Niklas Lehmann

17Joined Mar 2020


Optimizing Public Goods Funding with blockchain tech and clever incentive design (RETROX)

Thank you for publishing this post. In which way is this different from what Optimism tries to achieve? Also, what if the public good is difficult to monitor? It is hard to observe reductions in existential risk. How will the protocol pay out if there is large uncertainty regarding the effects of an intervention, even afterwards?

Geoengineering to reduce global catastrophic risk?

Exactly. Such problems are similar in nature. But it is important to point out that in such cases bilateral or multilateral agreements can be found relatively quickly (and have been in the past - see e.g. Rhine pollution treaty), whereas geoengineering needs a global treaty which is much harder to craft.

The case for delaying solar geoengineering research

Hey John, thank you for the article! I feel that there is substantial confusion regarding whether to delay or even accelerate research into SRM and similar stuff. 

The argument against researching geoengineering methods seems to be that having SRM available in the short-term would do more harm than good.  However, this makes the fundamental assumption that research enables geoengineering in the first place. In my view, the "how to" deploy geoengineering is already public. Deployment (unilateral or not) could happen now.

If one assumes the „information hazard to be out of the box“, all that further geoengineering research does is reduce our uncertainty regarding the effects of environmental interventions. This seems to be a good thing. 

I also believe that (in the mid-term) geoengineering can be done for 1 billion $ or less as Marine Cloud Brightening seems to be potentially cheaper to implement and possibly harder to detect and trace. Furthermore, cost estimates do not account for accelerating technological progress that could cut costs relative to income even further in the next decades. 

Would love to hear your thoughts on this!

EA needs consultancies

Wouldn´t this problem be solvable by creating a database/network of existing consultants, freelancers etc. that have a background in effective altruism? Then, whenever needed, you could assemble a team from this network and just pay their regular employers.

Also, this might in some cases be accepted as (price reduced) pro-bono work. And you would get free advertisement for EA Orgs on top.   

My initial hunch is that the amount of work that is EA-specific is not sufficiently big enough to run a EA-dedicated consultancy, especially if you consider the large amount of different fields that might benefit from specialization. However, I do not have a good picture of the demand. 

In any case, this sounds interesting and I would be interested in hearing more about this.

Why I think the EA Community should write more fiction

There is a german author (Andreas Eschbach) who incorporates true science into his (imo great) fiction novels to spread awareness especially of potentially dangerous technologies. For example, in his book "Der Herr aller Dinge/ Lord of all things" he outlines the potential dangers of atomic scale manufacturing. The book is also available in English.

A Complete Quantitative Model for Cause Selection

Hey Michael, I am sad to find out that the web app seems to be down. Have you planned to rebuild it ?

Forecasting Thread: Existential Risk

I thought that was exactly what Metaculus has been established for. In which way is this different ?

New book — "Suffering-Focused Ethics: Defense and Implications"

I often find it very depressing to deeply think about suffering focused ethics. You have written yourself that it might be natural not to give too much thought to extreme suffering because too much of it may cause damage to your psyche. Have you found a way to reframe your thinking about suffering focused topics so that they do not seem so dark compared to a moral view that is highly motivated by positive feelings or a distant utopia ?