All of Nathan Young's Comments + Replies

Cause Area: UK Housing Policy

Metaculus forecast on street votes:

51 forecasters.

I think the resolution criteria on this question aren't great (I wrote them, sorry all) so I think possibly they understate the likelihood (they ask for plot use to be voted on , which in hindsight may have been too high a bar).

Also, Michael Gove, the Cabinet member and head of the UK Housing Department recently supported the idea.

"Homeowners will be able to band together with their neighbours to hold a referendum on adding extensions to their properties, Michael Gove has said. This from... (read more)

Cause Area: UK Housing Policy

I thought the Founder Pledge cost effectiveness he linked made a good case for the cause area in general:

I'm less sure about the specific interventions.

Nathan Young's Shortform

I recommend a thread of them. I rarely see poeple using hashtags currently.

And I probably agree you could/should write them yourselves but:
- other people might think different things are interesting than you do

1finm6dThanks! Sounds right on both fronts.
What questions relevant to EA could be answered by surveying the public?

How do people feel about hearing about effective charities?

How do people feel about hearing about effective careers?

Nathan Young's Shortform

EA podcasts and videos

Each EA org should pay $10 bounty to the best twitter thread talking about any episode. If you could generate 100 quality twitter threads on 80,000 hours episodes that for $1000 that would be really cheap. People would quote tweet and discuss and it would make the whole set of knowledge much more legible.

3finm7dCool idea, I'll have a think about doing this for Hear This Idea. I expect writing the threads ourselves could take less time than setting up a bounty, finding the threads, paying out etc. But a norm of trying to summarise (e.g. 80K) episodes in 10 or so tweets sounds hugely valuable. Maybe they could all use a similar hashtag to find them — something like #EAPodcastRecap or #EAPodcastSummary
EA Forum feature suggestion thread

The EA forum is one of the key public hubs for EA discourse (alongside, in my opinion, facebook, twitter, reddit and a couple of blogs). I respect the forum team's work in trying to build better infrastructure for its users.

The EA forum is active in attempting to improve experience for its users. This makes it easier for me to contribute with things like questions, short forms, sequences etc, etc. 

I wouldn't say this post provides deep truth, but it seeks to build infrastructure which matches the way EAs are. To me, that's an analogy to articles which... (read more)

5Pablo13dHaving an option to "resolve" a comment thread (analogous to "closing" a GitHub issue) would be very useful, especially for Wiki comments.
Nathan Young's Shortform

I edited the of wikipedia on Doing Good Better to try and make it more reflective of the book and Will's current views. Let me know how you think I did.

Nathan Young's Shortform

EA criticism

[Epistemic Status: low, I think this is probably wrong, but I would like to debug it publicly]

If I have a criticism of EA along Institutional Decision Making lines, it is this:

For a movement that wants to change how decisions get made, we should make those changes in our own organisations first.

Examples of good progress:
-  prizes - EA orgs have offered prizes for innovation
- voting systems - it's good that the forum is run on upvotes and that often I think EA uses the right tool for the job in terms of voting

Things I would like to see more... (read more)

Nathan Young's Shortform

Factional infighting

[epistemic status - low, probably some element are wrong]

- communities have a range of dispute resolution mechanisms, whether voting to public conflict to some kind of civil war
- some of these are much better than others
- EA has disputes and resources and it seems likely that there will be a high profile conflict at some point
- What mechanisms could we put in place to handle that conflict constructively and in a positive sum way?

When a community grows as powerful as EA is, there can be disagreements about resource allocation.  ... (read more)

9Stefan_Schubert15dBy and large I think this aspect is going surprisingly well, largely because people have adopted a "disagree but respect" ethos. I'm a bit unsure of such a fund - I guess that would pit different cause areas against each other more directly, which could be a conflict framing. Regarding the mechanism of bargains, it's a bit unclear to me what problem that solves.
January 2022 monthly meme post

It's up to you, but I will say it sounds like a bold move (which is British for "do it at your own risk, sounds a bit bad to me).

Do you use the EA Wiki?

I wish I wanted to use it like I use wikipedia - I wish I trusted it to be a broad summary of the articles beneath the tag, rather than a quick overview.

Do you use the EA Wiki?

Yes. Though I think it might be intended to be more than that.

Do you use the EA Wiki?

Yeah it's my strong view that if the wiki is set up right, the content should more or less create itself. That the wiki isn't useful suggests that people don't feel comfortable adding stuff to it. 

Personally, I'd like ways to integrate it more with posts and encourage poeple to correct errors - perhaps people can tag phrases in posts with links to the wiki and then people would hover over those links to understand the concepts. When that's happening, people would find and correct errors as they saw them.

January 2022 monthly meme post
why do I have to type captions to make the images display?
Do you use the EA Wiki?

Sometimes people ask me to not get karma from very simple responses. So I create these comments which people can downvote. But here, people were upvoting them instead. I haven't come up with a good solution here.

January 2022 monthly meme post

Also when I saw the last post was controversial I mean that it had 15 karma and 37 votes. Which is grimace emoji

Do you use the EA Wiki?

I like that we have a wiki attached to one of the biggest EA sites. 

Do you use the EA Wiki?

Downvote this comment to ensure Nathan's karma stays level

-1Nathan Young18dDownvote this comment to ensure Nathan's karma stays level
1Nathan Young18dSometimes people ask me to not get karma from very simple responses. So I create these comments which people can downvote. But here, people were upvoting them instead. I haven't come up with a good solution here.
Linch's Shortform

Some related thoughts

Nathan Young's Shortform

EA Wiki

I've decided I'm going to just edit the wiki to be like the wiki I want.

Currently the wiki feels meticulously referenced but lacking in detail. I'd much prefer it to have more synthesised content which is occasionally just someone's opinion. If you dislike this approach, let me know.

8Pablo18dI do think that many of the entries are rather superficial, because so far we've been prioritizing breadth over depth. You are welcome to try to make some of these entries more substantive. I can't tell, in the abstract, if I agree with your approach to resolving the tradeoff between having more content and having a greater fraction of content reflect just someone's opinion. Maybe you can try editing a few articles and see if it attracts any feedback, via comments or karma?
Nathan Young's Shortform

Why do posts get more upvotes than questions with the same info?

I wrote this question:

Some others wrote this post summarising it:

Why do you think the summary got more upvotes. I'm not upset, I like a summary too, but in my mind, a question that anyone can submit answers to or upvote current answers is much more useful. So I am confused. Can any suggest why?


2JackM20dAnyone can comment on a post and upvote comments so I don't see why a question would be better in that regard. Also the post contained a lot of information on potential megaprojects which is not only quite interesting and educational but also prompts discussion.
EA megaprojects continued

This form of the post has got more votes than the original (which was a question post). Why do poeple think that is?

- do people prefer posts to questions?
- is this better explained/worked through?

3mariushobbhahn20dI wouldn't read too much into it due to randomness, timing, etc. But my hunch is that posts are preferred because it provides slightly more value. Rather than having to think of answers yourself or sorting the current answers, you can just skim the headlines.
5MichaelStJules21dThe difference is not that big (154/125=1.232), so it could be unrelated to the quality or format, and instead have to do with timing or other things. One big difference is the inclusion of several examples in the post itself here, and credit for that should go to the authors, whereas users may give most of the credit for the examples in your question to the corresponding answers, not the question itself. If someone wanted to upvote specific examples in this post, they'd upvote this entire post, whereas for the question, they could upvote specific answers instead (or too). If you include karma from the question itself and the answers, there's far more in your question, although probably substantial double counting from users upvoting the post and answers.
Technocracy vs populism (including thoughts on the democratising risk paper and its responses)

To me, prediction markets/voting systems are the answer to this problem. It seems reasonable to me to have a fund:
- which gives based on votes weighted by forecasting record 
- or which allows users to upvote/downvote different causes

This shouldn't be all money allocation but I'd like to see EA experimenting with forms of democratisation.

Democratising Risk - or how EA deals with critics

How do we solve this?

These individuals—often senior scholars within the field—told us in private that they were concerned that any critique of central figures in EA would result in an inability to secure funding from EA sources, such as OpenPhilanthropy. We don't know if these concerns are warranted. Nonetheless, any field that operates under such a chilling effect is neither free nor fair. Having a handful of wealthy donors and their advisors dictate the evolution of an entire field is bad epistemics at best and corruption at worst. 

If I imagine myse... (read more)

I think offering financial incentives specifically for red teaming makes sense. I tend to think red teaming is systematically undersupplied because people are concerned (often correctly in my experience with EA) that it will cost them social capital, and financial capital can offset that.

I'm a fan of the CEEALAR funding model -- giving small amounts to dedicated EAs, with less scrutiny and less prestige distribution. IMO it is less incentive-distorting than more popular EA funding models.

Most these ideas sound interesting to me. However —

- OpenPhil making a statement to fund high quality work they disagree with

I'm not quite sure what this means? I'm reading it as "funding work which looks set to make good progress on a goal OP don't believe is especially important, or even net bad".  And that doesn't seem right to me.

Similar ideas that could be good —

  • OP/other grantmakers clarifying that they will consider funding you on equal terms even if you've publicly criticised OP/that grantmaker
  • More funding for thoughtful criticisms of effective altruism and longtermism (theory and practice)

I'm especially keen on the latter!

Democratising Risk - or how EA deals with critics

How could we solve this?

Singer started the Journal of Controversial Ideas, which lets people publish under pseudonyms.

Maybe more should try and publish criticisms there, or there could be funding for an EA specific journal with similar rules.

I guess there are problems with this suggestion, let me know what they are.

I like the idea of setting up a home for criticisms of EA/longtermism. Although I guess the EA Forum already exists as a natural place for anyone to post criticisms, even anonymously. So I guess the question is — what is the forum lacking? My tentative answer might be prestige / funding. Journals offer the first. The tricky question on the second is: who decides which criticisms get awarded? If it's just EAs, this would be disingenuous.

Wikipedia editing is important, tractable, and neglected

EA Wiki editing call - edit whatever wiki you want while on a call. 

We're gonna try running 4 sessions in Jan and Feb,  10:00 UTC every 2 weeks, staring 8th January.

edit I tried to share an event link but I couldn't find an easy way:
- DM me (or message on twitter @nathanpmyoung, email or text 447891020271) if you want 
- Tell me a really easy way to make and share events.

Ahmed Yusef and I have been meeting and editing a small EA wiki together and thought we'd throw it open, feel free to join us in a laid back editing session of a wiki of your choice. 

5michaelchen1moWhen I open the calendar link, it says "Could not find the requested event." I think you have to make the event on a public calendar to be able to share it.
Biblical advice for people with short AI timelines

Relatedly, a behaviour I dislike is  being repeatedly publicly wrong without changing and acknowledging fault. Mainstream Christianity is guilty of this, though so are many other social movements.

I think if  it turns out that short AI timelines are wrong, those with short timelines should acknowledge it and the EA as a whole should seek to understand why we got it so wrong. I will think it odd  if those who make repeatedly wrong predictions continue to be taken seriously.

Also, I'd like to see more concrete testable short term predictions from those we trust with AI predictions. Are they good forecasters in general? Are they well calibrated or insightful in ways we can test?

3Neel Nanda2moI think this only applies to people who are VERY confident in short timelines. Say you have a distribution over possible timelines that puts 50% probability on <20 years, and 20% probability on >60 years. This would be a really big deal! It's a 50% chance of the world wildly changing in 20 years. But having no AGI within 60 years is only a 5x update against this model, hardly a major sin of bad prediction. Though if someone is eg quitting their job and not getting a pension they probably have a much more extreme distribution, so your point is pretty valid there.
6Evan_Gaensbauer2moAll sects of any organized religion ultimately originate from what's likely to have been a singular, unified version from when the religion began. Unless any sect has acknowledged what original prophecies in the religion were wrong, they've all made the same mistakes. As far as I'm aware, almost no minor sects of any organized religion acknowledge those mistakes any more than the mainstream sects. There isn't anything like a consensus to the point it's not evident that even a majority of the EA/x-risk community has short timelines for artificial general intelligence (AGI). There have been one or more surveys of the AI safety/alignment community on this subject but I'm not aware if there are one or more sets of data cataloguing the timelines of specific agencies in the field. Improving forecasting has become relevant to multiple focus areas in EA, so it's become something of a focus area in itself. There are multiple forecasting organizations that specifically focus on existential risks (x-risks) in general and also AI timelines. As far as I'm aware, "short timelines" for such predictions range from a few months to a few years out. I'm not aware either if whole organizations making AI timeline predictions are logging their predictions the way individual forecasters are. The relevant data may not yet be organized in a way that directly provides a summary track record for the different forecasters in question. Yet much of that data does exist and should be accessible. It wouldn't be too hard to track and catalogue it to get those answers.
Announcing, powered by EA Funds

Dank memes...

takes a long breath from vape pen

Now that's a name I haven't heard in a long time.

1BenMillwood2moI see the image now (weirdly, it's a stylized form of [] )
December 2021 monthly meme post

Someone used GPT-3 to make an EA tarot deck 

December 2021 monthly meme post

Why image break?

(for me this image has broken, even though it is hosted on the forum)

1BenMillwood2moDon't think it's hosted on the forum, when I right-click and copy image link I get [] which looks like a Facebook URL.
Is it no longer hard to get a direct work job?

I think a clearer picture of how easy it is to get jobs would be really useful. Like there could be a job survey people fill out about how many jobs they applied for and what their skills are. Then we could have better expectations.

Strongly agree, EA organizations should post the rejection rates for jobs they’ve posted.

What advice would you give to an EA org that's hiring?

Consider where EAs are and post in those places. Whether on twitter, the EA jobseekers slack, newsletters, etc etc.

Announcing my retirement

Thanks for all you've done Aaron. It means a lot. Thanks for responding, for reading drafts, for organising AMAs, along with all the other things you've done. 

HIRING: Inform and shape a new project on AI safety at Partnership on AI

Has this been posted to twitter with the handle @effective_jobs?

1Madhulika Srikumar2moNope! DM-ing you on Twitter in case you can retweet. Thanks so much!
December 2021 monthly meme post

Sure, but again, It's one post a month. Also if those are the only memes you like only upvote those. 

I guess I don't disagree, but I still like this post.

7Ramiro2moOh, I gave the post a double upvote ;) (But the Kangaroo meme got a downvote, sorry palz) (The Drake one is meta and cool, but it only makes sense for people who are already tired of seeing the usual Drake meme)
December 2021 monthly meme post

By David Mears

Peter Albert David Singer --> "Pigs are nerved!" I blarted.

John Stuart Mill --> utilons' raj.html

Philippa Ruth Foot --> Troli! If phat, hop up!

Immanuel Kant --> Make Man Unlit

December 2021 monthly meme post

Do you think the memes posted here trivialise our message? 

Also Given that memes are a form of language that conveys ideas, isn't it worth learning how to use them to spread our ideas faithfully?

2Ramiro2moSorry to get into aesthetics, but maybe you could change people’s minds if you could show a meme that is as peculiar or poignant as (pseudo [] -)Hemingway’s "For sale: baby shoes, never worn." This might have an interesting effect on a new reader. Sometimes, comic strips can be like that. But most memes end up just using a standard graphic format to display a very straightforward simplified message that is only interesting (and often trivial) for the in-group… they remind me of badges, flags, or slogans, and they soon become repetitive. This is not bad (I like it, indeed - that's why I check the fb group daily), but it requires you to enjoy this particular practice as an in-group and to share the corresponding references. And it won’t make you look at things in another way. Sometimes, though, I think a meme can express an original joke (not just a simple mockery of the out-group), and use the corresponding format to enhance its effect (usually through contrast – like having a very intellectual debate instantiated in the American chopper meme) – but the technique will soon be copied (like having a very intellectual debate in the American chopper meme). And perhaps a meme can be as creative as a good short story, though I can’t recall anything like that right now; that’s a meme that should endure.
December 2021 monthly meme post

Can we discuss this a little?

I'm curious why you wouldn't want one clearly labelled post a month:
- You can ignore it
- If it's low quality you won't see it anyway

You say that you want meme posts confined to Reddit, which suggests to me you don't think they are the right sort of content for the forum. Is that the reason? If so, how are (suitable) memes different from short stories.

I'd expect people to react very different to memes, so I'm very open to being persuaded that having memes on the Forum is in fact a good idea. But my independent impression is that memes to some degree trivialize our message, and that insofar as there's a place for them in the larger EA ecosystem, it is not on the Forum, which I see primarily as a place for conducting high-quality, high-fidelity intellectual discussion.

December 2021 monthly meme post

What if there were only one per month?

Cos I agree that if there were 3 a day I'd think that was too much.

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