Jeff Kaufman

Software Engineer @ Nucleic Acid Observatory
14012 karmaJoined Aug 2014Working (15+ years)Somerville, MA, USA



Software engineer in Boston, parent, musician. Switched from earning to give to direct work in pandemic mitigation. Married to Julia Wise. Speaking for myself unless I say otherwise.

Full list of EA posts:


Thanks for the feedback!

Why not just specify a distribution with some parameters rather than list lots of possible values drawn from that distribution?

The values in the list aren't drawn from a parametrized distribution, they're the observed values in a small study.

Maybe rather than have the line go back to 0, just stop it when it hits 30%


the y-axis numbers are cut off


if for whatever reason you run lots of scenarios, where the whole bottom half of the graph disappears

This was due to me not testing on monitors that had that aspect ratio. Whoops! Fixed by allowing you to scroll that section.

For qPCR or other targeted detection approaches wastewater has quickly become a very common sample type, mostly because (a) it was very successful for covid, (b) a single sample covers hundreds of thousands of people, and (c) it's an 'environmental' sample so it's easy to get started (no IRB etc). And targeted detection is generally sensitive enough that the low concentrations are surmountable.

There isn't really a status quo for metagenomic monitoring: everything is currently in its early stages. There are academics collecting a range of samples and metagenomically sequencing them, but these don't feed into public health tracking, partly because they're not running their sequencing or analysis in a way that would give the low sample-to-results times you'd need from a real-time monitoring system.

One potential audience is people open to moral trade. Say Pat doesn't care much about animals and is on the fence between global poverty interventions with different animal impacts, and Alex cares a lot about animals and normally donates to animal welfare efforts. Alex could agree with Pat to donate some amount to the better-for-animals global poverty charity if Pat will agree to send all their donations there.

Except if you do the math on it, I think you'll find that it's really hard to come out with a set of charities, values, and impacts that make this work. Pat would have to be so close to indifferent between the two options.

(And if you figure that out, there's also all the normal reasons why moral trade is challenging and practice.)

Thanks! Though to be clear I didn't discover Wesley's views on this until after I'd started earning to give, so I can't count him as a motivation (at least not directly).

They briefly worked at a social enterprise aiming to reduce remittance fees

I see how you might have read it that way, but while Wave started off in the remittance business the division I joined (and the reason I joined) was to build out a mobile money system in Ethiopia.

the usual thing to do is to continue operating the property while looking for a buyer

Is that true even when "operating" means "making commitments to events many months out"? Which I would expect to make the building hard to sell.

(Though I guess you could switch to a new operating mode where you only do bookings on quite short notice? But I expect that would lose a very large part of the value of events since many of the people you want to attend can't do things on 3w notice)

Thanks for linking that one! In drafting this the two 80k articles I found were the two older ones I linked above: What Are The 10 Most Harmful Jobs and Show Me the Harm.  Is It Ever OK to Take a Harmful Job in Order to do More Good? is a much more detailed article, and I wish I'd seen it before writing this!

(I'm not sure why I didn't find it before -- looking now it's in the top few results for most reasonable searches)

Good illustration! I'd be curious how many people saying 2024 is the most important will in 2028 think 2024 was more important?

I did like the 1:32 bit where Obama says "this is... certainly the most important election in my lifetime". Which I take to be him making fun of this trope.

Thanks for writing this, and for liberating the draft!

As someone who's closer to category #2 than #1 (I worked in the corporate world for a long time before starting at an ea-aligned and -founded biosecurity nonprofit) I'm, as you say, naturally inclined to like this post. But considerations in the other direction:

  • People who didn't spend 5+ years in the corporate world and instead spent them doing altruistically useful things probably got a bunch of altruistically useful things done.

  • If you're advising young EAs on what to do after graduating this is effectively suggesting they wait 3-10y before substantially contributing, which is time during which they might drift away from EA (or AI might end the world as we know it, etc).

  • People who went to grad school (ex: my PhD biosecurity coworkers) are already pretty far into their career by the time they fully finish school. But maybe you're mostly thinking about college grads?

To the extent that you're thinking about where to recruit EAs for direct work, though, if you can find people with more experience in a wide range of work that's certainly valuable!

I guess, though judging by the votes on your "I gave this a downvote for the clickbait title" it seems to me that a lot of us think you're being unfair to the author.

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