1024Joined Apr 2022


More sympathetic to biosecurity issues than at the start of the year. Pretty convinced there are clear things that would be useful to do and help a lot of people. Plus, FTX situation cut out a lot of money that went to the general area such as SBF's brother's group-Guarding Against Pandemics.

Sales tax: Interesting. I live in a state with sales tax but it doesn't apply to lottery tickets.

Could also make sense for people who don't itemize so don't benefit from charitable deduction but would itemize if they won the larger prizes.

I didn't downvote you. I think you're using Pascal's Mugging idiosyncratically.

Pascal's Mugging is normally for infinitesimal odds and astronomical payouts, with both odds and payouts often being really uncertain.

Here odds and payout are well-defined. The odds while extreme aren't infinitesimal.

I think we should be doing lots of things with one in a million chances. Start-ups that could change the world, promising AI research paths, running for president or prime minister. :)

Not quite a discipline, but I think American Christianity lost cultural influence by denominations ceding control of their colleges (based off this book).

Had the men's right movement established men's studies as more distinct from women's studies maybe they would have benefited (hard to believe they ever had the political power to achieve this.)

I can imagine a world where sociobiology became its own discipline. It did not.

I think the establishment of chiropractic schools legitimized the practice in the United States compared to other alternative medicines. Also, allowed the practice to survive despite opposition to physicians.

I don't have any criticisms of the GPI. Having a center seems to really free up the time of important researchers and gives them a lot more flexibility. But trying to create dozens of EA centers around the country/world would be less promising to me than trying to foster a discipline.

UNC Chapel Hill, a prestigious state school in the US, lets you endow a distinguished professorship for $2M. A major donor could endow several departments worth of professorships. The  Agricultural and Applied Association has annual revenue less than $2M.  The money to kickstart this discipline seems high but not outrageous.

The anecdata point is pretty interesting to me- I'm not an economist. Do you think if the field combined things like DALYs vs QUALYS or debates about subjective life expectation or stuff like that would be interesting to students?

I don't think it would be harmed by existing within normal econ departments- some normal econ depts. have ag economics within them and other places Ag Econ is independent.

I'm skeptical of elevating children's rights in this way, because people already claim to care intensely about the value of children and their futures, but differ on how to do that. The UN wants to make it harder for kids to work, I can think of libertarians who disagree. Or education about sex and sexuality- both sides claim they are protecting children and so forth.

With more novel concepts or trying to get people to widen their circle of concern to include animals or far future generations, I think maybe that's a worthwhile way to go. But people care about kids a lot- or at least claim to!

Maybe there's some smart solution but I can't think of good ways to advance your goal. 

Thanks for writing this.  I'm interested in politics and political interventions as potential EA causes. But I do disagree with you. I think this cause is not a good use of resources because it's not tractable and because I think it wouldn't have any valuable direct effects either. (The indirect effects on EA diversity and composition are not considered in this comment.)

Tractable- you won't get 2/3 of the Senate to concur. Opposition to these treaties is standard on the right. I would be very surprised Democrats get a majority that large in the next decade.  If there's a particular part of the treaty that you think is really valuable, like making it illegal for 17-year olds to marry it would probably be more effective to work on that at the state level. Likewise, if you want shorter sentences for crimes commited by juveniles that can be fought for at the state level. 

Value of ratification- there are many countries that compared to American have much higher child mortality rates, much worse schools, more child labor and so on, that have ratified the treaty. I'm not aware of any sudden change in child mortality or any other metric in any country that ratified the treaty. If there is one, that would definitely count in favor of the treaty. 

What are the best strategies for political movements that claim to advocate for a voiceless group to take? (longtermism for future generations, animal rights for animals, pro-lifers for fetuses...)

Should groups with very niche, technocratic issues try to join a party or try to stay non-partisan? Implications for AI, biorisk, and so on.

Can Americanists come up with a measure of democratic decline that's actually decent and not just a reskinned Polity/FreedomHouse metric?

EAs love economists. Can political scientists develop concepts that get them the same affection in EA circles?

In retrospect, the early 00's feminist blogosphere seems like it was hugely impactful. Is that true and if so what can other movements (like EA) learn from them?

Can someone in American Political Development tell us whether successful movements in American politics were ever longtermist in motivation?

Thanks for putting the panel together!!!

I was thinking the reference class was something like "people explicitly orienting their actions for the benefit of  far future generations." 

I was trying to be more specific than every good deed that also benefits the future. I didn't want to include things like "this vaccine will save our children (and future generations)" or "we will win this war against our evil enemy (and also for our children's sake)". 

What seems new about longtermism to me is not the belief that good things will have positive consequences in the long-run- "classic" EA and bednet funders think that- but that decisions should be made specifically with the future as the primary end in mine. That's what seems to distinguish Ord and MacAskill from other EA's and altruists in general.

I agree with your suggested examples in the end- and some other commenters suggested some other movements to consider- so I want to revisit this topic with a better collection of examples. I don't want to be unfair to longtermists despite my skepticism of their emphasis.

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