FHI - RA to Nick Bostrom (previously RA to Toby Ord on The Precipice)

Topic Contributions


Cool Offices ?

Cool Offices ?

Good/reliable AC and ventilation are very important IMO. 

Simulation argument?

I'm trying to understand the simulation argument.

You might enjoy Joe Carlsmith's essay, Simulation Arguments (LW).

How many lives has the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) saved?

This Vox article by Dylan Matthews cites these two studies, which try to get at this question:

EDIT to add: here's a more recent analysis, looking at mortality impact up to 2018 — Kates et al. (2021)

Ethics of existential risk

btw — there's a short section on this in my old Existential Risk wikipedia draft. maybe some useful stuff to incorporate into this. 

Ethics of existential risk

weak disagree. FWIW lots of good cites in endnotes to chapter 2 of The Precipice pp.305–12; and  Moynihan's X-Risk.

What are things everyone here should (maybe) read?

I considered writing a post about the same biography you mentioned for the forum.

I would love to read such a post! 

It's very humbling to see how much he already thought of, which we now call EA. 

Agreed — I think the Ramsey/Keynes-era Apostles would make an interesting case study of a 'proto-EA' community. 

Should EA Buy Distribution Rights for Foundational Books?

Another historical precedent

In 1820, James Mill seeks permission for a plan to print and circulate 1,000 copies of his Essay on Government, originally published as a Supplement to Napier's Encyclopaedia Britannica:

I have yet to speak to you about an application which has been made to me as to the article on Government, from certain persons, who think it calculated to disseminate very useful notions, and wish to give a stimulus to the circulation of them. Their proposal is, to print (not for sale, but gratis distribution) a thousand copies. I have refused my consent till I should learn from you, whether this would be considered an impropriety with respect to the Supplement. To me it appears the reverse, as the distribution would in some degree operate as an advertisement.

Ernest Barker suggests it was quite successful:

Mill's article was thus given a wider circulation that the Supplement to the Encyclopedia would have afforded by itself ... By 1824 ... there had appeared what was possibly a second edition ... Mill, in a letter of August 1825, speaks of the second reprint 'being all gone, and great demand remaining.' (He also mentions ... that his essays 'are the text-books of the young men of the Union at Cambridge'.

Ethics of existential risk

FWIW, and setting aside stylistic considerations for the Wiki, I dislike 'x-risk' as a term and avoid using it myself even in informal discussions. 

  • it's ambiguous between 'extinction' and 'existential', which is already a common confusion
  • it seems unserious and somewhat flippant (vaguely comic book/sci-fi vibes)
  • the 'x' prefix can denote the edgy, or sexual  (e.g. X Games; x-rated; Generation X?)
  • 'x' also often denotes an unknown value (e.g. in 'Cause X' — another abbreviation I dislike; or indeed Stefan's comment earlier in this thread)
Ethics of existential risk

I prefer this option to all others mentioned here. 

What are things everyone here should (maybe) read?

I also kind of think everyone should read at least one biography, in particular of people who have become scientifically, intellectually, culturally, or politically influential.

Some biographies I've enjoyed in this vein:

  • Frank Ramsey: A Sheer Excess of Powers
  • The Price of Peace: Money, Democracy, and the Life of John Maynard Keynes
  • Karl Marx: a Nineteenth-Century Life
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