This is great! Curious what (if anything) you're doing to measure counterfactual impact. Any sort of randomized trial involving e.g. following up with clients you didn't have the time to take on and measuring their change in productive hours compared to your clients?
Yeah, I'd expect it to be a global catastrophic risk rather than existential risk.
Is there much EA work into tail risk from GMOs ruining crops or ecosystems?
If not, why not?
Yeah, I mostly focused on the Q1 question so didn't have time to do a proper growth analysis across 2021
Yeah, I was talking about the Q1 model when I was trying to puzzle out what your growth model was.
There isn't a way to get the expected value, just the median currently (I had a bin in my snapshot indicating a median of $25,000). I'm curious what makes the expected value more useful than the median for you?
A lot of the value of potential growth vectors of a business come in the tails. For this particular forecast it doesn't real... (read more)
Thanks, this was great!
The estimates seem fair, Honestly, much better than I would expect given the limited info you had, and the assumptions you made (the biggest one that's off is that I don't have any plans to only market to EAs).
Since I know our market is much larger, I use a different forecasting methodology internally which looks at potential marketing channels and growth rates.
I didn't really understand how you were working in growth rate into your calculations in the spreadsheet, maybe just eyeballing what made sense based on the ... (read more)
Hey, I run a business teaching people how to overcome procrastination (procrastinationplaybook.net is our not yet fully fleshed out web presence).
I ran a pilot program that made roughly $8,000 in revenue by charging 10 people for a premium interactive course. Most of these users came from a couple of webinars that my friend's hosted, a couple came from finding my website through the CFAR mailing list and webinars I hosted for my twitter friends.
The course is ending soon, and I'll spend a couple of months working on marketing and updating the co... (read more)
I recommend Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath.
Going through several startup weekends showed me what works and what doesn't when trying to de-risk new projects.
This is great! Was trying to think through some of my own projects with this framework, and I realized I think there's half of the equation missing, related to the memetic qualities of the tool.
1. How "symmetric" is the thing I'm trying to spread? How easy is it to use for a benevolent purpose compared to a malevolent one?
2. How memetic is the idea? How likely is it to spread from a benevolent actor to a malevolent one.
3. How contained is the group with which I'm sharing? Outside of the memetic factors of the idea itself, is the person or group I'm sharing with it likely to spread it, or keep it contained.
Here's Raymond Arnold on this strategy:
This is great!
I'd love to be able to provide an alternative model that can work as well, based on Saras Sarasvathy's work on Effectuation.
In the effectuation model (which came from looking at the process of expert entrepreneuers), you don't start with a project idea up front. Instead, you start with your resources, and the project evolves based on demand at any given time. I think this model is especially good for independent projects, where much of the goal is to get credibility, resources, and experience.
Instead of starting with the goal,... (read more)
I happen to think that relative utility is very clustered at the tails, whereas expected value is more spread out.. This comes from intuitions from the startup world.
However, it's important to note that I also have developed a motivation system that allows me to not find this discouraging! Once I started thinking of opportunities for doing good in expected value terms, and concrete examples of my contributions in absolute rather than relative terms, neither of these facts was upsetting or discouraging.
Some relevant articles:
https://forum.effectivea... (read more)
But if it took on average 50 000 events for one such a key introduction to happen, then we might as well give up on having events. Or find a better way to do it. Otherwise we are just wasting everyone's time.
But all the other events were impactful, just not compared to those one or two events. The goal of having all the events is to hopefully be one of the 1/50,000 that has ridiculous outsized impact - It's high expected value even if comparatively all the other events have low impact. And again, that's comparatively. Compared to say, mo... (read more)
Nope, 1/50,000 seems like a realistic ratio for very high impact events to normal impact events.
Would you say that events are low impact?
I think most events will be comparatively low impact compared to the highest impact events. Let's say you have 100,000 AI safety events. I think most of them will be comparatively low impact, but one in particular ends up creating the seed of a key idea in AI safety, another ends up introducing a key pair of researchers that go on to do great things together.
Now, if I want to pay those two highest impact events their relative money related to all the other events, I have a few options:
1. Pay all of the eve... (read more)
Since there will limited amount of money, what is your motivation for giving the low impact projects anything at all?
I'm not sure. The vibe I got from the original post was that it would be good to have small rewards for small impact projects?
I think the high impact projects are often very risky, and will most likely have low impact. Perhaps it makes sense to compensate people for taking the hit for society so that 1/1,000,000 of the people who start such projects can have high impact?
For an impact purchase the amount of money is decided based on how good impact of the project was
I'm curious about how exactly this would work. My prior is that impact is clustered at the tails.
This means that there will frequently be small impact projects, and very occasionally be large impact projects - My guess is that if you want to be able to incentivize the frequent small impact projects at all, you won't be able to afford the large impact projects, because they are many magnitudes of impact larger. You could just purchase part of the... (read more)
Perhaps Dereke Bruce had the right of it here:
"In order to keep a true perspective of one's importance, everyone should have a dog that will worship him and a cat that will ignore him."
I propose that the best thing we can do for the long term future is to create positive flow-through effects now. Specifically, if we increase people's overall sense of well-being and altruistic tendencies, this will lead to more altruistic policies and organizations, which will lead to a better future.
Therefore, I propose a new top EA cause for 2020: Distributing Puppies
I discussed this with my wife, who thinks that the broad idea is reasonable, but that kittens are a better choice than puppies:
You might be interested in this same question that was asked last June:
Something else in the vein of "things EAs and rationalists should be paying attention to in regards to Corona."
There's a common failure mode in large human systems where one outlier causes us to create a rule that is a worse equilibrium. In the PersonalMBA, Josh Kaufman talks about someone taking advantage of a "buy any book you want" rule that a company has - so you make it so that you can no longer get any free books.
This same pattern has happened before in the US, after 9-11 - We created a whole bunch of security theater, that c... (read more)
Curious about what you think is weird in the framing?
The problem framing is basically spot on, talking about how our institution drive our lives. Like I said, basically all the points get it right and apply to broader systemic change like RadX, DAOs, etc.
Then, even though the problem is framed perfectly, the solution section almost universally talks about narrow interventions related to individual decision making like improving calibration.
No, I actually think the post is ignoring x-risk as a cause area to focus on now. It makes sense under certain assumptions and heuristics (e.g. if you think near term x-risk is highly unlikely, or you're using absurdity heuristics), I think I was more giving my argument for how this post could be compatible with Bostrom.
the post focuses on human welfare,
It seems to me that there's a background assumption of many global poverty EAs that human welfare has positive flowthrough effects for basically everything else.
I'm also very interested in how increased economic growth impacts existential risk.
At one point I was focused on accelerating innovation, but have come to be more worried about increasing x-risk (I have a question somewhere else on the post that gets at this).
I've since added a constraint into my innovation acceleration efforts, and now am basically focused on "asymmetric, wisdom-constrained innovation."
Let's say you believe two things:
1. Growth will have flowthrough effects on existential risk.
2. You have a comparative advantage effecting growth over x-risk.
You can agree with Bostrom that x-risk is important, and also think that you should be working on growth. This is something very close to my personal view on what I'm working on.
I think the framing is weird because of EAs allergy to systemic change, but I think on practice all of the points in that cause profile apply to broader change.
It's been pointed out to me on Lesswrong that depressions actually save lives. Which makes the "two curves" narrative much harder to make.
This argument has the same problem as recommending people don't wear masks though, if you go from "save lives save lives don't worry about economic impacts" to "worry about economics impacts it's as important as quarantine" you lose credibility.
You have to find a way to make nuance emotional and sticky enough to hit, rather than forgoing nuance as an information hazard, otherwise you lose the ability to influence at all.
This was the source of my "two curves" narrative, and I assume would be the approach that others would take if that was the reason for their reticence to discuss.
Here's an analysis by 80k. https://80000hours.org/problem-profiles/improving-institutional-decision-making/
Was thinking a bit about the how to make it real for people that the quarantine depressing the economy kills people just like Coronavirus does.
Was thinking about finding a simple good enough correlation between economic depression and death, then creating a "flattening the curve" graphic that shows how many deaths we would save from stopping the economic freefall at different points. Combining this was clear narratives about recession could be quite effective.
On the other hand, I think it's quite plausible that this particular problem will ... (read more)
I think this is actually quite a complex question. I think it's clear that there's always a chance of value drift, so you can never put the chance of "giving up" at 0. If the chance is high enough, it may in fact be prudent to front-load your donations, so that you can get as much out of yourself with your current values as possible.
If we take the data from here with 0 grains of salt, you're actually less likely to have value drift at 50% of income (~43.75% chance of value drift) than 10% (~63.64% of value drift). There are many ... (read more)
such as consistency and justification effects
such as consistency and justification effects
And selection effects!
I've had a sense for a while that EA is too risk averse, and should be focused more on a broader class of projects most of which it expects to fail. As part of that, I've been trying to collect existing arguments related to either side of this debate (in a broader sense, but especially within the EA community), to both update my own views as well as make sure I address any important arguments on either side.
I would appreciate if people could link me to other sources that are important. I'm especially interested in people making arguments fo... (read more)
I think catch-up growth in developing countries, based on adopting existing technologies, would have positive effects on climate change, AI risk, etc. I think catch-up growth in developing countries, based on adopting existing technologies, would have positive effects on climate change, AI risk, etc.
I'm curious about the intuitions behind this. I think developing countries with fast growth have historically had quite high pollution and carbon output. I also think that more countries joining the "developed" category could quite possibly ... (read more)
I'm quite excited to see an impassioned case for more of a focus on systemic change in EA.
I used to be quite excited about interventions targeting growth or innovation, but I've recently been more worried about accelerating technological risks. Specific things that I expect accelerated growth to effect negatively include:
Curious about your thoughts on the potential harm that could come if the growth interventions are indeed successful.
I do think this is a concern that we need to consider carefully. On the standard FHI/Open Phil view of ex risk, AI and bio account for most of the ex risk we face this century. I find it difficult to see how increasing economic development LMICs could affect AI risk. China's massive growth is something of a special case on the AI risk front I think.
I think growth probably reduces biorisk by increasing the capacity of health systems in poor countries. It seems that leading edge bioscience research is most likely to happen in advanced economies.
On cli... (read more)
This work is excellent and highly important.
I would love to see this same setup experimented with for Grant giving.
Found elsewhere on the thread, a list of weird beliefs that Buck holds: http://shlegeris.com/2018/10/23/weirdest
I'd be curious about your own view on unquantifiable interventions, rather than just the Steelman of this particular view.
I think there's a clear issue here with measurability bias. The fact of the matter is that the most promising opportunities will be the hardest to measure (see for instance investing in a startup vs. buying stocks in an established business) - The very fact that opportunities are easy to measure and obvious makes them less likely to be neglected.
The proper way to evaluate new and emerging projects is to understand the landscape, and do a systems level analysis of the product, process, and team to see if you think the ROI will be high compared to othe... (read more)
Tobacco taxes are pigouvian under state sponsored healthcare.
Hmm that's odd, I tested both in incognito mode and they seemed to work.
You shouldn't, it's an evernote public sharing link that doesn't require sign in. Note also that I tried to embed the image directly in my comment, but apparently the markdown for images doesn't work in comments?
I timeboxed 30 minutes to manually transfer this to yED. I'm fairly certain there's one or two missing edges here's what I got:
Here's the yED file, if anyone wants to try their hand at other layout algorithms:
https://www.evernote.com/shard/s8/client/snv?noteGuid=1c1071e2-1ab0-47e8-a4f8-6560139e9cac¬eKey=a31dd7a67e852f1b&sn=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.evernote.com%2Fshard%2Fs8%2Fsh%2F1c107... (read more)
Small suggestion for future projects like this. I used to use graphviz for diagramming, but since found yED and never looked back. Its edge-routing and placement algorithms are much better, and can be tweaked with WYSIWYG editing after the fact.
I tend to think this is also true of any analysis which includes only one way interactions or one way causal mechanisms, and ignores feedback loops and complex systems analysis. This is true even if each of parameters is estimaed using probability distributions.
I upvote if I think the post is contributing to the current conversation, and strong upvote if I think the post will contribute to future and ongoing conversations (IE, its' a comment or post that people should see when browsing the site, aka Stock vs. Flow).
Occasionally, I'll strong upvote/downvote strategically to get a comment more in line with what I think it "deserves", trying to correct a perceived bias of other votes.
I'm sad because I really enjoyed EAGx nordics :). In my view the main benefits of conferences are the networks and idea-sex that come out of them, and I think it did a great job at both of those. I'm curious if you think the conference "made back its' money" in terms of value to participants, which is seperate from the question of counterfactual value you pose here.
Systemic Change - What does it mean in concrete terms? How would you accomplish it within an EA framework? How might you begin attempting to quantify your impact? Zooming out from the impact analysis side of things a bit to look at the power structures creating the current conditions, and understanding the "replaceabilty" issues for people who work within the system. (priority 3/10, may move up the priorities list later because I anticipate having more data and relevant experience becoming available soon).
Would be highly interested in this, and a case study showing how to rigorously think about systemic change using systems modeling, root cause analysis, and the like.
Yes, this is more an argument for "don't have downvotes at all" like hacker news or traditional forum.
Note I think your team has made the correct tradeoffs so far, this was more paying devils advocate.
Of course there's a reverse incentive here, where getting downvoted feelsbadman, and therefore you may be even less likely to want to post up unfinished thoughts, as compared to them simply getting displayed in chronological order.
I won't be at EAG but I'm in Berkeley for a week or so and would love to chat about this.