Topic Contributions


Reimagining a social network for EA community

Thanks for sharing! I've had the feeling for a while that it would be great if EA managed to make goals/projects/activities of people (/organizations) more transparent to each other. E.g. when I'm working on some EA project, it would be great if other EAs who might be interested in that topic would know about it. Yet there are no good ways that I'm aware of to even share such information. So I certainly like the direction you're taking here.

I guess one risk would be that, however easy to use the system is, it is still overhead for people to have their projects and goals reflected there. Unless it happens to be their primary/only project management system (which however would be very hard to achieve).

Another risk could be that people use it at first, but don't stick to it very long, leading to a lot of stale information in the system, making it hard to rely on even for highly engaged people.

I guess you could ask two related questions. Firstly, let's call it "easy mode": assuming  the network existed as imagined, and most people in EA were in fact using this system as intended - would an additional person that first learns of it start using it in the same productive way?

And secondly, in a more realistic situation where very few people are actively using it, would it then make sense for any single additional person to start using it, share their goals and projects, keep things up to date persistently, probably with quite a bit of overhead on their part because it would happen on top of their actual project management system?

I think it's great to come up with ideas about e.g. "the best possible version EA Hub" and just see what comes out, even though it's hard to come up with ideas that would answer both above questions positively. Which is why improving the EA Hub generally seems more promising to me than building any new type of network, as at least you'd be starting with a decent user base and would take away the hurdles of "signing up somewhere" and "being part of multiple EA related social networks". 

So long story short, I quite like your approach and the depth of your mock-up/prototype, and think it could work as inspiration for EA Hub to a degree. Have my doubts that it would be worthwhile actually building something new just to try the concept. Except maybe creating a rough interactive prototype (e.g. paper prototype or "click dummy"), and playing it through with a few EAs, which might be worthwhile to learn more about it.

Low-Commitment Less Wrong Book (EG Article) Club

I'd be up for the reading and comment writing part (will see if it works out time-wise), probably not so much for zoom. Nice idea and thanks for taking the initiative!

Stop procrastinating on career planning

Is your post deliberately categorized as question? The four questions included in it all seem to be of the rhetorical kind. :P

Thanks for the post though! I think I'm in a very similar situation and you basically convinced me. I didn't expect five minutes ago to be just one minute of reading away from being convinced of applying to a 80000 hours career advice call, yet here we are.

Giving Multiplier after 14 months

Great write-up! The "many people are happy to donate to effective charities as long as they also donate to their favorite charity" point did indeed come as a surprise. Seems like a very valuable insight for certain types of outreach. 

Introducing Effective Self-Help

I think that you should consider connecting and collaborating with key parties who have interdependent goals & similar incentives

A small addition to your list would be this post about a study on a depression related intervention that I believe originated from within the EA community. Might well be worth contacting the author.

Introducing Effective Self-Help

Interesting project! It reminds me a bit of Huberman lab, the existence and apparent popularity of which could be taken as an argument in favor of ESH to be worthwhile (although format, target audience and focus might of course differ quite a bit). 

One thing I personally find very interesting is the point you mentioned as a counter argument: "Individual differences in benefit significantly outweigh the general differences in value between interventions" - in my opinion, this could even be viewed as quite the opposite: my impression is that in most easily digestible sources (such as pop-sci books, podcasts, blogs), this point is mostly ignored, and getting reliable information about this facet of health and well-being interventions would be great.

People very often speak of effect sizes as if they were a thing inherent to an intervention or substance, when actually they quite often seem to depend strongly on the person. An intervention with a strong positive effect size on only 10% of people could be much more exciting than an intervention with a weak effect on everybody. Even a large positive effect on small number of people combined with negative effects on the rest could be a very useful intervention, given you find out early enough whether it works for you or not. Getting some insight into the nature of variance of different interventions, if such data is available, could be really useful. It might of course be the case that most studies don't offer such insights, because it's impossible to tell whether the subset of participants that benefited from an intervention can be attributed to noise or not.

Longtermism in 1888: fermi estimate of heaven’s size.

This is great, thanks for sharing!

I found the "let's assume humanity remains at a constant population of 900 million" notion particularly interesting. On some level I still have this (obviously wrong) intuition that human knowledge about its history just grows continuously based on what happens at any given time. E.g. I would have implicitly assumed that a person living in 1888 must have known how the population numbers have developed over the preceding centuries. This is of course not necessarily the case for a whole bunch of reasons, but seeing that he wasn't even aware that population growth is a thing was a serious surprise (unless he was aware, but thought it was close enough to the maximum to be negligible in the long term?).

It's funny how he assumes a generation would span 31.125 years without giving any explanation for that really specific number. Maybe he had 8 children at this point in time, and took e.g. his average age during the birth of all of them?

And lastly, he as well as any readers of this letter would have greatly benefited of the scientific notation. Which makes me wonder what terrible inefficiencies in communication & encoding / expressing ideas we're suffering from today, without having any inkling that things could be better... :)

Preprint is out! 100,000 lumens to treat seasonal affective disorder

Nice! :)

Also, I think a few links are missing here:

David Chapman for inspiring us with these two posts in the Meaningness blog, Raemon for inspiring us with this LessWrong post

Could EA be ideas constrained?

Some thoughts (not to say ideas) regarding 3:

  • come up with more ideas 
    • just brainstorming in a very unconstrained way on relevant questions (e.g. "babble")
    • trying some systematic ways to identify implicit assumptions in our existing beliefs and ideas, and questioning them
    • looking at existing entities (orgs, fields, causes, tools...) and thinking about how they could be different
  • share ideas more effectively in the movement
    • encourage sharing in the first place (makes me sad to read of posts people started in the past but never finished)
    • good compression of ideas (e.g. short posts, descriptive titles, beginning with a summary)
    • make things easy to find via search
    • talk to other EAs about your ideas
    • get feedback early on
      • maybe twitter is good for this?
  • actual implementation
    • a lot of ideas may exist, e.g. in the dusty archives of this forum, that nobody has ever acted on and people have more or less forgotten about or never heard of in the first place
    • some (or many) people may generally be more interested in thinking - maybe EA is implementation constrained rather than idea constrained after all? (but I guess there are a lot of constraints anyway, and they vary substantially by who you ask; so idea constraints most certainly are a thing, affecting some more than others)
Could EA be ideas constrained?

There are definitely many coincidence of wants related problems, where someone has a good idea that someone would do or fund but that person never hears of it.

Very much agree with your points, this one in particular. I think in a perfect world we would all have a way of knowing of what others in the EA community are thinking about, working on and what they need help with. I'd love to have a way to share more openly (but without wasting other's attention) what I'm focusing on so that others who think about similar things could be made aware of this opportunity for collaboration. But I don't really know of any practical ways to achieve this. Write a forum post saying "Hey everyone I'm really interested in X recently and plan to spend the next 3 months diving into that topic"? Probably not. 

EA G(X) could be helpful, because you can share your (current) interests in your profile on the networking app. And theoretically find others who mention the same keywords. But then swapcard comes along and doesn't support proper searching, so I missed out on many potentially great relevant contacts. :( Plus of course it doesn't happen all that often, and always contains only a relatively small subset of the community.

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