I currently hold an EA Grant to improve and expand the EA Wiki content. If you have any feedback about my work, you are welcome to submit it, anonymously or otherwise, here:

Wiki Contributions

Load More


Cultured meat predictions were overly optimistic

One thing that might help would be "meta-forecasting". We could later have some expert forecasters predict the accuracy of average statements made by different groups in different domains. I'd predict that they would have given pretty poor scores to most of these groups.

I agree with your meta-meta-forecast.

Resilient food

Okay, I went ahead and renamed it.

Ethics of existential risk

I tried to incorporate parts of that section, and in the process reorganized and expanded the article. Feel free to edit anything that seems inadequate.

Resilient food

Thanks, David. In light of this comment, I now lean towards renaming the entry resilient food. Michael, what do you think?

Should Grants Fund EA Projects Retrospectively?

Thanks for linking to that article, which I hadn't seen. I updated the 'certificates of impact' entry with a brief summary of the proposal.

Samuel Scheffler

Hi Peter,

Thanks for creating these entries. My sense is that Scheffler doesn't satisfy the criteria for inclusion. Thoughts?

This may be a good opportunity to mention that although I spent quite a bit of time thinking about these criteria, I'm still rather uncertain and am open to adopting a more inclusivist approach to entries for individual people. If you have any views on what the criteria should be, feel free to share them here.

Propose and vote on potential EA Wiki entries

Sounds good. I haven't reviewed the relevant posts, so I don't have a clear sense of whether "management" or "mentoring" is a better choice; the latter seems preferable other things equal, since "management" is quite a vague term, but this is only one consideration. In principle, I could see a case for having two separate entries, depending on how many relevant posts there are and how much they differ. I would suggest that you go ahead and do what makes most sense to you, since you seem to have already looked at this material and probably have better intuitions. Otherwise I can take a closer look myself in the coming days.

Digital person

Thank you for this very thoughtful and useful comment.

It may help to distinguish two separate claims you make, and address them separately:

  1. "impersonal citation style" is bad for clarity and mutual understanding.
  2. academic style is worse than impersonal style.

Most of your comment focuses on (1), but towards the end you seem to suggest this is part of a much broader argument for (2).

Concerning (1):

  1. I fully agree with you that this is how citations are often used in academia and that this is bad for the reasons you note.
  2. I don't think the problem is inherent to either citations or academia: sentences like "The most cited academic article on reference class forecasting is Kahneman & Lovallo 1993" or "The most cited academic article on reference class forecasting (Kahneman & Lovallo 1993)" conform to an academic style equally well. Citations are so often used in the annoying way you describe because doing so requires less effort and perhaps also because it protects authors from criticism, combined with the absence of a strong academic norm requiring citations to be more informative.
  3. The Wiki doesn't encourage citing in that way: the only requirement is that citations be used instead of hyperlinks. So instead of writing e.g. "Nick Bostrom has discussed the vulnerable world hypothesis in numerous publications", editors are asked to write "Nick Bostrom has discussed the vulnerable world hypothesis in numerous publications (Bostrom 2019; Bostrom & van der Merwe 2021)". This is orthogonal to the issues you raise.
  4. In the specific EA Wiki example you mention, the source of the problem was probably just carelesless on my part. I've made a note to improve that paragraph and also check for similar problems in other articles. I'll also revise the style guide to encourage editors to be mindful of this issue and cite in ways that minimize ambiguity and communicate relevant information.

Concerning (2):

  1. My own view is that academic and informal writing each have their pros and cons, and I don't have a settled position on which of the two is better on balance. An informal style seems better for many of the reasons you and Eliezer note, while an academic style is better for other reasons, such as requiring certain standards of clarity, precision and concision. I do think academic norms could be revised in a way that mostly retained the positives and avoided the negatives, and I think that revision would constitute a major improvement over what we have today.
  2. With that said, it doesn't seem to me that the problems with academic writing extend to an encyclopedia like the Wiki. Perhaps I'm not understanding you well, but I don't quite see how the issues Eliezer complains about apply to a work of reference, which is supposed to offer a neutral summary of existing research rather than produce original research. To make this more concrete: Do you find Wikipedia's style constraining? If so, in what ways? The EA Wiki is meant to be written in that same style, so any problems you can identify with the former would help me diagnose potential issues with the latter. Alternatively, perhaps you can take a look at a decent EA Wiki article (e.g. the one on iterated embryo selection) and indicate some ways in which you'd wish it was written differently.
Digital person

I was assuming that "descendant" already carries a certain connotation that excludes these cases, but I agree ideally the definition should rule them out explicitly. Unfortunately, since Holden has dropped the explicit definition in terms of human ability and moral status, it's not entirely clear what sort of revision would be adequate. Maybe add something like "sufficiently similar to humans in the relevant respects", though it would later have to be clarified that these entities can also be very different from humans in other respects.

Digital person

Further to my previous comment, Holden kindly got back to me and provided a helpful answer. In short, his original draft of "Digital people would be an even bigger deal" used (a) and (b) as a definition of "digital person", but he later revised it (for reasons he cannot currently remember) and instead offered the vaguer statement included as the first quote in the current version of the article as his main characterization of digital personhood.

In light of Holden's clarification, I propose the current definition:

A digital person is a human-like entity running on digital computing hardware or a descendant of such an entity.

I also think that parts of the rest of the article should be revised. Given Holden's clarification, it doesn't seem correct to state that he is "arguing" for the claims in question. I'm inclined to just remove the final two paragraphs (i.e. the text starting with "In particular..."), perhaps expanding the article to include other things Holden has said about digital people that are less open to multiple interpretations.

Load More