FHI - RA to Toby Ord, Nick Bostrom

matthew.vandermerwe's Comments

Toby Ord’s ‘The Precipice’ is published!

The audiobook will not include the endnotes. We really couldn't see any good way of doing this, unfortunately.

Toby is right that there's a huge amount of great stuff in there, particularly for those already more familiar with existential risk, so I would highly recommend getting your hands on a physical or ebook version (IMO ebook is the best format for endnotes, since they'll be hyperlinked).

COVID-19 brief for friends and family

Thanks for writing this!

In the early stages, it will be doubling every week approximately

I’d be interested in pointers on how to interpret all the evidence on this:

  • until Jan 4: (Li et al) find 7.4 days
  • Jan 16–Jan 30: (Cheng & Shan) find ~1.8 days in China, before quarantine measures start kicking in.
  • Jan 20–Feb 6: (Muniz-Rodriguez et al) find 2.5 for Hubei [95%: 2.4–2.7], and other provinces ranging from 1.5 to 3.0 (with much wider error bars).
  • Eyeballing the most recent charts:
  • I’ve also seen it suggested that the outside-China growth might be inflated due to ‘catch up’ from slow roll-out of testing.

Altogether, what is our best guess, and what evidence should we be looking out?

Should Longtermists Mostly Think About Animals?
In fact, x-risks that eliminate human life, but leave animal life unaffected would generally be almost negligible in value to prevent compared to preventing x-risks to animals and improving their welfare.

Eliminating human life would lock in a very narrow set of futures for animals - something similar to the status quo (minus factory farming) until the Earth becomes uninhabitable. What reason is there to think the difference between these futures, and those we could expect if humanity continues to exist, would be negligible?

As far as we know, humans are the only thing capable of moral reasoning, systematically pushing the world toward more valuable states, embarking on multi-generational plans, etc. etc. This gives very strong reasons for thinking the extinction of humanity would be of profound significance to the value of the future for non-humans.

UK donor-advised funds

Yeah - plus the opportunity cost of having it in cash. Looks like a non-starter.

UK donor-advised funds

Yeah, and how much you value the flexibility depends on what you expect to donate to.

EA Funds already allows you to donate to small/speculative projects, non-UK charities, etc, via a UK registered charity, so 'only ever donating to UK charities' is less restrictive than it sounds..

UK donor-advised funds

Yes that's what I meant - will edit for clarity

UK donor-advised funds

I spent an hour or so looking into this recently, and couldn't find any DAFs that were suitable for small donors. It's possible I missed one, though.

CAF offers a 'giving account', which is effectively a low-interest savings account. You can get immediate tax relief for deposits, but forgo returns, and can only donate to UK registered charities, so seems like a weak option:

FWIW my tentative conclusion was that the best option for savings small-ish sums for giving later is a straightforward ISA. You don't get any immediate tax relief from paying into the ISA (you'll get this when you donate the money to charity) but you do get (tax-free) growth, and retain flexibility in when and how the money is donated. Returns are important if you think you might wait a long time before giving, flexibility seems important if one's motivation for giving later is the possibility of some high-leverage opportunities in the future. The main downside is that you can't easily bind yourself into future donations this way, but I thought this was outweighed by the other factors in my own case.

The Labour leadership election: a high leverage, time-limited opportunity for impact (*1 week left to register for a vote*)

Sorry I should have disclaimed that I don't think this is a sensible strategy, and that people should approach party membership in good faith (for roughly the reasons Greg outlines above). Thanks for prompting me to clarify this.

My comment was just to point out that timing is an important factor in leverage-per-member.

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