Robi Rahman

Data science graduate student. Member of Effective Altruism DC and Harvard EA.

Topic Contributions


Introducing the ML Safety Scholars Program

Someone referred me to apply to be a TA for this program. How would you like such people to contact you - should I email you, or is there another form for that?

Norms and features for the Forum

Ah, you're right, I misinterpreted it since the epistemic status suggestion said time per post and that one didn't.

Norms and features for the Forum

Speculative: NLP for claim detection: the site asks you for your probabilities about the main claims. Time cost: 30 mins.

You think it'd take only 30 minutes to implement a feature that detects claims in forum posts? I'm not a web developer but that strikes me as wildly optimistic.

Why Helping the Flynn Campaign is especially useful right now

If you think pandemic response is the key issue, Dr. Harder is a highly experienced doctor who used to run the Oregon Medical Board. Medical and policy experience: maybe you still think your guy will be better, but by how much?

The FDA has hundreds of highly -experienced doctors and still had such a disastrous response to the pandemic they probably caused millions of extra deaths. They completely blocked challenge trials and delayed vaccine deployment by six months. What matters is not whether the people in government are doctors, it's the policies on how the government behaves when an important problem arises. And crucially, the key issue isn't pandemic response, it's pandemic prevention. Carrick Flynn is the only congressional candidate I know of who's running on that.

Tentative Reasons You Might Be Underrating Having Kids

Mormonism is an obvious example of a religion that people join because Mormons have well-functioning families? I'm skeptical that's a main reason for the growth of Mormonism compared to their high birthrate or their amount of missionary effort.

What are the strongest arguments against working on existential risk? (EA Librarian)

Even a comparatively low pure discount rate of 1% implies most future value is concentrated in the next hundred years

This is not correct! Suppose the human population grows at a constant rate for 1000 years. If you discount the moral worth of future people by 1% per year, but the growth rate is anything above 1%, most of the value of humanity is concentrated in the last hundred years, not the first hundred years.

There's this very surprising, maybe counterintuitive moral implication of cosmopolitanism where if you think future people have moral value and you believe in discount rates of 1-3%, you should basically disregard any present-day considerations and make all of your decisions based solely on how they affect the distant future, but if you use a discount rate of 5%,  you should help one person today rather than a billion trillion people a thousand years from now.[1]

  1. ^*0.95%5E1000.0

Some thoughts on vegetarianism and veganism

I'm strongly in favor of 'welfaretarianism'! It's been my diet* for a few years now and I'm really glad you invented a name for it. I've been telling people for ages that I agree you shouldn't eat animals that suffer while farmed if it causes more of them to exist, but people don't really internalize the logical conclusion of this, that it's good to eat animals if it causes happy animals to exist (assuming you don't subscribe to negative utilitarianism or the person-affecting view) or existing animals to become happier. Hypothetically, if it were more profitable to sell meat from happy chickens than from battery-cage chickens, all factory farms would switch over to raising happy chickens, though this will probably never happen due to costs and I don't think consumers are willing to pay that much more.

*I don't actually eat any meat from happily-farmed animals because I don't know how you would find such a thing, but I'd be willing to eat it if it existed. In practice this resulted in me going from omnivore to lacto-vegetarian by cutting out meat products in order of most to least suffering per calorie.

EA Fundraising Through Advantage Sports Betting: A Guide ($500/Hour in Select States)

I'm guessing they went to Colorado because they were on the west coast and it was the closest state with legal sports betting.

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