Larks

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EA's abstract moral epistemology

Yeah despite having studied philosophy I also found this a little impenetrable. It keeps saying things like,

values are simultaneously woven into the fabric of reality and such that we require particular sensitivities to recognise them

and that these views came from some women philosophers at Oxford and Durham, but never really explaining what they mean.

To the extent I felt I understood it, this was only by pattern-matching to the usual criticisms of EA and utilitarianism, like 'too impersonal' and 'not left wing enough'. But this means I wasn't able to get much new from it.

Thomas Kwa's Shortform

Unfortunately most cost-effectiveness estimates are calculated by focusing on the specific intervention the charity implements, a method which is a poor fit for large diversified charities.

jackmalde's Shortform
he is asking you to consider how it typically feels like to listen to muzak and eat potatoes

I always found this very confusing. Potatoes are one of my favourite foods!

Can we at least have a consensus and commitment that we go back to the previous norm after this election, to prevent a slippery slope where engaging in partisan politics becomes increasingly acceptable in EA?

Unfortunately I expect that in four years time partisans will decide that 2024 is the new most important election in history and hence would renege on any such agreement.

Can my self-worth compare to my instrumental value?

I wonder to what extent this springs from the fact that most pastors do not expect most of their congregants to achieve great things. Presumably if you are a successful missionary who converts multiple people, your instrumental value significantly exceeds your intrinsic value, so I wonder if they have the same feelings. An extreme case would be someone like Moses, whose intrinsic value presumably paled into insignificance compared to his instrumental value as a saviour of the Israelites and passing on the Word of God.

In any case, I think there is a strong case to be made for spending resources on yourself for non-instrumental reasons. Even if you don't think you matter more than anyone else, you definitely don't matter less than them! And you have a unique advantage in spending resources to generate your own welfare: an intimate understanding of your own circumstances and preferences. When we give to help others, it can be very difficult to figure out what they want and how to best achieve that. In contrast, I know very well which things I have been fixated on!

Hiring engineers and researchers to help align GPT-3

I didn't downvote, but I could imagine someone thinking Halstead had been 'tricked' - forced into compliance with a rule that was then revoked without notifying him. If he had been notified he might have wanted to post his own job adverts in the last few years.

Personally I share your intuitions that the occasional interesting job offer is good, but I don't know how this public goods problem could be solved. No job ads might be the best solution, for all that I enjoyed this one.

Best Consequentialists in Poli Sci #1 : Are Parliaments Better?
While economics is often derided as the dismal science, I believe that economists have done much to improve policymaking in the world.

In keeping with the abolitionists origins of the phrase:

Carlyle’s target was ... economists such as John Stuart Mill, who argued that it was institutions, not race, that explained why some nations were rich and others poor. Carlyle attacked Mill ... for supporting the emancipation of slaves. It was this fact—that economics assumed that people were basically all the same, and thus all entitled to liberty—that led Carlyle to label economics “the dismal science.”
Some thoughts on the effectiveness of the Fraunhofer Society

It seems from your description that part of the problem is that the same body invents projects for itself to work on. Do you think things would be significantly improved if, after coming up with a research project, they had to invite external bids for the project, and only do it in-house if they won the tendering process? Perhaps this would be prohibitively hard to implement in practice.

Some thoughts on the effectiveness of the Fraunhofer Society

This was a really interesting article on a subject I'd never heard of before, thanks very much. I assume similar issues affect government research organisations in other countries as well.

Suggestions for Online EA Discussion Norms
When asking the person to rephrase their comment, it can be useful suggest a rewrite yourself.
Example: Someone noticed a commenter who appeared to be name calling another person. This is how they might have rewritten the comment: "I have this point of view because of this reason. I see other people with this different approach and I find it odd because it seems so much in conflict with what I've learned. I wonder how they got to that conclusion."

I found this suggestion kind of surprising upon re-reading. Do you have experiencing of it working well? I worry it could easily come across as somewhat patronising.

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