Jonas Vollmer

I'm a co-founder and co-executive director at the London-based Center on Long-Term Risk, a research group and grantmaker focused on preventing s-risks from AI. I also advise the Long-Term Future Fund.

My background is in medicine (BMed) and economics (MSc) with a focus on health economics and development economics.

Jonas Vollmer's Comments

EA Survey 2019 Series: How EAs Get Involved in EA

(Btw, I think you can remove REG/FRI/EAF/Swiss from future surveys because we've deemphasized outreach and have been focusing on research. I also think the numbers substantially overlap with "local groups".)

EA Survey 2019 Series: How EAs Get Involved in EA

A bit offtopic, but if this isn't available yet, I'd be curious to see the distribution of "When did you join EA?" as an upper-bound estimate of the growth of the EA community.

See also this: https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/MBJvDDw2sFGkFCA29/is-ea-growing-ea-growth-metrics-for-2018

EA Survey 2019 Series: How EAs Get Involved in EA

I found this incredibly interesting and useful, in particular the "Engagement Level" section. Thanks! :)

How Much Leverage Should Altruists Use?

The currently cheapest source of leverage appears to be box spread financing at ~0.55% p.a. for 3 years. The 3y US govt bond yield is 0.2% p.a.

How Much Leverage Should Altruists Use?

I'm currently helping put together the investment strategy for a DAF and my tentative conclusion is that it doesn't make sense to use a leveraged global market portfolio instead of global stocks. Perhaps much of the theory doesn't apply in practice because it doesn't take fees and the cost of leverage into account:

Bonds:

  • Buying bonds/TIPS with a ~0% return at a 0.75% margin loan cost seems like a certain loss. (Perhaps this was different before quantitative easing, so it might make more sense again at some point in the future.)
  • Bonds (weighted BND + BNDX) slightly underperformed cash in the recent crisis, so perhaps aren't very anticorrelated with stocks.

Commodities: Commodity ETFs have high TERs of ≥0.58%; buying and rolling individual futures costs time. (EDIT: Even gold (GLD) has a TER of 0.4%.)

(REITs: Already included in stock ETFs.)

New data suggests the ‘leaders’’ priorities represent the core of the community

Yeah, I think this is worth taking seriously. (FWIW, I think I had been mostly (though perhaps not completely) aware that you are agnostic.)

Request for Feedback: Draft of a COI policy for the Long Term Future Fund

I wonder why you think recusal is a bad way to address COIs. The downsides seem minimal to me: The other fund managers can still vote in favor of a grant, and the recused fund manager can still provide information about the potential grantee. This will also automatically mean that other fund managers have to invest more time into investigating the grant, which is something you seemed to favor. I'd be keen to hear your thoughts.

In comparison, using internal veto power seems like a more brittle solution that relies more on attention from other fund managers and might not work in all instances.

In comparison, disclosure often seems more complicated to me because it interferes with the privacy of fund managers and potential grantees.

I think Open Phil's situation is substantially different because they are accountable to a very different type of donor, have fewer grant evaluators per grant, and most of their grants fall outside the EA community such that COIs are less common. (That said, I wonder about the COI policy for their EA grants committee.) GiveWell is also in a landscape where COIs are much less likely to arise.

I think there should be a fairly restrictive COI policy for all of the funds, not just for the LTFF.

2019 Ethnic Diversity Community Survey

I would love for there to be an analysis of how demographically diverse core EAs are (high self-reported engagement and/or EA Forum membership).

(I also wrote this here.)

EA Survey 2019 Series: Community Demographics & Characteristics

I would love for this analysis to be repeated for core EAs (high self-reported engagement and/or EA Forum membership). E.g., I'd be really curious to see how demographically diverse core EAs are.

New data suggests the ‘leaders’’ priorities represent the core of the community

I think the point is that some previously highly engaged EAs may have become less engaged (so dropped out of the 1000 people), or some would-be-engaged people didn't become engaged, due to the community's strong emphasis of longtermism. So I think it's all the same point, not two separate points.

I think I personally know a lot more EAs who have changed their views to longtermism than EAs who have dropped out of EA due to its longtermist focus. If that's true of the community as a whole (which I'm not sure about), the main point stands.

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