Niklas Lehmann

35 karmaJoined Mar 2020Pursuing a doctoral degree (e.g. PhD)


I am currently researching forecasting and causal inference. I am always excited to join forces to tackle important problems of any discipline or kind! Do not hesitate to reach out to me. 


I was surprised to see the comments on this post, which mostly provide arguments in favor of pursuing technological progress, even if this might lead to a higher risk of catastrophes. 

I would like to chip in the following: 

Preferences regarding the human condition are largely irrelevant for technological progress in the areas that you mention. Technological progress is driven by a large number of individuals that seek prestige and money.  There is simply consumer demand for AI and technologies which may alter the human condition. Thus, technological progress happens, irrespective of whether this is considered good or bad.

Further reading: 

The philosophical debate you are referring to is sometimes discussed as the scenario "1972", e.g. in Max Tegmarks "Life 3.0". He also provides reasons to believe that this scenario is not satisfying, given better alternatives.

Thanks Ren for this in-depth article. This is pure gold! Btw: I happened to read something related a couple of days ago: why-you-should-publish-your-research-in-academic-fashion. Maybe you should ask the author to link to your post?

Also: You have written "paper" instead of "journal" on the first line of your subsection Open access mega journals.


Thanks so much for the review! I would like to add that there is some evidence that simple acupressure mats help alleviate low back pain.

Thank you for writing this blogpost! 

I wondered whether you also specifically looked at population decline in developed countries? I would have thought that the most interesting question would be along the lines: Could demographic collapse in developed countries lead to decreased civilizational resilience? As trammell pointed out: Developed countries seem to be prone to population decline in the next century, particularly if the social trend to have fewer babies continues. I think it is also a bit misleading to talk about changes in total world population when the composition of this population is changing across time too. 

Thank you for writing up a well-researched article. Although I am skeptical that this would meet the effectiveness threshold for top funds, this might be of interest to local funds. I can imagine that local governments are willing to spend significant amounts on such a problem. Yet only if they are confident in alleviating the problem. However, the problem gets increasing attention.  Stray dogs seem to be an issue in other countries such as Romania as well.

I find your conclusion " [...] an economic cost of 3 Billion USD every year. The economic cost of Animal Birth Control to contain a FRD population in a city of 1 million people is around 1 million USD [...]" a bit misleading as you compare costs in different population  sizes. I would update this as either cost per million or per India.

I agree strongly! It would be interesting to research how economists have looked upon the creation of the internet. I guess that there is in fact little research on how the internet would change the world pre-1990. 

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?

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.

Load more