All of JuanGarcia's Comments + Replies

True, not only outreach but also sufficient engagement/retention is needed in order to reliably increase the ratio.

That's correct. Artificial intelligence and engineered pandemics are just given as examples of things that may fall under the category of threats from emerging technologies.


Outreach in groups with higher ratios of women: this is the one thing that comes to my mind every time I think about this. As long as EA is downstream of a few male-dominated disciplines/fields, it seems virtually impossible for the gender ratio to change. 

Here's a diagram I made to explain my thinking. The width of the arrow represents how many people are coming from each field, and the colored surface in each figure represents the gender ratio in each field:

If correct, this picture shows that you'd need to do something against this very strong socie... (read more)


I disagree, because when I looked into gender dynamics in EA London, recruitment was not the issue. EA London 2016-2018 had as many women as men attending events as a first-time attendee, but they were much less likely to keep attending after their first, second or third event.

I would be interested in more data about what people in EA's professional backgrounds are to see if the gender ratios are different from the gender ratio of the wider (non-EA) professions. It seems plausible to me that the framing of EA (heavily data-centric, emotionally detached) could attract/appeal to men more, whereas the focus on social impact and doing good might attract more women.

Answer by JuanGarciaApr 24, 202310

Physical engineering lab to build capacity for prototyping hardware ideas with relevance to areas identified as important to the long-term future

One of the best, most useful posts I've read on the forum. Terrific work, Sam.

Thanks again for this fantastic initiative. Here's the official link to the final Denkenberger publication for those interested.

Is there a way to get email alerts whenever a new UnJournal evaluation gets published?

Atm not but we're working on something like an email newsletter. And one thing you can do is follow Unjournal's Sciety Group [] -- click the 'follow' button. I think that gives you updates, but you need to have a Twitter account

I like the idea of being more intersectional in our thinking on how to approach the assessment of specific interventions.

On the topic of food, some ALLFED colleagues and I recently gave a workshop on the intersections between different EA cause areas:

On the topic of interventions improving various cause areas simultaneously, some of my colleagues have published scientific articles arguing that the type of work we're doing appears to be highly cost-effective for improving both the long-term future and saving lives in the short term / current generation. Obv... (read more)

I'd be happy to help explain how building capacity for responding to abrupt food catastrophes (nuclear winter, volcanic winter, collapse of electricity/industry, etc.) by rapidly increasing food production could help save lives and reduce the chance of civilizational collapse (see ALLFED - Alliance to Feed the Earth in Disasters)

Thanks so much for this effort. I just wanted to say again that EA engineers, including physical engineers, are always very welcome to apply for volunteering, internship and/or open positions at ALLFED - Alliance to Feed the Earth in Disasters.

Jessica Wen
Thanks Juan! ALLFED definitely has a lot of interesting and impactful projects that engineers can contribute to

Thanks for the reply Noah. Are you working on this field or a related one?

Noah Scales
Sure, I think you guys (and those folks at the UN) and the general topic of food security is incredibly important. I am not working in this area professionally, nothing even close to it.

It's worth mentioning that the new Charity Entrepreneuship book How to Launch a High-Impact Nonprofit does go into some of the "concrete issues" questions you're asking. Particularly, the one on legal structure receives very good treatment (though somewhat lacking for non-US/UK orgs). They also go in some depth into media/website/aesthetics.

I've seen a few people wondering how this relates to our work at ALLFED (@JoelMcGuire , @George Vii , @Brian Lui). 

Bivalves can be grown in sinergy with seaweed in what is know as integrated multi-trophic aquaculture (IMTA) systems, which promise a consistent feedstock, in situ, with the co-benefit of recycling aquaculture waste (ref). They are also resilient to food trade restriction and the pests that affect land crops. They look like they could be significantly more resilient to changes in climate than land crops, thus being useful to counter falli... (read more)

Noah Scales
Bivalves are a big part of the US fishing industry. You can explore some of the risks to them by looking over the recent history of their cultivation in the US and globally. Ocean acidification, waste water outlets, garbage dumping, and storm water runoff are threats to pop-up farms over the next few decades. After that,  acidification combined with temperature and pollution could be too damaging, either to farming efforts or to the quality of the food.  Ocean currents near shore can produce lower pH (e.g., 7.65 as opposed to global avg 8.04 (edit:8.1, not because I believe it but because that's the consensus) from upwelling, colder, more acidic water on the west coast of the US) in coastal waters. Bivalves are sensitive to increased acidity of ocean water. Their fertilization rates decrease and their juvenile mortality increases. There might be an effect on their maturation size as well. Ocean average pH decline has one estimate pinning it at 7.8 by 2094. It is currently 8.1 and dropping. That avg allows wide variation in the availability of carbonate and calcium ions for shell formation in different waters across the globe. Heat maps show largest declines in availability of carbonate near the poles and with unequal distributions around the equator. Measurement data from 2006, I think, shows recent changes in carbonate chemistry occurring in the top 200 meters of the ocean, where marine ecosystems are most productive. I believe that marine biologists would agree that loss of shell-forming organisms in the ocean would create a ripple effect throughout the world's oceans. The discussions I have reviewed so far suggest that sea butterflies, a shell-forming marine animal that is food for larger fish we know, will die out under certain environmental stresses, emptying the ocean of their predators. That pathway to a die-off of marine life is identified repeatedly. Maybe because it matters to the commercial fishing industry. Without sea butterflies, the major food sou
Brian Lui
This is super useful information, thank you so much!

How do you think the push to replace humans with AI systems in nuclear warfare decision making will affect the chance of accidental nuclear war going forward? I hear some countries have been considering it.

What is the benefit of using an AI here?

While you are correct that vegetable oil would be the most compact way of storing edible calories, we wouldn't be able to rely only on it as it misses several key nutrients, and it would still not solve the prohibitive cost of storing enough food to last for a multi-year catastrophe. We think strategic micronutrient supplement stocks could be cost-effective but haven't looked into it in depth yet.

Any type of food stock would be very useful on the onset of a catastrophe, but the cost-effectiveness of large-scale long-term food storage interventions is not great.

I agree the benefits of closed environments system that you bring up are considerable, in fact there are even more benefits than those mentioned (see this paper). I wanted to bring in some other considerations to enrich the discussion around this:

  • If the closed environment system depends significantly on sunlight-based renewable energy sources such as solar and wind, then it is not resilient to abrupt sunlight reduction scenarios such as nuclear winter.

  • There are many other possibilities outside of vertical farming for closed environment food productio

... (read more)
Thanks for your response.  I checked out your website (including your FAQ where you point out the limits of storing food rather than focusing on the means to resiliently produce it) and I was wondering if you guys thought there might be some merit to strategic supplies of vegetable oil even if to only help buy several months of time for other operations to ramp up? A 55 gallon barrel of vegetable oil has ~2,100,000 calories, is edible for ~2 years, and--in order to prevent waste--could be sold and replaced after several months as it has industrial value (eg as biofuel).

Thank you, very useful. Happy to see CSER expanding to domains where ALLFED is working such as food shocks, critical infrastructure, volcano engineering, etc. Looking forward to collaborate more!

As always it's great to read your thoughts Pablo, and I like your scheme for getting the best of both worlds. I think it's worth recommending that you build accountability to prevent yourself from drifting away from your stated plan or a similarly good one. Wishing you the best at Xanadu!

Gracias Juan!

This looks like a much needed inititative. I'm interested to sign up for the reserve, it looks not unlike the type of work I've done in the past .

Ah it must have been that, thanks for letting me know

Sorry Pablo I did not even realize I reverted your change (don't even recall doing that). I'll be more careful going forward

It has happened to me that when trying to make an edit I accidentally click ok on  the warning that says "We've found a previously saved state for this document, would you like to restore it?", thus restoring  an old version of the article and  reverting  someone else's edits.     
No worries at all. And thanks, once again, for these great contributions!

I've made a complete revamping on the entry based on the current state of the art. Any feedback is welcome.

Hi Juan, thanks for these valuable contributions! I think the article looks great. One friendly (and pretty minor) request: please don't revert other editor's edits without first raising the issue in a comment, unless it's evident that the edit should be reverted. For example, I changed "1st gen" to "first-generation" and you reverted my change (see the Style Guide section on abbreviations [] for a justification of my change). Similarly with other changes, such as expanding the name of ALLFED (there is no need to provide alternative spellings, abbreviations or full names when the text is a link pointing to a Wiki article that does these things). Thanks again for taking the time to improve the article!

Has EA growth slowed? Has EA reached most of the people who were going to be interested in it? Where are you getting this from?

The Spanish-speaking community is growing fast. I assume there are other countries/languages that are yet to be significantly reached, all of which are bound to have some amount of people with significant E and A factors.

Gordon Seidoh Worley
Yes, I suppose I left out non-English. I should have more properly made my claim that growth has slowed in English-speaking countries where the ideas have already had time to saturate and reach more of the affected people. I forget where I got this from. I'm sure I can dig something up, but I seem to recall other posts on this forum showing that the growth of EA in places where it was already established had slowed.

In response to the following parts of your post:

  • "the only relevant-seeming academic field I found (Utopian Studies) is rooted in literary criticism rather than social science"
  • "most of the people there were literary scholars who had a paper or two on utopia but didn't heavily specialize in it"
  • "Rather than excitement about imagining designing utopias, the main vibe was critical examination of why one would do such a thing"

I know a scholar who heavily specializes in the study of Utopia from the social sciences perspective (history) rather than literaty ... (read more)

I'll be looking forward to see if/how they deal with the aftermath of the impact, and specifically with the agricultural collapse that would ensue which is probably the most severe consequence of an asteroid/comet impact.

I think I see what you're getting at, let me add a couple of things:

  1. Quorn's mycoprotein is produced from a different microorganism (Fusarium Venenatum), with different growth rates and processing steps than baker's yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae), so you are correct. It is more expensive than yeast, and also compared to the gas-based SCPs I mentioned.

Based on a conversation I had with an ex-Quorn scientist, the wholesale selling price of Quorn products is ~$3/kg wet (which makes sense given the intensive postprocessing and other additional steps). I'm... (read more)

Pretty much the only thing currently standing between us and bacterial SCP-based food (such as from methane or CO2/H2) is the lack of approval for use as a human food. Most or all of these companies have shown interest in the human food market, and a few of them are publicly pursuing it, such as Solar Foods. I expect they will be available in the next few years.

As Humbird mentions in the TEA and other sources confirm, the production cost of baker's yeast is well known (~$1.80/kg dry), so no need to run any numbers for that. I'm fairly confident SCP from m... (read more)

I think there's two missing steps here.  1) yeast SCP  for vegan meat replacement(Quorn) probably has importantly different processes and structure to baker's yeast. So I'm interested in whether it's realistic to expect ~$2/kg for that as well.  2) Humbird's TEA for yeast has both internal validity and empirical validation, and also he made a yeast TEA as a validation step to demonstrate that his model can retrodict an existing system. The secondary reason I asked for you to share the same methods that you've used for bacterial SCPs to get to yeast SCP numbers is so we can help make sure you aren't skipping calculation steps.  (But it's probably not worth you doing additional work here if you haven't already done so, just for my curiosity) 

Then again, I do believe that you can culture simple cells for a lower cost. I estimated the cost of producing protein-rich single cells from methane at $1-2/dry kg.

However, those numbers are for a bacteria that feeds on gas. The yeast analogy is much closer to mammalian cultures.

Oh very cool! I know you/ALLFED is focused on bacterial SCPs from the perspective of feeding earth after disasters, but do you have a quick sense of why we can't have it during normal times? Like what are the relevant timelines/bottlenecks against using bacterial SCPs as a way to partially replace animal agriculture?  Also more broadly did you do any BOTECs to look at the cost of yeast SCPs in comparison to bacterial SCPs? Just generally curious if we actually expect bacterial SCPs to have cost savings over yeast (waving away scientific problems)! 

I found this really interesting:

Humbird first models a Techno-Economic Analysis (TEA) where all parameters are similar to baker’s yeast [...] The analysis comes to $3.87/kg of wet (70% water) cell mass for the constrained yeast process. As yeast production at scale is already a highly optimized process over many decades, and the additional constraints mentioned so far are pretty close to the fundamental biological nature of animal cells, it seems unlikely that we can do better than a lower bound of $3.87/kg. Unfortunately, there are other constraints.

I... (read more)

Yeah, and it's an even larger ratio from a moral perspective, at least if we are focused primarily on farmed animal welfare. Of course, 1) just replacing beef is more than enough for a solid business case, 2) you can also try replacing really high-end luxury foods (Kobe beef, caviar, foie gras), where the lower bounds here don't apply, and 3) as you allude to, chicken and pork meat prices may increase. (1) and (2) are more relevant for justifying cultured meat use from a business perspective than from an altruistic perspective. 3) is something I've seen many cultured meat proponents say, but of course we can't rely on it (for starters, chicken and pork meat prices might also decrease). That said, a moderate possibility that chicken and pork meat prices might increase ought to be sufficient to justify altruistic cultured meat investment, assuming that we can get prices close to parity with conventional meat prices. So 3) is unlikely to be a crux, within reasonable ranges.
Then again, I do believe that you can culture simple cells for a lower cost. I estimated the cost of producing protein-rich single cells from methane at $1-2/dry kg. [] However, those numbers are for a bacteria that feeds on gas. The yeast analogy is much closer to mammalian cultures.

Good point, but I don't see how you can produce a version of this meme without specific assertions of effectiveness of each of the interventions (without killing the funny) . Alas, it did not pass peer review.

Answer by JuanGarciaSep 21, 202190

Credit: Fernando Moreno (see also version 2 in post)

I like the idea, but I think this would be better without specific assertions of effectiveness. Very few people will agree that MIRI is 180% and ALLFED is 240% as effective as GiveDirectly, for example (many people would say much higher; many people would say much lower), and this assertion is totally unnecessary for the value of this image.

I suppose this was briefly touched upon as part of Objection number 1, but could you comment on the apparent coupling between economic growth and energy use? See for example:

Is there reason ro believe AI could produce a decoupling of the two?

Hey - interesting question!  This isn't something I looked into in depth, but I think that if AI drives explosive economic growth then you'd probably see large rises in both absolute energy use and in energy efficiency. Energy use might grow via (e.g.) massively expanding solar power to the world's deserts (see this blog [] from Carl Shulman). Energy efficiency might grow via replacing human  workers with AIs (allowing services to be delivered with less energy input), rapid tech progress further increasing the energy efficiency of existing goods and services, the creation of new valuable products that use very little energy (e.g. amazing virtual realities), or in other ways. 

Hello, Juan here. Here's the final version of the paper I mentioned we were working on during my talk for those who would like to know more:

Thanks for taking the time to transcribe the talks

Potential of microbial protein from hydrogen for preventing mass starvation in catastrophic scenarios

My name is Juan B. García Martínez, research associate of the Alliance to Feed the Earth in Disasters (ALLFED). My colleagues Joseph Egbejimba, James Throup, Silvio Matassa, Joshua M. Pearce, David C. Denkenberger and I have researched the potential of microbial protein from hydrogen for preventing mass starvation in global catastrophic scenarios.

As members of ALLFED we are concerned by the fact that the current global food system is critically ... (read more)

One important caveat regarding flour fortification with vitamin D3 is that if the flour is used for baking bread, you could be losing 70% or even more of the added vitamin due to thermal degradation:

Regardless, experts seem to think it is a cost effective measure even without accounting for the COVID-19 prevention potential. These researchers estimatd the effectiveness at £9.5 per QALY gained, which admittedly sounds too good to be true: