Wiki Contributions


Apply to the ML for Alignment Bootcamp (MLAB) in Berkeley [Jan 3 - Jan 22]

Have you thought of recording the sessions and putting them online afterwards? I'd be interested in watching, but couldn't apply (on a honeymoon in Tahoe, which is close enough to Berkeley, but I imagine my partner would kill me if I went missing each day to attend an ML bootcamp). 

Liberty in North Korea, quick cost-effectiveness estimate

Sorry I wasn't clear, I'm thinking on the spot.  Say someone who leaves has an x chance of being the spark that starts a revolution within North Korea. Without this person, the chance of revolution has decreased, so it will take longer for it to potentially happen. Therefore, we should include the entire population of North Korea's happiness plus their descendants to this calculation based on the increased unlikelihood of their freedom. 

These probabilities are made up purely for example but say there's a 0.01% chance any of these people could have helped start a movement towards freeing the entire population. They've helped 222 people escape so that's (222*0.01)%. The population is 25.78m with an average growth rate of ~1.5%. Assume my made up probability above is correct then we're reducing the chance of this group of people being free by 2% each year for the sake of 222 lives (plus their descendants). The question, I think, is if the possibility of any of these 222 people being a key figure in a potential revolution is high enough that in a population ratio of 1:116,000 it would be better for them to have remained in their country. It'd take many generations from the 222 people to equal the QALY increase of improving the odds of ~26m peoples freedom for a single year by 2%. 

On a side note I don't actually know if you can use probabilities of QALYs like this, so maybe my thinking is flawed. I'm sort of assuming 26m * gives a rough calculation  but as I write this I'm doubting myself. 

Half-assing it with everything you've got

Great! Harness the perfectionist within you, and point it towards the goal of hitting your target with minimum effort.

Instead of being a perfectionist about the paper, be a perfectionist about writing the paper. Be a perfectionist about identifying good strategies, about abandoning sunk costs, about killing your darlings, about noticing when you're done. Be a perfectionist about wasting no attention. Be a perfectionist about learning from your mistakes. Perfectionism can be a powerful tool, but there's no need to point it at overachieving on metrics you don't care about.


Wow, this is a great idea, I will have to try remember it next time I end up optimising for the wrong metrics. 

Thomas Kwa's Shortform

I agree with these points. I've worked in the space for a few years (most notably for IOHK working on Cardano) and am happy to offer some advice. Saying that, I would much rather work on something directly valuable (climate change or food security) than earning to give at the moment... 

Buck's Shortform

I remember there being some sort of text saying you should try a 1% donation for a few years first to check you're happy making the pledge. Perhaps this issue has been resolved since you joined? 

Liberty in North Korea, quick cost-effectiveness estimate

Less cost-effective: Those who flea North Korea are likely rebellious, anti-authoritarian, and brave. By accommodating these people in fleeing, are we reducing the chance of internal pressure in North Korea that could topple the regime and result in these benefits happening for the whole population?  

If we include descendants as 'more cost-effective', then we should include them in the 'less cost-effective' column when calculating the possibility that someone who leaves, had they remained, could have had an impact on earlier freedom in North Korea.