Topic Contributions


Kurzgesagt - The Last Human (Longtermist video)

Many of the comments in this video were incredibly inspiring for me to read.

Most outside engagement with EA I see tends to scew heavily negative. I tend to disprortionally focus on the negative as those impressions are especially important for me to understand, so reading comments claiming how inspired they felt by the prospects of humanity, was so refreshing! Where was the all the sneering I'm so used to!?

Snakebites kill 100,000 people every year, here's what you should know

Thanks for the comment, I'd like to know that as well!

Since writing the article and diving further into the antivenom crisis, I think I've actually doubled down on cost of treatment being the primary issue.

When faced with the following options:

1. long trip to clinic, expensive treatment that may not work.
2. short trip to local healer, inexpensive treatment that may not work

I can understand why someone would opt for the latter.

My model would be that people would become much more willing to go to the hospital for , when they see acqaintance after acqaintance come back healthy, happy, and with their wallets intact as opposed to in coffins with a bill attached.

One way to test this, could be to look how people's willingness to go to the hospital changes when cheap and working antivenom is introduced in an area. Another way could be to look at how prevalence of inefficacious (or outright fraudulent) antivenom affects willingness to go to the hospital, though I suspect there isn't sufficient data to do this analysis.

That said I feel very uncertain about my prediction, and I don't think I'd be willing to make a bet with particularly good odds. Frankly I don't know anything  about indiginous communities or their circumstances, and I'd trust your judgement more than mine. The fact that WHO's 2030 plan spends such a large proportion of its resources on community engagement suggests it's a bigger deal than I made it to be.

Breaking Up Elite Colleges

it's not obvious that undifferentiated scientific progress is net bad either. Scientific progress increases our wealth and allows for us to spend a larger fraction on safety than we otherwise would. I'd much prefer to live in a world where we can afford both nukes and safety measures, than the world in which we only could afford the nukes.

Scientific progress  has been the root of so much progress, I think we should have a strong prior that more of it is good!

High Impact Medicine, 6 months later - Update & Key Lessons

I absolutely think we should stick to that messaging. Trying to do the the most good, rather than some good is the core of our movement. I would point out that there are also many doctors who were not discouraged and chose to change their career entirely as a result of EA. I personally know a few who ended up working on the very things you encourage!

That said we should of course be careful when discouraging interventions if we haven't looked into the details of each cost-effectiveness analysis, as it's easy to arrive at a lower looking impact simply due to methodological differences between Givewell's cost-effectiveness analysis and yours.

Is there a "Humans of EA" project? Meaning a project portraying different members within EA.

Giving what we can did a member profiles series, not sure if that was what you were thinking of

[Linkpost] Towards Ineffective Altruism

It was nice to read something that was both well-written and well-intentioned!

I don't agree with the proposed alternative to longtermism of 'ineffective altruism' eschewing metrics in favour of doing things what intuitively feels right.  If you disagree with longtermism the natural conclusion to me intuitively seems to be doubling down on high empirical standards and measurability.

On a slightly uncharitable side note, something I find amusing is that it's not long ago we were getting criticised for being overly obsessed with only what could be measured, and that we should be more open to the value of systemic change and such. Then a few years pass by, and now the criticism is that we're overly focused on existential risks that are impossibly difficult to measure and can be used to justify anything!

I am suspicious that while these criticisms attack the methodology of effective altruism, the methodology is not the real cause of tension but rather its conclusions.

Snakebites kill 100,000 people every year, here's what you should know

Since writing this article, this is actually one of the things I've been looking into! I think it looks very promising, as many of the issues outlined by WHO seem downstream from people simply being unable to afford high quality antivenom. (ie. why do people choose local healers? Because hospitals cost more and don't help either!)

It also looks like the marginal cost of high quality antivenom would decrease up to an order of magnitude if you scale up production. I have yet to take an in depth look at synthetic antivenom production, but after briefly looking into it, it seems that we are not going to get synthetic antivenom just yet.

The biggest risk of free-spending EA is not optics or motivated cognition, but grift

Either they start as grifters but actually get good results and then rise to power (at that point they might not be grifters anymore) or they don't get any results and don't rise to power.

I largely agree with this, but I think it's important to keep in mind that "grifter" is not a binary trait. My biggest worry is not that people who are completely unaligned with EA would capture wealth and steer it into the void, but rather that of 10 EA's the one most prone to "grifting" would end up with more influence than the rest.

What makes this so difficult is that the line between 'grifter' and 'skilled at navigating complicated social environments' is pretty thin and the latter is generally a desirable trait.

Generally I'm still not too worried about this, but I do think it's a shame if we end up undervaluing talented people who are less good at 'grifting' resulting in an ineffecient allocation of our human capital.

An example from my own life to illustrate the point: Someone jokingly pointed out to me that if I were to spend a few weeks in Oxford mingling with people, arguing for the importance of EU policy, that would potentially do more to change people's minds than if I were to spend that time writing on the forum.

If this were true (I hope its not!), I don't think that is how people should make up their minds about the importance of cause-areas and I will not participate in such a system. Someone more prone to grifting would and end up with more influence.

What are some high-EV but failed EA projects?

the longtermist entrepreneurship incubator still seems like a promising project to me, though difficult to execute.

Getting GPT-3 to predict Metaculus questions

man you just blew my mind, will give it a try next time I feel an urge to play around with GPT!

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