G Gordon Worley III

1583Joined Aug 2017


Director of Research at PAISRI


This is a problem where I think we can get some returns with minimal investment. For example, maybe just ask volunteers to bring in their air purifiers from home and hook them up during the day. That won't be a perfect solution, but it will provide cleaner air than having no purifiers. This seems like a space where we can get something like logarithmic returns on effort, which means even doing a little can be quite impactful.

I think any issues with abuse of strong upvotes is tempered by the fact that someone has to spend a lot of time writing posts and getting upvotes from other forum members before they can have much influence with their votes, strong or otherwise. So in practice this is probably not a problem, because the trust is earned through months and years of writing the posts and comments and getting the votes that earn one a lot of karma.

EAF uses the same software was Less Wrong. Less Wrong is intentionally something like a walled garden but the walls are low enough that people can climb over if they want. The purpose is the maintain high quality discussions. I'm actually kind of avoiding EAF at the moment because there's so many new people it's negatively affecting the culture that was here before, which was always different from but somewhat similar to Less Wrong. The weighted voting is a mechanism to help maintain the desired culture and prevent it from regressing to the internet mean. Other forums, like Reddit, are a better fit for discussions where outsiders can more easily jump in. It has costs and benefits either way. EAF has chosen to put up some small barriers to maintain a particular epistemic culture.

I didn't find this compelling. As best I can tell your criticism grounds out in "EA disagrees with my and lots of people's moral intuitions, so it's probably wrong".

To pick on just one quote to explain my point:

The EA position that one’s duty is to the entire global (or future) population tends to be very upsetting to most other people, because they have other ideas about your duty! EA is a movement of some of the most powerful people in our society, and a certain “natural’ reaction occurs when those with power seem to not take up a responsibility that ought to be theirs: that they have abdicated a serious duty, and that they correspondingly deserve to have their power taken away. 

Your argument here is basically "people think EAs are free riders for caring about people other than those I like", but this is not really an argument against EA, but to any value system different from some particular person. In fact, EAs make a symmetrical argument: people who are no focused on the global poor are selfishly focused on people near them who less need their help at the expense of further away people who are in greater need and can more use help. This is basically just arguing that different moral intuitions are different and people disagree about what is best. But that's not a criticism of EA, that's a criticism of how it sure sucks that we can't all agree on what's right and wrong.

Some of your points, for example about power, seem reasonable, but are not actual issues with EA per se, but with unilateral action or failing to take metaethical uncertainty sufficiently seriously.

In an important sense, yes!

To take an example of opposing armies, consider the European powers between say 1000 CE and 1950 CE. They were often at war with each other. Yet they were clearly allies in a sense that they were in agreement that the European way was best and that some European should clearly win in various conflicts and not others. This was clear during, for example, various wars between powers to preserve monarchy and Catholic rule. If I'm Austria I still want to fight the neighboring Catholic powers ruled by a king to gain land, but I'd rather be fighting them than Protestant republics!

As I see it, an object-level battle does not necessarily make someone my enemy and may in fact be my willing ally when we step back from object-level concerns. If phrased in terms of ideas, every time I'd prefer to make friends with folks who apply similar methods of rationality and epistemology even if we disagree on object-level conclusions because we share the same methods rather than make friends with people who happen to agree with me but don't share my methods, because I can talk and reason with people who share my methods. If the object-level-agreeing, method-disagreeing "allies" turn on me, I have no recourse to shared methods.

In isolation I agree. But I found nothing new or interesting in this post. Since votes control how visible a post is, I view votes as purely a signal about how much I want to see and how much I want others to see content like this. Since I didn't find it new or interested it was a poor use of my time to read it, hence the down vote.

When I down vote I like to tell people why so they have useful feedback on what makes people down vote.

I know many people vote to say "yay" or "boo". I disagree with this voting style, and my votes generally should not be interpreted that way. I down vote to say "I don't think you should bother reading this" and I up vote to say "I think you should read this".

I agree, but is this a post that will make that change? I don't see any really compelling arguments or stories here that are likely to change minds.

There's no reason a person can't be both earnest and still be hitting the applause light button. Intent matters, but so does outcomes.

I don't recall recent EA discussion of this topic, but this is an extremely well-worn topic in general. This is sort of a professionalism 101 topic that most people debate in high school as something of a toy topic because the arguments are already well explored.

Downvoted because I don't feel like there's any substance here and it's not worth spending the time to read. I think most people already agree with this sentiment and know the arguments presented in one way or another, so it feels like this post is just flashing the applause lights.

I'd probably have at least not downvoted and maybe would have upvoted this post if it contained some new content, like a proposal for how to get people not to glorify looks.

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