Habryka's Comments

Climate Change Is Neglected By EA

While I never considered poverty reduction a top cause, I do consider climate change work to be quite a bit more important than poverty reduction in terms of direct impact, because of GCR-ish concerns (though overall still very unimportant compared to more direct GCR-ish concerns). My guess is that this is also true of most people I work with who are also primarily concerned about GCR-type things, though the topic hasn't come up very often, so I am not very confident about this.

I do actually think there is value on poverty-reduction like work, but that comes primarily from an epistemic perspective where poverty-reduction requires making many fewer long-chained inferences about the world, in a way that seems more robustly good to me than all the GCR perspectives, and also seems like it would allow better learning about how the world works than working on climate change. So broadly I think I am more excited about working with people who work on global poverty than people who work on climate change (since I think the epistemic effects dominate the actual impact calculation here).

EA Survey 2019 Series: How EAs Get Involved in EA

Yeah, that seems fair. I do think that "LessWrong meetups" are a category that is more similar to the whole "Local Group" category, and the primary thing that is surprising to me is that there were so many people who choose LessWrong instead of Local Group and then decided to annotate choice that with a reference to their local group.

EA Survey 2019 Series: How EAs Get Involved in EA
Perhaps surprisingly, given that LessWrong is often thought of primarily as an online community and forum, the next two largest response categories mentioned an in-person event (14%) or local group (14%).

The LessWrong community has had dozens (if not hundreds in total) of active meetup groups for almost a decade now, with a large number of people now very active in the community having come through those meetups. I am really quite surprised that you would say that it is surprising that people mention LessWrong meetups. They've always played a pretty big role in the structure of the EA and Rationality communities.

Request for Feedback: Draft of a COI policy for the Long Term Future Fund

The usual thing that I've seen happen in the case of recusals is that the recused person can no longer bring their expertise to the table, and de-facto when a fund-member is recused from a grant, without someone else having the expertise to evaluate the grant, it is much less likely for that grant to happen. This means two things:

1. Projects are now punished for establishing relationships with grantmakers and working together with grantmakers

2. Grantmakers are punished for establishing relationships with organizations and projects they are excited about

3. Funds can no longer leverage the expertise of the people with the most relevant context

In general when someone is recused they seem to no longer argue for why a grant is important, and in a hit-based view a lot of the time the people who have positive models for why a grant is important are also most likely to have a social network that is strongly connected to the grant in question.

I don't expect a loosely connected committee like the LTFF or other EA Funds to successfully extract that information from the relevant fund-member, and so a conservative COI policy will reliably fail to make the most valuable grants. Maybe an organization in which people had the time to spend hundreds of hours talking to each other can afford to just have someone with expertise recuse themselves and then try to download their models of why a grant is promising and evaluate it themselves independently, but the LTFF (and I expect other EA Funds) do not have that luxury. I have not seen a group of people navigate this successfully and de-facto I am very confident that a process that relies heavily on recusals will just tend to fail to make grants when the fund-member with the most relevant expertise is excused.

have fewer grant evaluators per grant

Having fewer grant evaluators per grant is a choice that Open Phil made that the EA Funds can also make, I don't see how that is an external constraint. It is at least partially a result of trusting in the hit-based giving view that generates a lot of my intuitions around recusals. Nothing is stopping the EA Funds from having fewer grant evaluators per grant (and de-facto most grants are only investigated by a single person on a fund team, with the rest just providing basic oversight, which is why recusals are so costly, because frequently only a single fund member even has the requisite skills and expertise necessary to investigate a grant in a reasonable amount of time).

and most of their grants fall outside the EA community such that COIs are less common.

While most grants fall outside of the EA community, many if not most of the grant investigators will still have COIs with the organizations they are evaluating, because that is where they will extend their social network. So the people who work at GiveWell tend to have closer social ties to organizations working in that space (often having been hired from that space), the people working on biorisk will have social ties to the existing pandemic prevention space, etc. I do think that overall Open Phil's work is somewhat less likely to hit on COIs but not that much. I also overall trust Open Phil's judgement a lot more in domains where they are socially embedded in the relevant network, and I think Open Phil also thinks that, and puts a lot of emphasis of understanding the specific social constraints and hierarchies in the fields they are making grants in. Again, a recusal-heavy COI policy would create really bad incentives on grantmakers here, and isolate the fund from many of the most important sources of expertise.

Ben_Snodin's Shortform

Kind of surprised that this post doesn't link at all to Paul's post on altruistic equity: https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/r7vmtHZKuosJZ3Xq5/altruistic-equity-allocation

[U.S. Specific] Free money (~$5k-$30k) for Independent Contractors and grant recipients from U.S. government

Note: PayPal is now also accepting applications, which might be an option for many people: https://www.loanbuilder.com/ppp-loan-application

(While the link doesn't go to PayPal directly, it is linked from here, which makes me think it's legitimate)

Examples for impact of Working at EAorg instead of ETG

This also seems right to me. We roughly try to distribute all the money we have in a given year (with some flexibility between rounds), and aren't planning to hold large reserves. So from just our decisions we couldn't ramp up our grantmaking because better opportunities arise.

However, I can imagine donations to us increasing if better opportunities arise, so I do expect there to be at least some effect.

Linch's Shortform
11. I gave significant amounts of money to the Long-Term Future Fund (which funded Catalyst), so I'm glad Catalyst turned out well. It's really hard to forecast the counterfactual success of long-reach plans like this one, but naively it looks like this seems like the right approach to help build out the pipeline for biosecurity.

I am glad to hear that! I sadly didn't end up having the time to go, but I've been excited about the project for a while.

Thoughts on The Weapon of Openness
though it's important to note that that technique was developed at IBM, and then given to the NSA, and not developed internally at the NSA.

So I think this is actually a really important point. I think by default the NSA can contract out various tasks to industry professionals and academics and on average get results back from them that are better than what they could have done internally. The differential cryptoanalysis situation is a key example of that. IBM could have instead been contracted by some random other group and developed the technology for them instead, which means that the NSA had basically no lead in cryptography over IBM.

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