I’m Michael Aird, a Staff Researcher at Rethink Priorities and a Research Scholar at the Future of Humanity Institute. Opinions expressed are my own. You can give me anonymous feedback at this link.

With Rethink, I'm currently mostly working on nuclear risk research. I might in future work on topics related to what I'm calling "Politics, Policy, and Security from a Broad Longtermist Perspective".

Previously, I did longtermist macrostrategy research for Convergence Analysis and then for the Center on Long-Term Risk. More on my background here.

I also post to LessWrong sometimes.

If you think you or I could benefit from us talking, feel free to message me or schedule a call. For people interested in doing EA-related research/writing, testing their fit for that, "getting up to speed" on EA/longtermist topics, or writing for the Forum, I also recommend this post.


Indirect long-term effects

Maybe in future this entry should draw a bit on discussion (within or outside EA) of "unintended consequences" of the kinds described here.

Indirect long-term effects

The first sentence of this article had been:

Indirect long-term effects (also called flow-through effects (Karnofsky 2013; Karnofsky et al. 2013; Shulman 2013; Wiblin 2016), ripple effects (Beckstead 2013; Whittlestone 2017), knock-on effects (Gaensbauer 2016; Greaves 2016; Snowden 2017) and cascading effects) are effects on the long-run future from interventions targeted at the short-term.

But many of the terms in brackets were not necessarily limited to effects on the long-run future from interventions targeted at the short-term. E.g., I think some or all of those terms could've also been used to describe things like unintended effects in the coming decades of bednet distribution, such as (maybe) more meat consumption, more greenhouse gas emissions, more economic growth, or more innovation.

The sentence also fit a lot of info in brackets mid-way through it.

So I've now split it into two and tweaked it to be more consistent with the idea that those other terms might not be about a totally identical concept.

Propose and vote on potential tags

Yeah, I just spotted that and the fact I had a new notification at the same time, and hoped it was anything other than a reply here so I could delete my shamefully redundant suggestion before anyone spotted it :D

(I think what happened is that I used command+f on the tags portal before the page had properly loaded, or something.)

Naive vs. sophisticated consequentialism

Some quick thoughts:

  • Brevity seems good, to avoid this one tag taking up weirdly much space compared to other tags when applied to a post
    • As we discussed here
  • I think there's no substantial reason to prefer "versus" over "vs." or "vs", so I prefer the latter options for brevity
  • Brevity also pushes in favour of "adjective1 vs adjective2 noun", rather than "adjective1 noun vs adjective2 noun", and I don't see a strong push in the other direction, so now I prefer the first approach
    • E.g., "Naive vs. sophisticated consequentalism" rather than "Naive consequentialism vs. sophisticated consequentialism"
    • I've now updated this tag's name to reflect that
  • Brevity also pushes in favour of just picking one or the other term rather than using both, but I think that can be outweighed in many cases
    • E.g., I think the primary topic of the broad vs narrow interventions entry really will be the distinction itself, not just broad interventions or narrow interventions, so the name should keep both
    • Whereas this entry might be primarily basically about "What is naive consequentialism, why is it bad, and how can you avoid it?", with sophisticated consequentialism only really coming into play as part of answering those questions
      • At least that's how I might see it
      • But it's not clear-cut in this case, which is why I kept both terms in the name for now
  • I think "vs." vs "and" should just be a matter of what's clearer and more appropriate for the case at hand?
    • E.g., "broad and narrow interventions" seems confusing; when I read that, I initially think we're describing one set of interventions that meets both criteria
Propose and vote on potential tags

Demandingness objection

I'd guess there are at least a few Forum posts quite relevant to this, and having a place to collect them seems nice, but I could be wrong about either of those points.

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Naive vs. sophisticated consequentialism

I think we should have an entry on something like this, so I grabbed the related EA Concepts title and text.

But maybe the entry should be called just Naive consequentialism, or maybe just Sophisticated consequentialism or something else.

Ah, I hadn't seen the indirect long-term effects entry - given the existence of that entry, I agree with your suggestion.

Style guide

Is this style guide the right place for policies/norms about how to use tags? E.g., a policy about which posts should be tagged with a tag for an organisation, as discussed here?

Or is there/should there be some other place for such policies/norms?

Seems like that's more about "tagging" and less about "style for the wiki entries".

It seems to me that it'd be more natural to replace this entry with an entry on something like "flow-through effects"? That seems to be a more common term in EA than "future considerations", and seems to more clearly gesture at what I think is the core interesting thing in this entry?

Donation pledge

Alternative name options:

  • Charitable pledges
  • Altruistic pledges
  • Giving pledges

Maybe the first two names are good in that they could capture pledges about resources other than money (e.g., time)? But I can't off the top of my head think of any non-monetary altruistic pledges. 

"Giving pledges" is probably bad because it could be confused with the Giving Pledge specifically. 

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