Dale

Dale's Comments

EA considerations regarding increasing political polarization
For context, Facebook is the social media company that has been most reluctant to be political, and apparently this is really making them bleed financially.

I added up the numbers in the first article and got around $634m of total 2018 ad spend, vs 2019 facebook revenue of 70700bn - less than 1%. Many of those companies only say they are 'pausing' or 'for July', rather than stopping. Finally, a company that was re-considering its facebook ad spend for unrelated reasons might want to frame it as a moral stance.

Perhaps principle-agent problems are at play; individual ideologues put SJ ahead of corporate profitability, and the much larger number of ordinary people are afraid of being bullied so do not speak out. But this is obviously not a full explanation.

Will protests lead to thousands of coronavirus deaths?
Who is the 'we' here and by whose yardstick the benefit measured?

Investigations into police brutality that follow viral footage have historically been quite harmful for all involved. The upside is a small reduction in police brutality. The downside is a massive increase in non-police brutality, as found in this recent paper:

all investigations that were preceded by "viral" incidents of deadly force have led to a large and statistically significant increase in homicides and total crime. We estimate that these investigations caused almost 900 excess homicides and almost 34,000 excess felonies. The leading hypothesis for why these investigations increase homicides and total crime is an abrupt change in the quantity of policing activity. In Chicago, the number of police-civilian interactions decreased by almost 90% in the month after the investigation was announced. In Riverside CA, interactions decreased 54%. In St. Louis, self-initiated police activities declined by 46%. Other theories we test such as changes in community trust or the aggressiveness of consent decrees associated with investigations -- all contradict the data in important ways.

Indeed the harm done by one day of reduced policing in Chicago may have already rendered the protests a net negative, even ignoring spreading Coronavirus:

From 7 p.m. Friday, May 29, through 11 p.m. Sunday, May 31, 25 people were killed in the city, with another 85 wounded by gunfire, according to data maintained by the Chicago Sun-Times.
In a city with an international reputation for crime — where 900 murders per year were common in the early 1990s — it was the most violent weekend in Chicago’s modern history, stretching police resources that were already thin because of protests and looting.
The Rev. Michael Pfleger, a longtime crusader against gun violence who leads St. Sabina Church in Auburn Gresham, said it was “open season” last weekend in his neighborhood and others on the South and West sides.

I also think you misunderstand your fellow EAs:

Animal rights activists are not turning out in large numbers to get tear gassed and beaten for the cause. This is pretty good evidence that they are not in the set of 'everyone else who thinks their reason is as good as I think this one is'.

Many animal rights activists believe that the status quo is far far worse than the holocaust. There are billions of animals being farmed for meat today, generally treated very cruelly. Whatever you think of the state of US race relations, it is clear that, if animals matter, they are much worse off - both much more numerous and treated much much worse!

I think what you are missing is that there are factors other than believed importance of cause that determine one's actions. For example, animal rights activists might care about suppressing the pandemic! Or they might think getting tear gassed was counter-productive!


You suggest that concessions will help reduce the scale of the protests, but my impression is that the literature suggests that actually repression is effective. For example, this study on the 2011 London Riots, where first-time looters were punished relatively harshly, found it was successful in reducing crime:

The criminal justice response was to make sentencing for rioters much more severe. We show a significant drop in riot crimes across London in the six months after the riots, consistent with a deterrence effect from the tougher sentencing. Moreover, we find that non-riot crimes actually went in the opposite direction, suggesting a response from criminals who look to have substituted away from the types of crimes that received tougher sentences. We find little evidence that spatial displacement or extra police presence on the streets of London in the wake of the riots accounts for these patterns of change. More evidence of general deterrence comes from the observation that crime also fell in the post-riot aftermath in areas where rioting did not take place.

Similarly, this study on Israeli counter-terrorism police:

An increase in repressive actions leads to a reduction in terrorist attacks. ... An increase in conciliatory actions has no effect on terrorism.

Finally my guess is that this is sort of irrelevant anyway because OP is probably not a senior government official; she may be able to persuade some friends not to go protest, but probably can't change US policy.

What are some good charities to donate to regarding systemic racial injustice?
Using a new database of islands throughout the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans we examine whether colonial origins affect modern economic outcomes. We argue that the nature of discovery and colonization of islands provides random variation in the length and type of colonial experience. We instrument for length of colonization using wind direction and wind speed. Wind patterns which mattered a great deal during the age of sail do not have a direct effect on GDP today, but do affect GDP via their historical impact on colonization. The number of years spent as a European colony is strongly positively related to the island's GDP per capita and negatively related to infant mortality. This basic relationship is also found to hold for a standard dataset of developing countries. We test whether this link is directly related to democratic institutions, trade, and the identity of the colonizing nation. While there is substantial variation in the history of democratic institutions across the islands, such variation does not predict income. Islands with significant export products during the colonial period are wealthier today, but this does not diminish the importance of colonial tenure. The timing of the colonial experience seems to matter. Time spent as a colony after 1700 is more beneficial to modern income than years before 1700, consistent with a change in the nature of colonial relationships over time. [emphasis added]

Colonialism and Modern Income - Islands as Natural Experiments

Cause Prioritization in Light of Inspirational Disasters

This seems quite ungenerous. Yes, you can construe this as having a negative 'vibe'. But it's far from the only such possible 'vibe'! The idea of exposure to mild cases of a bad thing yielding future protection through behavioral change is widespread in medicine: think of vaccination with live virus changing the behavior of your immune system, or a mild heart attack causing an unhealthy young person to change their habits.

But even if the 'vibe' was bad, in general we should try to analyze things logically, not reject ideas because they pattern match to an unpleasant sounding idea. If it was the case that global pandemics are less of an Xrisk now, owning up to it doesn't make it worse.

Will protests lead to thousands of coronavirus deaths?

These articles do not appear to contradict what Halstead said at all.

The first link appears to be an opinion piece rather than a serious piece of analysis - for example it does not include any comparison of the rates of Police killing between the UK and the US. It complains that UK police haven't been found guilty of murdering black men for a long time, but does not compare this to the number of unarmed black men shot by cops in the UK - a number which is approximately zero most years! It mentions that black men are imprisoned at higher rates than white men in the UK, but does not compare this to the rate at which they commit crimes, which is also significantly higher. Indeed, the only time it actually makes a direct comparison between the US and UK it actually (begrudgingly) agrees with Halstead:

Few people would deny that in many respects life is better for non-white people in the UK than in the US.

Overall I would not consider that article to be a particularly serious analysis of the issue.

Your second link (which I see you found by following a link in the Guardian article) is significantly more data-orientated, but again the only time it directly touches on the issue at hand it seems to agree with Halstead:

14% of deaths in police custody or otherwise following contact with the police since 1990 were BAME. This is proportionate to the population as at the 2011 census.

Finally, neither article contains any comparisons to the pandemic.

Racial Demographics at Longtermist Organizations
I’d very much like to see EA and/or Longtermist organizations hire people with “different academic backgrounds, different world views and different ideologies.”

In that case you probably shouldn't argue that an opinion being held by an ideological minority makes it especially dangerous:

I agree with Hauke that this perspective carries PR risk, and in my opinion seems especially extreme in a community that politically skews ~20:1 left vs. right.

Diversity doesn't bring any value if you then crush all disagreement!

Why Don’t We Use Chemical Weapons Anymore?

Why is this a personal blogpost? What does that mean? I thought I was posting to the EA forum?

Effective Animal Advocacy Nonprofit Roles Spot-Check
Interestingly, however, this spot-check found less evidence that women were underrepresented in management and leadership roles than OpenPhil’s research

This is a very unusual way of saying 'women were over-represented' (relative to their share of the population).

Any response from OpenAI (or EA in general) about the Technology Review feature on OpenAI?

Seems like the writer decided to stab them in the back, didn't find any weak points, but decided to give it her best shot anyway. I'm not sure any response is necessary other than "don't trust Karen Hao in the future".

Age-Weighted Voting
the the weighting scheme I suggested in the post, that would move the median voter (in the US) from age 55 to age 40. (H/T Zach Groff for these numbers. Note this doesn’t account for incentive effects, of younger people being more likely to go out to vote, which could lower the median age to a little under 40.) And under reasonable assumptions (with the most controversial being single-peaked preferences), the median voter is decisive. So it’s not like 20 year olds are now deciding what happens. On the epistocratic question, then, we should be asking whether we think 40yr olds will make better decisions than 55 year olds; not whether 20 year olds make better decisions than 60 year olds. I'd need to dig into the studies a lot more to determine whether 40 year olds discount more steeply than 55 year olds.

If you want to give extra influence to 40 year olds, it probably makes more sense just to give 40 year olds more votes. Otherwise you're putting a lot of faith in one model of how voters work, despite the median voter theorem having lost some of its academic appeal over time (multidimensional preferences, selectorate vs electorate, veto players, heresthetics).

Additionally, if we did give young people lots of extra votes, we'd probably get a Goodheart's Law type situation, where politicians would adopt special policies designed to exploit it - like promising student debt forgiveness, or to ban tuition fees (the latter of which seemed to have been quite successful at manipulating UK students to vote for the Democrat Party in 2015!)


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