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AMA: Tim Ferriss, Michael Pollan, and Dr. Matthew W. Johnson on psychedelics research and philanthropy

 Some Psychiatric medication that has shown widespread use in Russia is unlicensed in Western countries. Some of these medications have RCTs showing benefit, eg. Afobazole showed increased anxiolytic properties  when compared to diazepam and no withdrawal. Does this suggest that already existing compounds that patents aren't owned by drug company will not achieve widespread use, how will physcedelics differ?  How will physcedelics have RCTs (randomised controlled trials) conducted that compared to pre-existing treatments, look at long term efficacy and safety,  and appropriate dose be funded that will help with approval by bodies such as NICE/FDA?  The route of esketamine, (a form of Ketamine administered as a nasal spray patented by J&J for treatment resistant depression) seems to have significant drawbacks: high cost, no RCT compared to pre-existing treatments, how is this improved upon for physcedelics.

Reducing long-term risks from malevolent actors

Thanks for the post! Really well reasoned on the broad impact of malovelence.

1. It seems that any research on manipulation proof measures for detection for malevolence, would help the development of tools that would be useful for a totalitarian state.

2. I'm sceptical of further research on malevolence being helpful in stopping these people being in positions of power. At first glance I don't think a really well developed literature on malevolence, would of changed leaders coming to power in 20th century.

3. In terms of Public engagement, I am also sceptical (eg. jon ronson the psychopath test) as I suspect that making people want more altruistic people in charge, is hard to move needle on. (Interesting piece on malevelonce in leaders https://theconversation.com/narcissists-and-psychopaths-how-some-societies-ensure-these-dangerous-people-never-wield-power-118854)

4. In terms of development of genetically engineered individuals, I think it really matters more who is in charge. I doubt bio-ethicists saying dark triad traits are bad will have much of an effect. In terms of further GWAS studies, I suspect by the time this becomes feasible more GWAS on desirable personality traits will have been undertaken. And it seems that work done ahead of time will be less useful, due to earlier studies being superseded by studies with more advanced technology .

Preventing pandemics by not hunting and farming animals

There is some call in public health for work to reduce risk of zoonoses. This includes training in some LMIC's to improve hygeine and care around animals, and for vaccination of flu in some animal populations.

Market-shaping approaches to accelerate COVID-19 response: a role for option-based guarantees?

Thanks for your response! I think this is a really promising idea. Just a few minor points

1/ I agree that if set up right could incentivise pace if it includes accelerated cost esp. if it erred on the side being overly generous. Though just sceptical it will do this to a large extent, as some costs for haste are hard to quantify, eg. moving best/more staff onto this project at the detriment of other projects, and I doubt would be covered in a politically feasible payout structure (eg. 1% a month).

2/ I think the market incentive to coming first to market is quite small, as there is large social pressure to sell these products at low margins and the market for some of these products (esp. vaccines) are so huge, compared to manufacturing capability, so seems small first mover advantage , though this certainty on size of market if the put options are not used will not apply to all products.

Market-shaping approaches to accelerate COVID-19 response: a role for option-based guarantees?

Thorough recommendations, I particularly like format of key Q and As at end. However I don't see how this proposal will incentivise, aggressive ramp up in manufacturing that will decrease time to market. For example for vaccines a put up option will give similar pay out if 10 million doses are made by Jan or Feb. However the cost to the company for agressive ramp up of manufacturing capablities will be dramatically higher if they repurpose staff and equipment from manufacturing lucrative biologics to vaccines for example, to decrease time to production. Added to this there is significant expertise in the academic sector in vaccine manufacturing and already exisiting public-private partnerships that could be leveraged. In addition from an outsider perspective some of the current private partner's seem ill suited to the task, eg. Deloittes for running testing centre.

Adapting the ITN framework for political interventions & analysis of political polarisation

Thanks for this Olaf, good work! I think improving institutions is a good intervention and is probably good to have in portfolio of measures to improve longterm. As well as this I think EA public discussion is overly focused on the question on what to do with an amount of money, not with a set amount of political influence, campaigning time. Though GPI and FHI seem to do some amount of govt advising.

From a UK perspective

1) Though changing voting systems seems good would change the likely outcome elections, (more PR systems tend to favour more left parties) so would likely only be supported by parties it would benefit. This has impact even if it went to a referendum, as the alternative vote in the UK was not a PR system, and the government strongly against it which contributed to their loss.

2) Increasing voter turnout also seems quite good. Compulsory voting seems not to be talked about much in the UK, though plausibly could be supported by public(55% in 2015 yougov poll https://yougov.co.uk/topics/politics/articles-reports/2015/04/09/majority-support-compulsory-voting ), such as automatic registration (10.1016/j.electstud.2016.03.005) , increasing opening hours of polling stations (doi:10.1007/s11558-018-9305-8) or decrease voter age to 16 (10.1016/j.electstud.2012.01.007)

3) The public broadcaster BBC has had its funding cut, and more funding cuts look likely. This as well as decreasing quality, allowing less investigative journalism, will make less independent. This is because as funding is cut new organisations have to depend on outside sources of information, which is mostly legacy print media which is non-partisan in the UK.

As well 'revolving doors' exist in public service broadcasting, where many journalists and editors gain positions in government. This gives disincentive to criticise the government.

In terms of how to improve this above securing funding for BBC. Independent (in terms of funding not political positions) media organisations that are readership funded, the economist, novora media come to mind, though doubt this would be very cost effective.

From first principles I expect that improving institutions by decreasing partisanship, to be very hard. Any measure will negatively impact one side, there are a lot of people trying to change the needle either way. So I also doubt that each of the measures you proposed had as little variability in how easy it would be to implement. Likely institutional changes that do not favour one political side over the other may be more feasible at least in short term, such as political ombudsman etc. I suspect that reviewing changes to attitude towards low risks in civil service, is valuable, and seems reasonable especially post covid. Though I dont have anything groundbreaking to add, on how to do this, likely easier to see what to change if you have worked in these positions, lots of tacit knowledge. Which is why I suspect that APPG (cross party MP working group, that has outside advisors) is likely to more effective than think tank work in this area. Though it seems acceptable to have more researchers for think tank than APPG is my impression.

Coronavirus and long term policy [UK focus]

Sorry I misread point about minister, I agree that ministerial input as well, would be helpful. Also my take is that setting up a UK Nc3R type group may be harder than seems. As after 2015 concerns from dual use research, many countries set 'centre for biosecurities' that regulate dual use research eg. France and Denmark. However in the UK, life sciences funding bodies were keen to self regulate rather than set up something similar. So I suspect may not support as could quite credibly argue that they have been effective at regulating dual use research themselves.

Idea for a YouTube show about effective altruism

Yes I agree that budget would be reasonably low, think experience is more important. Seems videos made by inexperienced videographers tends to be low quality.

Does Utilitarian Longtermism Imply Directed Panspermia?

I think that the empirically the effort to prepare the biotic hedge, is likely to be be expensive in terms of resources and influence, as I suspect a lot of people would be strongly averse to directed panspernia, as it would be likely negative in some forms of negative utilitarianism, and other value systems. So it would be better for longterm future to reduce existential risk specifically.

I think SETI type searches are different, as you have to consider negative effects from contact to cuurent civilisation. Nice piece from paul christano https://sideways-view.com/2018/03/23/on-seti/

Case Study: Volunteer Research and Management at ALLFED

Some of AllFed's theory of change comes from change in government policy, through increasing resilience of food production to large risks. I am sceptical of the ability of research conducted by generalists outside of the academic system to be effective in this goal. Is there another way that Allfed is aiming to cause change, or is volunteer research helpful for another reason, providing ideas and analysis for more credible (to govts.) to compile

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