Jeff Kaufman

Software Engineer @ Nucleic Acid Observatory
14813 karmaJoined Working (15+ years)Somerville, MA, USA
www.jefftk.com

Bio

Participation
4

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: jefftk.com/news/ea

Comments
934

Are the high numbers of deaths in the 1500s old world diseases spreading in the new world? If so, that seems to overestimate natural risk: the world's current population isn't separated from a larger population that has lots of highly human-adapted diseases.

In the other direction, this kind of analysis doesn't capture what I personally see as a larger worry: human-created pandemics. I know you're extrapolating from the past, and it's only very recently that these would even have been possible, but this seems at least worth noting.

other cities across the U.S. (like Boston) ... regularly build subway lines for less than $360 million per kilometer

Huh? Boston hasn't built a subway line in decades, let alone regularly builds them.

It did recently finish a light rail extension in an existing right of way, expanding a trench with retaining walls, but (a) that's naturally much cheaper than digging a subway and (b) it took 12y longer than planned.

The NAO ran a pilot where we worked with the CDC and Ginkgo to collect and sequence pooled airplane toilet waste. We haven't sequenced these samples as deeply as we would like to yet, but initial results look very promising.

Militaries are generally interested in this kind of thing, but primarily as biodefense: protecting the population and service members.

As I tried to communicate in my previous comment, I'm not convinced there is anyone who "will have their plans changed for the better by seeing OpenAI safety positions on 80k's board", and am not arguing for including them on the board.

EDIT: after a bit of offline messaging I realize I misunderstood Elizabeth; I thought the parent comment was pushing me to answer the question posed in the great grandcomment but actually it was accepting my request to bring this up a level of generality and not be specific to OpenAI. Sorry!

I think the board should generally list jobs that, under some combinations of values and world models that the job board runners think are plausible, are plausibly one of the highest impact opportunities for the right person. I think in cases like working in OpenAI's safety roles where anyone who is the "right person" almost certainly already knows about the role, there's not much value in listing it but also not much harm.

I think this mostly comes down to a disagreement over how sophisticated we think job board participants are, and I'd change my view on this if it turned out that a lot of people reading the board are new-to-EA folks who don't pay much attention to disclaimers and interpret listing a role as saying "someone who takes this role will have a large positive impact in expectation".

If there did turn out to be a lot of people in that category I'd recommend splitting the board into a visible-by-default section with jobs where conditional on getting the role you'll have high positive impact in expectation (I'd biasedly put the NAO's current openings in this category) and a you-need-to-click-show-more section with jobs where you need to think carefully about whether the combination of you and the role is a good one.

Possibly! That would certainly be a convenient finding (from my perspective) if it did end up working out that way.

[I] am slightly confused what this post is trying to get out. I think your question is: will NYC hit 1% cumulative incidence after global 1% cumulative incidence?

That's one of the main questions, yes.

The core idea is that our efficacy simulations are in terms of cumulative incidence in a monitored population, but what people generally care about is cumulative incidence in the global (or a specific country's) population.

online tool

Thanks! The tool is neat, and it's close to the approach I'd want to see.

I think this is almost never ... would surprise me

I don't see how you can say both that it will "almost never" be the case that NYC will "hit 1% cumulative incidence after global 1% cumulative incidence" but also that it would surprise you if you can get to where your monitored cities lead global prevalence?

I haven't done or seen any modeling on this, but intuitively I would expect the variance due to superspreading to have most of its impact in the very early days, when single superspreading events can meaningfully accelerate the progress of the pandemic in a specific location, and to be minimal by the time you get to ~1% cumulative incidence?

I think this is probably far along you're fine

I'm not sure what you mean by this?

(Yes, 1% cumulative incidence is high -- I wish the NAO were funded to the point that we could be talking about whether 0.01% or 0.001% was achievable.)

I don't object to dropping OpenAI safety positions from the 80k job board on the grounds that the people who would be highly impactful in those roles don't need the job board to learn about them, especially when combined with the other factors we've been discussing.

In this subthread I'm pushing back on your broader "I think a job board shouldn't host companies that have taken already-earned compensation hostage".

the bigger issue is that OpenAI can't be trusted to hold to any deal

I agree that's a big issue and it's definitely a mark against it, but I don't think that should firmly rule out working there or listing it as a place EAs might consider working.

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