PhD student at Aberdeen University studying Bayesian reasoning
Interested in practical exercises and theoretical considerations related to causal inference, forecasting and prioritization.
In the last few months my colleague Juan García and I have been interviewing civil servants working on risk management in Spain with a similar purpose. It has gone quite well, and we have both learnt a lot and have been tentatively invited to provide input into the capital's new risk management plan.
Some questions we have been asking (sometimes in a roundabout way, as we learned the vocabulary they are familiar with):
Some mindset advice:
If you have any questions, feel free to ask, either in a comment or through a PM. Also happy to schedule a meeting if it would be useful.
There exists the option of generating a personalized invitation to join Ayuda Efectiva where you show information on your impact so far. It doesn't explicitly say the amount donated.
I use Ayuda Efectiva to donate.
They automatically manage your portfolio of donations to the charities they support (AMF, Malaria Consortium, SCI Foundation, Deworm the World and Hellen Keller International; I think more are coming later) and keep track of the donations you made, as well as their expected social impact.
They only operate in Spain, so if you want to get a fiscal deduction and live elsewhere you are out of luck. But I think it is a great model, and I wish it would be copied elsewhere!
Wikipedia has a handy and terrifying list of genocides by death toll.
One key argument made in the article is that drug use is relatively inelastic - spending more on enforcement does not seem to change the amoung of drugs consumed in a zone.I found this persuasive, but I just found one piece of evidence on the contrary: Australia has had a lot of success combating heroin overdoses via enforcing drug trafficking laws Obviously the situation in Australia might be different than in other parts of the world, but this gives me a bit of pause. Definitely merits more analysis of the tradeoffs involved!
What's the coursera course you coursed and do you recommend it?
I would recommend everyone to read the book How to solve it, by Polya.
It covers basic techniques for solving a problem, from "solve a simpler problem" to "decompose the problem into subproblems". Its examples are high school trigonometric exercises, but the techniques apply much more widely.
I claim that if you understand the lessons in this book (which, granted, takes a lot of practice you will need to get elsewhere) you get 60% of the benefit of having coursed a math major.
Also, on the topic of probability, Jane Street's guide to probability and making markets is an express introduction and refresher to the topic (more the probability part than the making markets part, though that one is interesting too)
For econ, I have found the videos on Marginal Revolution University to be a good introduction to the basic concepts for somebody with zero background on economics (specially the course on microeconomics, and to a lesser extent the course on macroeconomics).For stats I am still searching, but when I was preparing for an interview with DeepMind they recommended me PennState's online material for their stat414 and stat415 courses and they are alright.
So for me the prize fulfills some very important purposes. Perhaps the most important two are:
Curating the best content
I regularly use the prize posts as a "summary of the best of the month" which I greatly appreciate. It helps me focus my attention on the best articles of the month. It is also a great experience for the authors, who just publish content as usual and without any additional overhead sometimes they get selected for the prize. This is how I wish more academic areas worked - everything published openly in a preprint archive and then the journals acting as "curators", selecting the best work. I really wish something like this will remain in the forum (a "best of the month" selection).
This is a very useful function also to help analyze a posteriori the impact of the best pieces of the forum, as for example with this post.
Rewarding our content creators for producing content
I would think some people who are specially competitive are motivated by the prize to write more. But I don't know how large of a share of the community is like that.
Instead, I think the most important reward is making people feel proud and recognized for their work. When somebody I knew won the forum or comment prize, they were showered with praise and felt happy and appreciated.
This goal is a bit at tension with the goal of curating the best content. People are sometimes disheartened by the posts being consistently won by professional researchers who have the time and experience to write very good posts.
I think I would like this goals to be somehow separated - though I admit I am a bit confused about how one would go about doing that.