All of Germantia's Comments + Replies

Have we underestimated the risk of a NATO-Russia nuclear war? Can we do anything about it?

Infiltrating an organization you hate while preserving sanity and your true values is a task few people are capable of. I'm quite certain I wouldn't make it.

Hm, really? I don't think it'd be a problem for me. Could look in to the research on counterintelligence and double agents.

I think that we need serious research + talking to people from the relevant countries to devise realistic strategies.

Of course, I'm just spitballing.

How we can make it easier to change your mind about cause areas

The risk of having people write about their donation choices online is that discussion devolves in to a flame war. Any such discussions should be conducted with the highest levels of collegiality, to prevent slipping in to the "my cause is better than your cause" degenerate case.

How we can make it easier to change your mind about cause areas

Another, selfish reason to donate to a broad variety of causes is to claim moral authority over people who don't donate at all. Say you donate mainly to a "fringe" cause area, and some non-EA is hard on you for this. Then you can respond by saying "well I also donate small amounts to a variety of other causes too, including some you would agree with, to avoid getting attached to a particular cause; what are you doing?" At which point the person you're talking to gets embarrassed if they don't donate at all.

Have we underestimated the risk of a NATO-Russia nuclear war? Can we do anything about it?

I'm confused, the Wikipedia page you link to doesn't quite seem to support what you're saying:

The Budapest Memorandum was negotiated at political level, though it is not entirely clear whether the instrument is devoid entirely of legal provisions. It refers to assurances, but it does not impose a legal obligation of military assistance on its parties.[1][17] According to Stephen MacFarlane, a professor of international relations "It gives signatories justification if they take action, but it does not force anyone to act in Ukraine."[16]

2CarlShulman7y
One reason I was disturbed about that when the Ukraine crisis started was that Ukraine had been given those security assurances in exchange for giving up its nuclear arsenal. So the later Russian invasion and NATO acquiescence support the view that states shouldn't give up nuclear weapons, since the nukes offer more protection than any promises they are offered in exchange. Of course, that doesn't mean NATO should have fought over the Crimea or Donbas and risked triggering an immediate nuclear war, far from it. But it is a reminder of the complexity of reducing nuclear risk, and the sign of a given action is often in question, not just the magnitude of the effect.
1Larks7y
Note that the sources on that page are all from 2014. It's easy to come up with excuses after the fact for why you need not act. But then how can we credibly claim to be willing to die for Latvia? There will be excuses then too.
Have we underestimated the risk of a NATO-Russia nuclear war? Can we do anything about it?

I'm skeptical of this approach given how poorly the Arab Spring ended up working out. I'm skeptical of whether revolutions are a wise idea in general. I think it may be wiser to try to nudge their existing governments towards being more liberal. This approach could include, for example, encouraging EAs in China to join the party their and try to rise through the ranks.

0Squark7y
In the Arab Spring many of the revolutionary groups were radical Islamists rather than champions of liberal democracy. Also, I didn't say anything about revolution: in some cases a gradual transition is more likely to work. Infiltrating an organization you hate while preserving sanity and your true values is a task few people are capable of. I'm quite certain I wouldn't make it. I think that we need serious research + talking to people from the relevant countries to devise realistic strategies.
Have we underestimated the risk of a NATO-Russia nuclear war? Can we do anything about it?

I doubt the EA movement is well positioned to do anything about this in the short term. In the long term, building the EA movement inside Russia and other belligerent countries seems like a really good idea.

A longer-term strategy might to found an organization dedicated to shifting incentives towards politicians in the US, UK, and France towards less bellicose rhetoric and less escalation, and more international compromise.

How about incentives in Russia? I worry somewhat about making Western countries less bellicose while leaving Russia highly bellicose. Mumble mumble nuclear deterrence game theory mumble mumble. The first solution that comes to mind is not always the best one.

0Evan_Gaensbauer7y
The Global Priorities Project is run by the Centre for Effective Altruism, and has had meetings with policymakers in the United Kingdom. However, it's correct this might not be enough of an organizational front to have an effect on nuclear armament policy. I think if there was something effective altruism felt the need to do, say, within the next five to ten years, effective altruism would support existing organizations who already have leverage with the government. I think there would be a need to assess what would constitute effective action in this area, and how to achieve it, and ramp necessary social, financial and human capital, and the right networks, as closely to solving this problem if we could. I think effective altruism could become an auxiliary ally to another coalition if need be.