All of Karthik Sekar's Comments + Replies

Dinner & Discussion @ The Lodge

I'd love to join, but it looks like the form is going to the July link.

3Vaidehi Agarwalla11d
Thanks for flagging we are working on this.
The Tipping Point Case for Vegan Advocacy

Thank you! I appreciate the kind words :)

Some thoughts on vegetarianism and veganism

Hi Richard, I recently wrote a post that tackles the concern on whether personal choice on veganism can have meaningful consequences: https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/aMFFWhiQX5DvaZSDp/the-tipping-point-case-for-vegan-advocacy

Short answer, yes. Personal choices can help shift the S-curve for the transition, which has huge consequences. 

Science policy as a possible EA cause area: problems and solutions

Indeed. To be clear, when I refer to publications, I refer to traditionally published ones: where the papers are submitted to journals, editors will determine if it's impactful enough, and then it's sent out to review. This is such a belabored process, especially in the age of the internet. And for what it's worth, the competition is exacerbated by the lack of space in lofty journals. 

And sure, we can't jettison publications without something taking it's place. It still could be papers, just not traditionally published ones. We saw this play out durin... (read more)

Science policy as a possible EA cause area: problems and solutions

Thanks for this post. I agree with many of your points. I see science as a problem-solving engine, and yes, if it's not operating as well as it could be then that's a huge opportunity cost for issues such as treating diseases, transitioning to clean energy/meat, etc.

One thought about the publishing and incentives: If funders can be convinced not to care about publications or to weigh other efforts the same or more, e.g. posting and commenting on pre-prints, then that could break the strangle that the publishing industry holds on the scientific enterprise. ... (read more)

1PabloAMC7mo
I don't know. I agree that we give too much weight to papers, but then, what would we substitute this with? How likely is it that we will face the same problem in a new competitive system? I think it is worth exploring, but my belief is that this problem comes from the competition, not from the articles. Any other competitive system would most likely have similar problems, in my opinion.
AMA: I've authored a new book (After Meat) about the technological limits of animals for production and why we'll do better

Private funding for alternative food is eye-popping, to say the least. "Buzzy" is a good descriptor :)

I hesitate to make any proclamations on what's too much or too little, as it does depend on the counterfactual. I think the problems that Beyond Meat are trying to solve are worthwhile. Giving them cheaper capital helps their efforts. Glad it's going there versus, say, Palantir. 

I spent Chapter 9 discussing specific funding opportunities, but I thought of a couple of ones since the book went to the presses:

  • Fundamental characterization of casein and ca
... (read more)
AMA: I've authored a new book (After Meat) about the technological limits of animals for production and why we'll do better

The details will  matter as far as what will have the most impact.

If she's starting another plant-based burger or milk company, a la Beyond Meat or Oatly, then I'd say she can't add so much value because there's already a ton of activity solving that problem. But if she has novel solutions; for example, a new way to make semi-solid lipids at scale, then she can add a lot. Semi-solid lipids are a problem for nearly every alternative food effort; there two "natural" options with coconut oil and palm oil. Also, for what it's worth, many of these companie... (read more)

AMA: I've authored a new book (After Meat) about the technological limits of animals for production and why we'll do better

The reports largely echo my worries about the tractability and feasibility of cultured (in vitro) meat. When I talked with my friend at GFI about it, she sent me this post that  GFI authored, in particular responding to the Counter article: https://gfi.org/cultivated/tea-statement/

The post indicates that there's more information beyond what's available publicly and that these companies and investors are well-versed with the challenges. I know the post rings of a "trust us; we know what we're doing" sentiment and asks for a lot to be taken at face valu... (read more)