Cofounder of EA Geneva.

konrad's Comments

SHOW: A framework for shaping your talent for direct work

Didn't downvote but my two cents:

I am unsure about the net value of encouraging people to simply need less management and wait for less approval.

  • Some (most?) people do need guidance until they are able to run projects independently and successfully, ignoring the need doesn't make it go away.
  • The unilateralist's curse is scary. A lot of decisions about EA network growth and strategy that the core organizations have come to are rather counter-intuitive to most of us until we got the chance to talk it through with someone who has spent significant amounts of time thinking about them.
  • Even with value-aligned actors, coordination might become close to impossible if we accelerate the amount of nodes without accelerating the development of culture. I currently prefer preserving the option of coordination being possible over "many individuals try different things because coordination seemed too difficult a problem to overcome".
Is Suffering Convex?

I do think we might be able to collapse the dimensions and don't claim intensities, or especially the extreme ends, are equal. Let me try to put it differently: depending on how to collapse the dimensions into one, we could end up with the more complex individuals having larger scales. Ergo they could weigh more into our calculus.

A beings expression of the intensity is probably always in relation to its individual scale. I guess I don't understand how that is necessarily much of an indicator of the absolute intensity of the experience. Is that where we actually diverge?

Book Summary: "Messages: The Communication Skills Book" Part I & II
I think I disagree with trying to surround yourself with people who 'suck it up' as it may make it harder to talk to everyone else if you slip into conversational norms with people who never get offended or annoyed.

I think that depends on what we mean by "surround yourself". I was thinking of my five closest friends. Or would you categorically avoid it? I think there's a threshold of a number of relationships underneath which a blunt communication style doesn't quite become your default.

Is Suffering Convex?

1) I don't think we can say much about intensity either. But let's assume that intensity is equal for fully conscious entities (whatever that means). If we then assume that there might be different dimensions to suffering, more sophisticated beings could suffer on "more (morally relevant) levels" than less sophisticated beings.

2) I also think it matters to other forms of consequentialism through flow through effects of highly resilient beings being capable to more effectively help those who aren't.

Is Suffering Convex?

Thanks for starting this discussion on here! I feel like part of your conclusion could also go in the opposite direction:

  • Animals could be less morally important because their suffering is less sophisticated in some morally relevant sense.
  • Increasing lifespans of sophisticated beings now who have built the capacity to cope well with pain could be a great intervention (before the intelligence explosion).
Better models for EA development: a network of communities, not a global community

Thanks a lot for this, much appreciated! This gave me the chance to clear up some things for myself. It’s hard to get direct_feedback. ;)

There are two key points I tried to get across with this post and that I should have highlighted more clearly:

  1. Propose new language to talk more productively about network and community building; and
  2. Present and illustrate reasons for why I think this lingo is needed and closer to reality.

Regarding your points:

I) Effectiveness and receiving money: I would want to encourage people who are able to/want to invest significant amounts of time into EA work to figure out what kind of direct, non-”community building” project they could start/contribute to (without significant downside risks) before they start building a local group or alike.

Most of such work will likely look similar in many places: offer career coaching to the most promising people you can find. Being able to coach people requires you to stay on top of things. 1-on-1 discussions leave plenty of room to avoid negative impact and learn quickly.

I could see community development happening in a more meaningful way through such outcome oriented work than through "starting a local group and organizing meetups". Such concrete work helps to a) develop individuals’ expertise much more directly and b) produces the outcomes that can prove alignment to the larger network with fairly tight feedback loops. Later, they can figure out their comparative advantage and, with support, tackle more risky prospects.

To have the time to do that though, one has to have money. My recommendation here wouldn't be to simply pay more people to have this time. I could e.g. imagine that the "network development organisation" offers “EA trainings” to promising individuals. If completed successfully, people receive a first grant to build up their community through such direct work. Grants get renewed based on performance on a few standard metrics that can be built upon over time.

Some of this is already happening, but I see much room for improvement by modeling these structures more explicitly and driving their development more openly.

II) Conclusion: I’d recommend to define labels, roles and accountabilities within the network more clearly.

We often label CEA, LEAN, and EAS as "community building orgs" - but all three actually have quite different roles. I believe that it would be better if these organisations explicitly defined their respective roles. It is not clear to me that these three organisations really are working on similar things beyond the fact that the same label is used for their activities. I would claim they mostly aren't, and the few things they all do could be more efficient and improved faster by only one.

What is different from reality? Mostly the labels and definitions - which I hope should give a clearer sense of what everyone is doing and thereby ease the development of the network as a whole.

I aimed to contribute to a common understanding of what the network is, what communities are, how to build good ones, who has which responsibilities, how to define them better, how to make sure the network maintains high quality, and how to make people learn/understand all of that.

In the process of writing the other articles in our series on EA Geneva’s “community building”, we got much feedback that especially the latter point of “how to make people learn/see/understand all of that” is currently a big issue. Many people seem upset with how they are received when they are trying to contribute/start something in good will. Due to a lack of clarity, they end up wasting their own or EA orgs time and it is frustrating for everyone involved.

We could make network building and community building much more effective if we employed better terminology, had a clearer vision of what the ideal network development structure might look like and could be collectively working towards it - or at least discuss it better. I hope this contributes a little to that process.

Local Community Building Funnel and Activities - EA Geneva

Hey Josh, Relevant question, thanks!

1) Our public meetups attract 15-30 people, varying with the theme. Sometimes there are a lot of newbies/random people.

2) We currently have 83 members, our growth seems likely to continue at ~20ppl/quarter but we expect only 20-50% to become regulars and only around 10-30% to become actively involved beyond attending a meetup here and there. We currently don't have data on how many people really stay around for more than a year - we have now introduced an annual member status renewal.

3) As we will run our first advanced workshop next week, this number is currently at 15 only (people actively involved whom we know have the knowledge already). We expect it to go up 2-4 fold until the end of this year and then grow more linearly.

4) We have:

  • 1 public and 1 non-public themed social each month
  • During semesters, monthly intro and advanced workshops
  • One of our student groups has weekly meetups during semesters and runs an intro seminar
  • We aim for monthly discussion dinners, this is less fixed though
  • We meet monthly with our self-improvement group and have bi-weekly open individual debugging/training/planning/gettingshitdone sessions
  • 1-on-1s are usually at around 1-3/week per FTE, but there are weeks with double that in Fall and Spring
  • Sub-communities and working groups have had similar monthly rhythms so far (hard to say because we only properly started those in May)
  • We seem to have a co-organised introductory event once a quarter
Moral Anti-Realism Sequence #1: What Is Moral Realism?

Thanks, this makes sense.

As someone who spent a year at a Tennessean high school surrounded by Baptists, I understand your experience. I just ended up with a different conclusion: no one is interested in the metaphysical questions because they have to be settled if you want to continue living your "normal" life. What looks like interest in the metaphysical questions is a mere self-preservation mechanism for the normative ethical claims and not to be taken at face value.

To me, it seems faulty to assume any believer "reasons" about the existence of god, their brains just successfully trick them into thinking that. That's why I felt it was weak as a metaphor for anti-realism vs realism. So from an outside view your metaphor makes sense if you take believers to be "reasoning" about anything but felt to me like it was more distracting from the thing you meant to point at, than actually pointing at it. The thing being:

I think it's going to be less useful to discuss "what are moral claims usually about." What we should instead do is instead what Chalmers describes (see the quote in footnote 4). Discussing what moral claims are usually about is not the same as making up one's mind about normative ethics. I think it's very useful to discuss normative ethics, and I'd even say that discussing whether anti-realism or realism is true might be slightly less important than making up one's mind about normative ethics. Sure, it informs to some extent how to reason about morality, but as has been pointed out, you can make some progress about moral questions also from a lens of agnosticism about realism vs. anti-realism.

Moral Anti-Realism Sequence #1: What Is Moral Realism?

Thanks for writing this up in a fairly accessible manner for laypeople like me. I am looking forward to the next posts. So far, I have only one reflection on the following bit of your thinking. It is a side point but it probably would help me to better model your thinking.

And all I’m thinking is, “Why are we so focused on interpreting religious claims? Isn’t the major question here whether there are things such as God, or life after death!?” The question that is of utmost relevance to our lives is whether religion’s metaphysical claims, interpreted in a straightforward and realist fashion, are true or not. An analysis of other claims can come later.

Do you think analyses of the other claims are never of more value than analyses of the metaphysical claims?

Because my initial reaction to your claim was something like "why would we focus on whether there is a god or life after death - it seems hardly possible to make substantial advances there in a meaningful way and these texts were meant to point at something a lot more trivial. They are disguised as profound and with metaphysical explanations only to make people engage with and respect them in times where no other tools were available to do so on a global level."

I.e. no matter the answer to the metaphysical questions, it could be useful to interpret religious claims because they could be pointing at something that people thought would help to structure society, whether the metaphysical claims hold or not.

Thus, I wonder whether the bible example is a little weak. You would have to clarify that you assume that people sometimes actually believe they are having a meaningful discussion around "what's Real Good?", assuming moral realism through god(?), as opposed to just engaging in intellectual masturbation, consciously or not.

If I do not take those people (who suppose moral realism proven through bible) seriously, I can operate based on the assumption that the authors of such writings supposed any form of moral non-naturalism, subjectivism, intersubjectivism or objectivism, as described by you. Any of which could have led to the idea of creating better mechanisms to enforce either the normative Good, the social contract, or allow everyone to maximally realise their own desires by creating an authority ("god") that allows to move society into a better equilibrium for any of these theories.

In that case, taking the claims about the (metaphysical) nature of that authority to be of any value of information/as providing valuable ground for discussion seems to be a waste of time or even giving them undeserved attention and credit, distracting from more important questions. Your described reaction though takes the ideas seriously and I wonder why you think there is any ground to even consider them as such?

I think this concern is somewhat relevant to the broader discussion, too, because you seem to imply that we can't (or even shouldn't?) make any advances on non-metaphysical claims before we haven't figured out the metaphysical ones. Though, what you mean is probably more along the lines of "be ready to change everything once we have figured out moral philosophy", not implying that we shouldn't do anything else in the meantime. Is that correct? If so, this point might get lost if not pronounced more prominently.

Announcing Rethink Priorities

Just to clarify: EA Geneva has not received any funding from CEA to date - we are waiting on the decision from the recent community grants round.

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