Christoph Hartmann 🔸

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Thanks for tagging me! Fully agree with you Joseph that an easier way to socialise with strangers at conferences would be great and that's exactly what I'm trying to do with this app. Let me know if you know anybody organising conferences or communities for whom this could be helpful.

Thanks so much for steelmanning my argument and looking for some research yourself! And I share your intuition that some consumption seems zero-sum around status. I do think though that my smartphone is giving me tons of value but that's a different discussion probably haha

Thanks for that! And for making the ideological ickyness visible. I think a lot of people, me included, feel like this. And thanks also for acknowledging the accounting part of the framework. It does rely on a similar relationship though that money spent represents value delivered. So we would have to assume that companies are more rational in their spending choices.

If I understand you correctly, you are questioning three things
1) That there is a marginal relationship between income and life satisfaction at high incomes
2) If there were a relationship, that consumption is a good predictor of contribution to life satisfaction
3) That Elon Musk could be the most impactful person alive

Let me try to address each one

1) For this I will just defer to the studies referenced in Our World In Data:  "Higher personal incomes go together with higher self-reported life satisfaction" suggests to me that also at high incomes there is a marginal relationship between income and life satisfaction.

2) If we accept 1), then it's very likely that your spending will be predictive of your life satisfaction. I share your intuition that spending becomes more volatile and impulsive, but if we consider similar amounts on a percentage level, and thereby a similar level of contribution to the WELLBY measure, I think it's fair to assume that somebody who earns $100k will be as diligent about spending $1k as a person earning $1k will be about spending $10.

3) You make the point that Elon relies on government spending. I think this is a valid one because that is far far away from actual consumer life satisfaction and the influence of each citizen and the effect on them is only very very indirect. So maybe the government just spent the money badly (I'd argue though that it's much better spent than on NASA). If, however, he would not rely on these and make most of his money directly from consumers, I think accepting 2) would have to lead us to accept 3) unless he were in some industry that tricks our consumer choices, like the addictions you mentioned, I think he doesn't.

Hm, not sure. If there is an opportunity for innovation, I'd expect either the incumbent to pursue this to expand the addressable market (and thereby make more revenue / have more impact) or/and a competitor to innvoate, thereby reducing the price and capturing market share / prevent the incumbent from increasing profits (and increasing revenue / imapct for the competitor).

On second reading I assume you are referring to the issue that when a product gets cheaper through innvoation it might look like the product would be less impactful because it now gets less share of the total WELLBYs of the customer. I guess, though, what would happen at the same time is that overall life satisfaction of the customer will go slightly up as they now have more disposable income (just saved some money from spending less on that product), and that increased life satisfaction would be distributed across all purchases, including the one that just got cheaper. On a micro level those won't perfectly balance of course but on the coarsness level of this analysis I think we'd be fine - see the section on first dollar vs last dollar spent in Appendix 1.

But I'm not an economist or anything like that by training so very curious about your further thoughts! I very likely missed things.

I addressed the counterfactual impact a bit in Appendix 1 in the section on absolute vs relative impact.

Thanks for taking the time to share this great anecdote. Exactly what this framework would predict. If any more thoughts come up as you think through it, I'd be curious!

Thanks so much! Interesting that they count GiftAid and not employer ones, that seems contradictory.

Agree on the counterfactual impact of the person offering donation matching otherwise donating to other effective charities.

Finding stability in your life should always be first priority and it sounds like you're on a good path. Wishing you lots of empathy and compassion also for yourself on the way!

Glad you liked it and great that you posted your post - it takes some courage here sometimes haha. It's still something I keep thinking about - my main concern is how tractable it is though. I feel it's incredibly hard to significantly change people's character traits, including empathy. If I would spend more time on this I'd probably start there, interview a few psychology professors (like Tania Singer) on their view on if this is even possible, and if that's a yes then start to brainstorm interventions. I don't have much time the next few months but if you have a thesis or something coming up I think it could be a great topic.

Thanks for taking the time to formalizing this a bit more. I think you're capturing my ideas quite well and indeed I can't think of ways how this would scale exponentially. Your point on "let's remove the human bottleneck" goes a bit in the direction of the last simulation paragraph where I suggest that you could parallelize knowledge acquisition. But as I argue there I think that's unrealistic to scale exponentially.

In general, I think I focused too much on the robotics examples when trying to illustrate that generating new knowledge takes time and is difficult but the same applies of course also to performing any kind of other experiment that an AI would have to do such as generating knowledge on human psychology by doing experiments with us, testing new training algorithms, performing experiments on quantum physics for chip research, etc.

Hi Harrison, thanks for stating what I guess a few people are thinking - it's a bit of a clickbait title. I do think though that the non-exponential growth is much more likely than exponential growth just becuase exponential takeoff would require no constraints on growth while it's enough if one constraint kicks in (maybe even one I didn't consider here) to stop exponential growth.

I'd be curious on the methodological overhang though. Are you aware of any posts / articles discussing this further?

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