All of ishi's Comments + Replies

HLI’s Mental Health Programme Evaluation Project - Update on the First Round of Evaluation

comments:

My view is at current time there are 3 main and overlapping issues going on ---COVID, global warming, and civil unrest about racism and policing (which sort of started in USA but now is global).

These all will impact 'mental health'.

I agree with another comment that some of the graphs are not that easy to decipher. Its interesting that while most of the 'mechanical ' and 'intuitive' measures agree or correlate, at the end of the list you have some mental interventions in which the mechanical scores are like -1 ... (read more)

Lant Pritchett's "smell test": is your impact evaluation asking questions that matter?

I was only commenting on the particular wording of the 'smell test' in devlopemntal economics---i use a smell test to decide if i need to throw food away which i try not to do, or wash clothes , or if somehow a dead mouse is in my apt --i leave mice alone but they are poisoned by what they eat or die of old age--i dont think they live very long--maybe 2 years

developmental economics (definately not my area) i associate with jeffrey sachs, william easterly, amartya sen, and partha dasgupta. one can add jagdish baghwati and more than i can r... (read more)

Effective Altruism and Free Riding

That article has a good reference list but these are mostly of historical interest . I do reccomend reading the article and looking at the references . (it might take 80,000 hours to read them all in full so i do not reccomend that --just read the abstracts , and if you want look at the intros, conclusions, scan main text --especially equations----one can say in 1 equation more than in 1000 words, but the equation has 1000 words behind it, and references. )

Michael Taylor's 1976 book 'the possibility of cooperation' discussed this theme, bu... (read more)

Are there good EA projects for helping with COVID-19?

https://sciencehouse.wordpress.com has a more recent study and discussion of 2 other studies at imperial college london and oxford. Science Magazine AAAS also has a whole issue (march 27) on topic. COVID-19 appears to be a real problem but time will tell. (My area has many scientists, but also many poor and uneducated people, so there are lots of 'conspiracy theories' floating around --'viruses of the mind' --there are academic papers on these as well, mostly written by physicists.)

My point 4 i actually view as the main one, unles... (read more)

Free E-Book: Social Movements: An Introduction, 2nd Edition

On the same theme https://radicalecologicaldemocracy.org/pluriverse .

there was a free online copy and there may still be. its a collection of 100 essays by people associated with various social movements (some of which have been around for decades) mostly dealing with the global south, environmental issues and also ones relevant to 'developed countries' such as USA .

i think it overlaps with the Oxford handbook. both of these to me are like reading an encyclopedia or history book.

(There are more social movements than the 100 in t... (read more)

AMA: Toby Ord, author of "The Precipice" and co-founder of the EA movement

I've seen and liked that book. But i don't think there really is enough information about risks (eg earth being hit by a comet or meteor that kills everything) to really say much---maybe if cosmology makes major advances or in other fields one can say somerthing but that might takes centuries.

Lant Pritchett's "smell test": is your impact evaluation asking questions that matter?

I can't really tell what the article is about, but it appears to be saying that devoting alot of resources and talent to academic economists to do rigorous RCT evalutions of programs is 'innefective' or 'inneficient' (a waste). (I think the recent noble econ prizes were for this---so this might be critique of them.) I think the same point is often made of alot of rigorous economics---many view these as primarily aesthetic or mathematical excercizes which some economists value more than developement or economic policy. ... (read more)

3Aaron Gertler2yTo clarify, Lant Pritchett is a development economist criticizing other development economists here. He's the only person I've heard use "smell test" in this particular field, but it's also a pretty common expression for applying "common sense" to check whether an idea seems good, across many different domains.
International Relations; States, Rational Actors, and Other Approaches (Policy and International Relations Primer Part 4)

I didn't notice this reply to my comment, but today i did. (as an aside i notice i have -33 votes and +55 votes for my comments. it would be nice if EA world could tolerate diversity of opinions--so far i'm still above zero and i don't want to start a war. but if people cannot disagree agreeably i'm perfectly willing to go somewhere else--and it won't be silicon valley. )

While i dislike the term 'intelligent', i would call your comment or answer a very intelligent and well informed reply to my comment.

Since y... (read more)

Potential High-Leverage and Inexpensive Mitigations (which are still feasible) for Pandemics

I agree with you. 'common sense is not common sense'. (I personally am on a special diet--this means i mostly have to eat vegetables, but other people i know always say 'you need some protein or meat--that's common sense' . i do feel good if i eat some, but next day i wake up sick as a dog. so i avoid it. )

the only issue i had was most people do not read J Emergency management. everyone lives in a 'filter bubble'.

https://arxiv.org/abs/2003.00107 (and more like that) https://arxiv.org/abs/2002.03268

I had to look u... (read more)

5Denkenberger2yYes, this morning in Fairbanks it was -32F (-36C)! Though many of the recommendations seem like common sense in retrospect, the reality is that these interventions are relatively neglected. We would have been better off if we had done some planning ahead of time about how to scale up personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks. Furthermore, common sense varies. For some, it is common sense that a mask will protect you from illness, but people do not realize that the pore size of a simple polymer surgical mask is significantly larger than most evaporated cough/sneeze droplets. At the other end of the spectrum, common sense might lead you to believe that an improvised fabric mask would be ineffective because the pore size is larger than the typical surgical mask made of polymer. And indeed the median particle that is sneezed would go through a fabric mask. However, when you look at the droplet size distribution, the majority of mass (and therefore viruses) are actually contained in the larger droplets that would be stopped by a fabric mask. Similarly, common sense might lead you to believe that a glove needs to be rubber because that is how we get most of them. But if dexterity is not critical, one can use plastic (e.g. garbage bags). Another piece of common sense that I had before embarking on this project was that this PPE would just slow down the spread, but eventually everyone would get the disease, so the mortality at the end would be the same (assuming a vaccine is not developed in time). But in reality, since people who have had the disease generally have immunity, the number of people that infected person spreads to eventually falls below one, and the virus dies out, not infecting everyone. So these simple PPE interventions could actually significantly reduce overall mortality. Furthermore, if people can do more distancing early on, the spread of the virus could be stopped early, preventing a pandemic. So there really is a lot that we can do on the non
Are there good EA projects for helping with COVID-19?

I have mixed feelings about this idea because

1) its still fairly early to know how big a problem this is (and I have heard or read expert opinions on both sides---some say it may be a big problem, while others say it most likely is not)

2) using the EA INT ( Impact-Neglectedness--Tractability) framework (though some use SNT (U) where S= scale=Impact and (U) is 'urgency' (a time discounting or triage factor ---i.e. there's no point in setting up a research program to find a cure if it is going to arrive too late ) I am not sure t... (read more)

3ZachWeems2yI have read and reread this comment and am honestly not sure whether this was a reply to my answer or to something else. On point 1, I think the past week is a fair indication that the coronavirus is a big problem, and we can let this point pass. On point 2, as of my answer, there seemed to be no academic talk of human challenge trials to shorten vaccine timelines, regardless of how many were working on vaccines. The problem I see is that if a human challenge trial would shorten timelines, authorities and researchers might still hesitate to run one due to paternalistic attitudes in medical ethics. The problem not that authorities and researchers are not trying to make a vaccine or need amateurs to do their job for them. So, this problem in particular seemed neglected, and worth raising to their attention. On point 3, I'm not sure if you intended to discuss the expected impact of speeding vaccine development, or if you were confused on what a human challenge trial is? I did not discuss making theoretical models of the impact of the coronavirus on the world. Points 4 and 5 do not seem to engage with my answer at all. If this was a mispost, no harm no foul. Otherwise- I'm not opposed to having a respectful, in-depth discussion of this issue. But the majority of your reply was off-topic and the rest only vaguely engaged with what I wrote. If future replies are similar I'm not going to respond.
Michelle Graham: How evolution can help us understand wild animal welfare

Since this topic interests me and i'm killing time I decided to comment on a few things in your post.

1. wikipedia has a reasonable article on exaptations as an introduction. i also reccomend looking at the wikip article on sexual selection---in my view these topics overlap. (The wikip article on sexual selection looks less complete---i think 'fisher's runaway process' described in that article is most relevant but some others prefer the 'handicap principal'.

there are much more recent articles on these topi... (read more)

Michelle Graham: How evolution can help us understand wild animal welfare

Comments:


1. My somewhat limited background is in theoretical biology (which includes evolutionary and ecological field biology) and consersation biology, as well as environmental activism.

From a glance at some papers on the web site all of this looks to be fairly standard academic research, with a very few differences in emphasis--eg discussing topics like 'suffering' and 'animal's needs', and distinguishing 'welfare biology' from other fields. My view is most scientists and activists do care about these things th... (read more)

International Relations; States, Rational Actors, and Other Approaches (Policy and International Relations Primer Part 4)

This is an interesting review. My family had a grad student from Kenya stay with us when he was working on his PhD in my city--on IR. It was not what i studied so he explained to me the various schools and people ---George Kennon, Hans Morgenthau, etc. (Noam Chomsky has many critiques of Kennon but I looked at what Kennon actually wrote, and Chomsky used selective quotes).

The 'median voter theorem' or 'single peaked /dimensional preferences' is the basic theorem in this area---if you model this mathematically. It also applies to US ... (read more)

2Davidmanheim2yIt's true that assuming single peaked preferences is usually really central to rational actor approaches, but there are a few different issues that exist which should be separated. Arrows theorem is in many cases, no voting system is Pareto-compatible, non-dictatorial, and allows independence of irrelevant alternatives. First, as you noted, these classes of preference don't imply that there are coherent ranked preferences in a group (unless we also have only a single continuous preference dimension [https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.539.8915&rep=rep1&type=pdf] ). If I prefer rice to beans to corn for dinner and you prefer beans to corn to rice, while our friend prefers corn to rice to beans, it's not a continuous system, and there's no way that voting will help - any alternative has 2/3rds of voters opposed. (Think this isn't a ever relevant issue? Remember Brexit [https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/brexit-needs-the-involvement-of-parliament/?] ?) Second, even if the domain is continuous, if there is more than one dimension, it still can fail. For example, we need to order lunch and dinner together, I want 75% beans, and 25% rice for dinner, and 50% of each for lunch, and it's a monotonic and continuous preference - i.e. the farther away from my preferred split we get, the less I like it. If I take a bunch of similar types of preferences about these meals and need to make a single large order, arrow's theorem shows that there may be no voting system that allows people to agree on any particular combination for the two meals - there can be a majority opposed to any one order. And third, it's sometimes simply incorrect as a description of people preferences. As an example, a voter might reasonably have preferences for either high taxes and strong regulation with a strong social safety net so that people can depend on the government, OR low taxes, little regulation, and no safety net so that people need to build social organizations t
When To Find More Information: A Short Explanation

I read (or sort of skimmed) your dissertation (since I have a decision to make---actually (too) many) and thought this might provide some useful advice on how to do it.

I was surprised you discouraged people from reading it ---maybe you are trying to hide the fun. I found it be one of the most exciting and racy PhD thesis' i've ever read ---it could be a best seller.
And it just doesn't read like a pulp novel; like the best novels, it also hits peaks of scientific inspiration which i think rival the visions I've been told you get ... (read more)

1Ramiro2yDavid might be cheating, using a neg: saying so much "don't read my dissertation" that now I am actually very curious about it.
Genetic Enhancement as a Cause Area

Though I find alot of EA writing to be basically a different dialect (eg 'Overton window...') and difficult to read this article seems fairly well written and complete (though often its easy to miss some important issues for complex topics). Theoretical genetics and evolutionary theory are among my pet interests though I am not employed in the field.

But i basically support the precautionary principal so I would not 'cause prioritize' genetic enhancement at present any more than I think going to and colonizing Mars or developing ... (read more)

1nil2yI would counter that genetic enhancement would be the only cause that could address the root problem - the biology of suffering itself. Environmental interventions, in contrast, are ultimately limited by the "hedonic treadmill" [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hedonic_treadmill] effect (that is not to say, of course, that the worst cases like factory farming and extreme poverty should not be solved ASAP).
Interaction Effect
Answer by ishiDec 16, 20191

I have heard some people wanted to have a 'high impact career' but instead they became a 'stay at home mom or dad'. They had to raise 1 or more children--who then went on to become noble prize winners. That to me is an 'interaction effect'.

How do cash transfers impact the people who don’t receive them?

Very good comment. I am in favor of some of universal or conditional basic income, because the issue of 'relative deprivation' is very real.

the most extreme example is someone who gets rich by winning a lottery (in my area alot of people play the lottery, because they want to get rich quick and also tend to have low paying and unpleasant jobs--they spend alot of their low incomes on the lottery--which spposedly is used by the govt to pay for public education).

If someone wins the lottery, supposedly everyone is better off, because the winne... (read more)

Carbon Offsets as an Non-Altruistic Expense

I just skimmed this but it raises important issues (which of course have been discussed many times---often economic and philosophy papers).

(I partly skimmed it because i skimmed your 'preprint' paper linked to in another thread. I basically didn't figure out what it said, except I noted it cited Robert May's 'complexity and stability' book which is a classic, so I figured it said something--just not in my dialect.)

What really caught my attention (besides the author's name) was mention of 'vacation travel&ap... (read more)

What areas of maths are useful across disciplines?

It may not be especially useful if you want to get a job or even a math degree The applications of that field are few and far between , only other way you can get a job in that is if you have a degree at PhD level. Or if you can write software you can be slightly involved in that field.

Many if not most or all modern fields of science use some variant of that formalism.

What areas of maths are useful across disciplines?
Answer by ishiNov 18, 20191

I'm biased towards some versions of graph / network theory , dynamical systems and multiobjective optimization theory. Since you are into neural nets and multivariable calculus it sounds like you are already doing a version of these. (I was in an interdisplinary field and took a fair amount of applied math and physics, many of the details of which i never used or really remember--i can look them up--my applied interests were in between very technical and 'fermi' (back of the envelope) problems and i usually tried to phrase them both w... (read more)

2John_Maxwell2yCan you say something about why you feel this is especially useful?
Applying EA to climate change

That looks like an interesting attempt to answer a question many others have tried to answer . (These are also being discussed in an AAAS forum where people try to figure out what, can, and should be done---i have seen quite a few analyses and reccomendations of varying technical sophistication, and while they overlap, its overwhelming and beyond my competency to do more than just see which looks best.

Your top 5 causes all look good to me, as well as your larger list in the 'green box' in your diagram.

I would probably have 10-15 causes all ra... (read more)

A Semester-Long Course In EA

I looked at that article because i saw that a 'self designed course' was also possible which would also have some supervision --the kind of thing I like, and also to see what the curricula was, where it was, and if it had an online 'MOOC' style or distance learning version. I noticed its at Brown, where i went, and see you can even course credit for taking the course--at Brown i did partially self-design a few courses which had supervisors or 'mentors', but wish i had done designed my entire major rather than take the &apos... (read more)

The illusion of science in comparative cognition

I think I remember reading a book or paper by Noam Chomsky which said that chimpanzees don't have minds because they beg for food usually directly facing a human, but if that doesn't work they will use the same strategy and beg behind the human. He says this proves chimpanzees dont know what a human is---they view humans as food dispensers. My interpretation was if you are going to beg, maybe display subserviance--ask from the back, nor face to face. (Chomsky if i recall also said something like this in 2 lectures on linguistics i attended (a... (read more)

The (un)reliability of moral judgments: A survey and systematic(ish) review

My brief take (for what its worth---I can imagine its better not to give a 'rapid response' as opposed to a well thought out one): That seems to me to be a 'tour de force' even though I mostly skimmed it, and skipped some parts--its the kind of thing I would print out if I had a working printer. I am only slightly familiar with psychological literature and measures (eg 'Cohen's d') though I read (or glance at at some of it), and am often skeptical of the results claimed to be found. (People often do something like a ... (read more)

A wealth tax could have unpredictable effects on politics and philanthropy

I looked at the entire Vox article. I sort of dreaded what it was going to say, given that so many wealthy people have contributed to making alot of what I and others have benefited from, in varying extents. The Sackler gallery for example, and the Sackler's also fund a scientific conference (PNAS). They are also being sued for their role in the creation of the 'opiate epidemic' which has made death from drug overdoses more common than from car crashes and guns combined. The Rockefellers created Rockefeller U, Carnegies and Mellons crea... (read more)

[Link] "Progress Update October 2019" (Ought)

I am an amateur and generalist , but this is fascinating---especially the GP-2 system. (I skimmed some of the links in the original post.) My limited background is in theoretical biology, including 'natural intelligence and language learning' so I am more familiar with issues in animal behavior and linguistics (eg debates between Chomskyian linguists and connectionists ---eg https://arxiv.org/abs/cs/0212024 ).

I have actually been working on trying to formulate an analog of what the GP-2 system does but as a 'fermi problem' or &ap... (read more)

Older people may place less moral value on the far future

I'm on an AAAS ( am assn adv scis) forum (AAAS has over 100,000 members but just a small fraction of them participate in the forum) , which has discussions on issues like climate change. I've noticed there are many 'emereti professors' some with very good credentials (eg worked at CalTech) who comment, and 2/3rds of them think people who worry about climate change ( eg Greta T) are 'alarmists'. They advocate 'do nothing' because its beyond human control--i think they simply do not want to change any aspect of their ... (read more)

Altruistic equity allocation

I only skimmed this and am not familiar much with investing, but the issues seem to me whether people are investing to make money, or investing to make 'social impact' (for the greater good) on goals they support. and also whether the investment actually will 'pay off' in terms of either making money, having social impact, or both. I think forecasting 'impact' is the hardest one. Some venture capital firms succeed , others fail.

My view is if impact predictions are correct then any 'dilution' effects on shareholder ... (read more)

The evolutionary argument against cognitive enhancement research is weak

My semi-educated guess is the arguments for either case are both weak at present. Its unknown. I'd say same for 'designer babies' and other reproductive technologies (which i hear advertized on the radio all the time--eg infertility clinics--mostly used by affluent people , and often womyn over age 40. In India they have 'baby farms'--eg people in USA hire some poor womyn in India to be a surrogate mother , so they don't have to deal with pregnancy --whcih they view as a chore--- because they want to keep their career but want a baby).

Ineffective Altruism: Are there ideologies which generally cause there adherents to have worse impacts?
Answer by ishiOct 18, 2019-4

I come from a background of what could be called liberals (in USA, democrats--but these range from establishment types (eg Hilary Clinton) to 'anti-establishment' establishement liberal (Bernie Sanders, Elizabett Warren , and many other democratic presidential candidates) . But my parents also had backgrounds in some of what could be called 'radical ideological views' (war resistors, civil rights protests, small farmers who were anti-big business, etc.). Other relatives had some 'right wing ' views.

I think any ideo... (read more)

Shapley values: Better than counterfactuals

P.S. I just re-skimmed your article and see you dealt in Scenario 6 with 'tragedy of the commons' which i view as an n-person variant of the 2 -person prisoner's dillema.

also your example 2 (Newton and Leibniz ) is an example which is sort of what i was thinking. The theorem i was thinking of would add to the picture and have something like a 'god' who would create either Newton, Leibniz, or both of them. Shapley value would be the same in all cases. (unless 2 calculus discoveries are better than 1----in sciences sometime... (read more)

Shapley values: Better than counterfactuals

As I said I'm skating on thin ice, but the theorem says you can convert any positive or negative sum game into a zero sum game. (its due to von Neumann or nash, but i think i saw it in books on evolutionary game theory . i think there are analogs in physics , and even ecology, etc. ).

Again, i think that may be related to the counterfactual/shapley conversion i 'see' or think exists, but can't prove it----i'd have to look at the definitions again.

To possibly fall through more holes in the ice , i think the prisoner&... (read more)

1ishi2yP.S. I just re-skimmed your article and see you dealt in Scenario 6 with 'tragedy of the commons' which i view as an n-person variant of the 2 -person prisoner's dillema. also your example 2 (Newton and Leibniz ) is an example which is sort of what i was thinking. The theorem i was thinking of would add to the picture and have something like a 'god' who would create either Newton, Leibniz, or both of them. Shapley value would be the same in all cases. (unless 2 calculus discoveries are better than 1----in sciences sometimes this is seen as true ('replication'), or having 'multiple witnesses' in law as opposed to just an account by one (who is the victim and may not be believed )). (its also the case for example that the 3 or 4 or even 5 early versions of quantum mechanics-- schrodinger, heisenberg, dirac, feynman, bohm---though some say debroglie anticipated bohm , and feynman acknolwedged that he found his idea in a footnote in a book by Dirac--although redundant in many ways, each have unique perspectives . the golden rule also has many formulations i've heard) (In my scenario, with 'god' , i think the counterfactual value of either newton or leibniz would be 1---because without either or both there would be no calculus with shapley value 1. god could have just created nothing---0 rather than 1). In a way what you seem to be describing is how to avoid the 'neglectedness' problem of EA theory. This overlaps with questions in politics---some people vote for people in a major party who may win anyway, rather than vote for a 'minor party' they may actually agree with more. This might be called the 'glow effect' ---similarily some people will support some rock or sports star partly just to be in the 'in crowd'. So they get 'counterfactual value' even if the world is no better off-voting for someone who will win any way is no better than voting for one who will lose --or rather they actually get additional Shapley value because they are 'happier' being in th
Shapley values: Better than counterfactuals

I'm skating on thin ice, but I think

1) the discussion is basically correct

2) similar problems have been discussed in evolutionary game theory, chemical reaction/economic/ ecological networks, cooking, and category theory.

3) I find it difficult to wade through examples (ie stories about AMF and gates foundations, or EA hiring) --these remind me of many 'self help' psychology books which explain how to resolve conflicts by going through numerous vignettes involving couples, families, etc--i can't remember all the 'actors' n... (read more)

2NunoSempere2y1. would surprise me; can you think of a source?
Behind the Scenes at a GiveDirectly Call Center

Thanks for info. Its possible his village would be eligible for participation in the cash transfer program, but that is really a larger scale and different kind of project.

The ITN framework, cost-effectiveness, and cause prioritisation

I think you identified the same problem i saw. If you have a small problem, then there no reason to call it 'neglected' if you put enough resources into solving that small problem. You have to put all problems into context--no reason to spend alot of resources to 100% solve a small problem when you put no resources into trying to solve a big problem. This is like spending alot of money to give sandwiches to solve temporary hunger problem for a few people, while 'neglecting ' the entire issue of global hunger or food scarcity.

The ITN framework, cost-effectiveness, and cause prioritisation

I think this is on the right track --though as you say its a bit clumsy. There is a similar formalism called the 'Kaya identity' (see google--its well known) with the same issues. i'm trying to develop a slightly different and possibly more useful formalism or formula (but i may not succeed)

The ITN framework, cost-effectiveness, and cause prioritisation

This is an interesting (or 'thought provoking') article, and it linked to other articles (mostly on 80,000 hours) which in turn linked to others (e.g. B Tomasik's blog), as well as the TEDTalk by MacAskill. I had skimmed some of the 80,000 hours articles before, but skimming them again I found clarified some issues, and I realized I had missed some points in them before .

(One point I had missed was the article by Tomasik on why many charities may not differ all that much in terms of their effectiveness. I think some cases can be distin... (read more)

Are you working on a research agenda? A guide to increasing the impact of your research by involving decision-makers

I may have to agree to disagree agreeably. This is about making a 'pitch' or 'research proposal' that will be looked on favorably and hence funded by 'decision makers'. They will like to see a 'spreadsheet presentation' usually because they can't understand anything else at a higher level. These spreadsheet approaches are similar to mathematicians trying to model how a baby or animal knows how to walk or run---babies and animals are way ahead of the mathematicians--they can do that in their heads. Math people should work on other project--such as EA format of SNT (scale, negletedness, tractability) and also U (urgency). The probability of that happening i see as low.

Effective Altruism and Everyday Decisions

I can sort of relate to this, but its a very complex situation. I remember growing up in an opld house in need of repairs it was often decided 'we would to the work ourselves' rather than hire someone (ie save some money and that helped pay for my college education, some trips to the country, etc). But it would take us 3 days to fix something (eg electrical, plumbing, concrete, roofing) which an expert could do in 1/2 a day.

Also at times very small amounts of savings are a major difference. If you decide to spend more money on some electroni... (read more)

Model-free and model-based cognition in deontological and consequentialist reasoning

This is somewhat unrelated, but I once did a little research on the problem of how DNA gets translated into proteins---I (and some others) viewed DNA as a 4 letter code (nucleotides) or 'syntax' , while proteins were words using a 26 letter (amino acids) 'word' with a 'semantics'---it meant something or had a functional use. I took what is perjoratively called a 'fact free science' approach (associated with SFI/complexity approach) , which meant the idea was to see if one could figure out if there were any pat... (read more)

Behind the Scenes at a GiveDirectly Call Center

This is quite interesting ( I have met quite a few people who have done aid work in Africa--Kenya, Ethiopia, Ghana, Ivory Coast and more) , and I sometimes wonder about political instability and conflict in some of these areas--its not everywhere, but does exist in other areas.

I am in contact with a person who basically is director of a small educational/permaculture (agriculture, tree planting) center in a village in Malawi (mostly focusing on orphans and girls) --he is part of a FB group I'm on (which has to do with ecology, sustainability a... (read more)

4Aaron Gertler2yGiveDirectly really only funds one thing: direct cash transfers. By keeping their operations very simple and streamlined, they're able to work more efficiently. Your contact might be able to find support from other funders who specialize in projects like his, but GiveDirectly doesn't have the infrastructure in place to support and monitor a project of that kind (at least, as I understand their functioning).
[Link] Research as a Stochastic Decision Process

I just noticed your question, since I've only recently started looking at EA forums, and I mostly look at the discussions on science, economics, climate change, and on EA methodology and practice (eg the recent one about basic income projects in Malawi by Givedirectly or some other similarily named group). This is one reference https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stopping_time . I am mostly self-educated in stochastic processes, but this is a standard topic in texts. It basically means if you are doing a search --or many searches -- you tr... (read more)

1arikr2yThank you!!
[Link] Research as a Stochastic Decision Process

My own approach i describe as multiobjective optimization but more based on simulated annealing/statistical mechanics) and deals with 'stopping times' rather than 'fail rates' though they are closely connected. I think maybe many EA affiliated people will not go through that whole paper--at least the few i've met. (I was told to get a CS degree either at UCSF where i had a job in theoretical biology or stanford, so i chose the 'stopping time' or 'fail rate'. I was pretty succesful at failing. Completed failing at 4 projects in 4 months. Condoleeza Rice also teaches at Stanford now---she helped win the war in Afghanistsan, Iraq, etc. No, good deed goes unrewarded.

1arikr2yCould you please elaborate on how I could apply this? Or where can I learn more?
Existential Risk and Economic Growth

That's an interesting and the little i skimmed was somewhat straight forward if you can get through the dialect or notation, which is standard in econ papers ---which i'd call neoclassical. ( I got up to about page 20 -- discussions of effects of scientists/workers switching to safety production rather than consumption production).

This raises to me a few issues. you have probably seen https://arxiv.org/abs/1410.5787 Given debates about risks of other envirojmental risks like GMOs and nuclear energy, its even unclear what is 'safety... (read more)

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