All of Niel_Bowerman's Comments + Replies

EA-break, EA-slow

Wonderful post Rémi.  Take all the time you need, and if you decide to get back involved then I imagine our paths will cross on the other side!  🤗 

Fill out this census of everyone who could ever see themselves doing longtermist work — it’ll only take a few mins

Thanks for the feedback.  Epistemic institutions are one of the FTX Future Fund  project categories that they use in this post.  I appreciate that that is fairly obscure!  Do you think it would be helpful to link to this post and the 80k problem areas page from that question?

1Rebecca5d
I think so

It seems to me that a decent part of the angle behind this survey is to get longtermists to consider exiting their jobs in order to found projects on the FTX Future Fund list. Do you think this is a fair assessment?

3Evie Cottrell6d
Given that I was aiming to spend only a few mins on the census, I don't expect that I would have scrolled through the post to find the description of the cause area. But some people might, so could be useful.
Fill out this census of everyone who could ever see themselves doing longtermist work — it’ll only take a few mins

Feel free to just submit the form a second time if your situation changes. If you want to retract or withdraw any of your answers, you can email census@80000hours.org

Fill out this census of everyone who could ever see themselves doing longtermist work — it’ll only take a few mins

Thanks for the helpful pushback.  I've changed the title to include "it'll only take a few mins".

Fill out this census of everyone who could ever see themselves doing longtermist work — it’ll only take a few mins

I'll think about this some more and may make a lightweight version of this tomorrow.  

(Part of the reason for posting this census here before promoting more widely on mailing lists was to get this kind of feedback.  So I appreciate it! )

Fill out this census of everyone who could ever see themselves doing longtermist work — it’ll only take a few mins

Good point - I had forgotten that some people might have this preference.  I've added this option. 

Fill out this census of everyone who could ever see themselves doing longtermist work — it’ll only take a few mins

What do you think about link-sharing via Google Drive?  Or would you rather have it shared with specific emails only? (The former should make sharing the results easier)

I expect people will vary on this. Maybe most people who would be happy filling in the form at all won't mind much about google drive link-sharing. (I imagine a little more nervousness b/c it's easier for people to share a link to their CV than share e.g. a pdf of their CV)

Of possible interest: 2 minutes reflection from me says that I probably won't get to filling this in b/c "writing a CV" is something I will naturally feel perfectionist about // probably I'd need to spend 1-3 days on it to feel comfortable with it going to this group, and I probably don'... (read more)

7Owen Cotton-Barratt7d
For the group who have a CV but just don't want it publicly visible, maybe you should have a way of submitting that information that isn't giving a public link?

A good call to action, I feel, should be about the upper bound rather than the lower bound. I too assumed that was "<= 3 mins" purely because ">= X time" is very unusual to put in a title. Perhaps changing it to something like "<= 15 mins" would be a good idea.

1Ezra Newman6d
Okay, nevermind then!
There are currently more than 100 open EA-aligned tech jobs

Yep, the recommended orgs list on the 80,000 Hours Job Board (and the job board itself) is certainly not aiming to be comprehensive.

There are currently more than 100 open EA-aligned tech jobs

Thanks for writing up this post.  I'm excited to see more software engineers and other folks with tech backgrounds moving into impactful roles.  

Part of my role involves leading the 80,000 Hours Job Board.  In case it's helpful I wanted to mention that I don't think of all of the roles on the job board as being directly impactful.  Several tech roles are listed there primarily for career capital reasons, such as roles working on AI capabilities and cybersecurity.  I'm keen for people to take these "career capital" roles so that in the future they can contribute more directly to making the development of powerful AI systems go well.  

9mic2mo
Could 80,000 Hours make it clear on their job which roles they think are valuable only for career capital and aren't directly impactful? It could just involve adding a quick boilerplate statement like in the job details, such as: Perhaps this suggestion is unworkable for various reasons. But I think it's easy for people to think, since this job is listed on the 80,000 Hours jobs board and seems to have some connection to social impact, then it's a great way to make an impact. It's already tempting enough for people to work on AGI capabilities as long as it's ""safe"". And when the job description says "OpenAI […] is often perceived as one of the leading organisations working on the development of beneficial AGI," the takeaway for readers is likely that any role there is a great way to positively shape the development of AI. What are your thoughts on Habryka's comment here [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/oLWJdeXnv56GsD2KR/there-are-currently-more-than-100-open-ea-aligned-tech-jobs?commentId=rzXpzSjeQ7NzuroLu#rzXpzSjeQ7NzuroLu] ? China-related AI safety and governance paths - Career review (80000hours.org) [https://80000hours.org/career-reviews/china-related-ai-safety-and-governance-paths/] recommends working in regular AI labs and trying to build up the field of AI safety there. But how would one actually try to pivot a given company in a more safety-oriented direction?
2Sebastian Becker2mo
Thanks, Niel, I probably should have been more explicit about this. I've added a paragraph to make this clearer.
CEA is discontinuing its focus university programming, passing funding to Open Philanthropy

Thanks for sharing this data.  Would it be possible to share the wording of a sample question, e.g. for 1:1s, and how the scoring scale was introduced? 

High School Seniors React to 80k Advice

I really enjoyed this post.  I personally feel as though I don't understand our users enough or have detailed enough models of how they are likely to react to our content, and so I appreciate write-ups like this.  

Join EA Global: London as a virtual attendee

FWIW, I found the Swapcard app to be a net improvement to my EAG experience.  I found it easier to schedule meetings than my default approach of Google Sheets + Calendly links + emails.  I wonder if part of it is that people seem more responsive on the app than via email?  

Not trying to detract from Rohin's experience.  Just pipping up in case it's helpful. I also ran into a number of the issues that Rohin had, but just sighed and worked around them.  

Disclaimer: I work for 80,000 Hours, which is fiscally sponsored by CEA, which runs EA Global.  

Where are you donating in 2020 and why?

My wife and I are currently allocating 10% of my income to "giving later" , investing the funds 100% in stocks in the interim.  

We will likely make our regular donation to the donor lottery this year, which will come out of these funds.  I would consider giving more to the donor lottery, but on first glance I am less excited about needing to put money into a DAF or equivalent if we win because it is less flexible than money in an investment account.  

If users have thoughts on the ideal vehicle to put "giving later" funds in, I would be inter... (read more)

5MichaelA2y
I don't have much thoughts on this myself, but you might find the post Donor-Advised Funds vs. Taxable Accounts for Patient Donors [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/vh6KPLquguraByLGW/donor-advised-funds-vs-taxable-accounts-for-patient-donors] useful. Some other potentially useful resources: * [Question] Pros/Cons of Donor-Advised Fund [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/hxmnJAS89QSSBPsjX/question-pros-cons-of-donor-advised-fund] * Posts tagged Investing [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/tag/investing] * Posts tagged Patient Altruism [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/tag/patient-altruism] (Personally, I'm just using a fairly standard investment account as well, but this isn't the end point of lots and lots of careful deliberation.)
Careers Questions Open Thread

Hey Jia, I haven't done many online courses, but one that I did and enjoyed was the Coursera Deep Learning course with Andrew Ng.  https://www.coursera.org/specializations/deep-learning

I think if you will be working on multi-agent RL and haven't played around with deep learning models, you will likely find it helpful.  You code up a python model that gets increasingly complicated until it does things like attempting to identify a cat (if I'm remembering it correctly).  It's fairly 'hands on' but also somewhat accessible to people without a t... (read more)

3nikvetr2y
I'd second the Ng Coursera course -- very straightforward and easy to follow for those lacking technical backgrounds! Which may be a plus or a minus, depending on your desired rigor.
UK Income Tax & Donations

This post is extremely helpful, and I have referred to it multiple times as I plan my finances. Thanks again for putting it together.

Space governance is important, tractable and neglected

The importance of this and related topics is premised on humanity's ability to achieve interstellar travel and settle other solar systems. Nick Beckstead did a shallow investigation into this question back in 2014, which didn't find any knockdown arguments against. Posting this here mainly as I haven't seen some of these arguments discussed in the wider community much.

I also recently wrote up some thoughts on this question, though I didn't reach a clear conclusion either.

Atari early

[Spitballing] I'm wondering if Angry Birds has just not been attempted by a major labs with sufficient compute resources? If you trained an agent like Agent57 or MuZero on Angry Birds then I am curious as to whether the agent would outperform humans?

Growth and the case against randomista development

This is one of the most thought-provoking (for me) posts that I've seen on the forum for a while. Thanks to you both for taking the time to put this together!

[Notes] Could climate change make Earth uninhabitable for humans?

Thanks for flagging this. I think estimating temperature rise after burning all available fossil fuels is mostly educated guesswork. Both estimating the total amount of fossil fuels is hard and estimate the climate response from them is hard.

However, I hadn't seen this Winkelmann, et al. paper, which makes a valuable contribution. It suggests that the climate response is substantially sub-linear at higher levels of warming.

The notes that are currently posted above about how warm it would get if we burned all the fossil fuels were back-of-the-en... (read more)

4Linch2y
Thanks for the quick response, and really appreciate your (and Louis's) hard work on getting this type of sophisticated/nuanced information out in a way that other EAs can easily understand!
4Louis_Dixon2y
No worries - edit made.
[Notes] Could climate change make Earth uninhabitable for humans?

Great question. I'm afraid I only have a vague answer: I would guess that the chance of climate change directly making Earth uninhabitable in the next few centuries is much smaller than 1 in 10,000. (That's ignoring the contribution of climate change to other risks.) I don't know how likely the LHC is to cause a black hole, but I would speculate with little knowledge that the climate habitability risk is greater than that.

As I mentioned in the talk, I think there are other emerging tech risks that are more likely and more pressing than this. But I would also encourage more folks with a background in climate science to focus on these tail risks if they were excited by questions in this space.

I'm Cullen O'Keefe, a Policy Researcher at OpenAI, AMA

What is you high-level on take on social justice in relation to EA?

(For relevant background, I spent ~all of my undergraduate career heavily involved in social justice before discovering EA in law school and then switching primarily to EA)

A bunch of high-level thoughts:

  1. EA is overall the better ideology/movement due to higher-quality reasoning, prioritization, embrace of economics, and explicit welfarism.
  2. There is probably lots of potential for useful alliances between EAs and SJ people on poverty and animal welfare issues, but I think certain SJ beliefs and practices unfortunately frustrate these. Having EAs who can com
... (read more)
Introducing Animal Advocacy Careers

Hi Lauren, this is Niel from 80,000 Hours. We've already discussed this over email, but I'm excited that new organisations are being set up in this space. 80,000 Hours has limited resources and is not planning on increasing the amount we invest in improving our advice for animal advocates in the near term. I'm hopeful that Animal Advocacy Careers will be able to better serve the animal advocacy community than we can. Best of luck with the project!

1Ula2y
This is such a nice welcoming! Great that 80K is supporting this project, it is very much needed in the animal space.
8 things I believe about climate change

In the current regime (i.e. for increases of less than ~4 degrees C), warming is roughly linear with cumulative carbon emissions (which is different from CO2 concentrations). Atmospheric forcing (the net energy flux at the top of the atmosphere due to changes in CO2 concentrations) is roughly logarithmic with CO2 concentrations.

How temperatures will change with cumulative carbon emissions at temperatures exceeding ~4 degrees C above pre-industrial is unknown, but will probably be somewhere between super-linear and logarithmic depending on what sorts of ... (read more)

Accuracy issues in FAO animal numbers

Btw, your link to FAO feedback on Indonesian broiler chickens leads to a discussion about Latvian egg-laying hens instead.

[This comment is no longer endorsed by its author]Reply
2saulius3y
I fixed it, thanks
The case for building expertise to work on US AI policy, and how to do it

I think working on AI policy in an EU context is also likely to be valuable, however few (if any) of the world's very top AI companies are based in the EU (except DeepMind, which will soon be outside the EU after Brexit). Nonetheless, I think it would be very helpful to more AI policy expertise within an EU context, and if you can contribute to that it could be very valuable. It's worth mentioning that for UK citizens it might be better to focus on British AI policy.

50% every 5 years > 10% every year

Am I correct in thinking that under the UK tax system the consideration you have outlined in your post does not apply (because we do not have a standard deduction if I understand correctly), and in fact the opposite becomes true once you hit the higher tax bracket for the reasons outlined by John_Maxwell_IV above? If you are not earning above the higher tax bracket then the two approaches would be equivalent?

1Bernadette_Young6y
Neil I believe that's true for the UK. For two reasons 1. No such thing as a standard deduction 2. Donations up to the higher tax threshold are not 'deductible' but the 20% tax paid on these pounds goes to the charity as an extra donation. 3. It's only above the 20% tax rate (higher tax bracket) that you get a refund (if you pay the 40% rate you get 20% back and 20% goes to the charity as above). So this approach would be counter productive if you earn moderately above the higher tax threshold. The exception would be if you earn so far above the higher tax bracket that donating 50% every 5 years would leave you above the higher tax bracket threshold that year. (However in that case you should probably be donating more than 10% pa ;) )
eaforum.org now redirects to this forum

Yeah, I imagine there's some version on the subdomain option that could work. I'll put this on Kerry Vaughan and Tyler Alterman's radars as they are now managing those domains.

Book-campaign in Norway - The plan and a request for input

Hi Jorgen, Great to hear that you guys are planning this. I'd be happy to chat with you about it sometime, and offer some thoughts. My availability is here: calendly.com/niel-bowerman/2 You should also talk with Chris Jenkins (chris@centreforeffectivealtruism.org) if you are considering doing a bulk order.
Looking forward to speaking.
Niel

EA Advocates announcement

To clarify, while 'The Most Good You Can Do' is not a CEA project, in that we do not own rights to the book, it is a CEA project in that we are coordinating the global marketing campaign for the book with Goldberg McDuffie Communications (USA), Yale University Press (USA), Yale University Press UK (Europe), Text Publishing (Australia), and The Life You Can Save doing the bulk of the work. We will be playing a similar role for William MacAskill's book, except that the holding company for the rights for Will's book is contractually obliged to donate the r... (read more)

Assessing EA Outreach’s media coverage in 2014

Thanks for these comments Peter. I think I agree with most of them. To respond specifically to the one I have additional information about:

In the interview with Tim Harford, Elie and Niel discussed SCI, and Tim Hartford decided to donate there at the end of the show. After the appearances, SCI contacted us to report that they had received several £1000s of donations as a result of our media. The exact amount SCI received as a result of this media attention was difficult for them to estimate relative to the variable background rate, but they suggested

... (read more)
Announcing the Effective Altruism Newsletter

This would save me enough time that I'd happily pay £s per newsletter! Thanks so much for offering to put this together.

$10k of Experimental EA Funding

Will you make prices and projects public after the first round so that we can calibrate?

2Paul_Christiano7y
Definitely.
Seth Baum AMA next Tuesday on the EA Forum

What is your assessment of the recent report by FHI and the Global Challenges Foundation? http://globalchallenges.org/wp-content/uploads/12-Risks-with-infinite-impact-full-report-1.pdf
How will your integrated assessment differ from this?

0Sean_o_h7y
I am interested in the answer to this question. However, I would point out that Seth is listed as a major contributor to the FHI-GCF report.
Seth Baum AMA next Tuesday on the EA Forum

How many man-hours per week are currently going into GCRI. How many paid staff do you have and who are they?

Seth Baum AMA next Tuesday on the EA Forum

I can't make it for the AMA, but I'm going to load up some questions here if that's OK...

  • What would you say is the single most impressive achievement that GCRI has achieved to date? (I'll put other questions in other threads)
Effective Altruism Outreach needs your donations this Christmas!

I agree they are relatively similar. We've been keeping the publishers up to date with the plans of the other authors and publishers that are publishing books on EA in 2015. Thus the publishers think that these dates are pretty optimal in terms of when we would want them all released: spaced out enough that each can get its own media coverage and attention, but close enough that people can write about the trend and broader movement of EA with so many books coming out around the same time. I am a little worried that they will compete for attention, which... (read more)

Effective Altruism Outreach needs your donations this Christmas!

Hi Chris,

This is a good question. Many of the sub-projects that we are doing are one-off opportunities which we are unlikely to seek funding for in future years (e.g. a publicist for Will and Peter). Other projects are experiments that we would like to repeat and/or expand in future years if they are successful, such as EA Global, the EA Fellows Programme, etc.

EA Outreach as a whole is also in this category - if it is successful (or more accurately if it looks in hindsight like it was a worthwhile bet) then we would like to continue working on it and f... (read more)

Effective Altruism Outreach needs your donations this Christmas!

What do you see as the biggest risks and failure modes of EA Outreach?

Some of the most salient failure modes for EA Outreach are in the individual sub-projects:

  • For Will and Peter's books, the outside-view median outcome is that they don't make a splash in the media and don't sell very well. Unfortunately there are just so many books published each year (~1m per year) that the outside-view chances of ours being one of few that gain considerable attention and sell well is slim. Even when you account for the fact that we have a substantial advance and

... (read more)
0Ben_Kuhn8y
For EffectiveAltruism.org, do you know the search volume for "effective altruism" or related queries? Do you have any sense of how much traffic you could possibly get (e.g., what quantitatively would count as "lots of traffic" vs. "not much traffic")?
0Ben_Kuhn8y
For EA Global, I have a couple additional worries that I'd love your thoughts on: 1. It seems like organizing the events itself will be another large difficulty. I understand that previous EA summits required a fairly large push from Leverage; I'm guessing Tyler Alterman will be able to command at least some of the same resources, but potentially not all of them (at least, that's what I infer from him explicitly being in charge and not Geoff Anders). Meanwhile, if costs are lower, the events could be even larger and more difficult to organize, especially for those without such extensive experience as Leverage. 2. If there are a number of different summits going on, some of which are less-officially organized but under the same "EA brand," it seems like this increases the potential for damaging that brand if something weird happens. I think this was a decent risk factor even for the 2014 summit as it was run, for instance. Do you have any plans to deal with these? Sorry to ask so many questions, but I'm hoping they'll be useful to other people as well!
Effective Altruism Outreach needs your donations this Christmas!

Does the claim "We are currently due to run out of funding next month" include the £62,500 donation? It seems like not, but you didn't insert any caveats about that into your claim. At any rate, what's the situation for marginal funds? What do you anticipate getting cut if you don't meet your goal, and what would you do with funds over your budget (or will you just stop accepting donations)?

Unfortunately the £62,500 donation is only a ballpark figure at the moment and won't be confirmed until late December or January. Sorry that I didn't make... (read more)

Effective Altruism Outreach needs your donations this Christmas!

Four. How does funding this related to funding CEA or other CEA sub-projects? It seems like part of your budget is actually a part of CEA central's expenses, so presumably donations are somewhat fungible between the two?

The 'Central Team' within CEA can be thought of as providing services to the projects that it incubates, and so the projects split the costs of 'Central' CEA according to a splitting algorithm. Historically, unrestricted donations to CEA have been split following an algorithm between the different projects that it incubates. In 2015, ... (read more)

Effective Altruism Outreach needs your donations this Christmas!

Two. What's the difference between Will and Peter's books? Their titles are extremely similar, so it's hard to tell...

While the books are on a similar topic, they approach effective altruism from slightly different angles. For example:

  • Peter's book is probably more focused on the altruism side of EA, while Will's focuses more on the effectiveness side.
  • Peter's book focuses slightly more on big giving and the good you can do with your money, whereas Will's takes in a wider range of topics from career choice to consumerism.
  • Will's book discusses a wider range of potential causes than Peter's book (I think, I'd have to double check to be sure)
0Ben_Kuhn8y
From your description, they sound quite similar. What's the rationale for releasing so close to each other and splitting publicity efforts between the two of them? Are you at all worried that they will interfere with each other or compete for attention?
Effective Altruism Outreach needs your donations this Christmas!

Hi Ben,

Great questions as always. I'm going to hand a couple of these over to Kerry Vaughan, but I'll take a shot at answering most of them. Again, I'm afraid my answers are too long to fit into a single comment, so I'll answer questions one-by-one.

  1. It's great that so many people are working on giving lots of people a positive initial impression of EA. But my sense is there's a pretty big gap between "initial impression of EA" and "EA is a big part of my life" that isn't being filled very well right now. Are there any plans to wor
... (read more)
1Ben_Kuhn8y
Thanks so much for answering in such detail! Have you written up anything about the 1:1 tools for EA.org anywhere? WRT chapter suggestions, I'm only just figuring things out myself and I'm afraid I don't have any magic bullets! I'll let you know if I come up with any though :)
Effective Altruism Outreach needs your donations this Christmas!

A lot of these learnings are written up in the various organisations' annual and six-monthly reviews such as https://www.givingwhatwecan.org/sites/givingwhatwecan.org/files/Jacob%20Hilton/giving_what_we_can_six_month_review.pdf and https://80000hours.org/2014/05/summary-of-the-annual-review-may-2014/

Unfortunately I think that much of our learning in areas like marketing is not generally applicable enough to be useful to more than a dozen or so people in the world right now. We are talking with these people already and generally I find those conversation... (read more)

Effective Altruism Outreach needs your donations this Christmas!

These are more great questions Ben. Do you mind if I come back to you on them on Monday as I'm going to try and take today as a day off? Thanks in advance.

1Ben_Kuhn8y
Sure, go ahead.
Effective Altruism Outreach needs your donations this Christmas!

Yes, I believe so. Just contact kerry@centreforeffectivealtruism.org and he can let you know the details. Thanks for showing an interest.

1jayd8y
Thanks. Is there a more detailed project plan than the one on page 9 here [https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B3yC4Q2ekHgsM2Q2dWhsQkZtODQ/view?pli=1]? Can you give examples of the sorts of projects that it might fund?
Effective Altruism Outreach needs your donations this Christmas!

It may also be worth mentioning that if anyone would like to track what EA Outreach are doing in more detail, we send out monthly updates on our activities which you can sign up for here: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/ea-outreach-updates

1Peter Wildeford8y
Applied! Thanks.
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