information cascade might disadvantageous. I would be interested in comments on the draft.
I think I updated towards "maybe its useful if this cause area would be analysed in great depth". Is this planned at the moment? Perhaps interviewing experts etc.
Do you think that it might be important to develop clear guidelines what is meant with the first article of the outer space treaty: "The exploration and use of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interests of all countries, irrespective of their degree of economic or scientific development, and shall be the province of all mankind. "
The German Professor for Space Law Stephan Hobe says on this German podcast that it is really important to define this right. Does this mean that countries have to give away a certain amount of their space surplus? do we include future generations in mankind? Do we include people on other planets?
Interesting idea about the "driver s license" for rationality.
You suggest that EA student groups should run tournaments . I would be interested in your reasoning. Why do you think this is better than encouraging people to join foretold.io as individuals? Do you think that we are lacking an institution or platform which helps individuals to get up to speed and interested in forecasting (so that they are good enough that foretold.io provides a positive experience)? Or do you think that these tournaments would be good signaling for students applying for future EA jobs?
Perhaps, national student forecasting tournaments were more feasible although I would intuitively say that the good forecasters might quickly leave.
(thank you for writing this, my comment is related to Denkenberger)A consideration against the creation of groups around cause areas if they are open for younger people (not only senior professionals) who are also new to EA: (the argument does not hold if those groups are only for people who are very familiar with EA thinking - of course among others those groups could also make work and coordination more effective)
It might be that this leads to a misallocation of people and resources in EA as the cost of switching focus or careers increases with this network.
If those cause groups existed two years ago, I would have either joined the "Global Poverty Group" or the "Climate Change group" (for sure not the "Animal Welfare group" for instance) (or with some probability also a general EA group). Most of my EA friends and acquaintances would have focused on the same cause area (maybe I would have been better skilled and knowledgable about them now which is important). But the likelihood that I would have changed my cause area because other causes are more important to work on would have been smaller. This could be because it is less likely to come across good arguments for other causes as not that many people around me have an incentive to point me towards those resources. Switching the focus of my work would also be costly in a selfish sense as one would not see all the acquaintances and friends from the monthly meetups/skypes or career workshops of my old cause area anymore.
I think that many people in EA become convinced over time to focus on the longterm. If we reasonably believe that these are rational decision, then changing cause areas and ways of working on the most pressing problems (direct work, lobby work, community building, ETG) several times during one's life is one of the most important things when trying to maximize impact and should be as cheap as possible for individuals and hence encouraged. That means that the cost of information provision of other cause areas and the private costs of switching should be reduced. I think that this might be difficult with potential cause area groups (especially in smaller cities with less EAs in general).
(Maybe this is similar to the fact that many Uni groups try to not do concrete career advice before students have engaged in cause prioritization discussion. Otherwise, people bind themselves too early to cause areas which seem intuitively attractive or fit to the perceived identity of the person or some underlying beliefs they hold and never questioned ( "AI seems important I have watched SciFi movies" "I am altruistic so I will help the to reduce poverty" "Capitalism causes poverty hence I wont do earning to give").)