Head of Research and Policy @ ALTER - Association for Long Term Existence and Resilience
6836 karmaJoined Oct 2018Working (6-15 years)


  • Received career coaching from 80,000 Hours
  • Attended more than three meetings with a local EA group
  • Completed the AGI Safety Fundamentals Virtual Program
  • Completed the In-Depth EA Virtual Program


Deconfusion and Disentangling EA
Policy and International Relations Primer


Yes, I see a strong argument for the claim that the companies are in the best position to shoulder the harms that will inevitably come along, and pass that risk onto their customers through higher prices - but the other critical part is that this also changes incentives because liability insurers will demand the firms mitigate the risks. (And this is approaching the GCR argument, from a different side.)

I think that the use of insurance for moderate harms is often a commercial boondoggle for insurers, a la health insurance, which breaks incentives in many ways an leads to cost disease. And typical insurance regimes shift burden of proof about injury in damaging ways because insurers have deep pockets to deny claims in court and fight cases that establish precedents. I also don't think that it matters for tail risks - unless explicitly mandating unlimited coverage, firms will have caps in the millions of dollars, and will ignore tail risks that will bankrupt them. 

One way to address the tail, in place of strict liability, would be legislation allowing anticipated harms to be stopped via legal action, as opposed to my understanding that pursuing this type of prior restraint for uncertain harms isn't possible in most domains. 

I'd be interested in your thoughts on these points, as well as Cecil and Marie's.

I would be interested in understanding whether you think that joint-and-several liability among model training, model developers, application developers, and users would address many of the criticisms you point out against civil liability. As I said last year, "joint-and-several liability for developers, application providers, and users for misuse, copyright violation, and illegal discrimination would be a useful initial band-aid; among other things, this provides motive for companies to help craft regulation to provide clear rules about what is needed to ensure on each party’s behalf that they will not be financially liable for a given use, or misuse." 

I also think that this helps mitigate the issue with fault-based liability in proving culpability, but I'm agnostic about which liability regime is justified.

Lastly, I think that your arguments mean that there's good reason to develop a clear proposal for some new liability standard, perhaps including requirements for uncapped liability insurance for some specific portion of eventual damages, rather than assume that the dichotomy of strict vs. fault based is immutable.

If you find anyone who quotes that as an excuse where a modern Halachik authority would rule that they don't have too much money for that to apply to them, I'll agree they are just fine only giving 20%. (On the other hand, my personal conclusion is less generous.) But DINKs or single people  making $100k+ each who comprise most of the earning to give crowd certainly don't have the same excuse!

It was actually quoting the first bit; "The amount of charity one should give is that if you can afford to, give as much as is needed. Under ordinary circumstances, a fifth of one's property is most laudable. To give one-tenth is normal. To give less than one-tenth is stingy."

To ruin the joke, cf. Taanis 9a and even more, Yoreh Deah 249:
שיעור נתינתה אם ידו משגת יתן כפי צורך העניים ואם אין ידו משגת כל כך יתן עד חומש נכסיו מצוה מן המובחר ואחד מעשרה מדה בינונית פחות מכאן עין רעה

Steinsaltz: "development" - This is the mitzvah of "Tikkun Olam"

Commentaries on the Mishnah of Rabbi Ord:

Rashi: "three permissible cause areas" - cause areas, not fathers.
Tosfos: "cause areas" - If the mishna calls these cause areas not fathers, per [Rashi's] notebooks, why does Rabbi bar bar Hana call them categories? Clearly, these must be categories. How, then, do we explain the words of the master [Rashi]? Perhaps the Mishna was careful not to use the word "category" because parent categories requires a listing of child categories, but the child categories are subject to an extensive dispute between charity evaluators. For this reason, it is clear that there are categories with subcategories, but the word categories is not used, thereby explaining Rashi's note.
Ritva: "cause areas" - The answer of Tosfos does not explain Rashi's words. Why is the dispute about subcategories enough to prevent the mishna from using exact language? Further, it is unclear which dispute Tosfos refers to, as there are disputes both about interventions, and individual charities. Instead, we see that cause areas are each a Father of Fathers [supercategory], and interventions are the fathers [categories], while specific donation opportunities are the children [subcategories].

Rashi: "long-termism" - the time required is explained in the Gemara.

Rashi: "global health" - The health of humans around the globe, not the globe itself.
Tosfos: "global health" - The sages of Greece and Rome have taught that the world is a ball.

Rashi: "Bal Tashchit" - as the verse says "you must not destroy its trees, wielding the ax against them"
Tosfos: "bal tashchit" - As explained in [Rashi's] notebooks, this is referring to trees. How is it possible that animal welfare is included, but plant welfare, which is the source of the prohibition, is not? There are those who say that "animal" is not precise. This is difficult, because in that case it should have said "living thing welfare" It is brought in a Braitha that Brian Tomasik rules this way. However, this is a dispute with our Mishna, and does not resolve the contradiction.

Perhaps worth noting that very long term discounting is even more obviously wrong because of light-speed limits and the mass available to us that limits long term available wealth - at which point discounting should be based on polynomial growth (cubic) rather than exponential growth. And around 100,000-200,000 years, it gets far worse, once we've saturated the Milky Way.

Load more