All of devansh's Comments + Replies

"Tech company singularities", and steering them to reduce x-risk

>>after a tech company singularity, such as if the tech company develops safe AGI

I think this should be "after AGI"?

1Andrew Critch10d
Yes, thanks! Fixed.
'Dropping out' isn't a Plan

Ah, I see. I guess I kind of buy this, but I don't think it's nearly as cut-and-dry as you argue, or something. Not sure how much this generalizes, but to me "staying in school" has been an option that conceals approximately as many major suboptions as "leaving school." I'd argue that for many people, this is approximately true - that is, people have an idea of where they'd want to work or what they'd want to do given leaving school, but broadly "staying in school" could mean anything from staying on ~exactly the status quo to transferring somewhere in a different country, taking a gap year, etc.

'Dropping out' isn't a Plan

I don't really see how the world is different whether or not you use the first or the second representation here? "Drop out and go work at a job" seems like a plan at a higher level of abstraction than "drop out and work in {area}," which is itself at a higher level of abstraction than "drop out and work in {area|position}," which is a higher level of abstraction than "drop out and work at ORG1." 

What's the bright line between the first and the second?

5Mark Xu25d
One key difference is that "continuing school" usually has a specific mental image attached, whereas "drop out of school" is much vaguer, making them difficult to compare between.
Go apply for 80K Advising - (Yes, right now)

Agreed (and only 20% kidding.) Having an 80k post pinned seems wonderful.

Legal support for EA orgs - useful?

Yeah, this is a good consideration; if something like this ended up happening, it would be wonderful if Tyrone could get two or three lawyers to cover the major EA hubs (US, especially CA, the UK, and maybe the Bahamas) - either in physical location or in knowledge.

Legal support for EA orgs - useful?

FWIW, I am currently running an EA org, and legal help would be generally valuable to me both in the past and in the present. My impression is that scaling an EA law firm would involve a few people at the top being EAs and the rest being perfectly fine as normal, non-aligned lawyers; this would gain a bunch of the benefits of an EA law firm (primarily, I think, a general understanding of what EA's goals are and a "cost-benefit analysis" type thinking that tries to avoid being overly conservative and is perfectly fine advising its clients to do, e.g., thing... (read more)

2Tyrone Barugh2mo
Thanks, Devansh. Scaling a traditional law firm definitely requires that 'pyramid' approach - but it isn't unusual for boutique firms (both in law, and in other professional services areas) to be mostly comprised of reasonably experienced folk. I'm reluctant to think about scaling up too much (although have of course given it some consideration) as my focus is on seeing whether the idea has merit at a more modest scale, but the composition of a more scaled up org providing legal services (and/or other professional services) might be determined by the interest EA lawyers had in doing that work - I'm speculating that if there are lots of people in the intersection of those three sets I described above, you might see more within-community growth versus hiring outside. But all of this is just a guess - focus at first would be on testing the merits with one or a small number of people.

It seems like this depends very, very heavily upon the actual person. I think the range of "when would it be best for a particular person to learn about EA" could be anywhere from, like, 10 (I imagine Eliezer) all the way up to old age for a small number of people, although the distribution seems like it hits a peak somewhere in the 14-25 range because that's when people have both critical thinking abilities and the ability to change their mind about important things.

That being said, if your goal is to get people who are going to make major contributions t... (read more)

2david_reinstein2mo
I don’t have a great answer, but I just wanted to mention that this is something we (Rethink Priotities) have thought about and will probably come back to in analysing the many years of data from the EA survey. Because people are not experimentally aside an age to learn about this, it will be hard to make strong causal inference is. Still I suspect that data will lead to more insight than the absence of data. Also, everyone is playing a very long game, note that orgs/projects like Charity Elections are introducing EA ideas in high schools and could possibly do some exogenous assignment/randomisation.
1Emrik2mo
I don't see the moral problem with trying to inspire young people to learn about something you believe is important. If you're trying to inspire them to learn about the wrong things, then I think that could be bad because the things are wrong. But at least if there are multiple groups doing this, then it teaches them that there are multiple perspectives on the world sooner rather than later, and that seems good. Also, thanks for linking the post! This is very usefwl.
Organizations Encouraging Russian Desertion?

Immediate human suffering almost certainly gives way to larger geopolitical effects in moral weight. Weakening Russian efforts likely points in the direction of a lower chance of nuclear war, for example.

2Charles He3mo
The increased chance of a nuclear war seems like an important and thoughtful consideration. I didn't see or consider this. Can you explain a bit more of this to me so I can understand?
Is Combatting Ageism The Most Potentially Impactful Form of Social Activism?

As a sixteen year old, while I appreciate that this is being talked about and am a massive proponent of teens having more rights, I think your central point is fundamentally wrong—while we're forced to go to school every day, we certainly don't get death squads for minding our own business. To my knowledge, teens being sent to juvenile detention for habitual truancy is extremely rare, and it seems like a massive stretch to argue that teens are physically restrained and forced to go to school, especially by threat of death. With parental permission, for exa... (read more)

Bounty for your best 2 minute answer to an EA 'frequently asked question'

(Note: this comment will probably draw heavily from The Precipice, because that's by far the best argument I've heard against temporal discounting. I don't have a copy of the book with me, so if this is close enough to that explanation you can just disqualify me :P)

In normal situations, it works well to discount things like money based off the time it takes to get them. After all, money is worth less as time goes on, due to inflation; something might happen to you, so you can't collect the money later on; and there's an inherent uncertainty in whether or n... (read more)

1james3mo
Thanks for your submission!
1james4mo
Heavily relying on preexisting content is okay! I expect a good answer might just come from reviewing the existing literature and mashing together the content
Earn To Volunteer: An Underutilised Path to Impact

This seems interesting, but I'm confused as to what the point of this is over "work at an EA org". It seems like most EA orgs, are bottlenecked a lot more on talent than money, and if you're doing high-talent work for an EA organization than your marginal hour is likely more valuable than $60/hr. I wonder what subset of the population would benefit substantially from this advice—it seems like earning to give and direct work cover most of the space that earning to volunteer might.

What kind of person is this advice targeted at, and why do you think that this is better than direct work for those people?

9That's Confidential4mo
Regarding bottleneck, some areas are massively funding constrained e.g. I'm not sure I could name a single mental EA mental health charity that is talent constrained. People who graduate with firsts from the world's top 3 or so neuroscience/psychology departments, with a ton of work experience, are passionate enough to be willing to volunteer 20Hs per week but one can't hire and train them up as there simply isn't enough funding. This advice is targeted at: * people who want to work for a funding constrained organisation * people who aren't sure what they want to do yet and want to test out a wide range of different options without having to commit yourself to any given one for the length of the typical employment contract. * people who want to work directly but the salary is to low and they want to supplement it. * People who want to be able to work on whatever they feel is important without having to spend their time convincing people it's worth paying them for. -Peoole earning to give in fields where you can make much more per hour as a freelancer (albeit perhaps less overall due to lower volume) who are considering transitioning to working directly. * people who aren't sufficiently 'elite' to get paid to work on an area they care about in the role they want to work in. * etc
7Jackson Wagner4mo
"If you're doing high-talent work for an EA organization than your marginal hour is likely more valuable than $60/hr." And yet, few EA orgs pay $60-$90 per hour for non-programming jobs? Seems reasonable to me that someone might want to tutor or program for cash while writing EA content on the side, rather than getting paid a low writer's wage to produce said content -- the latter has comparable income, less total work, but also less flexibility to work when you want. Plus if you're volunteering, you can more easily hop between organizations to always focus on the projects that seem highest-impact to you. Another advantage of earning-to-volunteer is to build skills in a large market where you're sure of your long-term prospects. Versus jumping into an EA career might seem riskier, since you are putting more of your life's eggs into the EA basket. I think this strategy might be suitable for some people, enabling them to have a nice (if busy) lifestyle while also having fun contributing a lot to EA. But of course I don't think EA should try to market it widely because it might come dangerously close to sounding like we are advocating for people to slack off on their day job and rip off their employers. That message would be terrible for EA's reputation.
Momentum 2022 updates (we're hiring)

Medium article throws a 404, FWIW.

2arikagan4mo
Ah sorry, it keeps adding my punctuation to the hyperlink! Fixed
A huge opportunity for impact: movement building at top universities

I mean sure, but what's important here isn't really the absolute number of intelligent/ambitious people, but the relative concentration of them. One third of Nobel prizes going to people who didn't complete their undergrad at a top 100 global university means that 2/3 of the Nobel prizes did. Out of ~30K global universities, 2/3 of Nobels are concentrated in the top 100. The talent exists outside top universities, but focusing on them with limited resources seems more tractable than spreading thin with lower average intelligence/ambition.

Of course we need to prioritize. The Nobel example we have data for, but I think that is too high a bar. My point is that there are probably a similar number of potential EAs at the big relatively high ranking state schools like University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign or University of Texas at Austin as there are at Princeton. The state school students may have lower wealth and political connections, but I think the capability is there (and perhaps less entitlement). (Disclosure: I went to Penn State, Princeton, and University of Colorado at Boulder.)

A huge opportunity for impact: movement building at top universities

For what it's worth, the US higher education system is pretty stratified in terms of intelligence. The best universities are maybe a standard deviation above the 50th best university in SAT scores, and would probably be even higher if the SAT max wasn't 1600; plus, a lot of the most ambitious and potentially successful students go to them. Moreover, top universities generally attract those students from every field; while, for example, UIUC is probably better than most Ivies at CS, the Ivies will still poach a lot of those students largely because of prest... (read more)

I am skeptical and would like to see the math on standard deviations. For the US, according to this, about one third of Nobel prizes were awarded to people who did their undergraduate at a non top 100 global university (and I'm pretty sure it would be the majority outside the global top 20 that are in the US). And you don't have to win a Nobel Prize in order to become an EA! So I think there is lots of potential talent for EA outside the global top 100, at least at the undergraduate level. A key factor here is size - many of the most elite schools are not ... (read more)

I don't think this is a good answer, especially for the large amount of karma it has.

I don't think intelligence is a complete, "gearsy" explanation for the higher value of these campuses. 

I think this issue will come up again. I think the canonization of this answer will give the wrong impression to onlookers, creating the very issues the answer tries to respond to.

3mariushobbhahn5mo
Thanks for the explanation. I didn't know it was this stratified.

I don't know; I doubt it's a problem where throwing money at it is the right answer. In any case, it's unclear to me whether doing this would actually be positive value or not. I imagine it would be quite controversial, even among EAs who are into longtermism. I just shared the idea because I thought it was interesting, not because I necessarily thought it was good.

EA-Aligned Impact Investing: Mind Ease Case Study

On reading just the summary, the immediate consideration I had was that the EMH would imply that in the counterfactual where I don't invest in Mind Ease, someone else will, and if I do invest in Mind Ease, someone else will not. After reading the post, it looks like you have two important points here against this—first, early-stage venture markets are not necessarily as subject to the EMH, and second, it's different in this case because EA-aligned investors would be willing to take a lower financial return than they could get with the same risk otherwise i... (read more)

8Brendon_Wong6mo
Thanks for commenting! Our point is not only that VC markets are inefficient and thus the EMH may not apply, but also that the EMH is only a statement on the pricing of assets, and does not in fact imply that all available assets will be funded. Thus, it is possible for investments that offer market-rate returns to go unfunded and for the EMH to still hold. Interestingly, in VC, investors and founders can actually negotiate the pricing for an investment round. Thus, it may be possible for most/all startups to produce market-rate returns if the valuation is tweaked (for example, founders getting less dollars per share than they are asking investors for in a priced round), but since many startups don't even get an investment offer, clearly not all market-rate investments are being funded. Even if this is not the case, altruistic investors/impact investors are willing to make concessionary investments in which expected returns are lower than the market rate. For example impact investors give loans to nonprofits or disadvantaged communities at interest rates lower than the market rate, gaining both impact returns and financial returns, whereas for-profit investors may pass because they are only looking at financial returns. In my opinion, it seems like the consensus is that primary market investments (like VC investing and loans directly to people and organizations) are much higher impact than secondary market investments, and I agree with this consensus. I think there may be the chance that creative secondary market strategies, like forms of shareholder advocacy, may have a counterfactual impact (the exact degree of which is unclear), but I haven't looked into it much yet. "I'm interested in further research on this concept, and I'm not sure how much EA-aligned for-profits are already working on this." Which concept are you referring to?