I study computer science and information science at Cornell University. I am a public interest technologist interested in using CS to address pressing social problems. (she/her)
I care about a lot of different U.S. policy issues and would like to get a sense of their neglectedness and tractability. So I'd love it if someone could do a survey to find out how many people in the U.S. work full time on various issues and how hard it is to get bills passed on them.
Tentative thoughts on "problem stickiness"
When it comes to comparing non-longtermist problems from a longtermist perspective, I find it useful to evaluate them based on their "stickiness": the rate at which they will grow or shrink over time.
A problem's stickiness is its annual growth rate. So a problem has positive stickiness if it is growing, and negative stickiness if it is shrinking. For long-term planning, we care about a problem's expected stickiness: the annual rate at which we think it will grow or shrink. Over the long term - i.e. time frames of 50 years or more - we want to focus on problems that we expect to grow over time without our intervention, instead of problems that will go away on their own.
For example, global poverty has negative stickiness because the poverty rate has declined over the last 200 years. I believe its stickiness will continue to be negative, barring a global catastrophe like climate change or World War III.
On the other hand, farm animal suffering has not gone away over time; in fact, it has gotten worse, as a growing number of people around the world are eating meat and dairy. This trend will continue at least until alternative proteins become competitive with animal products. Therefore, farm animal suffering has positive stickiness. (I would expect wild animal suffering to also have positive stickiness due to increased habitat destruction, but I don't know.)
The difference in stickiness between these problems motivates me to focus more on animal welfare than on global poverty, although I'm still keeping an eye on and cheering on actors in that space.
I wonder which matters more, a problem's "absolute" stickiness or its growth rate relative to the population or the size of the economy. But I care more about differences in stickiness between problems than the numbers themselves.
I'm playing Universal Paperclips right now, and I just had an insight about AI safety: Just programming the AI to maximize profits instead of paperclips wouldn't solve the control problem.
You'd think that the AI can't destroy the humans because it needs human customers to make money, but that's not true. Instead, the AI could sell all of its paperclips to another AI that continually melts them down and turns them back into wire, and they would repeatedly sell paperclips and wire back and forth to each other, both powered by free sunlight. Bonus points if the AIs take over the central bank.
In the future, can we please have breaks between talks?
Can someone please email me a copy of this article?
I'm planning to update the Wikipedia article on Social discount rate, but I need to know what the article says.
This was a very intriguing interview!
Question: If you're an economist (or other social scientist) trying to get into the global priorities field, should you join GPI or try to start global priorities research centers at other universities?
How are you planning to advertise the book? I have suggestions....
I like this development. I've heard a suggestion that EA and longtermism carry separate movement identities while continuing to have significant overlap, so they can develop and attract newcomers more independently. This seems to be in line with that suggestion.
I would try persuading them to donate to both their chosen charity and an EA charity or EA Fund. You could also help them find a charity that's in the same cause as the one they've chosen but does more effective work. The idea is to grow the pie, not make people move donations from one charity to another.
Thank you for doing this!
I think I read the forum too much and it's honestly information overload :( but these roundups help me get a better sense of what's going on in the community!