All of Evan_Gaensbauer's Comments + Replies

Moral Progress Reading List

Yeah, I've seen that one  before. Thanks for sharing. I haven't read it in full yet, so I couldn't yet evaluate whether it'd be a fit entry to add to the reading list. I'll check it out though.

Moral Progress Reading List

Thanks for sharing. I've got a couple questions if you might know any answers.

1. Are you aware of anyone in EA who has studied the problem of moral regress?
2. Are there any authors (in or outside of EA)  who has studied the question of making moral progress to decrease the risk the future may be morally much worse whose research you might be willing to include in a reading list like this? 

4Larks10d
Somewhat related: Gwern on the Narrowing Circle [https://www.gwern.net/The-Narrowing-Circle].
EA in the mainstream media: if you're not at the table, you're on the menu

Yeah, I'm from Canada, which is both similar and close enough to the USA for the country's politics to be more understandable to us. There are others in EA from Europe who occasionally have some difficulty understanding the complexities of American politics too. Anyway, while it's worth checking with some Americans in EA who might know better, my impression is that most of the criticisms of EA from the political left have been from those further left of mainstream Democrats in the United States (e.g., Clinton, Obama, Biden, etc.).

EA in the mainstream media: if you're not at the table, you're on the menu

I was thinking through such a possibility descriptively, and how the EA community might respond, without trying to prescribe the EA community in a real-world scenario. I didn't indicate that well, though, so please pardon me for the error. 

To clarify, given the assumptions that criticisms of SBF's or FTX's investments or donations might be used to attack EA as a movement by association, and the EA community also had some responsibility to distance itself from those efforts, it wouldn't be that hard to do so. I personally disagree with the second assum... (read more)

EA in the mainstream media: if you're not at the table, you're on the menu

I'll oblige others who don't want the WSJ op-ed to get more attention by only responsible to the article in this comment thread. I don't expect specifically trait-feign or any other person to respond to this comment, though it'd be appreciated if anyone can provide relevant information. 

FTX bought the naming rights to the Miami Heat’s arena and lots of umpire and referee uniforms. Since May, he has been bailing out failing crypto firms

This is the first I've read of this. This doesn't sound  good or effective at face value. It's being used to make... (read more)

There seems to me to be a fallacy here that assumes every action SBF takes needs to be justifiable on its first order EA merits.

The various stakes FTX have taken in crypto companies during this downturn are obviously not done in lieu of donations - they are business decisions, presumably done with the intention of making more money, as part of the process of making FTX a success. Whether they are good decisions in this light is hard for me to say, but I'd be inclined to defer to FTX here.

EA in the mainstream media: if you're not at the table, you're on the menu

The EA movement usually tries to take good criticisms seriously. EA seeks to be an intellectual and scientific movement as well. One of the reasons why EA invests so much in self-criticism is because EA can't get enough good criticism from outside sources and criticism remains an important part of peer review. The worst problem isn't how some criticisms judge EA in general but criticisms that are based on misconceptions, or misunderstandings, and thus spread false information about EA.

EA in the mainstream media: if you're not at the table, you're on the menu

It's possible that it would be better to do this by hiring a PR agency with a pre-existing team (which has fewer start up costs) but people who work in PR say that, over time, you just end up paying exorbitant fees if you take this approach. 

Organizations in the EA ecosystem often have trouble hiring qualified candidates from outside EA who also understand the specialized technical knowledge needed for most work in EA. A single, permanent PR team focused exclusively on EA would be better able to learn EA better over time and be the most competent kind of candidates. 

3Jack Lewars11d
This is consistent with the other advice I've been given. Apparently you need some people to really 'specialise' in your area, so that they can do high fidelity messaging, be the go-to place for comment etc.; so this seems like a good argument for trying to find a small group of EA-aligned (or 'teachable') professionals and then buy their time.
EA in the mainstream media: if you're not at the table, you're on the menu

I've been advised by people in PR that the most cost-effective way to do this would be to hire a team of 2-3 full-time people from the PR sector and pay them at market rates (so I guess ~$500k/year).

The quoted $500k/year is for all 2-3 of said full-time people, not $500k per person, right?

3Jack Lewars11d
Yes, although this was a total guess, assuming $200k/person for two senior people and then $100k for a more junior person. I have no idea what good PR professionals earn. There is also a practical issue of trying to have multiple people covering different markets/languages, but I guess you use consultants strategically to overcome that.
EA in the mainstream media: if you're not at the table, you're on the menu

I've seen left-wing criticisms of EA being a movement that wants to decrease taxes, especially on/in the crypto industry, based on how the critics perceived Sam's political plays. (I'm not aware of any such recent criticisms commenting on Dustin's and Cari's donations of any kind.) 

EA in the mainstream media: if you're not at the table, you're on the menu

whether EA advocated for pandemic preparedness before 2020

The biggest funding organization for EA-prioritized causes is Good Ventures (GV). Most of their philanthropic giving is on the recommendation of Open Philanthropy (OP). OP is one of if not the most significant organization of its kind in EA. "Biosecurity and pandemic preparedness" has been its main focus area for long-termism/x-risk reduction, after risks from advanced AI, since 2015. GV has on the recommendations of OP given almost $130 million USD to date to efforts focused on biosecurity and pand... (read more)

1Noah Scales11d
$130 million? Nice, I don't know how that compares to the totals spent by other NGO's or the US government or some organization like the WHO, but the number shows EA commitment to pandemic preparedness over time, well before SARS-COV-2 became a concern. Frankly, the author of the Journal piece (who I called the OP, sorry if that was confusing) did do a bad job, because: * he attacked an organization that funds charitable giving. To do it well you gotta claim there's loads of corruption or that the causes are something unpopular or obscure (like subsidizing tofu or saving endangered wild tree mammals in Borneo or whatever). The most he managed to insinuate is that you EA folks like to encourage public sector efforts and that your cause choices are redundant. * he downplayed efforts to help pandemic preparedness. Correct me if I'm wrong, but that's a popular issue right now, isn't it, you just need to mention that said EA folks had the foresight to begin work on pandemic preparedness in 2015. * he made an obvious attempt to align himself with folks that hate taxes. Unfortunately for him, those same folks like charitable giving, and the majority of EA involves philanthropy, not special interest work. * he went for unpopular ("liberal") associations, and you folks are a bit weird, but that's because you're super-smart. His focus on the liberal, leftie associations also doesn't really matter. It should be easy to ignore in your response, or tackle directly. The only way to screw up a response to the guy would be to miss how he's put himself in a corner and then write as weird a response as possible. For example, "with medium epistemic confidence we predict, with a 5% confidence interval based on scientific studies (see the footnotes), that the majority of our s- and x-risk causes conform to preference utilitarianism, meaning that both our longtermist and short-term outcomes are consistent with our aforementioned values of.."
EA in the mainstream media: if you're not at the table, you're on the menu

Devin's comment was on a post I wrote last week. It was better than my post. I meant to post a comment sharing and recommending it to others to read until I noticed Devin had already shared the comment. I agree with almost every point Devin made. I recommend others participating in this current conversation read his comment too.

EA in the mainstream media: if you're not at the table, you're on the menu

Most of the criticisms of EA may be more "leftist" than liberal. If you don't know, "leftist" is a catch-all term for 'left-of-liberal' ideologies, i.e., ones thoroughly to the left of the mainstream of the Democratic Party, or even social democrats. 

It's no fault of EA to not understand the distinction well because leftists themselves are often barely able to distinguish if by "leftism" they mean some kind of socialism or something else, or where the dividing line is between liberalism and far-left ideologies. 

Anyway, some of the more liberal mo... (read more)

2Guy Raveh11d
I don't know about EA, but I'm from another country with a different political map, so I'm trying to approximate US politics and don't really dinstinguish between "liberals", "progressives", "leftists" etc. In my country (Israel) we mostly think in terms of "left" and "right", and economic liberalism is farily new.
EA in the mainstream media: if you're not at the table, you're on the menu

[content warning: sarcasm; less-than-charitable commentary on critics of EA]

It's not that ironic if the title is meant to imply the inside view is the only one he cares about.

Going Too Meta and Avoiding Controversy Carries Risks Too: A Case Study

Upvoted. No need to apologize because your criticism was valid on the basis of how I presented my case, which didn't leave my main arguments particularly clear. 

I still think the piece was a net benefit as written, and didn't harm EA, or Remmelt himself, to any degree that we should be especially worried about.

Yeah, I haven't read the comments on Scott's follow-up post yet because there were not many when I first noticed the post. I'm guessing there are more comments now and some themes among the reactions that may serve as an indicator as to the ways... (read more)

3Devin Kalish15d
Interestingly, we might not disagree on very much after all. I probably did too much pattern matching between your writing and broader impressions I get about EA media strategies. Still, glad we got to chat it out!
Going Too Meta and Avoiding Controversy Carries Risks Too: A Case Study

Upvoted for asking important clarifying questions. To answer them, the argument is not that:

  1. External critics should post on the EA Forum. There are a lot of problems with that Devin Kalish covered well in this comment.
  2. Those already in the EA community should only post on the EA Forum. It'd be preferable that they also post on the EA Forum, such as summarizing conversations on social media, or posting links to their personal blog posts.

The argument is:

  1. Community members should consider posting more on the EA Forum, even if there are perceived risks to doing
... (read more)
4Guy Raveh15d
Upvoted, especially for this: The forum is public and will get more and more exposure as the movement grows in numbers, funding and access to power. And this is a great thing - it allows anyone who supports us, is against us, or is affected by our actions to get a fully transparent impression of what we do and why.
Going Too Meta and Avoiding Controversy Carries Risks Too: A Case Study

Upvoted. Thanks for taking putting in the time for the thoughtful response. I wasn't sure whether the message I was trying to get across would land when I was writing this post, so your comment confirms that.

It seems as though a standard media strategy of EAs is, if someone publishes a hit piece on us somewhere, ignore it and "respond" by presenting EA ideas better to begin with elsewhere. This is a way of being positive rather than negative in interactions, and avoiding signal-boosting bad criticisms. I don't know how to explain how I have such a differen

... (read more)
4Devin Kalish16d
Thanks for the gracious response, and apologies for misunderstanding. I think I still disagree with parts of your post. I disagree with parts of his piece and think that Alexander could have done a better job getting background on Remmelt's piece before singling it out (and I also think it would have been a good idea for him to crosspost it to the forum, although he was uncomfortable with this), but I still think the piece was a net benefit as written, and didn't harm EA, or Remmelt himself, to any degree that we should be especially worried about. I do think interaction with the forum is generally beneficial, both for insiders and interested outsiders, but I'm not nearly so worried about the costs of publishing things about EA off the forum, and think many of the problems with doing this that exist in at least some cases are self-inflicted by current EA norms I would rather challenge instead.
Tales from the Thrifts: From savings-and-loan crooks to crypto hucksters

Here are the facts nobody else has bothered telling you and you apparently haven't bothered to check yourself, or even ask about. 

1. "Honor not only the philanthropy but the personality and other activities of billionaire philanthropists because they are loyal to the EA brand" is no principle of EA

It never has been. It never will be. It's not even an idea in EA. Some individual participants in may behave like that's the case but that's not representative of any part of EA. Even the biggest funders of EA you've not mentioned yet on the EA Forum ... (read more)

Tales from the Thrifts: From savings-and-loan crooks to crypto hucksters

I don't know if you noticed but I personally replied to your current short form asking if this community is willing to debate the founding principles of EA by confirming I'm willing to debate. You also asked where to look for critical discussion of these ideas but didn't specify which ideas. You can find them by browsing through the 'criticism of effective altruism' tag. If you want to identify criticism of a specific idea, search with the keywords, in quotations, "criticism of effective altruism" and also whatever subject you want to see critical discussi... (read more)

3Evan_Gaensbauer16d
Here are the facts nobody else has bothered telling you and you apparently haven't bothered to check yourself, or even ask about. 1. "Honor not only the philanthropy but the personality and other activities of billionaire philanthropists because they are loyal to the EA brand" is no principle of EA. It never has been. It never will be. It's not even an idea in EA. Some individual participants in may behave like that's the case but that's not representative of any part of EA. Even the biggest funders of EA you've not mentioned yet on the EA Forum yet have for years received major criticism for their other philanthropic efforts, or their adverse consequences, especially political donations most in EA have disagreed with. 2. Sam Bankman-Fried has already received criticism from within EA and decent criticisms from outside EA have been appreciated too. That includes the role of both the crypto industry and his recent contributions to various political campaigns. I won't link to any particular criticism here on the EA Forum because there are several. You can find them by using the keywords "crypto", "FTX", "Sam Bankman-Fried", or "political" in a single search. 3. Peter Thiel only ever donated to one organization associated with one cause in EA. He stopped because the growing consensus on the impact of AI on the future completely contradicted Thiel's perspective. Peter Thiel only ever donated to the Machine Intelligence Research Institute (MIRI). He hasn't donated to MIRI since 2014. Most of those donations occurred before EA had even begun as a movement or AI safety/alignment was as strongly associated with EA. He has never donated to any other charity at any time that has ever received widespread endorsement from any section of EA. That was also during a time when MIRI wasn't as explicit about the kind of perspective on AI capabilities development they've continued to have until the present. MIRI was one of the main organizations behind a major international cam
Effective Altruism for Muslims

This is great. I'm drafting a post right now covering the different worldviews other than utilitarianism that are actively included in EA in practice. There is EA for Christians, for Jews and for Buddhists. The question of "what about Muslims?" has awkwardly not had an answer for a while but now there is! I am an admin or member for several EA Slack servers and Facebook groups, so please let me know if you want me to post or share anything about EA for Muslims.

2Kaleem17d
Hey Evan, we're happy for this to be shared far and wide !
It's Time to Fix How Effective Altruism Is Perceived

It shouldn't matter who is doing the messaging, so one of my goals with this sequence is to make it matter less. There are unfortunately thousands of people who disagree with you. Setting the record straight isn't about criticism but about solving the problem. As to different personal experiences, the experience can be valid while it's attributed to the wrong cause.

For example, if someone is excluded in some activities in EA because they are not a utilitarian, that's a problem but the problem doesn't exist because EA is exclusively for utilitarians. That's... (read more)

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Criticism of EA Criticism Contest

Who are some examples you have in mind of high-status critics of utilitarianism in EA?

Criticism of EA Criticism Contest

Well, technically, yes. I'm seeking more than guesses, though, too. I want to know why they're considered heretical. I expect there is something closer to a fact of the matter, given Zvi stated it as though he was confident he knows what the reasons are. Some of those may also be what consequeneces different people in EA fear if those criticisms were to be expressed. I want to know what those are too.

Criticism of EA Criticism Contest

For those more fundamental criticisms of EA that "can't" be publicly expressed on the internet, why? What are the reasons they can't be stated on the internet?

0Thomas Kwa18d
My guess is they are perceived as heretical [https://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2022/01/what-is-actually-a-heretical-view.html] .
Peter_Layman's Shortform

Yes, it's open to debate on the merits of its founding principles. I'm willing to have a debate, discussion, conversation, whatever, here, in private over a video call or email, or whatever you might prefer. 

Who Want to Collaborate on an Effective Altruism for Dummies Sequence?

No, this is great. Thanks for sharing. 

Resources like these can be used by pulling existing representations of crucial information and bringing them together as a sequential, coherent whole. I don't want to create any unnecessary redundancy. At the same time, though, information like this should be concentrated in a single spot online, or at least presented in a way that meets the needs of those who are finding EA inaccessible. 

I'm aware in the last year or two the Centre for Effective Altruism (CEA) and others have been trying to redress this by... (read more)

EA Blog Recommendation: Thing of Things, by Ozy Brennan

Oh, thanks, I've added it to the post as another recommended blog post. I just did a keyword search for 'effective altruism' on Thing of Things and linked to a few of the posts that looked the most approachable for a new reader. There could be a lot of EA-related content on there that doesn't have the phrase 'EA' in it.

Critiques of EA that I want to read

I'm aware "bed nets are colonialism" is kind of barely a strawman of some of the shallowest criticisms of EA from the political left but is that the literal equivalent of any real criticism you've seen?

Apology

That article from Medium.com appears to have been removed. That's relevant given that Jacy has now begun publicly interacting with the EA community and these past allegations have been brought up again.

The Forum should consider anonymizing names

Summary: Doing this in practice is literally almost possible. 

The goals of having the EA Forum be a platform with open discussion and arguments evaluated based on quality and usefulness with impartiality to whoever wrote them can only be achieved by other means. 

It's not a matter of steelmanning why it might be harmful. I would be okay with anonymizing all user accounts on the EA Forum too but it's not a matter of opinion because any attempt to do so is practically guaranteed to fail. The EA Forum serves other necessary functions that are (consid... (read more)

[Resolved] When will "EA Forum Docs" be taken out of the beta stage and replace Markdown as the default formatting option?

I've learned from others' answers there is apparently an option to edit default account setting and also I don't know how to navigate the basic features of user interfaces. I do appreciate your input though.

[Resolved] When will "EA Forum Docs" be taken out of the beta stage and replace Markdown as the default formatting option?

Thank you for providing this information as a public service. This comment will be the last one I ever post with markdown as the default setting for formatting.

[Resolved] When will "EA Forum Docs" be taken out of the beta stage and replace Markdown as the default formatting option?

This is very helpful. You are more of a gentleman than anyone in EA who may have received knighthood and more of a scholar than anyone the most decorated academic in this movement.

U.S. EAs Should Consider Applying to Join U.S. Diplomacy

I haven't read this yet but I appreciate this post because it's important. It's so important that I will push back on the title of this post for understating how imperative this is. It isn't enough for some in EA to only consider applying to join U.S. diplomacy. Some of them should really, definitely do it for sure.

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US Citizens: Targeted political contributions are probably the best passive donation opportunities for mitigating existential risk

Are there one or more reasons you didn't mention by name the candidate whose campaign to which you've contributed, Carrick Flynn, a participant in effective altruism who has a professional background in x-risk reduction, as opposed to only being someone who has privately been vetted by trusted peers?

Did Peter Thiel give "the keynote address at an EA conference"?

Summary: Peter Thiel spoke at the EA Summit conferences organized in both 2013 and 2014 but was the singular keynote speaker at the 2014 conference. The other affiliation Thiel had with EA at the time was through Leverage Research and the Machine Intelligence Research Institute, two EA-affiliated non-profit organizations to which Thiel had been a major donor for multiple years. Leverage Research was one of the main organizations sponsoring the 2013 and 2014 conferences. Thiel has not donated to MIRI since at least 2015 due to a difference of perspective on... (read more)

What are the numbers in mind for the super-short AGI timelines so many long-termists are alarmed about?

Thanks for putting in the effort. This is helpful information. I've got a few clarifying questions, though please don't feel obliged to answer them if you don't have the time or don't have a sense of the answer. You've already helped much and I can search for answers elsewhere if need be.

  1. To summarize:

a. The low/near end of the predicted distribution of the timeline for AI being at or near general intelligence is roughly 5 years out.

b. The median prediction for when super-human AGI will be achieved, i.e., ‘transformative AI,’ or ‘superintelligence,’ is... (read more)

Should the forum have posts (or comments) only viewable by logged-in forum members

This option should be chosen only after alternatives that neither increase risk nor decrease transparency in EA have been assessed in more detail.

Should the forum have posts (or comments) only viewable by logged-in forum members

Summary: Excessive privacy measures on a forum for a movement that otherwise claims to be among the most transparent of all movements may easily provoke increased efforts by, for example, journalists to gain access to that information. A process by which some sensitive information is trusted as secured may also provoke a false sense that information hazards of  global significance are secured by the same means. That is insufficient, so there should be multiple procedures or protocols for securing different kinds of information actors in EA seek to kee... (read more)

The best $5,800 I’ve ever donated (to pandemic prevention).

Summary: I am aware there are grassroots efforts from groups of individuals in effective altruism to support Carrick Flynn that exist independently of his campaign, or at least not officially affiliated with it. It's not evident in what way(s) this post may or may not be affiliated with Flynn's campaign. Yet I became aware of concerns among others in EA about how communications from active campaign supporters seem hasty and ambiguous. I present my similar experience below to inform further discussion.

I noticed this post when it was initially published a co... (read more)

Announcing Impact Island: A New EA Reality TV Show

This already almost exists in effective altruism and it's easy to imagine how it would be established. 

Many retreats spanning several weeks or even a few months have already been established in effective altruism. The EA Hotel also already exists. A similar physical base that will allow people from the EA community on an international level to freely live and work with each other has been proposed by FTX. 

The proposal placed it on a Caribbean Island. The same has been proposed for the charter city in Honduras, which isn’t an island but is part of... (read more)

4Greg_Colbourn4mo
We actually had documentary film makers and major TV networks interested in the EA Hotel at the start. We turned them down. (We also don't tend to vote people out.)

The expected utility could potentially be extremely negative. If they were to suck enough as a fighter, they'd rapidly become casualties and thus liabilities. It could be especially bad if they were incapacitated at a time when their fellow fighters needed someone to have their back or a crisis when defence is needed and lives are on the line, especially civilian lives. The risk is not only of someone who may never have held a gun but also someone who is facing down tanks.

I know someone who said their mom might go volunteer in Poland to help with humanitar... (read more)

Is Anyone Else Seeking to Help Community Members in Ukraine Who Make Refugee Claims?

Here is an update on our efforts in Canada.

  1. There are nearly five of us who would be willing to sponsor a refugee to settle in Canada (indefinitely or for however long the war might last). There is a requisite amount of money that must be committed beforehand to cover at least a few months worth of costs for settling in Canada and living here for a few months. Determining whether 3 or more of us would be able to cover those costs appears to be the most significant remaining bottleneck before we decide whether to take this on.

  2. There are two effective al

... (read more)
Is Anyone Else Seeking to Help Community Members in Ukraine Who Make Refugee Claims?

Thanks for your interest. Some of us are still learning the details about one criterion that the five sponsors for any refugee live in the same area. That might mean all sponsors need to live in the same municipality, district, province, etc. 

I'm aware of only one other EA community member in Alberta who may be interested in sponsoring a refugee but I don't know, so I'd have to ask. There may be others in Alberta who might also be willing to sponsor a refugee but I would need to try contacting them. As of now, I am aware there is only one potential refugee in question who'd need to be sponsored. I'll keep you updated.

Bibliography of EA writings about fields and movements of interest to EA

There are some movements mentioned above I've studied to varying degrees of breadth and depth but informally. I might do some shorter write-ups about parts of those movements informative to EA but don't cover the complete scope of what the community would want to learn from them. If others in EA have also studied these movements or would be willing to collaborate on researching them, please let me know.

  •  Anti-nuclear movement
  • Civil Rights Movement
  • Cognitive Revolution
  • Socialism (including Marxism, communism and anarchism)
  • Technocracy movement
  • Women's rights movement (mostly in but not exclusively limited to Western countries)
Bibliography of EA writings about fields and movements of interest to EA

A mistake EA as a community made, and, again, this includes me, is to consider these ideologies and the movements they've inspired in mostly contemporary terms. Never mind socialism, beyond only neo-liberalism, liberalism  itself in relation to EA could be the subject of its own book-length work. Here are some examples of what I mean for all of this:

  • John Stuart Mill is one of the fathers of utilitarianism. Along with early modern economists like Adam Smith and David Ricardo, he is also one of the fathers of liberalism. That's what most in EA already k
... (read more)
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