My foremost priority is a world without severe suffering. Furthermore, I argue that we can use biotechnology to abolish involuntary and severe suffering throughout the planet.
Currently, I'm a researcher and administrator at Invincible Wellbeing. Before that, I did earning-to-give as a software engineer at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, Spark Wave, and other organisations.
Feel free to book an (informal) call w/ me if you would like to discuss suffering abolition or effective altruism more broadly: https://calendly.com/nil-ea/call-with-nil.
Views are my own.
I'd recommend Reflections on Intelligence (the revised edition) by Magnus Vinding. It's a short e-book/long essay which is rather critical about the notion of "superintelligent" AI specifically.
My minimum commitment for the upcoming meetup is to 1) keep researching options for my potential full-time volunteering for an EA org that cannot visa-sponsor yet, and 2) share the opportunity to propose a roundtable discussion at the UK's ARIA w/ relevant orgs (e.g. nonprofits in animal testing alternatives and in cell-ag).
Looking forward to meeting up w/ everyone )
[Updated w/ an expression of interest]
I'm glad to see such research is being done. I especially appreciate the section on proposed resilience measures. Thanks, Matt & Nick!
(I'm currently being torn between staying in the UK or relocating to NZ long-term (I need to decide ASAP, as I have a job offer). So this post is quite timely for me ATM, FWIW.)
Faunalytics may want to add the symposium to the forum's events page so that e.g. it stays discoverable as the date approaches. Thanks :)
Brave New World? A Defence of Paradise-Engineering (David Pearce, 1998, last updated in 2022)
Thanks for linking to GFI’s posts (and for your and Linch’s article in the first place!). GFI’s concerns w/ some of the points made in the TEAs and the Counter article seem sound to me (FWIW, as I have only some basic knowledge of the field at best). I couldn’t find any responses to GFI, unfortunately.
For those who might be interested in checking GFI’s posts, below are some excerpts.
From the overview of “Preliminary review of technical assumptions within the Humbird analysis”:
... [Humbird's] analysis is valuable for identifying and prioritizing areas where additional innovation is needed to overcome the current limitations. However, this analysis incorporates several assumptions and interpretations and that we feel merit further discussion or fail to acknowledge the current state of the science (e.g., where researchers or companies are already developing promising technologies that address said issue). We have enumerated several of these points below, in the hopes of providing clarity on some of the nuanced reasons that different TEAs reach different conclusions at this speculative stage of development of this emerging technology.
From “Statement addressing TEA analyses”:
... the Humbird analysis, relying only on publicly available data, necessarily draws insights from the existing literature on parallel fields such as biopharma and cell therapy. The CE Delft analysis [commissioned by GFI], on the other hand, is the only publicly available techno-economic analysis we are aware of that uses actual data submitted by companies producing cultivated meat and its inputs, shared under NDA directly with the CE Delft team (not shared with GFI). Furthermore, all of the techno-economic analyses published to date only reflect challenges of pursuing scale-up of cultivated meat in fed-batch and perfusion-based stirred-tank reactor systems, which by themselves represent some of the methods that cultivated meat manufacturers are currently pursuing but do not necessarily represent the full range of [potential future] scale-up (e.g., here) or biomass-generating methodologies ... (e.g., here and here).
Modeling a process on public data from parallel but distinct cell culture processes that are also necessarily out of date (biopharma companies are typically not publishing their most recent innovations on process or cell line improvements, preferring to retain them as intellectual property) will lead to a muddled understanding of the state of the art, which can be particularly misleading in such a rapidly-progressing field.
As just one example relevant to the all-important questions of density and sterility, ... process intensification via innovations in bioreactor design, media formulation, and a shift toward continuous perfusion processes is now enabling densities 10- to 100-fold greater [than ~ 3×106 cells/ml] and with sufficient contamination control measures to allow for production runs that last weeks or months rather than days. These advances are only starting to be rolled out commercially in the last few years, and they are still mostly kept close to the vest within biopharma companies ... because of the enormous competitive advantage they confer.
Acknowledging areas where novel solutions may arise is not the same as naïve or wishful thinking. There are some areas where true constraints, dictated by the laws of physics or thermodynamics, forbid workarounds. But for many of the core challenges facing the cultivated meat field, the search for alternate solutions is still in its infancy — we have far from exhausted the creativity of researchers in this field.
In the [pharmaceutical] ... industries, cell biomass is essentially a waste product. ... For production of cultivated meat, the goal is to increase biomass while reducing the production of secreted proteins and metabolites. Optimization of cell lines for this purpose will therefore have opposite goals compared to all commercial animal cell processes in the past.
One option is to assume that animal cell culture is not feasible for large-volume, low-cost applications simply because it has historically not been used as such, but retrospectives tend to serve as poor barometers of the prospects for future innovation. A more forward-looking interpretation is that there is a tremendous amount of low-hanging fruit for relatively low-effort, high-impact process improvements guided by the new incentives and considerations under which the cultivated meat field operates.
… one could argue that the cell culture industry until now has actually been pushed toward higher costs than are necessary even at the current scale at which it operates, simply because of the “arbitrarily high margin[s]” it can capture. … current prices reflect the realities of the current business model, market incentives, and risk tolerances more than they reflect true manufacturing or technology costs.
Even at small volumes and high price points, many cultivated meat companies will be able to find a scaling foothold that simply doesn’t exist within commodity fuels and chemicals. … A better comparative industry would be the plant-based meat industry, which is theoretically also competing with mostly-commoditized, massively-scaled incumbents but has proven capable of commanding several-fold higher price points … .
Hybrid [ie plant-based X cultured meat] products could offset the high production costs of animal cell cultivation with more affordable plant materials while competing on other important consumer metrics such as taste and sustainability.
In general, techno-economic analyses and the critical perspectives of scientific voices well versed in other fields add great value to the cultivated meat industry by highlighting several key areas for further empirical and modeling research to validate assumptions and improve upon the limitations identified.
The article concludes:
It is far too early to write off cultivated meat based on early analyses that do not examine the full range of future possibilities. To the contrary: given what is at stake, we cannot afford not to invest significant resources in affording cultivated meat the greatest chance of success.
I just got a notification that the livestream starts in an hour. One can still register for it here: https://hopin.com/events/new-harvest-2022. Similar to the past conferences, the livestream may be recorded.
Thanks for the post and the interview, Gaetan!
For any one interested, David Pearce's own written response on EA's longtermism can be found on his website.
Also, If there's sentient life on reachable planets or a chance of it emerging in the future, some NUs might also argue that the chance of human descendants ending/preventing suffering on such planets might be worth the risk of spreading suffering. (Cf. David Pearce's "cosmic rescue mission".)