All of rhys_lindmark's Comments + Replies

Ideal governance (for companies, countries and more)

Rhys (also from Roote) here. Agree with Brendon that there isn't too much literature evaluating the "efficacy of various governance models". Some links you may want to look into, Holden:

(This is less about academic research and more about IRL experiments.)

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Impact Certificates on a Blockchain

Dig it! Juan Benet from Protocol Labs and Matt Goldenberg are also working on this. Ping 'em! 

Thanks! I’m in touch with them now.
Why I Am Not a Technocrat

Link to an ongoing Twitter discussion with Rob Wiblin, Vitalik Buterin, etc. here:

Philanthropy Vouchers as Systemic Change

I like this style of thinking. A couple quick notes:

1. Various U.S. presidential candidates have proposals for "democracy dollars", which are similar to philanthropy vouchers, but scoped to political giving. AFAICT, they have a different macro goal as well: to decentralize campaign financing. See and

2. I agree that non-politics can be systemic. See this post that expands on... (read more)

An Argument to Prioritize "Tithing to Catalyze a Paradigm Shift and Negate Meta Existential Risk"

Woof! Thanks for noting this Stefan! As you say, cause neutrality is used in the exact opposite way (to denote that we select causes based on impartial estimates of impact, not that we are neutral about where another person gives their money/time). I've edited my post slightly to reflect this. Thanks!

How can I internalize my most impactful negative externalities?

Boom, thanks! Dig the push back here. I generally agree with Scott Alexander's comment at the bottom: "I don't think ethical offsetting is antithetical to EA. I think it's orthogonal to EA."

(Though I also believe there are some "macro systemic" reasons for believing that offsetting is a crucial piece to moving more folks to an EA-based non-accumulation mindset. More detailed explanation of this later!)

How can I internalize my most impactful negative externalities?

Awesome resource, thanks for the link! (Also, I had never heard of Pigouvian taxes before—thanks!)

Given your list, I'd group the "categories" of externalities into:

  • Environment (driving, emitting carbon, agriculture, municipal waste)
  • Public health (driving, obesity, alcohol, smoking, antibiotic use, gun ownership)
  • Financial (debt)

And, if I understand it correctly, it's tough for me to offset some of these. This is because:

  • Luckily, I just happen to not do many of them (e.g. driving, obesity, alcohol, smoking, debt).
  • But even if I did, it
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I don't think it makes sense to donate to an "effective charity" in the typical sense when it comes to obesity because your externality is only affecting taxpayers in your own healthcare system.
Given that the table listed the cost of obesity as affecting socialized medicine, you would presumably donate to something local and medical, like a hospital. You could also potentially donate to (eg diabetes) research or a charity that makes healthy eating easier in your area.
Current Estimates for Likelihood of X-Risk?

Perfect, thanks! I agree with most of your points (and just writing them here for my own understanding/others):

  • Uncertainty hard (long time scale, humans adaptable, risks systemically interdependent so we get zero or double counting)
  • Probabilities have incentives (e.g. Stern's discounting incentive)
  • Probabilities get simplified (0-10% can turn into 5% or 0% or 10%)

I'll ping you as I get closer to a editable draft of my book, so we can ensure I'm painting an appropriate picture. Thanks again!

Current Estimates for Likelihood of X-Risk?

Hey Simon! Thanks writing up this paper. The final 1/3 is exactly what I was looking for!

Could you give us a bit more texture on why you think it's "best not to put this kind of number on risks"?

Hey Rhys Thanks for prompting me on this. I was hoping to find time for a fuller reply to your but this will have to do, you only asked for the texture after all. My concerns are somewhat nebulous so please don't take this as any cast iron reason not to seek out estimates for the probability of different existential risks. However, I think they are important. The first relates to the degree of uncertainty that surrounds any estimate of this kind and how it should be handled. There are actually several sources of this. The first of these relates to the threshold for human extinction. We actually don't have very good models of how the human race might go extinct. Broadly speaking human beings are highly adaptable and we can of-course survive across an extremely wide range of habitats, at least with sufficient technology and planning. So roughly for human extinction to occur then a change must either be extremely profound (such as the destruction of the earth, our sun or the entire universe) very fast (such as a nuclear winter), something that can adapt to us (such as AGI or Aliens) or something that we chose not to adapt to (such as climate change). However, personally, I have a hard time even thinking about just what the limits of survivability might be. Now, it is relatively easy to cover this with a few simplifying assumptions. For instance that 10 degrees of climate change either-way would clearly represent an existential threat. However, these are only assumptions. Then there is the possibility that we will actually be more vulnerable to certain risks than it appears, for instance, that certain environmental changes might cause an irrevocable collapse in human civilization (or in the human microbiome if you are that way inclined. The Global Challenges Foundation used the concepts of 'infinite threshold' and 'infinite impact' to capture this kind of uncertainty, and I think they are useful concepts. However, they don't necaserilly speak to our concern to know a
If we want to keep sampling pessimistic articles: * Cryptocurrencies and blockchain: explaining the fraud in four slides [] * Wall Street rethinks blockchain projects as euphoria meets reality []
Which five books would you recommend to an 18 year old?

Love this exercise (I read a non-fiction book a week, so I think about this a lot!). I'd definitely put an EA book in the top 5, but I think we get more differentiated advantage by adding non-EA books too. My list:

  1. On Direction and Measuring Your Impact—Doing Good Better
  2. On Past-Facing Pattern Matching from History—Sapiens
  3. On Future-Facing Tech Trends—Machine, Platform, Crowd
  4. On Prioritization and Process—Running Lean
  5. On Communication—An Everyone Culture

Honorable Mentions:

  1. Influence/Hooked/Thinking Fast and Slow (on behavioral psychology)
  2. World After C
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Open Thread #38

I'm interested in quantifying the impact of blockchain and cryptocurrency from a ITN perspective. My instinct is that the technology could be powerful from a "root cause incentive" perspective, from a "breaking game theory" perspective, and from a "change how money works" perspective. I'll have a more full post about this soon, but here's some of my initial thoughts on the subject:

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Impact seems solid, it is relatively neglected (at least with regards to charities). I think tractability is where blockchains might fall down. It seems easy to do an ICO, but less easy to get people to get people interested in being part of the incentive system. In order to estimate the tractability, I would back up a level. What blockchain (at least how you are using the phrase) is about is alternate incentive mechanisms to fiat money. There have been lots of alternate currencies [] in the past. There have probably been economic work on these things and they might be able to give you an outside view [] on how likely it is that a currency will gain traction in general. You can also look for research to see if there have been any charity based currencies, and how successful they have been. You can then update that estimate with the improvements that crypto brings (smart contracts/distributed ledgers). But also the risks, having to hard fork the currency due to smart contract errors and having to make sure the people you want to participate in the system have enough crypto/computer security knowledge to treat their wallets safely (which may or may not mean using exchanges). I think the risks (currently) make me think it is intractable, but that might just mean we should look for tractable ways of mitigating those risks. I'm interested in reading your analysis!
Open Thread #38

Great question. and are building decentralized prediction markets on the Ethereum blockchain. Their goal is to "match the global liquidity pool to the global knowledge pool."

I've asked them how they're thinking about hedgehogs to form a collective fox-y model (and then segmenting the data by hedgehog type).

But yeah, I think they will allow you to do what you want above: "Questions of the form: if intervention Y occurs what is the expected magnitude of outcome Z."

I like both of them, but I'm wondering: why wait so long? Isn't there a way some group (maybe us) could build 10% of the kind of prediction market that gets us 90% of what we actually need? I need to think about this more, but waiting for Gnosis and Augur to mature seems risky. Unless de-risking that bet means joining both projects to accelerate their advent.
Open Thread #38

I'm super into this! I'd be happy to check out your rough sketch. A couple thoughts:

  1. I think we should not bucket all of our time into a general time bucket. In fact, some of our time needs to be "fun creative working time". e.g. Sometimes I work on EA things, and sometimes I make music. "Designing an EA board game" could be part of that "fun bucket".
  2. A game like Pandemic ( could be a good starting point for designing the game (or to work with them on designing it). Essential
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Open Thread #38

Nice link! I think there's worthwhile research to be done here to get a more textured ITN.

On Impact—Here's a small example of x-risk (nuclear threat coming from inside the White House):

On Neglectedness—Thus far it seems highly neglected, at least at a system-level. is one of the only projects I know in the space (but the founder is not contributing much time to it)

On Tractability—I have no clue. Many of these "bottom up"/individual-level sol... (read more)

Thanks for the Nicky Case links
Local Group Support Overview: CEA, EAF and LEAN

Awesome. Thanks Richenda—I'm looking into Secular Student Alliance now!

How should we assess very uncertain and non-testable stuff?

Yep yep, happy to! A couple things come to mind:

  1. We could track the "stage" of a given problem/cause area, in a similar way that startups are tracked by Seed, Series A, etc. In other words, EA prioritization would be categorized w.r.t. stages/gates. I'm not sure if there's an agreed on "stage terminology" in the EA community yet. (I know GiveWell's Incubation Grants and EAGrants are examples of recent "early stage" investment.) Here w
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How should we assess very uncertain and non-testable stuff?

This isn't a unique thought, but I just want to make sure the EA community knows about Gnosis and Augur, decentralized prediction markets built on Ethereum.

How should we assess very uncertain and non-testable stuff?

I definitely agree that information on these topics is ripe for aggregation/curation.

My instinct is to look to the VC/startup community for some insight here, specifically around uncertainty (they're in the business of "predicting/quantifying/derisking uncertain futures/projects"). Two quick examples:

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One difference between for-profits and non-profits is that the worst case scenario for a for-profit is going out of business. The worst case for a non-profit is unintentionally causing harm. Someone mentioned that there aren't a lot of historians in EA--I wonder if this is because the history of attempts to do good is discouraging.
Local Group Support Overview: CEA, EAF and LEAN

Thanks for aggregating this information, Richenda! One quick bucket of thoughts around EA groups + universities:

  1. How are LEAN/CEA/EAF thinking about university chapters? Have they been an effective way of building a local community? Are there any university-focused plans going forwards?
  2. Are there other movements trying a university-focused strategy? Could we partner/learn from them? I'm thinking about something like Blockchain Education Network (see and

Thanks Richenda!

Hi Rhys, Yes, Universities are especially good environments in which to start EA groups for a number of reasons (lots of young people with plenty of free time who are actively reaching for new ideas, experiences and activities, a lot of infrastructural support from institutions, student unions, a captive audience, etc.) We are very mindful of the differences between local groups and University groups. Internally we work on building expertise about these differences, and customising the support and advice we give based on the nature of the group in question. We have also drawn on the expertise of other successful student based movements. For example, the Secular Student Alliance has some excellent group growth and management guides which we pass on for recommended reading (while giving full credit, of course).
Update on Effective Altruism Funds

One note on this: blockchain-based DAOs (decentralized autonomous organizations) are a good way to decentralize a giving body (like EAFunds). Rhodri Davies has been doing good work in this space (on AI-led DAOs for effective altruism). See or my recent overview of EA + Blockchain: