All of Cienna's Comments + Replies

Proposed Longtermist Flag

I was missing something important before about the aspirational nature of a flag.  While the star held something true about there being actually hard, knock-out problems to solve along the way, I think the inevitability of the star-less version is more suitably aspirational. 

There is not one singular problem to solve, there are many, and the other shapes already hold that. With the star, I had put an oppositional teleology before the indefinite striving for betterment, and that was out of order. That was more 'per ardua ad astra,' "through advers... (read more)

Neglected biodiversity protection by EA.

I'm interested in writing about this with someone; anybody interested in writing arguments with me about why biodiversity matters? I don't expect it to make the leaderboard of urgent problems, but as a slow important problem I think it's a contender.

Here's a sketch of the argument that convinced me: we want our life support system to handle as many challenges as it can on its own, with as little maintenance as possible. Nature is not a closed system, so the challenges are multi-factor and co-occurring. High biodiversity provides already established stabili... (read more)

[By June 21] Win funding for wild animals

Result: This project came in second place and won the $750 prize, per update here.

What is the closest thing you know to EA that isn't EA?

@rory_greig, do you know where systems thinkers converse?  

What is the closest thing you know to EA that isn't EA?

I haven’t found a communication nexus, but I’d love to hear about it if there is one! Looks like there are some Facebook groups and a LinkedIn group, but I don’t know how active they are. Most of the activity I’ve seen is in a closed Keybase group.

I’ve run into at least half a dozen other systems mindset folks who have heard a little about EA and want to know more. We tried to set up a learning discussion during Complexity Weekend but got stuck on scheduling conflicts. Cross-pollinating might look like someone who practices both presenting at a Heartbeat event, or for an EA group organizer to volunteer as a Complexity Weekend organizer. 

1Cienna4mo@rory_greig, do you know where systems thinkers converse?
What is the closest thing you know to EA that isn't EA?

Systems thinking shares the question: where and how can one intervene to achieve large improvement for small investment, minimize off-target effects, and have the improvement actually stick instead of revert?

1emwalz4moI'm glad you mentioned this - I was just in conversation with another EA/systems thinking advocate and we saw some valuable potential to cross pollinate. Where are you based? We may scheme a bit on how to create intersection points if you'd be interested.
2Nathan Young4moWhere would I find systems thinkers? Do they have a forum or whatever?
Intactivism as a potential Effective Altruist cause area?

Thank you very much for writing this up!  
- This 2010 paper estimates that over 100 newborn boys die in the US annually from circumcision and related complications. 
- Alexithymia, poor recognition of one's emotions, is another condition that may result from circumcision. Paper here. I wonder if the stereotype of American men being out of touch with their emotions is related to this? 
- RE sentience: Intact America claims that as adults, some men still remember the experience of being circumcised as infants. Cross-check: some adults still reme... (read more)

What are good institutes to conduct a research-based Masters in ageing research?

https://www.buckinstitute.org/education/graduate/ The Buck Institute in Novato, CA, USA has some master’s programs, not sure about the duration.

1freedomandutility5moThank you!
Has anyone found an effective way to scrub indoor CO2?

I've worked in indoor air quality for three years and I'm not aware of any products that capture CO2 below the industrial scale, unfortunately. If you come across anything, I'd love to know! 

I've tried the indoor plants approach and tested CO2 levels with Kitagawa tubes, and all the data showed was when the HVAC system was running... There are already lots of plants outdoors, and they're lower-maintenance there, so it's worth checking whether your HVAC system could be doing its job better of bringing outdoor plant-enrichened air to you.
- Are the filte... (read more)

[By June 21] Win funding for wild animals

I asked Dr. Sebastiano and he has confirmed yes, he is a WDA member. As of a 6 AM ET on 6/21, he says the project is running a close third.

[By June 21] Win funding for wild animals

Fine print question: is Manrico Sebastiano, the principal investigator, a WDA member? If not, the prizes would be $1000 and $500 respectively, per the challenge grant terms here: https://experiment.com/grants/wda2021 

Fun fact for readers: if you too have a wildlife health project idea, this Wildlife Disease Association challenge grant is recurring on Experiment.com! I think this is at least the fourth time. 

At time of writing, this project is in second place by number of backers (47).

1Cienna6moI asked Dr. Sebastiano and he has confirmed yes, he is a WDA member. As of a 6 AM ET on 6/21, he says the project is running a close third.
What are some high-impact paths for a young person in the developing world?

If he’s seeking to work directly in Gambia on development, perhaps becoming an agricultural researcher or adviser - like an ag extension agent - would be a way for an individual to help many people in his community. According to Access Gambia’s agriculture page, 80% of the population work in agriculture. Considering the difficulty of the short rainy season, maybe he could identify additional crops, specific cultivars, cover crops, co-plantings, or techniques well-suited to the local particulars that would increase agricultural productivity.

http://www.accessgambia.com/information/farming-agriculture.html

Where I can practice judging opportunities to lend or donate or invest, for $25 per decision?

Thank you - exploring GlobalGiving now. I'd love to hear about your experience practicing, if you're willing to share!

Status update: Getting money out of politics and into charity

Another possibility for your list: getting family members who disagree politically to donate together to a common cause?

2UnexpectedValues8moThis is a cool idea that we hadn't considered. Thank you!
Proposed Longtermist Flag

A more abstract one with some similar pieces...

5RyanCarey8moSame energy as:
Proposed Longtermist Flag

Continuing to play with the space, light cone, time, warning light, and blue dot elements, here's another. I'm not trying to symbolize longtermism specifically here, but I do think this arrangement fits something present.  

Colors

I like the thinking behind the color choices in the original, so I tried to do that too.

- Eigengrau instead of black: Eigengrau is the almost-black color humans see when we close our eyes in darkness, darkness as perceived by human vision. It's black with visual artifacts of uncountably many points of light. It rhymes with how... (read more)

I was missing something important before about the aspirational nature of a flag.  While the star held something true about there being actually hard, knock-out problems to solve along the way, I think the inevitability of the star-less version is more suitably aspirational. 

There is not one singular problem to solve, there are many, and the other shapes already hold that. With the star, I had put an oppositional teleology before the indefinite striving for betterment, and that was out of order. That was more 'per ardua ad astra,' "through advers... (read more)

2Cienna8moA more abstract one with some similar pieces...
2Larks8moThis is a pretty stylish flag, and I liked the thought process behind it. I must admit that when I first saw it I thought it looked like the sort of flag the villains would have though! Would it be possible to check out how it might look if the central star was blue? I feel like the middle bit instinctually represents 'us', and we want to be the good guys.
Proposed Longtermist Flag

Here's the link to the SVG. I don't think you should have to pay for an SVG. I downloaded the JPG and put it through vectorizer.io. 

https://www.dropbox.com/s/4fvviw1s3yveeri/Longtermist-Flag.svg?dl=0

And here's a TED talk I really enjoyed about flag design: https://www.ted.com/talks/roman_mars_why_city_flags_may_be_the_worst_designed_thing_you_ve_never_noticed

2Cullen_OKeefe8moThanks; wasn't even aware it was a thing one could do :-)
EA Funds has appointed new fund managers

Congratulations to y’all on your new roles and responsibilities!!!

Higher sensitivity and standards. People in these communities take life, responsibility, long-term planning, and suffering more seriously than usual. Some are waiting longer for the sake of being a better parent when they do have kids. It's emotionally intense, living in constant empathic contact with another person who has full depth of feeling and perception, but who starts out with little skill at reasoning, shielding, or emotional self-regulation. I'm told one doesn't fully grasp the seriousness and scope of the project until after the kids have arrive... (read more)

Trying to help coral reefs survive climate change seems incredibly neglected.

I like this project shape: trying to keep a solved problem solved. We have functioning reefs to study. We already know some of the conditions they like. Our knowledge might not have to be as thorough to protect a system that is already working at scale compared to the level of knowledge needed to design, launch, and scale a solution to an unsolved problem. 

Trying to help coral reefs survive climate change seems incredibly neglected.

RE "Are there still people to fund... in this space?"
https://experiment.com/projects/joining-efforts-of-local-actors-to-imporove-marine-monitoring-program-of-coral-communities 
Here's a small one! This Experiment.com crowdfunding project is open until 2/18. An existing reef health monitoring program seeks supplemental funding to train volunteer divers from Adventure Scientists so they can expand their area. 

This may be a good opportunity to ask professionals in the area about challenges to their work, since they'll already be expecting to answer q... (read more)

Trying to help coral reefs survive climate change seems incredibly neglected.

A brief answer from NOAA: "Coral reefs provide coastal protection for communities, habitat for fish, and millions of dollars in recreation and tourism, among other benefits." Like jetties and quays, reefs dissipate wave energy, lessening the impact of storms on the shore and coastal investments. Young and small fish can hide from larger fish in the nooks and crevices of reefs, helping more of them to reach adulthood and build up fishery stock. 

Reef Resilience has additional numbers and citations under the "Economic Value" tab if you're curious! 

Introducing a project on accountability in governance, plus a call for volunteers

Another type of related existing project is government-side community engagement tools, such as https://publicinput.com/. Their software makes it easier for city governments to ask questions and seek feedback from their residents. I know Jay started out with the goal of trying to get elected representatives in direct conversational contact with their constituents, and I think it'd be worth asking him why he went this direction instead. 

1aman-patel1yThanks for the tip! I'll try contacting him through the website you linked--it would be great to hear more from people who have attempted this sort of project before.
Idea: "Change the World University"

I think there’s another source of jadedness: things being made unnecessarily difficult. I was explicitly told in school by instructors, “we’re going to make this harder than it needs to be, in arbitrary ways, because real life is like that sometimes, and you need to figure out how to handle it psychologically. Better that you learn to deal with pointless assignments and needlessly difficult problems and petty teammates and vague instructions now than in a job.” Being forewarned made it bearable, I was even grateful for it. And then I forgot this when I cha... (read more)

Idea: "Change the World University"

Hmm. I apologize, I don’t actually know whether idealists and virtue signalers differ in productivity. I think the motivation matters for what someone will put up with on the way to their goals; maybe some problems are easier for virtue signalers to solve.

Idea: "Change the World University"

How would you separate the genuine idealists from the virtue signalers?

2capybaralet1y* To some extent, you don't need to. I don't believe there's a very clear distinction between the 2 camps. * To begin with, this university would be viewed as weird, and I suspect, would not be particularly attractive to virtue signalers as a result. This would help establish a culture of genuine idealists. * This is part of the mandate of the admissions decision-makers. I expect if you had good people, you could do a pretty good job of screening applicants.
Competitive Ethics

The call has now concluded. 8 participants, 2 hours, one great topic. Thank you again, mwcvitkovic

Opportunity to increase EA org funding by ~$200K/year if a couple hundred EAs take 1 minute on Giving Tuesday

I like it! Good job finding a small one-time change that would add up to a big difference over time.

Visa, PayPal, and some others already have discounted credit card processing rates for charities. How do you plan to respond to a boilerplate reply saying they’re already providing a discount for charities? I’m concerned that the existing nominal discount will “check the box” for some people that the credit card processing companies “care”.

Do you have a plan for negotiating if you get an interested response? In my limited experience with vendor pricing nego... (read more)

1JSWinchell1yThanks so much for your question Cienna! The honest answer is that we are not approaching this project anticipating that it will end in a negotiation with VISA. My assumption (could very well be flawed as this is our first social media campaign) was that VISA would either change the fee or not, without negotiating externally. You may very well be right though so thank you for offering these tips, it's greatly appreciated! The aim in targeting one processor was to maximize the pressure on a single company vs spreading ourselves thin across multiple. Thanks again!
Competitive Ethics

Thanks for the fascinating post! This inspired me to arrange a discussion with some philosophical Meetup friends who have had similar thoughts in this direction. Anyone interested is welcome to join the conversation! It will be Sunday, November 29th at 7 PM ET.

Call link: https://meet.google.com/pck-hiva-oen

Meetup description: https://meetu.ps/e/JzK78/wGLs9/a

3Cienna1yThe call has now concluded. 8 participants, 2 hours, one great topic. Thank you again, mwcvitkovic [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/users/mwcvitkovic]!
What quotes do you find most inspire you to use your resources (effectively) to help others?

Little Things by Julia A. F. Carney

Little drops of water, 
Little grains of sand, 
Make the mighty ocean 
And the pleasant land.

Thus the little minutes, 
Humble though they be, 
Make the mighty ages 
Of eternity.

Why those who care about catastrophic and existential risk should care about autonomous weapons

Thank you so much for writing this! What sources would you recommend for keeping up with further developments in this area? 

Evaluating a crowdfunding campaign to test an oral anthrax vaccine for wildlife

Update: I now think it's a problem with the first impression. A title with shorter words that stirred the imagination might perform better. I remember feeling the draw of effort to understand what the title meant. 

Compared with 
"Growing edible algae on the Moon"
- title was partly misleading
- raise was overfunded with plenty of time to spare  
- Might have been "Assessing fresh spirulina as a space food at HI-SEAS"

"What is the ethanol resistance of lignin biocoating?"
- accurate title
- raise failed at 1/3  
- Might have been "Can lignin kee... (read more)

What is a book that genuinely changed your life for the better?

I love this question, and I'm looking forward to reading others' answers! Thanks for asking it! 

The 7 Laws of Magical Thinking: How Irrational Beliefs Keep Us Happy, Healthy, and Sane by Matthew Hutson

I was wrestling with the inescapable thought "I don't want to live as a hypocrite" before I first read it in 2012. I hadn't known becoming more rational was a thing other people knew how to do. Somehow the book's cheerful, mostly forgiving take on how sometimes people are better off irrational gave me the grace I needed to both start seeking ways of min... (read more)