If Bill Gates believes all lives are equal, why is he impeding vaccine distribution?

I stumbled on a related IGM poll (a survey of many of the top economists from the US) the other day, and they seem to believe that economic incentives through IP rights are important:

Concerns with ACE's Recent Behavior

That makes a lot of sense to me, especially the points about how little time this might take and that there is not conflict with prefering the discussion to be public. Thanks! 

I might be a little bit less worried about the time delay of the response. I'd be surprised if fewer than say 80% of the people who would say they find this very concerning won't end up also reading the response from ACE. I'd be more worried if this would be a case where most people would just form a quick negative association and won't follow up later when this all turns out to be more or less benign.

Concerns with ACE's Recent Behavior

Because I'm worried that this post could hurt my future ability to get a job in EAA, I'm choosing to remain anonymous.

I personally would also find it emotionally draining to criticize possible employers and would understand if one decides against contacting them privately. Not saying this happened here, but another seemingly valid reason I’d want to keep in mind.

Concerns with ACE's Recent Behavior

Your question reads a bit like you disapprove of the author posting it without doing this. I agree that people criticizing an org should strongly consider contacting the org before their public criticism. But I think there are reasons to not contact an org before, besides urgency, e.g. lacking time, or predicting that private communication will not be productive enough to spend the little time we have at our disposal. So I currently think we should approve if people bring up the energy to voice honest concerns even if they don’t completely follow the ideal playbook. What do you, or others think?

Status update: Getting money out of politics and into charity

Good point. I suppose I could end up being more optimistic because

  • some politicians might think supporting it will, all in all, still make it more likely for them to win office
  • they might not believe that too many people would take part in this, so they could win relatively cheap virtue points
  • they might just be convinced that this is a great idea and are open to testing it out with voters
  • no idea if true, but I imagine many politicians also don’t have too close relationships with a significant proportion of their (seasonal?) campaign staff and have enough slack cutting other things if necessary? Or to rely more on volunteers?

Probably it would help if you could find ways for the politicians to reap as much positive public recognition from this as possible, e.g. trying to place things like „Voters of both Richard Roe and Jane Doe donated 30.000$ as part of the One America Charity Campaign“ in the local news. Maybe also by letting them recommend a charity they’d like to be associated with.

Another thought, I guess you might face less opposition in areas where campaigning is less professionalized and connected to the respective party‘s campaign apparatuses, who I guess will not like this idea (assuming they exist).

Status update: Getting money out of politics and into charity

Cool! Maybe you could reach out to politicians who have depolarization as part of their political program, who I expect to more likely want to support/be associated with projects like this.

Quadratic Payments: A Primer (Vitalik Buterin, 2019)

EA Hannover uses qv for choosing books for our reading club!

An online poll generator for quadratic voting is, which wasn’t too easy to find a couple months ago and might be interesting to play around with to get an impression.

The innocent gene

Thanks, I enjoyed reading this! I read The Selfish Gene some years ago and your post made me realize that my mind hasn‘t yet settled on how to think about all this.

One thought that came up was that we might want to distinguish between evolutionary processes and genes? This is related to the saying „Don’t hate the player, hate the game“, only that the players/the genes are not even real agents with intentions, like you argued. And furthermore we maybe shouldn’t even lay blame on evolution, as it’s just a non-agentic dynamic that probably sprang to life randomly at some point.

How much does performance differ between people?

Thanks, yes, that seems much more relevant. The cases in that paper feel slightly different in that I expect AI and ML to currently be much more "open" fields where I expect orders of magnitude more paths of ideas that can lead towards transformative AI than

  • paths of ideas leading to higher transistor counts on a CPU (hmm, because it's a relatively narrow technology confronting physical extremes?)
  • paths of ideas leading to higher crop yields (because evolution already invested a lot of work in optimizing energy conversion?)
  • paths of ideas leading to decreased mortality of specific diseases (because this is about interventions in extremely complex biochemical pathways that are still not well understood?)

Maybe I could empirically ground my impression of "openness" by looking at the breadth of cited papers at top ML conferences, indicating how highly branched the paths of ideas currently are compared to other fields? And maybe I could look at the diversity of PIs/institutions of the papers that report new state-of-the-art results in prominent benchmarks, which indicates how easy it is to come into the field and have very good new ideas?

How much does performance differ between people?

Nice, I think developing a deeper understanding here seems pretty useful, especially as I don't think the EA community can just copy the best hiring practices of existing institutions  due to lack in shared goals (e.g. most big tech firms) or suboptimal hiring practices (e.g. non-profits & most? places in academia).

I'm really interested in the relation between the increasing number of AI researchers and the associated rate of new ideas in AI. I'm not really sure how to think about this yet and would be interested in your (or anybody's) thoughts. Some initial thoughts:

If the distribution of rates of ideas over all people that could do AI research is really heavy-tailed, and the people with the highest rates of ideas would've worked on AI even before the funding started to increase, maybe one would expect less of an increase in the rate of ideas (ignoring that more funding will make those researchers also more productive).

  • my vague intuition here is that the distribution is not extremely heavy-tailed (e.g. the top 1% researchers with the most ideas contribute maybe 10% of all ideas?) and that more funding will capture many AI researchers that will end up landing in the top 10% quantile (e.g. every doubling of AI researchers will replace 2% of the top 10%?)
  • I'm not sure to which if any distribution in your report I could relate the distribution of rates of ideas over all people who can do AI research. Number of papers written over the whole career might fit best, right? (see table extracted from your report)



Share of the total held by the top ...

Papers written by scientist (whole career) [Sinatra et al. 2016]
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