Hauke Hillebrandt, PhD | Let's Fund Co-founder

Pronouns: he, him, his


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Wiki Contributions


Seeking feedback on new EA-aligned economics paper

Great comment. Related: part of me is glad that EA is so exposed to crypto, because governments are the biggest altruistic actors, and if cryptos valuation is largely due its potential to reduce taxation, it might be a good mission hedge.

Prioritization Research for Advancing Wisdom and Intelligence

Great post - I agree with a lot of what you write. I wrote about something quite similar here:

"Decreasing populism and improving democracy, evidence-based policy, and rationality"

where the general cause area of improving rationality also came out on top:

and did some ITN type prioritization for potential funding opportunities:

Ben_Snodin's Shortform

Development Media International (DMI) is a non-governmental organization with both non-profit and for-profit arms that "use[s] scientific modelling combined with mass media campaigns in order to save the greatest number of lives in the most cost-effective way".



Ben_Snodin's Shortform

Really good idea and I think spreading socially useful information is really underexplored. 

Maybe one could even think about more  broad generalizable bite-sized memes that are robustly good  for everyone to know and one should spread. 

Some examples:

  • Germ theory
  • Pigouvian Taxes
  • Personal finance (e.g. Index funds)
  • Cost-effectiveness analysis
  • Health behaviours

Maybe there should be a DMI-like organization that does that.

Maybe effective would be either very visual ways of spreading these messages within a few seconds (e.g. https://edition.cnn.com/videos/entertainment/2020/03/17/scrubs-14-year-old-clip-infection-spread-mxp-vpx.hln ). 

There's already Kurzgesagt, which is a bit further along the spectrum towards 'deep engagement' which I think is really good and gets funding from the Gates Foundation.

Decreasing populism and improving democracy, evidence-based policy, and rationality

Sorry for being unclear, I didn't mean that populism must necessarily be anti-democratic- I've made a small edit to say that populism has any of the three features 'anti-democratic, illiberal, or anti-technocratic' to make this more clear - thanks for the feedback!

I've used my own rough and fuzzy definition of populism as a bit of a catch-all term for some things that are not liberal democracy, where illiberalism violates minority rights. So for example the Swiss Minaret controversy, where a majority banned the building of a Turkish Minaret through a popular referendum, I call populist here, despite being democratic. But you could replace 'populism' with another term, but I think it's not worth to get hung up on definitions.

Please don't equate anti-democratic with bad. It seems mostly good to have democratic control over the goals of public policy, but let's aim for less democratic control over factual claims.

Yes, agreed- I don't think direct democracy  (a la Switzerland) is always better. But yes, in the long-term  policy goals should ideally not be 'anti-democratic', even if they're technocratic and not very  illiberal (like the King of Jordan).  If you have too much technocracy and too little democratic accountability that might lead to populist backlash (see David Autor's studies on trade I cite here or Peter Singer's case against migration). So let's aim for whatever create most utility on the margin, which can sometimes be more democratic control (Jordan, but not Switzerland), sometimes more technocracy (e.g. US left), and sometimes more liberalism (e.g. US right).

A generalized strategy of ‘mission hedging’: investing in 'evil' to do more good

Very cool - thanks for doing this. 

I agree that EA-related resources  are skewed towards the US tech sector (see Ben Todd's recent post) and that should definitely be taken into account.

An evaluation of Mind Ease, an anti-anxiety app

Cheers- thanks for the comment!

I'm using the term zero marginal cost colloquially as is common parlance in the tech sector. 

Your app might spread through word of mouth, the server costs are trivial and then you can scale at ~zero marginal cost.

As you say in practise tech firms often spend a few dollars on acquiring new users/customers.

An evaluation of Mind Ease, an anti-anxiety app

Yes, excellent point- I go into more detail about this in the full report:

"Anxiety is a highly prevalent condition, with lifetime rates for its derived mental disorders between 14.5% and 33.7% in Western countries (Alonso and Lepine, 2007; Kessler et al., 2012), and global estimates across countries between 3.8% to 25.0% (Remes et al., 2016). 

Many more might have trait social anxiety which is not quite clinical yet still causes suffering. Indeed, trait social anxiety may have evolved to protect our ancestors from social threat. Similarly, generalized anxiety might have evolved to protect us from other threats. Thus, anxiety might be natural and very widespread."


A generalized strategy of ‘mission hedging’: investing in 'evil' to do more good

I can't follow this either but a study cited in Radical Markets suggests that a randomly chosen portfolio of as few as fifty stocks achieves 90% of the diversification benefits available from full diversification across the entire market.

Given that FAANG's market cap  alone is already $3 trillion and for almost 10% of the U.S. stock market's total market capitalization of $31 trillion, AND you could further diversify then this, wouldn't you get quite a lot of the diversification benefits?

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