Ozzie Gooen

I'm currently researching forecasting and epistemics as part of the Quantified Uncertainty Research Institute.


Wiki Contributions


"Should have been hired" Prizes

This is an interesting idea, thanks for raising it!

I think intuitively, it worries me. As someone around hiring in these sorts of areas, I'm fairly nervous around the liabilities that come from hiring, and this seems like it could increase these. (Legal, and just upsetting people).

I'm imagining:

  • There's a person who thinks they're great, but the hiring manager really doesn't see it. They get rejected.
  • They decide to work on it anyway, saying they'll get the money later.
  • They continue to email the org about their recent results, hoping to get feedback, sort of similar to as an employee.
  • 6-20 months later, they have some work, and are sure that it deserves funding.
  • The work isn't that great, and the prize is denied.
  • They get really upset that their work has been denied.

This system could create "pseudo-employees" who are trying to act as employees, but aren't really employees. This just seems pretty messy. 

In addition, funding seems tricky. Like, a lot of research nonprofits don't have that much extra funding allocated in their budgets for this. I imagine it would have to be coordinated with funders, on-demand. ("Hey, funder X... person Y, who we rejected, just did good work, and now we need $160k to fund them. Can you donate that money to us, so we can retrospectively pay them?")

I could also see the tax/legal implications as messy, though that could be resolved with time.

Generally, if someone seems pretty strong and capable of doing independent work, I suggest they apply to the LTFF, and say that I could help discuss their application. The LTFF funds a lot of people  at this point. Small funders like the LTFF seem like great escape hatches for these situations. So this technique would really make sense, I assume, if both the LTFF rejects them, and I'm pretty confident they have a solid chance of doing good research. This is pretty unusual. 

It's quite possible the benefits overcome these negatives. I'm not sure, I just wanted to share my quick feelings on this.

Long-Term Future Fund: July 2021 grant recommendations

Quick thoughts of possible improvements to the format:

1) Make both the start time and the end time clear
2) Include a link to the person's website/linkedin. Right now I just search each person and choose whatever is on top of Google, anyway. Much of the grants really depend on the specific person, so linking to more information about the person would be valuable. (I realize this might be a bit annoying in terms of getting their buy-in/information)

Long-Term Future Fund: July 2021 grant recommendations

Just to clarify:

That last report was for May 2021.

So does this report mainly cover grants for June and July, only? 

elifland's Shortform

This post is relevant: https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/vCQpJLNFpDdHyikFy/are-the-social-sciences-challenging-because-of-fundamental

elifland's Shortform

The health interventions seem very different to me than the productivity interventions.

The health interventions have issues with long time-scales, which productivity interventions don't have as much.

However, productivity interventions have major challenges with generality. When I've looked into studies around productivity interventions, often they're done in highly constrained environments, or environments very different from mine, and I have very little clue what to really make of them. If the results are highly promising, I'm particularly skeptical, so it would take multiple strong studies to make the case. 

I think it's really telling that Google and Amazon don't have internal testing teams to study productivity/management techniques in isolation. In practice, I just don't think you learn that much, for the cost of it.

What these companies do do, is to allow different managers to try things out, survey them, and promote the seemingly best practices throughout. This happens very quickly. I'm sure we could make tools to make this process go much faster. (Better elicitation, better data collection of what already happens, lots of small estimates of impact to see what to focus more on, etc). 

In general, I think traditional scientific experimentation on humans is very inefficient, and we should be aiming for much more efficient setups. (But we should be working on these!)

elifland's Shortform

I think the obvious answer is that doing controlled trials in these areas is a whole lot of work/expense for the benefit.

Some things like health effects can take a long time to play out; maybe 10-50 years. And I wouldn't expect the difference to be particularly amazing. (I'd be surprised if the average person could increase their productivity by more than ~20% with any of those)

On "challenge trials"; I imagine the big question is how difficult it would be to convince people to accept a very different lifestyle for a long time. I'm not sure if it's called "challenge trial" in this case. 

Concrete Biosecurity Projects (some of which could be big)

That sounds like much of it.  To be clear, it's not that the list is obvious, but more that it seems fairly obvious that a similar list was possible. It seemed pretty clear to me a few years ago that there must be some reasonable lists of non-info-hazard countermeasures that we could work on, for general-purpose bio safety. I didn't have these particular measures in mind, but figured that roughly similar ones would be viable.

Another part of my view is,
"Could we have hired a few people to work full-time coming up with a list about this good, a few years earlier?"

I know a few people who were discouraged from working in the field earlier on because their was neither the list, nor the go-ahead to try to make a list.

Concrete Biosecurity Projects (some of which could be big)

Really happy to see this, this looks great. 

This is outside the scope of this document, but I'm a bit curious how useful it would have been to have such a list 3-5 years ago, and why it took so long. Previously I heard something like, "biosecurity is filled with info-hazards, so we can't have many people in it yet."

Anyway, it makes a lot of sense to me that we have pretty safe intervention options after all, and I'm happy to see lists being created and acted upon.

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