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

Pronouns: he, him, his


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Wiki Contributions


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?

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

@Jonas: I think your model is interesting, but if we define transformative AI like OpenPhil does (" AI that precipitates a transition comparable to (or more significant than) the agricultural or industrial revolution."), and you invest for mission hedging in a diversified portfolio of AI companies (and perhaps other inputs such as hardware) , then it seems conceivable to me to have much higher returns - perhaps 100x of crypto? This is the basic idea for mission hedging for AI, and in line with my prior, and I think this difference in returns might be why I find the results of your model, that Mission hedging wouldn't have a bigger effect, surprising. 

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

Excellent point.

I think there's a continuum going from highly educated to those that are most at risk of populism.

I haven't researched this carefully but my hunch is there are actually lots of translation of civic education memes to people who are at risk of populism (not only from experts). It seems to me that on the margin,  high-quality, easily -accessible information for educated people is more neglected.

related citation: IQ of the top 5% better at predicting GDP - does that suggest that increasing the epistemics of the TOP 5% is better than combating fake news? Cognitive Capitalism: The Effect of Cognitive Ability on Wealth, as Mediated Through Scientific Achievement and Economic Freedom

Stefan Schubert also thinks about this this sometimes:





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

Yes, agree that there are some low-hanging fruit for economic reform and progress can be made. I actually cite OPP's macroeconomic stabilization policy efforts in the post that Alex Berger refers to. But as he says impact is hard to attribute, and given that their funding of this area seems somewhat small, I'd be surprised if you could lower interest rates of central banks significantly with only a few million dollars in advocacy funding. 

I agree that there's some progress on '"free-market progressive" policies on zoning reform, occupational licensing, and non-competes', and that there maybe is room for more progress.

But do you think it has  already translated into meaningful consumption increases in the lower income deciles?

There are some interesting numbers e.g. on land use reform in an FP report on zoning reform:


that suggest that the effects might be non-trivial if you can get them through. But I think one would have to do quite a bit of advocacy. For things like occupational licensing and zoning and non-compete, trade, macroeconomic policy you get quite strong push-back from vested interests and rent-seekers. 

As I say in the next sentence: "Economic policy is also not very neglected by various stakeholders (e.g. political parties have very strong opinions on trade policy).

This contrasts with other things like preventing misinformation, which it seems to me you can often make more progress on, with less backlash.

What are some skills useful for EA that one could learn in ~6 months?

Writing - especially this course:


and this book:


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