357Joined Aug 2015


Fair enough! I probably wasn't clear - what I had in mind was one country detecting an asteroid first, then deflecting it into Earth before any other country/'the global community' detects it. Just recently we detected a 1.5 km near Earth object that has an orbit which intersects with Earth. The scenario I had in mind was that one country detects this (but probably a smaller one ~50 m) first, then deflects it.

We detect ~50 m asteroids as they make their final approach to Earth all the time, so detecting one first by chance could be a strategic advantage.

I take your other points, though.

"(b) Secondly, while the great powers may see military use for smaller scale orbital bombardment weapons (i.e. ones capable of causing sub-global or Tunguska-like asteroid events), these are only as destructive as nuclear weapons and similarly cannot be used without risking nuclear retaliation."

I don't think this is necessarily right. First, an asteroid impact is easier to seem like a natural event, therefore being less likely to result in mutually assured destruction. Also, just because we can't think of a reason for a nation to use an asteroid strike, doesn't mean there isn't one. Accidental deflection of a small planetary body into an Earth-intersecting orbit is possible. And I don't necessarily think that only great powers will have access to asteroid deflection technology in the future. As the technology develops, it will be possible for smaller and smaller groups to access it.

Given the relatively low probability of asteroid impacts on short-term timescales, it wouldn't take that much of an increased risk from the deflection dilemma to make developing deflection technology not worth it.

I think improving detection technology might be a safer option to leave our options open while having a similarly positive effect.

If anyone is still reading this today and is curious where I ended up, I just took a job with Sentience Institute as a Strategy Lead & Researcher.

Cost is one factor, but nuclear also has other advantages such as land use, amount of raw material required (to make the renewables and lithium etc. for battery storage), and benefits for power grid.

It's nice that renewables is getting cheaper, and I'd definitely like to see more renewables in the mix, but my ideal long term scenario is a mix of nuclear, renewables and battery. I'm weakly open to a small amount of gas being used for power generation in the long term in some cases.

Hm, good to know and fair point!  I wonder if we can test the effect of extra funding over what's needed to run a passable campaign by investing say $5,000 in online ads etc. in a particular electorate, but even that is hard to compare to other electorates given the number of factors. If anyone else has ideas for measuring impact of extra funding, I'd love to hear it!

Seeking grants from EA grant makers is something I haven't at all considered. I wonder if there are any legal restrictions on this as a political party recipient  (I haven't looked into this but could foresee some potential issues with foreign sources of funding). On the one hand, AJP can generate its own funds, but I feel like we are still funding constrained in the sense that an extra $10,000 per state branch per election (at least) could almost always be put to good use. Do you think we should we look into this, particularly with the federal election coming up?

"This being said, the format of legislative elections in France makes it very unlikely that a deputy from the animalist party will ever be elected, and perhaps limits our ability to negotiate with the other parties."

This makes some sense, as unfortunate as it is. Part of the motivation for other parties being willing to negotiate with you or adopt their own incrementally pro-animal policies is based on how worried they are that they might lose a seat to your party. If they're not at all worried, this limits your influence.

But I wouldn't say it entirely voids your influence. The more votes you receive, the more it shows other parties that people care about animals enough to vote accordingly. If they want to try and gain some of those votes to beat out other opponents from major parties, they may still adopt some pro-animal policies if they think it might mean getting elected. I think it's still possible to have some influence in systems where minor parties are unlikely to get elected.

I just want to add that I personally became actively involved with the AJP because I felt that political advocacy from within political parties had been overly neglected by the movement. My intuition was that this is because some of the earlier writings about political advocacy/running for election work by 80,000 Hours and others focused mostly on the US/UK political systems, which I understand are harder for small parties to have any influence (especially the US).

One advantage of being in a small party is that it's relatively easy to become quite senior quite quickly if you are dedicated, and then have a modest influence on party policy and strategy.

By way of disclosure, I reviewed a draft of this post and am a member of the AJP (e.g. have run as a candidate several times and am the deputy convener of the NSW state branch).

Thank you so much for the feedback!

I did think about working for a government department (non-partisan), but I decided against it. From my understanding, you can't be working for 'the crown' and running for office, you'd have to take time off or quit.

The space agency was my thinking along those lines, as I don't think that counts as working for the crown.

I hadn't thought about the UK Civil Service. I've never looked in to it. I don't think that would affect me too much, as long as I'm not a dual citizen.

I haven't completely ruled out earning to give. I worked in the energy industry for 18 months before my PhD earning to give, but felt a pretty low personal fit for it. If I found a job that I was also intrinsically passionate about, I would consider it, but not otherwise.

Ah I hadn't thought about the for-profit plant-based food tech side of things, thanks, I'll think about that.

Am I reading the 0.1% probability for nuclear war right as the probability that nuclear war breaks out at all, or the probability that it breaks out and leads to human extinction? If it's the former, this seems much too low. Consider that twice in history nuclear warfare was likely averted by the actions of a single person (e.g. Stanislav Petrov), and we have had several other close calls ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_nuclear_close_calls ).

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