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What quotes do you find most inspire you to use your resources (effectively) to help others?

“I believe I am a reflection, like the moon on water. When you see me, and I try to be a good person, you see yourself.” In the film Kundun on the life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Concerning the Recent 2019-Novel Coronavirus Outbreak

Great thanks for this and the link. I am still trying to understand this more as it evolves. I guess as the monitoring and control is now much stronger hopefully Ro will come down also.

Concerning the Recent 2019-Novel Coronavirus Outbreak

I find the analysis from this link very interesting. It suggests that Ro is higher than initially estimated at 3-4 (rather than 1.4-2.5 by WHO) but the national China mortality rate drops to 0.3% if the province of Hubei is excluded (the reported mortality rate of Wuhan alone is 5.5%). This would be consistent with the theory that the number of cases are underreported in Wuhan, due to a shortage of testing capacity and perhaps under reporting. A recent Lancet report by Professor Gabriel Leung from University of Hong Kong estimates 76,000 cases in Wuhan as of Jan 25th based on a Ro of 2.68, more than 30x reported, which would put the mortality rate at well under 0.5%.

This suggests the pandemic could be more difficult to control than expected but mortality rate is also much lower (perhaps in the region of 3x flu).

This may also mean the main damage could be through economic impact.

Is EA Growing? EA Growth Metrics for 2018

Hi Peter, thanks for such a detailed post. I think there could be a misunderstanding in Founders Pledge numbers as their pledge numbers are growing very quickly and significantly higher than in 2015. (They have also been making great effort in increasing the impact of deployment including into far future.)

Also in the commitment section there is Effective Giving which is a relatively new and making significant progress.

These could point to a somewhat different picture in the commitment section to the one described above.

Perhaps we can review this and provide an update if necessary?

UK Income Tax & Donations

Thanks for that. As you mentioned in your guide I only recently realised that as I submit self assement return, I don’t need to donate by April 6 tax year end, but can do so before I submit the self assement return in following January which gives me an extra 9 months to work out how much I can donate.

Inadequacy and Modesty

Thanks for the question and the opportunity to clarify (I think I may have inadvertently overemphasised the negative potentials in my post.)

Yes there is a feedback loop, but it doesn’t have to result in a correction.

I think cryptocurrencies and bitcoin could be a good example. You have a new product with a small group of users and uses initially. The user base grows and due to limited increase in supply by design the price rises. As the total value of bitcoin in circulation rises the liquidity or the ability to execute larger transactions also rises, and the number of services accepting the currency rises, and there are more providers providing new ways to access the currency; all these generate more demand which causes the price to rise even further, and so on.. But what was just described is a feedback mechanism, that in itself does not suggest whether a correction should be due or not. Of course at some point a correction could be due if the feedback loop operates too far. I think that’s why Soros said in 2009 “When I see a bubble forming, I rush in to buy” (I think he meant feedback loop when he said ‘bubble”).

What I was speculating is whether there are more chances for anti-consensual views to turn out to be correct in a fast evolving system.

Inadequacy and Modesty

I hate posting as I worry a lot about saying ill-considered or trivial things. But in the spirit of Eliezer’s post I will have a go.

This post reminds me of some of my experiences, and I really like the $20 note on the floor analogy.

I was a derivatives trader for over 20 years and was last at a large hedge fund. In the early days I was managing new types of currency options at a relatively sleepy British investment bank focusing on servicing clients. After a while I thought some of these options were underpriced by the market due to inadequacy of the models. I wanted to take proprietary positions by buying these options from other banks instead of selling them to clients, but management initially resisted on the lines of why do I think all the other banks are wrong especially some of them are much larger and supposed to be much more sophisticated. But after a year or so I did manage to buy these options and made quite a lot of money which helped to set me on my career in trading.

What I noticed over the years is that these anomalies tend to happen and persist when

  1. There is a new product (so there is less existing expertise to start with)
  2. The demand for the product is growing very quickly (so there is a rapid rise of less price sensitive and less informed participants). This also generates complacency as the product providers are making easy profits and vested interests could build in not disturbing the system.
  3. Extra potency may arise if the product is important enough to affect the market or indeed the society it operates in creating a feedback loop (what George Soros calls reflexivity). The development of credit derivatives and subsequent bust could be a devastating example of this. And perhaps ‘the Big Short’ is a good illustration of Eliezer’s points.
  4. Or you have an existing product but the market in which it operates in is changing rapidly eg. when OPEC failed to hold oil price above $80 in 2014 in face of rapid decline in alternative energy costs.

I wonder if the above observations could be applied more generally according to Eliezer’s ideas. Perhaps there are more opportunities to ‘find real $20 on the floor’ when the above conditions are present. Cryptocurrencies and blockchain for example? And in other areas undergoing rapid changes.

Introducing the EA Funds

Even though I have supported many EA organisations over the years (both meta, ex-risks and global poverty and some at quite early stages) and devote a great deal of time to try to do it well, I feel the EA funds could still be really useful.

There is a limit to how much high quality due diligence one could do. It takes time to build relationships, analyse opportunities and monitor them. This is also the reason I have not supported some of the EA Venture projects not necessarily because of the projects but because I did not have the bandwidth.

I am really impressed with some of the really high leverage, high impact work that Nick Beckstead supported through his donor group, I remember his catalysing the formation of CSER and early support to Founders Pledge. The possibility to participate in Elie's work not limited to top charities also sounds exciting. I have not had the time to analyse animal charities and and this will help too.

I think donating to EA funds alongside my existing donations will provide diversification and allow me to support projects that I do not have direct access to or I do not have time and/or resources to support on a standalone basis.

The EA funds could also have benchmarking and signalling values (especially on less well known projects) if they publish their donation decisions.