I'm a stock market speculator who has been involved in transhumanist and related communities for a long time. See my website at


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The biggest risk of free-spending EA is not optics or motivated cognition, but grift

Can you give any examples of AI safety organizations that became less able to get funding due to lack of results?

The biggest risk of free-spending EA is not optics or motivated cognition, but grift

Worrying about the percent of spending misses the main problems, e.g. donors who notice the increasing grift become less willing to trust the claims of new organizations, thereby missing some of the best opportunities.

My thoughts on nanotechnology strategy research as an EA cause area

I have some relevant knowledge. I was involved in a relevant startup 20 years ago, but haven't paid much attention to this area recently.

My guess is that Drexlerian nanotech could probably be achieved in less than 10 years, but would need on the order of a billion dollars spent on an organization that's at least as competent as the Apollo program. As long as research is being done by a few labs that have just a couple of researchers, progress will likely continue to be slow to need much attention.

It's unclear what would trigger that kind of spending and that kind of collection of experts.

Profit motives aren't doing much here, due to a combination of the long time to profitability and a low probability that whoever produces the first usable assembler will also produce one that's good enough for a large market share. I expect that the first usable assembler will be fairly hard to use, and that anyone who can get a copy will use it to produce better versions. That means any company that sells assemblers will have many customers who experiment with ways to compete. It seems

Maybe some of the new crypto or Tesla billionaires will be willing to put up with those risks, or maybe they'll be deterred by the risks of nanotech causing a catastrophe.

Could a new cold war cause militaries to accelerate development? This seems like a medium-sized reason for concern.

What kind of nanotech safety efforts are needed?

I'm guessing the main need is for better think-tanks to advise politicians on military and political issues. That requires rather different skills than I or most EAs have.

There may be some need for technical knowledge on how to enforce arms control treaties.

There's some need for more research into grey goo risks. I don't think much has happened there since the ecophagy paper. Here's some old discussion about that paper: Hal Finney, Eliezer, me, Hal Finney

How Many People Are In The Invisible Graveyard?

Acting without information on the relative effectiveness of the vaccine candidates was not a feasible strategy for mitigating the pandemic.

I'm pretty sure that with a sufficiently bad virus, it's safer to vaccinate before effectiveness is known. We ought to plan ahead for how to make such a decision.

How Many People Are In The Invisible Graveyard?

This was the fastest vaccine rollout ever

Huh? 40 million doses of the 1957 flu vaccine were delivered within about 6 months of getting a virus sample to the US. Does that not count due to its similarity to existing vaccines?

Critique of OpenPhil's macroeconomic policy advocacy

Here are some of my reasons for disliking high inflation, which I think are similar to the reasons of most economists:

Inflation makes long-term agreements harder, since they become less useful unless indexed for inflation.

Inflation imposes costs on holding wealth in safe, liquid forms such as bank accounts, or dollar bills. That leads people to hold more wealth in inflation-proof forms such as real estate, and less in bank accounts, reducing their ability to handle emergencies.

Inflation creates a wide variety of transaction costs: stores need to change their prices displays more often, consumers need to observe prices more frequently, people use ATMs more frequently, etc.

Inflation transfers wealth from people who stay in one job for a long time, to people who frequently switch jobs.

When inflation is close to zero, these costs are offset by the effects of inflation on unemployment. Those employment effects are only important when wage increases are near zero, whereas the costs of inflation increase in proportion to the inflation rate.

Brain preservation to prevent involuntary death: a possible cause area

I don't see high value ways to donate money for this. The history of cryonics suggests that it's pretty hard to get more people to sign up. Cryonics seems to grow mainly from peer pressure, not research or marketing.

CE Research Report: Road Traffic Safety

I expect speed limits to hinder the adoption of robocars, without improving any robocar-related safety.

There's a simple way to make robocars err in the direction of excessive caution: hold the software company responsible for any crash it's involved in, unless it can prove someone else was unusually reckless. I expect some rule resembling that will be used.

Having speed limits on top of that will cause problems, due to robocars having to drive slower than humans drive in practice (annoying both the passengers and other drivers), when it's safe for them to sometimes drive faster than humans. I'm unsure how important this effect will be.

Ideally, robocars will be programmed to have more complex rules about maximum speed than current laws are designed to handle.

CE Research Report: Road Traffic Safety

How much of this will become irrelevant when robocars replace human drivers? I suspect the most important impact of safety rules will be how they affect the timing of that transition. Additional rules might slow that down a bit.

Prediction Bank: A way around current prediction market regulations?

CFTC regulations have been at least as much of an obstacle as gambling laws. It's not obvious whether the CFTC would allow this strategy.

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