Ko Dama

4 karmaJoined Aug 2021


Yes (and sorry for my English, I am French (and not very good in English)). Summary in a few lines :
At the level of a country (but it can be at another level of governance), the organization chooses one/several indicators, aiming at maximizing long-term well-being. It identifies the priority areas affecting them (based on importance, neglectedness, tractability).For each area, it analyzes the incentive structure, which means all the forces that push in a certain direction (e.g. what are the incentives of the 40 most influential people and organizations in this area? ).  It compares it with the system that would be needed to move forward in a robust way (which implies, and this would be the whole purpose of the organization, to develop expertise on this). It then identifies the most relevant levers to make the system evolve (ease of implementation, political acceptability, efficiency...). Finally it prioritizes each area according to the expected utility of the proposed systemic reforms.

One can also imagine a less ambitious version, for example a J-PAL of incentives, which would help governments calling on them for a specific problem (for example: increasing the mathematical performance of students).

I identify several advantages. 
1) Focuses decision makers on priority problems (like 80k does for individual careers, or Givewell for donations).
2) Incentives are a language that speaks to economists, whose influence on governments is significant. They have a real impact on the world, are often not aligned with the common good, and seem fairly objectifiable (in an otherwise extremely complex social world).
3) The cost-benefit ratio can be very high insofar as some systemic changes have almost no cost.

The best example I can think of is this article by Eliezer Yudkowsky (a comprehensive reboot of law enforcement), which gives an overview of the process I imagine. And with more quantitative models, an analysis of the decision-making process to facilitate the chances of implementation, a better knowledge of the effects of various incentives, the help of superforecasters etc...I think it can be improved.

Answer by Ko DamaAug 07, 20213

An organizational version of 80k, GiveWell, Project Drawdown for "incentives".That is, an organization that specializes in 1) solving incentive problems in the most effective way possible (ease of implementation, minimizing costs, minimizing side effects...), 2) identifying priority changes based on their research (in general or for specific public policies such as climate change or longtermism...)