jacobjacob

Working on forecasting infrastructure under grants from the EA Long-Term Future Fund and BERI. Those were counterfactually important for lots of stuff I write.

jacobjacob's Comments

[Job ad] Lead an ambitious COVID-19 forecasting project [Deadline: June 1st]

I'm also posting a bounty for suggesting good candidates: $1000 for successful leads on a new project manager; $100 for leads on a top 5 candidate

DETAILS

I will pay you $1000 if you:

  • Send us the name of a person…
  • …who we did not already have on our list…
  • …who we contacted because of your recommendation...
  • ...who ends up taking on the role

I will pay you $100 if the person ends up among the top 5 candidates (by our evaluation), but does not take the role (given the other above constraints).

There’s no requirement for you to submit more than just a name. Though, of course, providing intros, references, and so forth, would make it more likely that we could actually evaluate the candidate.

NO bounty will be awarded if you...

  • Mention the person who actually gets hired, but I never see your message
  • Mention a person who does not get hired/become a top 5 candidate
  • Nominate yourself and get hired
  • If multiple people nominate the same person, bounty goes to the first person whose nomination we actually read and act on

Remaining details will be at our discretion. Feel free to ask questions in comments.

You can private message me here.

Seeking a CEO for new x-risk funding charity in the UK

Ought (~$5000) and Rethink Priorities (~$500) have both done it, with bounties roughly what I indicated (though I'm a bit uncertain). Don't think either has completed the relevant hiring rounds yet.

Concerning the Recent 2019-Novel Coronavirus Outbreak

In addition, I'll mention:

Attempted summary of the 2019-nCoV situation — 80,000 Hours

Here's a list of public forecasting platforms where participants are tracking the situation:

Foretold is tracking ~20 questions and is open to anyone adding their own, but doesn't have very many predictions.

Metaculus is tracking a handful questions and has a substantial number of predictions.

The John Hopkins disease prediction project lists 3 questions. You have to sign up to view them. (I also think you can't see the crowd average before you've made your prediction.)

[Link] What opinions do you hold that you would be reluctant to express in front of a group of effective altruists? Anonymous form.

This set-up does seem like it could be exploitable in an adversarial manner... but my impression from reading the poll results, is that this is weak evidence against that actually being a failure mode -- since it doesn't seem to have happened.

I didn't notice any attempts to frame a particular person multiple times. The cases where there were repeated criticism of some orgs seemed to plausibly come from different accounts, since they often offered different reasons for the criticism or seemed stylistically different.

Moreover, if asked beforehand about the outcomes of something that can be read as "an open invitation to anonymous trolling that will get read by a huge amount of people in the movement"... I would have expected to see things way, way worse than what I actually saw. In fact, I've seen many public and identifiable comments sections on Facebook, YouTube or Twitter that were much worse than this anonymous poll.

(I claim these things weakly based on having read through all the responses in the sheet. I didn't analyse them in-depth with an eye to finding traces of adversarial action, and don't expect my approach here would have caught more sophisticated attempts.)

[Link] What opinions do you hold that you would be reluctant to express in front of a group of effective altruists? Anonymous form.
If there were a way to do this with those opinions laundered out, then I wouldn't have a problem.

I interpret [1] you here as saying "if you press the button of 'make people search for all their offensive and socially disapproved beliefs, and collect the responses in a single place' you will inevitably have a bad time. There are complex reasons lots of beliefs have evolved to be socially punished, and tearing down those fences might be really terrible. Even worse, there are externalities such that one person saying something crazy is going to negatively effect *everyone* in the community, and one must be very careful when setting up systems that create such externalities. Importantly though, these costs aren't intrinsically tied up with the benefits of this poll -- you *can* have good ways of dispelling bubbles and encouraging important whistle-blowing, without opening a Pandora's box of reputational hazards."

1) Curious if this seems right to you?

2) More importantly, I'm curious about what concrete versions of this you would be fine with, or support?

Someone suggested:

a version with Forum users with >100 karma

Would that address your concerns? Is there anything else that would?


[1] This is to a large extent: "the most plausible version of something similar to what you're saying, that I understand from my own position", rather than than "something I'm very confident you actually belief".

[Part 1] Amplifying generalist research via forecasting – models of impact and challenges
Why do you think this is better than encouraging people to join foretold.io as individuals? Do you think that we are lacking an institution or platform which helps individuals to get up to speed and interested in forecasting (so that they are good enough that foretold.io provides a positive experience)?

I'm not sure if the group should fully run the tournaments, as opposed to just training a local team, or having the group leader stay in some contact with tournament organisers.

Though I have an intuition that some support from a local group might make things better. A similar case might be sports. Even though young children might start skiing with their parents, they often eventually join local clubs. There they practice with a trainer and older children, and occasionally travel together to tournaments. Eventually some of the best skiers move on to more intense clubs with more dedicated training regimes.

Trying to cache out the intuition more concretely, some of the things the local group might provide are:

  • Teammates. For motivation, accountability and learning.
  • A lower threshold for entering.
  • Team leaders. Someone to organise the effort and who can take lots of schleps out of the process (e.g. when I did math competitions in high school I met some kids from the more successful schools, and they would have teachers who were more clued in to when the competitions happened and who would pitch it to new students, book rooms for participants and provide them with writing utensils, point them to resources to learn more, etc)

I don't think this list is exhaustive.

do you think that these tournaments would be good signaling for students applying for future EA jobs?

Yes, I think they would be.

Why do social movements fail: Two concrete examples.

A while back me and habryka put up a bounty for people to compile a systematic list of social movements and their fates, with some interesting results. You can find it here.

Could we solve this email mess if we all moved to paid emails?
How would this be an "internal practice"? The only way this would work would be to have people publically post their earn addresses.

"Internal" in the sense of being primarily intended to solve internal coordination purposes and primarily used in messaging within the community.

I think you underrate the cost of weirdness.

You gave a particular example of a causal pathway by which weirdness leads to bad stuff, but it doesn't really cause me to change my mind because I was already aware of it as a failure mode. What makes you think I underrate the cost in comparison to the benefits of coordination?

While the kind of his status EA that might be contacted this way might get more emails then they prefer, it's important for them to be easily contacted by outsiders because that allows for valuable interactions to happen.

They'd still have a normal email. Though there is a risk of moving to an equilibrium for non-paid emails get no attention, and I haven't thought that through in detail.


Could we solve this email mess if we all moved to paid emails?
It's not clear to me that we are in a mess.

Well, that's why I'm posting this -- to get some data and find out :)

(I guess the title seemed to have turned a few people off, though)

In hindsight, I should have made the intended use-cases clearer in the post. I optimised for shipping it fast rather than not at all, but that had its costs.

The reason I wrote this was basically entirely motivated by problems I've encountered myself.

For example, I’ve spent this year trying to build an AI forecasting community, and faced the awkward problem of needing a critical mass of users, but at the same time recruiting from a base with high opportunity costs and attention value (largely EA). This usually involves a pain-staking process of thinking carefully about who we message and how much, and being quite risk-averse and rather not messaging people at all when we're uncertain. I would have loved the ability to send paid emails, such that if we did happen to spam people, they could just claim some compensation. Moreover, this is a scalable strategy which would avoid the failure mode where project's like ours which think a lot about attention costs get deprioritised in favour of projects which don't.

As another example, I've considered unilaterally launching initiatives that seemed important and that no one was doing (like this!), but that very busy people might have reservations/opinions about. This put me in a spot of making awkward trade-offs along the lines analysed above.

In addition to that, I added on some problem that I've not personally experienced but which seemed like they should happen due to basic microeconomics.

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