All of Max_Carpendale's Comments + Replies

Animal Welfare Fund: Ask us anything!

Congrats on being the new fund chair, Kieran!

I notice you've made a huge grant to Wild Animal Initiative. That's great! 

With work on this subject, I'm curious how you would prioritize between research to inform future interventions, advocacy to raise concern about the subject, and current interventions to improve wild animal welfare? 

1Cameron_Meyer_Shorb5moHi Max! I may not have much to add, because I know you've thought a ton about this and I'm obviously not on the AWF panel. But for what it's worth, here's how I would rate those categories, in descending order of expected impact: 1. Research to inform future interventions 2. Advocacy to raise concern about the subject 3. Current interventions to improve wild animal welfare Most of all, I think we should be measuring projects by how they contribute to the formation of a movement around wild animal welfare. That points in a slightly different direction than if we just think about the direct impact of a particular project. For example: 1. Research: Developing methods or concepts might catalyze further research better than simply developing technologies or species-specific knowledge. 2. Advocacy: Appealing to conservation organizations ("grasstops") might build coalitions quicker than appealing to the general public ("grassroots"). 3. Current interventions: Conceptually simple interventions on somewhat likable species (e.g., rat contraception) might attract more resources to the cause than counterintuitive interventions on alien species (e.g., humane insecticides), even if the latter would have more impact in the short term. Feel free to reach out if you want to bounce around ideas! cameronms@wildanimalinitiative.org [cameronms@wildanimalinitiative.org]
6kierangreig5moThanks, Max! :) There certainly are. Here’s what we listed in our RFP [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/yDhijyrbu3fYPLbn2/request-for-proposals-ea-animal-welfare-fund#Expressions_of_Interest__Feedback__and_Applying_for_Funding] : We’d be interested in hearing from you if: * You want to tackle some “big-picture” question regarding wild animal welfare * You would like to launch a new non-profit venture, or you would like to trial something new, in the wild animal welfare space * You’re a scientist and want to pursue field-building activities, such as organizing conferences, trainings, courses, or events * You’re a scientist that could add welfare metrics to your current or planned research * You’d like to do some research regarding wild animal welfare field-building opportunities * You’d like to scope some opportunities for initial policy work on wild animal welfare * You’d like to explore the potential of non-controversial means to improve the lives of any relatively large-scale population of wild animals * You’re interested in exploring what for-profit business ideas might exist in the wild animal welfare space We would love to hear from you regarding any of the above! If in doubt, please err on the side of reaching out.
Killing the ants

Thanks for writing this. While doing research on invertebrate sentience I've wondered about this kind of thing. I don't deliberately harm arthropods, but I haven't stopped hiking (where I'll probably step on many arthropods), and I definitely haven't stopped washing. It's true that you could give a means ends justification that help more animals by continuing to work I'm doing without disrupting my lifestyle by worrying about these things, but I'd be horrified if my normal life involved harming even a fraction as many large animals - I just don't feel the ... (read more)

Why I'm focusing on invertebrate sentience

Yeah, even the information for total number of neurons is absent for many invertebrates. More specific information like that would rarely be available.

1BarryGrimes1yThanks Max! I've added it to my reading list.
How should we run the EA Forum Prize?

In my case at least, I can say that both the money and the reputation for winning was extremely valuable. Thanks for that!

Is it suffering or involuntary suffering that's bad, and when is it (involuntary) suffering?

I'm a hedonistic utilitarian, and I think that even voluntary suffering is be intrinsically bad, as long as it's still suffering at that point. Here the reasons I explain the phenomena that you note in your question. My answers are partially overlapping but some of the solutions you suggest.


- I personally mostly listen/watch/read media that deals with negative emotions. When I do this I sometimes have a twinge of the negative emotion, but I don't think I would really describe it is negatively valenced. Sometimes it may involve a bit of negat... (read more)

COVID-19 brief for friends and family

I get frequent muscle pain in my head and face and I normally believe that by massaging them. I've started to use use a part of my shirt or maybe another object as a barrier to let me do this without touching my hands to my face, but I guess my shirt could also pick up some of the virus, and I could be infected that way. Not sure what my other options are.

4eca2yCarry hand sanitizer and do a quick hand sanitization before you touch your face? Clothes can pick up virus but are much less likely to come into contact with surfaces then your fingers. You could also keep a pocket full of latex gloves and either wear all the time then remove (carefully without contaminating your hand) before touching your face, or carefully putting on before touching your face.
Who should give sperm/eggs?

I think you can travel to another country to donate eggs there. I think in general you get paid more in other countries if you are of certain demographics.

In praise of unhistoric heroism

There's is a trap that consequentialists can easily fall into that the author describes beautifully in this post. I think the solution solution within consequentialism is to see that consequentialism doesn't recommend that we we only praise the highest achievers. Praise and blame are only justified within consequentialism when they produce good consequences, and it's beneficial to praise a wide variety of people, most especially people who are trying their hardest to improve the world.

For a fuller spectrum account of what it is to live a mor... (read more)

Doing good is as good as it ever was

I've been in the community since about 2011, and I've also noticed this happening in myself and quite a few others who have been in the community for a long time. I'm not aware of any data on the subject. Denise's explanation of this and this post sounds right to me.

EA Hotel Fundraiser 7: Pitch focusing on case studies with counterfactuals

I came to the hotel as I was finishing a contract for Rethink Prioritites, worked for them there for one month, then did indepenent research. Now I am employed at an EA org again, and I am paying cost price.

8Khorton2yThanks Max for being willing to talk about your finances online. I know that's a sensitive topic.
Opinion: Estimating Invertebrate Sentience
I agree that sentience, at least as we've defined it, is an all-or-nothing phenomenon (which is a common view in philosophy but not as common in neuroscience).

What do you think of the argument that there may be cases where it's unclear if the term is appropriate or not. So there would be a grey area where there is a "sort of" sentience. I've talked to some people who think that this grey area might be taxonomically large, including most invertebrates.


6Jason Schukraft2yHey Max, good question. I think we need to clearly separate our metaphysics from our epistemology in this area. If an entity is sentient if and only if there is something it is like to be that entity, then it's hard to see how sentience could come in degrees. (There are closely related phenomena that might come in degrees--like the intensity of experience or the grain of sensory input--but those phenomena are distinct from sentience.) There are certainly going to be cases where it's difficult to know if an entity is sentient, but our uncertainty doesn't imply that the entity is only partially sentient. I think it's plausible that this area of epistemic indeterminacy could remain quite large even with all the empirical facts in hand. However, there are some theories of mind on which it looks like there could be cases of metaphysical indeterminacy. If a certain type of reductive physicalism is true, and sentience doesn't reduce to any one feature of the brain but is instead a cluster concept, and the features that constitute the concept aren't coextensive, then there could be cases in which we don't know if an entity is sentient even with all the empirical and the philosophical facts in hand. (Technically, the fact that it can be metaphysically indeterminate that an entity possesses a property doesn't entail that the property comes in degrees, but it's a natural extension.)
How worried should I be about a childless Disneyland?

Do you mainly see these scenarios as likely because you don't think there is likely to be many beings in future worlds or because you think that the beings that exist in those future worlds are unlikely to be conscious?

I had some thoughts about the second case. I've done some research on consciousness, but I still feel quite lost when it comes to this type of question.

It definitely seems like some machine minds could be conscious (we are basically in existence proof of that), but I don't know how to think about if a specific architecture wou... (read more)

1willbradshaw2yI'm not sure I understand the first question. I don't really know what a "non-conscious being" would be. Is it synonymous with an agent? My impression is that feeling lost is a very common response to consciousness issues, which is why it seems to me like it's not that unlikely we get it wrong and either (a) fill the universe with complex but non-conscious matter, or (b) fill it with complex conscious matter that is profoundly unlike us, in such a way that high levels of positive utility are not achieved. The main response I can imagine for this at this time is something like "don't worry, if we solve AI alignment our AIs will solve this question for us, and if we don't things are likely to go much more obviously wrong". But this seems unsatisfactory here for some reason, and I'd like to see the argument sketched out more fully.
Is there a clear writeup summarizing the arguments for why deep ecology is wrong?

Thanks!

I personally would disagree that variety of experience is morally relevant. Obviously, most people enjoy variety of their own experiences, but that's already waded into the total hedonistic utilitarian equation because it makes us happier. So I don't think that we need to add it as a separate thing that has intrinsic moral value. Looking at diversity can also be aesthetically pleasing for us, but that gets waited in to the equation because it makes us happy, and so, again, I don't think we need to say it has intrinsic moral value. I d... (read more)

1gavintaylor2yGood links Max. I've often felt there is a conflict between ecosystems/species preservation and animal welfare and these are really useful for exploring that idea more. However, I one point that I still get some cognitive dissonance from is the low-importance ascribed to (species) diversity. It seems like if resources are to be used to make more happy individuals (so using resources to improve the lives of unhappy individuals is not an option, maybe we're in a utopia where the lives of all sentient individuals are already net-positive and we value totalist population ethics), then it could, for instance, be better to produce more happy rhinos than happy humans, as there are far fewer rhinos than humans (if our utopia has the same current species numbers as the world today), so we will get more increase in the diversity of happy experiences. A moral weighting should also be applied between humans and rhinos, but if there is a huge difference in relative population numbers then it would probably be the dominating factor. How do others value a world with 7,700,000,000 people and 40,000 rhinos vs. a world with 7,700,010,000 people and 30,000 rhinos (using rough current species numbers and assuming all were fairly happy)? I think my intuition is to incorporate diminishing returns (for a given species) into multi-species population ethics, given that the experiences (phenomenology) of species differs, so they experience happiness in different ways. Does this make any sense, and is there a name for such ethical views? It works best for me from the totalist population ethics standpoint, and I probably wouldn't extend this to saying we should help unhappy rhinos over unhappy humans, even given the current populations of both species.
Does improving animal rights now improve the far future?

Imagine you heard about alien civilization that was pivoted towards colonizing the stars. But most of these aliens had almost no moral recognition and some of them were raised in inhumane conditions to be killed for trivial reasons for the other aliens. If I heard about this situation, I would be pretty concerned about what the aliens would do when they started colonizing the stars. I wouldn't be rooting for them by trying to prevent existential risk instead of trying to improve their values.


But of course, that's a description of our society. Th... (read more)

My recommendations for RSI treatment

Thanks for your comment! I read your article and left a comment on it here. I'll try to think more about psychosomatics and add a section on it when I have time.

1rmoehn2yThanks for your comment on my article! I appreciate your thoughts and have left a lengthy answer.
The Moral Circle is not a Circle

It seems to me like when most EA's are talking about an expanding circle what we are talking about is either an expanding circle of moral concern towards 1) all sentient beings or 2) equal consideration of interests for all entities (with the background understanding that only sentient beings have interests).

Given this definition of what it means to expand the moral circle, I don't think Gwern's talk of a narrowing moral circle is relevant. For the list of entities that Gwern has described us as having lost moral concern for, we did not lose... (read more)

Interview with Michael Tye about invertebrate consciousness

Thank you! :)

Thanks for mentioning C. elegans behavioural flexibility. I had meant to comment about that, but forgot to. That's a great paper on the subject.

I think people sometimes unfairly minimize the cognitive abilities of some invertebrates because it gives them cleaner and more straightforward answers about which organisms are conscious, according to their preferred theory.

8Peter Wildeford2yHowever, there do appear to be very clear behavioral capabilities differences between C. elegans and other invertebrates (e.g., honeybees) as can be seen in our invertebrate sentience table [https://www.rethinkpriorities.org/invertebrate-sentience-table].
Interview with Michael Tye about invertebrate consciousness

You are very welcome! :)

That passage is also one of my favourite parts of his answers, thanks for highlighting it.

I'll take a look at that David Pearce post, thanks for the link.

Thanks for pointing at the typo, fixed it now.

Ways Frugality Increases Productivity

Another way that frugality can improve productivity is that it can reduce the amount of time you spend buying, looking after, organizing, tidying, and thinking about physical possessions (because you probably have fewer of them). Of course, people who aren't frugal don't necessarily have more things, but they tend to have more of them.

Six-month update and summer fundraiser at Wild Animal Initiative

Bravo!

I'm particularly excited about the paper submissions and the increased academic expertise of your staff. That seems very important in getting this work taken more seriously.

Invertebrate Welfare Cause Profile

Excellent post!

Staying within the phylum, snails are consumed by humans in many cultures[53] and have attracted some attention as an edge case of consciousness in philosophical circles. A representative from class Gastropoda would therefore be useful.

It looks like there is a small error here. Aplysia was included on the table and is from class Gastropoda.

3Jason Schukraft2yGood catch! I had terrestrial gastropods in mind, so I've changed the original post from "class Gastropoda" to "order Stylommatophora" (which includes Helix pomatia, the most commonly consumed snail) to reflect this focus.
What Do Unconscious Processes in Humans Tell Us About Sentience?

Great article! I like the conceptual clarification that you do about what it means to say that a process is unconscious and how people use this term inconsistently in the literature. I've never seen that put so well and it's important.

I was wondering what you think of cases where a good idea 'spontaneously' occurs to someone while there thinking about something unrelated or while their mind is wandering. I only know anecdotes about this phenomenon, but I think it's a widespread phenomenon that most people would experience something... (read more)

8Daniela R. Waldhorn2yHey Max! Thanks for your feedback and for your vital contribution to this project. Sorry I couldn't get back to you before –I had taken a few days off. The example you provide fits well in what I classified as "sophisticated information processing functions that can be performed unconsciously". Of course we can come up with creative ideas after a period of conscious thought, but it doesn't necessarily happen that way. As you describe, unconscious processes play an important role in achieving creative insights, during what is called "the incubation period". Neuroimaging studies suggest that the association cortices are the primary areas that are active during this state and that the brain is spontaneously reorganizing itself. Recent research also supports the idea that it is not merely the absence of conscious thought that drives creativity incubation effects, but that during an incubation period unconscious processes contribute to creative thinking. It's still not clear which are the functional advantages of conscious over non-conscious thinking. In general, which kind of stimuli or tasks are more efficiently processed using unconscious mechanisms is an issue that remains to be elucidated. We also need a more refined distinction between neural correlates of unconsciousness (the absence of any conscious contents) vs. neural correlates of disconnectedness (the absence of perception of the environment) in different altered levels of consciousness. How these findings can be applied to research on consciousness in invertebrates? I'm unsure. Perhaps we can assess if equivalent structures of their CNS are activated when performing tasks that challenge them to "make associations" –and this may shed some light on how likely they are to show flexible ("creative") responses. Currently, in my opinion, it is clearer how these findings can contribute to improving our thinking: for instance, we are likely to benefit more from an incubation period when we get stuck, or when we
Interview with Shelley Adamo about invertebrate consciousness

Thanks! Good thoughts!

I'm also not sure if we know how expensive emotions are. In particular, even if some emotions are complicated, I'm not sure if the basic conscious experience of pain is complicated (at least the affective part of the experience, maybe not the sensory part). It subjectively seems like quite a simple feeling, but I don't know much about this, and I'd like to learn more.

Interview with Shelley Adamo about invertebrate consciousness

Shelley Adamo misunderstands first question in part c) of her answer. I didn't mean to suggest that biology was required for consciousness, just that biological organisms might be more likely to have underlying homology with humans, which could mean that they might be conscious while similarly complex AI would not be.I think that our best theories of consciousness suggest that at some point AI will be conscious.

An issue with a written interview like this is that you can't make clarifications on the fly to head off misunderstandings. I hope to improve on conducting these interviews in the future.

My recommendations for RSI treatment

Thanks for the recommendations! I'll try to take a look at the evidence for eccentric training, I wasn't aware of that. I didn't go into any specific recommendations about strength training, because I expect that because I wanted to keep the post fairly short and because I expect my recommendations would depend a lot on specific case, and so couldn't be communicated well in a general post. But if it's as effective as you say, I definitely should have mentioned it.

I'm planning on updating this post at some point and I'll mention eccentric training and mention you in the acknowledgements if the evidence find it does look good.

3FJehn9moDid you have time to look at the evidence? If so, what is your impression?
1SoerenMind2yPMed you the paywalled review. There seems to be some agreement that evidence transfers between different tendons FYI, e. g. some studies are about Achilles tendons. The specific review on golfer arm (seen by my doc as nearly equivalent to RSI on the hand-facing tendons) is also in my message. If you want to talk to an expert about the evidence you can probably ask to skype him for a fee.
My recommendations for RSI treatment

Hi Tofan, I'm glad you got relief from that! That must be amazing for you! Sorry if this comment is a bit caustic, in general I'm critical, though undecided about Sarno. I tried it and it hasn't worked for me. I'm definitely aware of it, and I've read Sarno's books. Sarno insists that you might have to fully believe his theory to get the results, and it's possible I haven't succeeded in doing that, though I have 'tried on' the hypothesis. I've also tried out the "Curable" app and found that t... (read more)

3rmoehn2yI've written on LessWrong about a fairly airtight approach to psychosomatic wrist pain: A cognitive intervention for wrist pain [https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/gEKsuJjnPkzovYBvm/a-cognitive-intervention-for-wrist-pain] And I think it's important that every article writing about physical causes and interventions also contain a section about psychosomatics. Because the people prone to psychosomatic wrist pain might read the warnings of permanent physical damage and disability, and enter a vicious circle of worrying leading to pain leading to more worrying. This is how it was for me, as I describe in the article.
Thoughts on the welfare of farmed insects

Thanks, I fixed those typos.

I guess my basic reason for thinking so is because there is around six order of magnitude difference in how much meat a cow provides and how much meat a cricket provides. But if you think about which attributes provide evidence of consciousness, I don't think you'll find that cows do not have vastly more of these than do crickets and cricket consciousness seems like a reasonable hypothesis.

Thoughts on the welfare of farmed insects

It's true that their minds are more divergent from ours, but I think that tends to mean there is more uncertainty about what they feel stress in response to, not that they feel less environmentally induced stress. Also, as I say in the post, the uncertainty makes it harder to improve their welfare.

I probably should have paid more attention to arguments about how they could have net positive welfare to have a more balanced post. Though I have seen a real bias in favour of eating insects (at least outside the EA community), and so I still see this post as contributing to a more balanced discussion of the issue. And for the reasons I given the post I still view it is unlikely that they have net positive welfare.

Thoughts on the welfare of farmed insects

My impression is that experts are divided as to whether or not insects have phenomenal consciousness. Some people seem to have strong intuitions one way, and others have strong intuitions the other way. Ultimately I don't think we know enough about the subject for anyone to be too confident one way or the other, and given this uncertainty we should take precautions.

I didn't think it was worth getting into the question how likely it is that insects are conscious because it's something that I've written about extensively elsewhere (mostly... (read more)

Thoughts on the welfare of farmed insects

Haha, oh, I didn't know you wrote that page :) That's good enough for the future.

Interview with Jon Mallatt about invertebrate consciousness

Yeah, I think this is a worry for his view. I do also personally assign a somewhat higher likelihood to invertebrate consciousness than modern AI consciousness because of evolutionary relatedness, greater structural homology, and because they probably satisfy more of the criteria for consciousness that I would use.

You might be interested in my next interview on this subject which will be with someone who discusses modern AI and robotics findings in the context of invertebrate consciousness, and comes to a more sceptical conclusion based on that.

Interview with Jon Mallatt about invertebrate consciousness

I think he may be answering the question in terms of sensory pain rather than affective pain. I was mainly interested in affective pain, I probably should have specified that in the question. In terms of sensory pain it seems to me like his answer make sense and is right because it makes sense that more nociceptors would give you a richer and more complex sensory pain. But it doesn't make sense in terms of affective pain.

I agree with Siebe that he is using 'suffering' in a nonstandard way. He seems to be using 'pain' to refer to 'acute pain" and 'suffering' to refer to 'long-lasting, non-acute pain.'

Why I'm focusing on invertebrate sentience

Yeah, fair enough. I wish you good luck with your group and project :)

My recommendations for RSI treatment

Thank you!

Yes, I remember hearing in the 80K podcast about how you prefer it, and I was quite interested in that. I still find it quite frustrating to use sometimes because of crashes and software incompatibility, but I guess if you can choose when to use Dragon and when to use a keyboard, you can just stop using it when it's being problematic.

I'm a bit reserved in my recommendation of it because I worry that it might take people to long to become good enough at it. I worry that people might either recover or quit using it in frustration before they start using it at a competitive speed.

4Denkenberger2yPerhaps I've been fortunate with not having a lot of crashes over my 19 years of using it. As for software compatibility, sometimes I have to open a dictation box (which is what I'm doing right now). As for the learning curve, if you want to do everything with voice, there is a lot to learn. But if you are just using it for sentences like I am, you only need to learn a few commands (and remember to dictate punctuation). If one is not a touch typist, I would think that one could be faster with voice in a few hours, and if someone is a typical touch typist, then maybe faster than voice in a few days?
Thoughts on the welfare of farmed insects

Thanks! Hopefully it's not too derivative of your work. I want to look into this more in the future and hopefully be able to say some more novel and insightful things.

I mainly relied on the FAO sourcebook on edible insects which claims higher efficiency for crickets. It seems like most articles on the subject claim higher efficiency, but I haven't looked into it deeply enough to be able to determine that. I should probably have just relied on your article on that subject.

Yeah, I'm not sure about freezing. I mostly think we just don't kn... (read more)

It seems like most articles on the subject claim higher efficiency

Yeah. :) I was just offering one more data point. In the Table 3 screenshot in the link I gave above, it's carp rather than chicken that are most competitive with crickets in terms of feed conversion.

the Wikipedia page seems pretty sceptical about freezing as a method of killing

I wrote that page, so it's not an independent source :) (although the citations within it are).

wouldn't make sense for the nervous system to send "avoid this" messages to the animal while the animal wasn't ab

... (read more)
My recommendations for RSI treatment

This might not seem like the most natural post for the EA forum, but I think it makes sense given the number of EA's I know who have some problems with repetitive strain injuries.

7Aaron Gertler2yThanks for writing this! It's definitely content we're happy to have on the Forum. I've known a couple of EA-involved people who suffered from RSI surprisingly early in life; in at least one case, it caused permanent damage. Like any community of keyboard warriors, we should be careful about our hands.
Why I'm focusing on invertebrate sentience

Thanks Jamie!

Nice article. Thanks for the link.

I don't think I agree with your claim in the article that degrees of sentience has been scientifically demonstrated. Is there a source you have in mind for that? I've been looking at the literature on the topic and it seems like the arguments that there do exist degrees of sentience are based in philosophy and none are that strong.

I guess the reason you are using sentientism rather than hedonistic utilitarianism is because you think the term sounds better/has a better framing?

1JamieWoodhouse2yThanks Max. I'm an amateur here so my confidence level isn't necessarily that high. I am taking "degrees of sentience" from the research (as summarised in Luke's paper) that shows varying levels of complexity in the nervous systems that generate sentience and the behaviours that demonstrate it. Given sentience is a subjective experience it's hard to judge its quality or intensity directly. However, from examining behaviour and hardware / biology, it does appear that some types of sentience are likely to be richer than others (insect vs. human for example). Arguably, that could warrant different degrees of moral consideration. I suspect that, while we will want to define a lower boundary of sentience for ethical consideration reasons, we may never find a clear binary edge. Sentience is likely to be just a particular class of advanced information processing. I'm using the term sentientism partly because it helps focus on sentience as the primary determinant of which beings deserve moral consideration. We can use it to take decisions about whether to have compassion for humans, non-human animals and potentially even sentient AGIs or aliens. Hedonistic Utilitarianism implies sentience (given it focuses on the experiences of pleasure / suffering) - but has traditionally (despite Bentham) focused only on human experience. Sentientism, like Humanism, also has an explicit commitment to evidence and reason - rejecting supernatural rationales for morality. As I understand hedonistic utilitarianism it is neutral on that perspective. For anyone interested in refining these ideas, we run a friendly, global group re: Sentientism here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/sentientism/ [https://www.facebook.com/groups/sentientism/] . All welcome whether or not the term fits personally. Philosophers, writers, activists, policy people + interested lay people (like me) from 43 countries so far.
Interview with Jon Mallatt about invertebrate consciousness

Re: 1) I'm not sure. I would say that the number of people who might be considered experts on the subject of invertebrate consciousness is very low.
I can't remember reading anything by these experts about who they consider to be the leading experts on the subject.

Re: 2) I have talked to him about it yet, but may do so at some point in the future. I doubt that anyone else has.

Interview with Jon Mallatt about invertebrate consciousness

Thank you!

Great, I hadn't noticed that article. Reading it now

Why I'm focusing on invertebrate sentience

I think you may be right that I should pivot more in that direction.

Research on degrees of sentience (including if that idea makes sense) and what degree of sentience different invertebrates have might still be relevant despite the argument that you're quoting.

Why I'm focusing on invertebrate sentience

Thanks for the link! I'm a pretty big fan of that book.

Why I'm focusing on invertebrate sentience

I think it's somewhat stronger than "doing work on one philosophical question is relevant to all other philosophical questions."

I guess if you were particularly sceptical about the possibility of digital sentience then you might focus on things like the Chinese room thought experiment, and that wouldn't have that much overlap with invertebrate sentience research. I'm relatively confident that digital sentience is possible so I wasn't really thinking about that when I made the claim that there is substantial overlap in all sent... (read more)

2Denkenberger3yReflecting on the mirror test - nice pun!
1Milan_Griffes3yI see – I was imagining more skepticism about the possibility of digital sentience. This recent book review [https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/QffdgbTEGNRoXMews/book-review-other-minds-the-octopus-the-sea-and-the-deep] about octopus consciousness on LessWrong might be helpful.
Five Ways to Handle Flow-Through Effects

Another reason it might make sense to ignore flow-through effects is when you don't know whether they would be positive or negative. If you were absolutely unsure about the flow-through effects, and figuring them out seemed impossible, then it seems right that they would balance out and that you can expect zero value from them. Insofar as this is the case, you should ignore them.

Peter's Personal Review for July-Sep 2014

Do you have any recommendations on how to avoid wasting time updating the current activity on Toggl?

0Peter Wildeford7y1.) Don't have that many Toggl categories, so you don't have to update that often. 2.) Use the green button to re-start a project rather than typing it over again. 3.) Don't stare at the timer.
Introduce Yourself

I'm Max and I'm from Vancouver, Canada. I am interested in far future causes and animal causes. I think that in terms of improving near term well being, animal causes dominate in expectation, but I am still unsure whether they have strong enough long run effects or if more specifically far future causes would be better.

I'm finishing up a philosophy BA right now and I am still trying to decide what to do after. It seems like my comparative advantage is definitely in philosophy or something else that uses verbal reasoning, but I'm not sure if the options are... (read more)