Gavriel Kleinwaks

341 karmaJoined Aug 2022


Great to see your thinking laid out this way, and of course thank you for your interest in our (1Day Sooner/Rethink Priorities) report! 

It was useful to see the discussion of possible overhype from the funding side of the field, since I don't have insight into funding decisions. On the other hand, there are reasons funders might want to focus attention on far-UV, without disregarding the usefulness of conventional-wavelength GUV: since far-UV requires more research than conventional-wavelength systems at this time, but might ultimately be easier to install, the far-UV research payoff could be very large for increasing adoption of GUV in general. I expect that conventional-wavelength systems would benefit from investment into R&D for easier installation, but that's not obviously a place for philanthropic funding. The safety studies necessary for far-UV are too expensive for the current market size, so if far-UV research does not get more philanthropic funding than conventional-wavelength GUV, far-UV safety studies might not be performed in a rigorous way. However, I would agree that funders should be wavelength-agnostic if they are directly funding installations.

Because of the challenges facing comprehensive far-UV analysis, I was surprised that you didn't think it would be very impactful for philanthropists to fund studies--broadly speaking, I agree about the lack of expertise, but this is a small enough field that the informed voices are fairly well-known within the field and I think interested philanthropic bodies would be able to consult those informed opinions. Again, I don't have insight into the funding side of the process, so that may be optimistic. I am certainly biased, since 1Day Sooner does regularly apply/advocate for philanthropic funding for technical research! On the reverse side, personal experience has left me pessimistic about policy advocacy for GUV research, but your report has swayed me somewhat to at least consider the fact that there is not a concerted, heavyweight policy advocacy effort in this area.   

I appreciated the argument on capturing the bulk of the risk by later deployment; it was a very helpful presentation of the case. I do think that there is a learning-by-doing element to GUV rollout (for either type of GUV), where rollout and analysis in select environments is necessary for better understanding broader GUV use cases. Identifying those environments is an element of the current 1Day Sooner IAQ project. I also would love to see the cost of GUV installation fall sooner rather than later in order to address endemic disease burden worldwide, e.g. via widespread installation in TB clinics. (I'm fully aware that this use case might remain impractical, but it's nice to consider the potential to address global health! Of course if a funder is specifically trying to fight TB, I’d still recommend sinking their money into vaccine research or treatment.)

Finally, this report was extremely helpful for a current 1Day Sooner project! We're working on a report to assess the potential for market shaping techniques to accelerate the adoption of indoor air cleaning technology. This post, and writing up this comment, really helped clarify some of my thinking about the possible directions we'd been tossing around, so a huge thank you for that! 

I was originally not sure if I would donate this year, as my living expenses skyrocketed. I wound up donating to The Human League--the donation was much smaller than ones I've sent to charities in previous years, but THL was a new charity for me. I realized I have been underweighting animal welfare relative to my values, due to my discomfort thinking about it. I decided to donate to THL both because I was convinced by the cost-effectiveness argument, and as an expression of my ongoing effort to bring my actions more in line with my values. Here's hoping that each new year finds me more ethical and compassionate than the last. :)

There is heavy geographic concentration, but the secondary concentrations include Boston, DC, and NYC in my vague sense of things. It looks like organizations are self-added to the newsletter, so these are just the ones that have volunteered to provide updates. I can say that we're hiring for roles with a DC preference: 1daysooner.org/jobs. 

I switched to a much more motivating job, and then later began taking ADHD medication, each of which was a major boost. The change in motivation (when I switched from an academic lab to a small nonprofit) has more interesting factors, so to break those out:

  • I received more feedback and demonstrated interest from colleagues.
  • My colleagues respected me more--the new workplace allowed for more specialization, and was less hierarchical...
  • ...which made it much less intimidating to ask for in-depth explanations, so I probably learned a lot faster.
  • Projects had much more clear-cut checkpoints and endpoints.
  • Individual tasks didn't have severe failure points, so if a detail was wrong, I didn't have to start from scratch.

This is stellar advice! What's wild is, I have accidentally stumbled on each of these techniques at various points and just never really consciously identified the technique, which meant it wasn't repeatable at will. This post really crystallizes important options for me; definitely feeling some sheepish "shoulda figured that one out" combined with relief that you did it for me. THANK YOU.

Great theme idea. I'll aim to post (working title) "Impostor syndrome can be valuable information."

Personally I have also been skeptical of Nonlinear's work, BUT before anything else, I just want to say I have not carefully kept track of Nonlinear's work and this is a pretty uninformed vague impression. 

I'm not skeptical because of the prizes specifically, I just think they had ideas that sounded not particularly fruitful, or more costly than they were worth. I do think that there was a lot of theoretical discussion around that type of prize setup before Nonlinear tried it, and I respect the ethos of just try-it-and-see-what-happens for something like that, with minimal downside risk. (Notably, if nobody claims the prize, the money isn't spent and can just be used for other work.) The best-sounding concepts in the world still have to be tested before we should build lots of infrastructure on them, so I see the prize stuff as a fairly inexpensive experiment, and I think often good coordinators are undervalued. My skepticism is more that despite Nonlinear's high profile as coordinators, I have no evidence of Nonlinear's impact, and I'm unconvinced that they've found good pressure points for coordination in general. I have also judged them more harshly for this than I otherwise would, due to what I perceive as a gimmicky and overconfident style to some of their written materials. This style unavoidably puts up my guard, but its influence on my assessment may be unfair of me! 

Recently told a friend about one of the easiest-but-important things I did for personal professional development, and based on her reaction, thought maybe other people would benefit from it.

A few months ago, I noticed how much I appreciated a certain person in my professional community, and thought I should try to emulate his actions. That led me to making a short list of the professional acquaintances I look up to, and my reasons for looking up to them, so that I could be very concrete about the traits I want to emulate. This exercise was pretty low-effort, but also inspiring (it feels really good to reflect on the people you appreciate!) and very quickly actionable. Examples:

  • Person A goes out of their way to introduce people, or to send notice of opportunities to people, which makes me feel valued and recognized. It generally doesn't occur to me to make introductions--I should do that more often, and say good things about people's work when I think of it!
  • Person B is so welcoming toward my questions and I really appreciate how they make time to help other people understand their field. I should be very clear that I appreciate people's interest when they ask questions about my work, and make plenty of time for them.
  • Person C is a very direct speaker, and is very good at translating their field across different audiences with different levels of expertise. They have a good understanding of what details are interesting to different audiences, and I should carefully consider my audience's priorities when I write or speak, not just the expected format.
  • Person D is very expressive and shows a lot of interest in what each person is saying, which makes interlocutors feel really good. I could stand to work on demonstrating more attentiveness and less guardedness.
  • Person E has extremely audacious ideas, and improves them by being unafraid to discuss them with people while they're still half-baked. This quality is harder than the others for me to emulate, because that Big Idea™ chutzpah is really not me (and Person E has a much longer track record to draw on), but I can at least notice that it works for Person E to share their ideas liberally, and they're not losing face, so maybe I should be less self-conscious about working through project ideas with others.

This exercise was especially useful for me because I don't have long professional experience--since I don't have detailed insight to lots of people's work styles, I have to be more thoughtful about the work I have seen. It's not common to have it explicitly pointed out, "This person is great to work with because of this habit or trait," but once I started this exercise, it felt like an important piece of professional development snapped into focus for me.

Thanks so much for the kind feedback and comparison calculation! Your skepticism about the eACH estimates is warranted--I was unaware that coronaviruses were unusually susceptible (compared with other viruses, you mean?); the estimates we saw were all based on either SARS-CoV-2 or tuberculosis (also quite susceptible). It's useful to know how other people are approaching this question, and ultimately the problem calls for much more extensive real-world observations.

Great questions--my colleagues and I (at 1Day Sooner) have actually spoken to representatives from HERA and BARDA (which is under HHS) who are very interested in the potential of far-UVC. What we've seen is that policymakers are genuinely concerned about the effectiveness and safety of widespread far-UVC use, and want to see greater research in the field, without necessarily being able to guarantee that funding themselves. We, and other organizations, have been advocating for and trying to organize research and pilot programs. (I don't have a good sense of the international advocacy field around pandemic prep, though; most of our partners are based in the US.) I think that generally advocacy has actually been fairly specific, or at least been targeted at understanding specific concerns from policymakers, but it's not surprising that this doesn't necessarily come across at a glance. The more detailed and specific the plan, the more technical it gets and the more it's being communicated person-to-person or through gigantic reports. Our report does contain specific recommendations in the "Bottlenecks and Funding Opportunities" section if you'd like to check it out!

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