All of Milan_Griffes's Comments + Replies

AMA: Tim Ferriss, Michael Pollan, and Dr. Matthew W. Johnson on psychedelics research and philanthropy

Thanks for doing this!

For all three – how would you like to see EA participate in the psychedelic renaissance? What do you think a good marriage of the two communities would look like?

Hi Milan! It would be great to see increased discussion of the most attractive target projects related to psychedelics, as well as perhaps donation campaigns to reach critical mass for specific purposes. It's really remarkable how much can be done for how little at the moment. If there is interest, I might be able to help by drafting a blog post with some of the candidates I consider very high-leverage and worthwhile.

I don't think we yet are collectively wise enough to engage in memetic and/or tech projects that undermine evolutionary equilibria, fwiw.

Consciousness research as a cause? [asking for advice]

QRI = the Qualia Research Institute

https://qualiaresearchinstitute.org

New Top EA Causes for 2021?

"All 3,400 hours of Rationality: From AI to Zombies

Speedcore EDM R:A2Z will be the background soundtrack at the Schelling Point Temple of EA Burning Man. 

24/7 baby.

New Top EA Causes for 2021?

Big +1 

An 80k podcast dubstep house party actually sounds like a good time.... BURNING MAN OF THE NERDS!!!!

Robbie Wib-wib-wib-wibibiblin in da HAUS!!!!!!!!

Consider Puritanism. Pursed. The Purge...

https://twitter.com/MilanGriffes/status/1365758726657904641

Saying "80k tracks the # of calls and # of career plan changes, but doesn't track the long-run impacts of their advisees" is different from saying "80k focus[es] mainly on # of calls"

Thank you for this feedback. 

From my perspective, I'm writing both for my own sake and for others.

9jackmalde6moEven if your intentions are good surely it should be clear at this point that your approach is proving completely ineffective?

Yes, I want people to think about this for themselves. (I don't think that's esoteric.)

I don't have any advice to offer, but as a datapoint for you: I applaud your goal and am even sympathetic to many of your points, but even I found this post actively annoying (unlike your previous ones in this series). It feels like you're writing a series of posts for your own benefit without actually engaging with your audience or interlocutors.  I think this is fine for a personal blog, but does not fit on this forum. 

What about my style stands out as esoteric?

(From my perspective, I'm trying to be as clear & straightforward as possible in the main body of each post. I am also using poetic quotes at the top of some of the posts.)

In this one, it's that there is no main body, just a gesture off-screen. Only a small minority of readers will be familiar enough with the funding apparatus to complete your "exercise to the reader..." Maybe you're writing for that small minority, but it's fair for the rest to get annoyed.

In past ones (from memory), it's again this sense of pushing work onto the reader. Sense of "go work it out".

"Where do you get the impression that they focus mainly on # of calls?"

I don't have this impression. From the original post:

80,000 Hours tracking the number of advising calls they make and the number of career plan changes they catalyze, rather than the long-run impacts their advisees are having in the world.


It would be interesting to see a cohort analysis of 80k advisees by year, looking at what each advisee from each cohort has accomplished out in the world in the following years.

Maybe that already exists? I haven't seen it, if so.

1atlas6moIn the sentence you quoted, you literally state that 80k tracks the # of calls and # of career plan changes, but doesn't track the long-run impacts of their advisees.

"Opening with a strong claim,  making your readers scroll through a lot of introductory text, and ending abruptly with "but I don't feel like justifying my point in any way, so come up with your own arguments" is not a very good look on this forum. "

I wasn't intending the text included in the post to be introductory...


"[I have read the entirety of The Inner Ring, but not the vast series of apparent prerequisite posts to this one. I would be very surprised if reading them caused me to disagree with the points in this comment, though.]"

If you don't want to read the existing work that undergirds this post, why should I expect further writing to change your mind about the topic?

I have read all except one post you linked to. I don't understand how your post related to the two posts about children and would appreciate a comment. I agree with your argument that "EA jobs provide scarce non-monetary goods" and that it is hard to get hired by EA organisations. However, it is unclear to me that any of these posts provide a damaging critique to EA. I would be surprised if anyone managed to create a movement without any of these dynamics. However, I would also be excited to see working tackling these putative problems such as the non-monetary value of different jobs.

Where are all the comments, indeed...


"I advise you to withdraw this post, cut out half the narrative crap, add some evidence and a model, make a recommendation, then repost it."

I think this is basically fair, though from my perspective the narrative crap is doing important work.

I have limited capacity these days so I'm writing this argument as a serial, posting it as I can find the time. 

In the meanwhile, this sequence from a few years ago (a) makes a similar argument following the form you suggest.

"... on the margin, it sounds like we have more cost-effective forms of outreach."

Could you say more about what you have in mind? 

(Asking because I personally don't see any compelling alternative to a substantial fraction of EA folks raising children, especially when I consider a > 20-year time horizon.)

8jackmalde6moBy the way, Toby Ord weighs in on this at 24:33 in his Global Reconnect interview [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9NfUDBEWbjQ&t=1085s&ab_channel=CentreforEffectiveAltruism] . He basically agrees with Michael that having children and raising them as EAs is unlikely to be as cost-effective as spreading EA to existing adults. He also seems to feel somewhat uncomfortable about the idea of raising children as EAs.
6MichaelStJules6moI'm personally not sure, but this is what I hear from others in this thread and elsewhere. I'd be thinking the EA Community fund, university groups, running EA fellowships, GWWC, TLYCS, EA orgs to take volunteers/interns. Maybe we are close to saturation with the people who would be sympathetic to EA, and we just need to make more people at this point, but I don't think this is the case, since there's still room for more local groups. I've been the primary organizer for the EA club at my university for a couple years, and I think a few of the members would not have been into EA at all or nearly as much without me (no one else would have run it if I didn't when I did, after the previous presidents left the city), but maybe they would have found their way into EA eventually anyway, and there's of course a risk of value drift. This is less work than raising a child (maybe 5-10 hours/week EDIT: or is that similar to raising a child or more? Once they're in school, it might take less work?), has no financial cost, and I made close friends doing it. I think starting a local group where there isn't one (or running an otherwise fairly inactive one) can get you at least one new fairly dedicated EA per year, but I'm not sure how many dedicated EA person-years that actually buys you. How likely is the child of an EA to be an EA in the long run? And does it lead to value drift for the parents?
What grants has Carl Shulman's discretionary fund made?

Thanks for this update – these seem like worthwhile things to invest in!

Do you have a sense of how you will structure reporting on future grantmaking from this fund?

6CarlShulman6moNot particularly.

There's actually a lot of underutilized real estate in the Bay Area, especially in East Bay, Marin, South Bay, and the Peninsula. 

Much of it is locked up in big old houses that haven't turned over in a long time though.

Why do EAs have children?

"Reproduction is a credible commitment to the future" is a potent meme.

7Ramiro6moIt reminds me (I'll have to share it) this weird sonnet (On fate & future) I drafted (sorry for any lousy rhyme or offense I may have caused to this beautiful language, but I'm not a native speaker) for some friends working with Generation Pledge: [https://www.generationpledge.org/] Unhealing stains, sons to be slain / As it's written: jihad and submission / We let Samsara ourselves drain / While Lord Shiva stated a mission. Mystics, and yet, we don’t believe / For no told miracles anticipate / What brought us luck, skill and fate / The true great wonder we might live: In a century – in History, just a moment – / The length of happiness has grown six-fold / And more than doubled the expected life / Now, let it be your faith and my omen / As their fears and promises grow old / No more be bound to ancestors’ strife.
AMA: Holden Karnofsky @ EA Global: Reconnect

Does this post still basically reflect your feelings about public discourse?

2Milan_Griffes6moI expanded a bit on this question here [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/s2DrG9y6JN9WeqEYt/ben-hoffman-and-holden-karnofsky] .

Those weren't corrections... 

The statements I make in the original post are largely about what an org is focusing on, not what it is formally tracking.

1atlas6moI also downvoted for the same reason. I've looked at 80k's reports pretty closely (bc I was basing our local EA group's metrics on them) and it seemed pretty obvious to me that the counterfactual impact their advisees have is in fact the main thing they try to track & that they use for decisionmaking. I haven't looked into the other orgs as deeply, but your statement about 80k makes me disinclined to believe the rest of the list. Where do you get the impression that they focus mainly on # of calls?

I think there's a lot to admire about the Shakers... I'm just pointing out that as a social movement they are dying out, probably in part due to their views about sex & child-rearing.

Catholicism, Islam, and Mormonism seem to be much more durable in the long run (at least so far).

Thanks, should be fixed now

I bet cost often gets used as an excuse here.

Hmmm... something about making the two commensurable feels weird to me... (not sure what it is about it yet).

There's an important difference in kind here – raising children is a qualitatively different form of "consumption" than other kinds of consumption.

6Stefan_Schubert6moOf course - I'm not suggesting otherwise. My point is just to say that you can cut other forms of spending as well, just as you can cut spending on raising a child.

Could you give some examples of the basic facts I stated that appear incorrect?

3Kit6moPeople from 80k, Founders Pledge and GWWC have already replied with corrections.
Opportunity for EA orgs: $5k/year in ETH (tech setup required)

Wow this is cool: https://blog.fuguefoundation.org/effective-altruism-quest/

5FugueFoundation6moThanks, I cross posted it in this forum as well several months ago, though the subject was not particularly well received. When ETH gas fees drop a bit in the coming months (due to various network upgrades) we may set up some bounties to essentially pay people (in stable coins) that successfully complete the quest (i.e., proving they read/understood the intro to EA article). https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/sDtfchRXqKYACJqdm/effective-altruism-quest [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/sDtfchRXqKYACJqdm/effective-altruism-quest]
Why do EAs have children?

I'm planning to have children because I feel excited about the aesthetic of parenthood, it seems wonderful to be able to intimately participate in bringing more life into the world, and many people I respect endorse becoming a parent (1, 2, 3, but the list goes on and on...)

I'm basically trying to wonder about whether or not most people who affiliate with EA share your preference set about this.

That is a very worthwhile question, but invoking Shakerism is likely to obfuscate the process of answering it.

The revealed preference of most people who affiliate with EA could easily be that having kids doesn't clear their implicit moral bar. (This seems to be the case for you.)

This wrongly assumes that people act only on moral reasoning, not other (e.g., personal happiness) factors. It also wrongly assumes that factors that apply to one's own moral deliberation should universalize to either other EAs or people in general, when in fact I hold neither. I am generally very happy to see other EAs have kids, but don't feel morally compelled to do so enough to override my selfish preference against.

Among other things, this assumes that we know how to transmit the ideology via child-rearing and that we know how to switch from one reproductive strategy to another en masse.

9Cullen_OKeefe6moSeem like pretty reasonable assumptions. If you thought that either was untrue, then this whole line of inquiry would seem self-defeating.

Right. I wonder if affiliation with EA correlates with an implicit belief that procreation is wrong / not worthwhile / not clearing the bar of moral behavior...

6Cullen_OKeefe6moI suspect that's not true (due to the popularity of total population ethics in the movement), but would be interested in getting solid empirical data on the point.

Okay, but if affiliation with EA correlates with a reproductive rate that's far below replacement level, then if EA succeeds in converting everyone to EA, humanity will die out.

5Cullen_OKeefe6moThink on the margin. Once the cost of conversion is high, transmitting the ideology (and humanity) by child-rearing makes more sense. In general, there are plenty of ways for me to promote population growth and the ideology that don't require me reproducing.

I don't follow how that's relevant?

We can expect that we can "convert" people much more cheaply/effectively than they could. At current margins, it almost certainly costs far less to create EAs by "converting" existing people than "creating" new people and raising them in an EA household in hopes that they will later become EA. EA already has far more "adherents" than Sharkerism did at its peak. Also, neither celibacy nor childlessness is a "plank" of EA.

K strategists still need to reproduce at the replacement rate or above to be viable.

4RomeoStevens6moin the long run yes. But that's overly simplistic when considering humans because of all the things we might do to either memetically or technologically undermine evolutionary equilibria.

fwiw I'm using "Bay Area Rationality" to point to a particular subculture (that which grew out of Overcoming Bias and LessWrong and is now centered around but not entirely contained by the Bay Area), and to disambiguate from the broader notion of "Rationality," which I understand to encompass many social movements, subcultures, and time periods. 

Right, I think that position is approaching the ideology of the Shakers.

If EA has the same plank as Shakerism, it probably doesn't have a bright future...

My pet peeve about this argument is that the Shakers lasted from 1770 to the present (although now with just two elderly members). That's nothing to sneeze at for a utopian movement - compare them to the longevity of many 1960s communes that produced plenty of babies.

8Cullen_OKeefe6moWe have much better communications technologies than the Shakers had.

Why are people with higher income & education levels having fewer children?

4RomeoStevens6morK selection.
7Erich_Grunewald6moSpeculation: * it interferes with working life or self-actualisation, which they value more than the average person * they have higher standards for what they deem sufficiently good living conditions for family life, e.g. they suppose one should have acceptably sound personal finances, or a bigger home, etc. in ways that other people don't

I believe Mormons and Catholics are punching above their weight in the US.

Yes – and children are the future.

I agree—I'm ideologically pro-natalist but averse to having kids myself due to cost and more effective ways to positively impact the future.

Some thoughts on EA outreach to high schoolers

I've found High Tea to be a helpful resource for staying in touch with Gen Z trends.

I feel like I'm asking about something pretty simple. Here's a sketch:

  • FP recommends Charity Z
  • In the first year after recommending Charity Z, FP attributes $5m in donations to Charity Z because of their recommendation
  • The next time FP follows up with Charity Z, they ask "What did you guys use that $5m for?"
  • Charity Z tells them what they used the $5m for
  • FP thinks about this use of funds, forms an opinion about its effectiveness, and writes about this opinion in their next update of Charity Z

GiveWell basically does this for its top charities.

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