Wiki Contributions


Why is Operations no longer an 80K Priority Path?

For the 10/10 criteria do you mean a $50k hiring bonus, or a $50k annual salary?

Think about EA alignment like skill mastery, not cult indoctrination

"creating closed social circles"

Just on this my impression is that more senior people in the EA community actively recommend not closing your social circle because, among other reasons, it's more robust to have a range of social supports from separate groups of people, and it's better epistemically not to exclusively hang out with people who already share your views on things.

Inasmuch as people's social circles shrink I don't think it's due to guidance from leaders (as in a typical cult, I would think) but rather because people naturally find it more fun to socialise with people who share their beliefs and values, even if they think that's not in their long-term best interest.

The Bioethicists are (Mostly) Alright

Cool yeah. I just want to provide another more boring reason a lot of us have piled on to bioethics that doesn't even require ingroup-outgroup dynamics.

Basically all of the people you're citing (like me) have an amateur interest in bioethics as it affects legal policy or medical practice or pandemic control (the thing we actually follow closely).

You and I agree that harmful decisions are regularly being made by IRBs (and politicians), often on the basis of supposed 'bioethics'. We also both agree there are at least a handful of poor thinkers in the field who do offer up low quality moral philosophy to support these bad decisions. It's only natural then for me and my fellow travelers to see these bad decisions, and these writings classified as bioethics justifying them, and suppose that the latter are an important cause of the former.

And these decisions come week after week for years, progressively infuriating me more and more.

I could see I'm making a mistake to judge bioethics as a field by sampling a representative bunch of papers (weighted by citations maybe), reading them, and deciding how reasonable they typically seem. Unfortunately that's an involved process that few people with an amateur interest are going to have time for. Each person can only go down a few rabbit holes like that each year in between our normal work, personal commitments, staying healthy, and so on.

So I appreciate you and other people doing that heavy lifting and then sharing the results — it's the only way it's practical for our mistake to be corrected!

The Bioethicists are (Mostly) Alright

Fair enough, I'm happy to talk less about bioethicists and talk more about institutional review of research ethics.

For what it's worth I and other critics do regularly/constantly refer people to the classic dissection of the problem caused by IRBs (The Censor's Hand).

We also talk about the misaligned incentives faced by bureaucrats about as ad nauseam as we talk about bioethics.

And when I've seen IRBs in action they have worked to keep their decisions and the reasons for them secret and intimidate researchers into not speaking out, while philosophers publish their ideas in journals you can read (and their arguments can then be used as cover for IRB decisions). So as a practical matter it has been easier for folks to scrutinise bad thinking from philosophers than IRBs even if the average quality of the latter is much worse.

On Mike Berkowitz's 80k Podcast

Exciting to see a post about this episode 5 hours after we put it out (!).

A few quick thoughts:

"Berkowitz never mentions that the median voter in most Republican primaries is currently "pro-Trump" so he leaves out the single sentence explanation."

No but I say that. IIRC one of his responses also takes this background explanation as a given.

"Japan and New Zealand have shown that sovereign parliamentary democracies do not manifest even nascent electoral movements."

In general I'm with you on thinking some systems of government are less conducive to populist movements, but I'm not sure one can show that by choosing two cases without checking for counterexamples.

"Berkowitz argues that Trump drives turnout. But 2016, Trump's first term, had moderate turnout. 2020 was Trump's second election, so why is he driving turnout in turn two."

I mean there's multiple factors but I'm with Berkowitz here.

In 2020 polls more people had very strong views about Trump (strong approve or strong disapprove) than is typical of a president, while I don't think that was true in 2016. So I don't think there's anything strange about the idea that he raised turnout in 2020 but not 2016.

The other big factor I would think is easier postal voting.

"No it is not. People do not take on high personal costs for collective gains without a facilitating organization."

But that just raises the question, why weren't there better facilitating organizations? Folks expected them to be present but it seems they didn't organize effectively.

PhD student mutual line-manager invitation

Great to see someone giving this a crack! Let me know how it works out. :)

How You Can Counterfactually Send Millions of Dollars to EA Charities

"The 2.16% U.S. federal funds rate in 2019 is one of the most conservative interest rates possible."

The U.S. Federal Funds rate has been effectively 0% since April 2020 and was roughly 0% for six years from 2009 to 2015. The same is roughly true of the UK. Central banks in both countries are saying they'll keep rates low for years to come.

I can't immediately find a reputable business savings accounts in the UK/US that currently offers more than 1%.

Those that offer the highest rates (something approaching 1%) on comparison sites tend to have conditions (e.g. you lock the money up for a period, or have to keep depositing regularly), and usually have a maximum amount on which you can earn interest, a maximum which is low enough to be binding for these organisations.

These accounts usually offer a high rate to attract customers for a while, then dramatically reduce the interest rate and trust you won't be bothered moving your money. I think that's their basic business model.

Opening bank accounts for non-profits, at least in the UK, is a pain — something that will take a few weeks, and some time/attention from the operations team, management and trustees (who are needed for e.g. security checks). It looks like you usually won't be able to put in more than a million dollars/pounds in any given account, often less.

So you'd need to open many accounts, keep track of them, secure the chequebooks, have them audited annually, integrate them into your bookkeeping system, change the signatures when staff turn over, figure out the idiosyncratic requirements to pull out money when you need to, and so on.

This may sound simple but if you've worked in operations you'll know it's actually a big hassle.

In return, for each account opened you make <£10k a year, and probably need to keep closing accounts and moving your money into new ones every few years, as the teaser rate used to draw you in is removed.

This may all be worth it, but it's far from a no-brainer, as these organisation have other fruitful projects they could be using staff to pursue.

If Causes Differ Astronomically in Cost-Effectiveness, Then Personal Fit In Career Choice Is Unimportant

In addition to the issues raised by other commentators I would worry that someone trying to work on something they're a bad fit for can easily be harmful.

That especially goes for things related to existential risk.

And in addition to the obvious mechanisms, having most of the people in a field be ill-suited to what they're doing but persisting for 'astronomical waste' reasons will mean most participants struggle to make progress, get demoralized, and repel others from joining them.

How much does a vote matter?

He says he's going to write a response. If I recall Jason isn't a consequentialist so he may have a different take on what kinds of things we can have a duty to do.

How much does a vote matter?

Want to write a TLDR summary? I could find somewhere to stick it.

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