Ryan Beck

I'm a bridge engineer living in Iowa. I like to forecast and write things and am interested in learning about ways I can have a positive impact.


Topic Contributions


Preventing a US-China war as a policy priority

I've found this short article useful in explaining the case for it. Basically it says that a guarantee of defense could embolden Taiwan to more aggressively pursue independence which could provoke China, while committing to not interfere could embolden China to invade. The US benefits from better relations with both countries if it walks a line between them and it may be better for peace between them if Taiwan has to tread carefully and China expects a high chance of the US fighting off an invasion of Taiwan.

Preventing a US-China war as a policy priority

Thanks for posting this, I'm glad to see more discussion of the issue and you've laid it out very nicely.

In the interest of thinking seriously about this potential deadly conflict, could you explain why you lean toward abandoning Taiwanese independence if war appears likely? Aside from principle based stances about protecting potential allies and the right of countries to continue governing themselves, I think my main worry is that giving in to bullying seems like it would incentivize future bullying. If the US and other nations declare that they no longer care about Taiwan, what stops superpowers in the future from using military aggression to stake a claim to some territory they had previously held at some point in the past few centuries?

On a related note, this same kind of approach would have suggested Ukraine give in to Russian demands and possibly even offer up the Donbas, which would likely have saved lives in 2022, but is it reasonable to expect that Russia would have been satisfied with that negotiation 5 or 10 years down the road?

The argument for abandoning Taiwan makes sense, ~25 million people's independence may not be worth the chances of billions being killed in a nuclear exchange, but my perception of China and Russia is that there's not some set of demands where you can give them what they want at the moment and then they're satisfied, it seems more likely that new points of contention keep cropping up over time whether you give in to their demands or not.

Reducing Nuclear Risk Through Improved US-China Relations

Your comment is 3 months old, but somehow I missed it back when I was posted and am just now seeing it, so I just wanted to say these are all good points, particularly about cooperation on other issues like your climate example!

Announcing a contest: EA Criticism and Red Teaming

It's possible I missed it but I didn't see anything stating whether multiple submissions from one author are allowed, I assume they are though?

Who's hiring? (May-September 2022)

Is there a way to sort answers by newest? I'm not seeing that option. It would be useful for finding new answers I haven't seen yet.

Who wants to be hired? (May-September 2022)

Location: Council Bluffs, Iowa

Remote: Yes

Willing to relocate: No


Resume: https://www.ryanbeckauthor.com/assets/resume.pdf

Email: ryooan@gmail.com


  • Cause Areas
    • Open to just about anything. I lean a little more toward global health and wellbeing but I think longtermist focuses are important too and would be happy to contribute to either.
  • Availability
    • I'd most likely be available within about two months of receiving an offer.
  • Looking for
    • I'm primarily looking for full time work, and I think I would enjoy doing anything that fits well with my skills, though I am looking mainly for something different from engineering.
    • I think I'd be a good fit for and enjoy roles that involve research, writing, and/or forecasting.
    • I'd also enjoy roles that involve coding or building tools, though I don't have a lot of formal experience with those things so I might not be as good of a fit there.
  • Experience with EA
    • I've been aware of and interested in EA for a few years, though I've only started looking into it more closely in the past few months. I'd describe myself as someone who was a lurker on the periphery of EA and is now trying to get more involved.

If anyone has any feedback or suggestions for me I'd appreciate it as well. Feel free to message me or submit feedback anonymously at this link.

Edited on June 1, 2022 to add the notes section.

I'm not sure how your first point relates to what I was saying in this post; but, I'll take a guess.

Sorry, what I said wasn't very clear. Attempting to rephrase, I was thinking more along the lines of what the possible future for AI might look like if there were no EA interventions in the AI space. I haven't seen much discussion of the possible downsides there (for example slowing down AI research by prioritizing alignment resulting in delays in AI advancement and delays in good things brought about by AI advancement). But this was a less-than-half-baked idea, thinking about it some more I'm having trouble thinking of scenarios where that could produce a lower expected utility.

It doesn't matter what outcome you assign zero value to as long as the relative values are the same since if a utility function is an affine function of another utility function then they produce equivalent decisions.

Thanks, I follow this now and see what you mean.

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