Wiki Contributions


New Report on Early Field Growth

I regularly refer back to this piece when thinking about movement-building or grants in that space. It provides a lot of really thoroughly-researched historical evidence as well as clear insight. It's a shame that it only has a few karma on the forum - I wouldn't want that to cloud its significance for the decade review.

Extinguishing or preventing coal seam fires is a potential cause area

I thought this post was interesting, thoroughly researched and novel. I don't really recall if I agree with the conclusion but I remember thinking "here's a great example of what the forum does well - a place for arguments about cause prioritisation that belong nowhere else"


I thought this post was great for several reasons:
- It generated ideas and interesting discussion about the definition of one of the most important ideas that the community has developed.
- I regularly referred back to it as "the key discussion about what Longtermism means". I expect if Will published this as an academic paper, it would've taken years to come out and there wouldn't be as much public discussion. 
- I'm grateful Will used the forum to share his fairly early thoughts. This can be risky for a thinker like him, because it exposes him to public criticism.
-I'm glad Will shared his opinion that longtermism should be un-hyphenated. This has caught on (thankfully, in my view) and I think this post is partly why.

Really excited to see what Will does, what a promising young talent.

Reality is often underpowered

Writing something brief to ensure this gets into the final stage - I recall reading this post, thinking it captured a very helpful insight and regularly recalling the title when I see claims based on weak data. Thanks Greg!

Who has done the most good?

Hi Stefan,

That's a good point - I suppose China's development could turn out to be bad for the world. I can also optimistically imagine another wave of liberalising reforms, making Deng's impact look even better (i.e. putting China on a long-run "liberal" track).

Who has done the most good?

It's controversial but I'm inclined to think it might be Deng Xiaoping. Holden and Rob on the 80k podcast:

Holden Karnofsky: Deng Xiaoping took over in China in the 1970s after Mao died. I feel like different leaders would have done different things, and he chose to go down the road of economic reforms that kicked off decades of unprecedented growth and poverty reduction.

Holden Karnofsky: I mean, that could be the most poverty reduction any individual has ever been responsible for. Especially if you look at what would have happened if he had somehow just not been around. He might be the person who’s had the most positive impact ever, to date. So I thought that was interesting.

Rob Wiblin: He was sent off to prison camps I think more than once when he fell out of favor with Mao, so it’s not that hard to imagine that he might not have been in the political scene.

Holden Karnofsky: Yeah, exactly.

Rob Wiblin: Or indeed may not have been on Earth, by that stage.

Holden Karnofsky: There’s probably a nearby world where just, things didn’t work out for Deng, they worked out for someone else, and everyone was so… Not everyone, but a lot of people were so much worse off. We don’t hear his name a lot, but gosh, I mean, what a person who made a big difference.

Effective Altruism, Before the Memes Started

I was about to write a comment along the lines of your second point. I agree it's unreasonable to expect Will to personally comment on or reply to public criticisms of EA/longtermism - lots of people in the community are well-placed to do that.

Small and Vulnerable

Thanks for writing this, I found it really moving. I think it's incredibly admirable that you've decided to use your strength now to help other people who need it most. It's especially refreshing because I sometimes see stories like this end with something like "and I managed to do this [on my own / with the help of this specific thing] so anyone can do it and I don't need to help them" which just always seems wrong. 

Don't Be Bycatch

Sorry, perhaps this wasn't clear - I'm not suggesting investing heavily in a single intervention or cause area for a long time, rather building skills that will be useful for solving a variety of problems (e.g. research skills, experience working in teams etc.).

Don't Be Bycatch

Thanks for this really thoughtful post :)

Zahara's trying to maximize her chance of a 10% increase in her altruistic output.

I agree it's a good idea to focus on small gains. Even better advice might be to focus on learning or building skills which might give Zahara a 10% increase in her altruistic output later on (e.g. focus on studying, learn something new, try and find a job which means she'll learn a lot). 

You could apply the same idea to donating 0% or 1% this year. It's also fine to donate 0% for several years and then give when you're more comfortable.

In general, I think EAs (myself included) are too focused on generating impact today and should focus more on building skills to generate impact later on.

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