NunoSempere

I'm an independent researcher, hobbyist forecaster, programmer, and aspiring effective altruist.

In the past, I've studied Maths and Philosophy, dropped out in exhasperation at the inefficiency; picked up some development economics; helped implement the European Summer Program on Rationality during 2017, 2018 and 2019, and SPARC during 2020; worked as a contractor for various forecasting and programming projects; volunteered for various Effective Altruism organizations, and carried out many independent research projects. In a past life, I also wrote a popular Spanish literature blog, and remain keenly interested in Spanish poetry.

I like to spend my time acquiring deeper models of the world, and a good fraction of my research is available on nunosempere.github.io.

With regards to forecasting, I am LokiOdinevich on GoodJudgementOpen, and Loki on CSET-Foretell, and I have been running a Forecasting Newsletter since April 2020. I also enjoy winning bets against people too confident in their beliefs.

I was a Future of Humanity Institute 2020 Summer Research Fellow, and I'm working on a grant from the Long Term Future Fund to do "independent research on forecasting and optimal paths to improve the long-term." You can share feedback anonymously with me here.

Sequences

Forecasting Newsletter

Comments

Forecasting Prize Results

Yeah, that’d be very interesting! I don’t know if I’ll find someone with the right expertise who I can get interested in researching this.

This was also a point we discussed. Having something which builds upon someone else's work, or having something which will be built upon in the future generally makes a project more valuable. And in practice, I get the impression that it's mostly authors themselves which build upon their own work.

EA Forum Prize: Winners for December 2020

Nice! One other cool thing about the Big List of Cause Candidates is that people have been coming up with suggestions, and I have been updating the list as they do so.


Incidentally, the Big List of Candidates post was selected as a project by using a very rudimentary forecasting/evaluation system, similar to the ones here and here.  If you want to participate in that kind of thing by suggesting, carrying out or evaluating potential projects, you can sign up here.

In particular, as a novelty, I assigned a 50% chance that it would in fact get an EA forum prize.

Note that the forecast assumed that I was competing against fewer posts, but also that there would be fewer prizes, so the errors happily cancelled out. 


I think that that kind of forecast/comment:

  • Makes me look arrogant/not humble/unvirtuous, at least to some people. In particular, I strongly take the stance that the characters in In praise of unhistoric heroism who are ~"contented by sweeping offices instead of chasing the biggest projects they can find" are in fact making a mistake by not asking the question "but what are the most valuable things I could be doing?" (or, by using a forecasting system/setup to explore that question)
  • Is still really interesting because I think that forecasting funding decisions might be a workable method in order to amplify them, which is particularly valuable given that EA might be vetting constrained. Ideally I (or other forecasters) would get to do that with EA funds or OP grants, but I thought that the forum prize could be a nice beginning.

The other posts I thought were particularly strong are:

I correctly guessed My mistakes on the path to impact and  "Patient vs urgent longtermism" has little direct bearing on giving now vs later

Forecasting Newsletter: January 2021

This is not a mistake; you'll notice that the string "Hypermind" shares the letters "ermny" with „Germany". Anyways, in this case you might get more relevant results by clicking on "advanced results" and then on "2+ ★" or even "1+ ★", sacrificing some quality for breadth.

Forecasting Newsletter: January 2021

Thanks! Sure, I just did. Just search for "Hypermind" to see all of them, or for e.g., "covid-19" to get some results which include questions from Hypermind as well.

AMA: Ajeya Cotra, researcher at Open Phil

What instrumental goals have you pursued successfully?

AMA: Ajeya Cotra, researcher at Open Phil

To the extent that you have "a worldview" (in scare quotes), what is a short summary of that worldview?

(Autistic) visionaries are not natural-born leaders

I disagree with this. I'm writing this without having looked at the data, but autism / Asperger's syndrome, particularly in their high functioning versions, seems to be underdiagnosed, and it's seems to be a very reasonable inference that at least some of the leaders under discussion were in fact on the autistic spectrum, or otherwise non-neurotypical. We can check this with a Metaculus question if you want.

Why "cause area" as the unit of analysis?

So for me, the motivation for categorizing altruistic projects into buckets (e.g., classifications of philanthropy) is to notice the opportunities, the gaps, the conceptual holes, the missing buckets. Some examples:

  • If you divide undertakings according to their beneficiaries and you have a good enough list of beneficiaries, you can notice which beneficiaries nobody is trying to help. For example, you might study invertebrate welfare, wild animal welfare, or something more exotic, such as suffering in fundamental physics.
  • If you have a list of tools, you can notice which tools aren't being applied to which problems, or you can explicitly consider which tool-problem pairings are most promising. For example, ruthlessness isn't often combined with altruism.
  • If you have a list of geographic locations, you can notice which ones seem more or less promising.
  • If you classify projects according to their level of specificity, you can notice that there aren't many people doing high level strategic work, or, conversely, that there are too many strategists and that there aren't many people making progress on the specifics.

More generally, if you have an organizing principle, you can optimize across that organizing principle. So here in order to be useful, a division of cause areas by some principle doesn't have to be exhaustive, or even good in absolute terms, it just has to allow you to notice an axis of optimization. In practice, I'd also tend to think that having several incomplete categorization schemes among many axis is more useful than having one very complete categorization scheme among one axis.

Forecasting of Priorities: a tool for effective political participation?

"What are the top national/world priorities" is usually so complex, that it will remain to be a mostly subjective judgment. Then, how else would you resolve it than by looking for some kind of future consensus?

You could decompose that complex question into smaller questions which are more forecastable, and forecast those questions instead, in a similar way to what CSET is doing for geopolitical scenarios. For example:

  • Will a new category of government spending take up more than X% of a country's GDP? If so, which category?
  • Will the Czech Republic see war in the next X years?
  • Will we see transformative technological change? In particular, will we see robust technological discontinuities in any of these X domains / some other sign-posts of transformative technological change?
  • ...

This might require having infrastructure to create and answer large number of forecasting questions efficiently, and it will require having a good ontology of "priorities/mega-trends" (so most possible new priorities are included and forecasted), as well as a way to update that ontology.

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