SamiM

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What music do you find most inspires you to use your resources (effectively) to help others?

I don't think music affects my behavior a lot, but I really like this song.

Things I Learned at the EA Student Summit

Hi Akash, great post. 
The link to the Nanda post isn't working. (It links back to your post)


for more about the benefits of blogging, see this post by Neel Nanda



 

SamiM's Shortform

In Debiasing Decisions: Improved Decision Making With A Single Training Intervention they found that a 30-minute video reduced confirmation bias, fundamental attribution error, and bias blind spot, by 19%.
The video is super cheesy, and that makes me suspicious.
It should be noted that playing a 60-minute "debiasing" game debiased people more than the video. 


The rest of this short form is random thoughts about debiasing.



I tried finding tests for these biases so that I can do it myself, but I didn't find any. This made me worry that we don't have standardized tests for biases, which strikes me as bad. Although I didn't spend too much time looking into it.


I don't think training people to reduce 3 biases a time is a good way to go, since we have 100s of biases. If we use a taxonomy like Arkes (1991) (strategy-based, association-based, and psychophysical errors).  Maybe we could have three interventions for each type of bias? But it's not clear how you would teach people to avoid say association-based biases by lecturing about it.
You could nudge them in small ways. From Arkes (1991)

For example, subjects in their third study were presented with the story of David, a high school senior who had to choose between a small liberal arts college and an Ivy League university. Several of David's friends who were attending one of the two schools provided information that seemed to favor quite strongly the liberal arts college. However, a visit by David to each school provided him with contrary information. Should David rely on the advice of his many friends (a large sample) or on his own 1-day impressions of each school (a very small sample)? Other subjects were given the same scenario with the addition of a paragraph that made them "explicitly aware of the role of chance in determining the impression one may get from a small sample" (Nisbett et al., 1983, p. 353). Namely, David drew up a list for each school of the classes and activities that might interest him during his visit there, and then he blindly dropped a pencil on the list, choosing to do those things on the list where the pencil point landed. These authors found that if the chance factors that influenced David's personal evidence base were made salient in this way, subjects would be more likely to answer questions about the scenario in a probabilistic manner (i.e, rely on the large sample provided by many friends) than if the chance factors were not made salient. Such hints, rather than blatant instruction, can provide routes to a debiasing behavior in some problems

In Sedlmeier & Gigerenzer they taught people Bayes by using frequencies rather than probabilities. E,g. Instead of saying (1% of people use drugs and they test positive 80% of the time while non-users 5% of the time), you say From 1000 people, 10 use drugs, 8 drug users test positive, while 50 non-users test positive). 
It seems to work.


If it's really hard, we should target really bad, really harmful biases. 
From here

...many of the known predictors of conspiracy belief are alterable. One of these predictors is the tendency to make errors in logical and probabilistic reasoning (Brotherton & French, 2014), and another is the tendency toward magical thinking (e.g., Darwin et al., 2011; Newheiser et al., 2011; Stieger et al., 2013; Swami et al., 2011). It is not clear whether these tendencies can be corrected (Eckblad & Chapman, 1983; Peltzer, 2003), but evidence suggests that they can be reduced by training in logic and in probability specifically (e.g., Agnoli & Krantz, 1989; Sedlmeier & Gigerenzer, 2001). The current findings suggest that interventions targeting the automatic attribution of intentionality may be effective in reducing the tendency to believe in conspiracy theories.

Perhaps finding out which are the worst biases, and what are the best interventions for them are would be useful. But increasing the effectiveness of changing beliefs is potentially dangerous, so maybe not.

Estimation of probabilities to get tenure track in academia: baseline and publications during the PhD.

This is helpful, thanks.

The information is probably here somewhere, but is that the probability of getting tenure given you finish your Ph.D.? I.e. Does this account for dropping out?

Somewhat tangential, but I think accounting for the chance of working on AI safety (or something comparably effective) outside of academia will help. I think this is more common in Economics (e.g. World Bank). But I guess OpenAI or similar institutions hire CS PhDs and working there possibly has a similar impact to working in academia.

Tax Havens and the case for Tax Justice

Hey Alex, excellent post.

Two caveats:

(1) You said

Tax Justice Network is a highly effective charity: consider donating.

And then

Tax Justice Network is laying the foundation for developing countries to become self-sufficient. Based on their work on tax havens alone, TJN is a highly-effective charity. Once we consider their role in curbing illicit financial flows, we may see TJN rise to a top charity for poverty alleviation and governance.

I think there is a part missing in the middle, because I couldn't find an argument why TJN is a good place to donate except this part,

Tax Justice Network has started changing the narrative on tax havens. For example, in 2007, with help from TJN, The Guardian published the first major story on multinational tax avoidance

which doesn't strike me as a strong reason. Maybe I missed something?

(2) Did you make the table that ranks the interventions. (AEOI, UBO, CbCR)? If yes, can you provide details on the methodology?

Is there a subfield of economics devoted to "fragility vs resilience"?
Answer by SamiMJul 21, 202010

By the way, there also the Adam Rose definition of economic resilience:

Source

In general, static economic resilience refers to the ability or capacity of a system to absorb or cushion against damage or loss... A more general definition that incorporates dynamic considerations, including stability, is the ability of a system to recover from a severe shock. We distinguish two types of resilience:
(1) inherent – ability under normal circumstances (e.g. the ability to substitute other inputs for those curtailed by an external shock, or the ability of markets to reallocate resources in response to price signals); and
 (2) adaptive – ability in crisis situations due to ingenuity or extra effort (e.g. increasing input substitution possibilities in individual business operations, or strengthening the market by providing information to match suppliers without customers to customers without suppliers).

There is some research on state fragility. When the government can’t monopolize violence, provide public goods, or tax its inhabitants, the country becomes vulnerable to all sorts of things from increased conflict to food shortages. The best resource I found on this is the "new climate for peace" website. Which has a suggested reading based on theme. There are four themes all related to climate change and conflict. [Natural] disasters, Urban risks, Migration, and Food security.

All of this ties back to the fact that the poor are more vulnerable to Climate change. And the multiple correlations between it and conflict, urbanization, etc.

More on this:

These videos by MiguelBlattmanCSISWBBrookings were useful.

Hsiang and Miguel have excellent papers on the topic.


Here are the abstracts some interesting papers.

Social and economic impacts of climate pdf

For centuries, thinkers have considered whether and how climatic conditions—such as temperature, rainfall, and violent storms—influence the nature of societies and the performance of economies. A multidisciplinary renaissance of quantitative empirical research is illuminating important linkages in the coupled climate-human system. We highlight key methodological innovations and results describing effects of climate on health, economics, conflict, migration, and demographics. Because of persistent “adaptation gaps,”current climate conditions continue to play a substantial role in shaping modern society, and future climate changes will likely have additional impact. For example, we compute that temperature depresses current U.S. maize yields by ~48%, warming since 1980 elevated conflict risk in Africa by ~11%, and future warming may slow global economic growth rates by ~0.28 percentage points per year. In general, we estimate that the economic and social burden of current climates tends to be comparable in magnitude to the additional projected impact caused by future anthropogenic climate changes. Overall, findings from this literature point to climate as an important influence on the historical evolution of the global economy, they should inform how we respond to modern climatic conditions, and they can guide how we predict the consequences of future climate changes.

Climate and Conflict pdf

We review the emerging literature on climate and conflict. We consider multiple types of human conflict, including both interpersonal conflict, such as assault and murder, and intergroup conflict, including riots and civil war. We discuss key methodological issues in estimating causal relationships and largely focus on natural experiments that exploit variation in climate over time. Using a hierarchical meta-analysis that allows us to both estimate the mean effect and quantify the degree of variability across 55 studies, we find that deviations from moderate temperatures and precipitation patterns systematically increase conflict risk. Contemporaneous temperature has the largest average impact, with each 1σ increase in temperature increasing interpersonal conflict by 2.4% and intergroup conflict by 11.3%. We conclude by highlighting research priorities, including a better understanding of the mechanisms linking climate to conflict, societies’ ability to adapt to climatic changes, and the likely impacts of future global warming.

GROWING, SHRINKING, AND LONG RUN ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE: HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES ON ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT pdf

Using annual data from the thirteenth century to the present, we show that improved long run economic performance has occurred primarily through a decline in the rate and frequency of shrinking, rather than through an increase in the rate of growing. Indeed, as economic performance has improved over time, the short run rate of growing has typically declined rather than increased. Most analysis of the process of economic development has hitherto focused on increasing the rate of growing. Here, we focus on understanding the forces making for a reduction in the rate of shrinking, drawing a distinction between proximate and ultimate factors. The main proximate factors considered are (1) structural change (2) technological change (3) demographic change and (4) the changing incidence of warfare. We conclude with a consideration of institutional change as the key ultimate factor behind the reduction in shrinking. 

Temperature extremes, global warming, and armed conflict: new insights from high resolution data  source

This paper contributes to the debate whether climate change and global warming cause conflicts by providing novel evidence about the role of extreme temperature events for armed conflict based on high frequency high-resolution data for the entire continent of Africa. The analysis of monthly data for 4826 grid cells of 0.75 latitude longitude over the period 1997–2015 documents a positive effect of the occurrence of temperature extremes on conflict incidence. These effects are larger the more severe the extremes in terms of duration, and are larger in highly densely populated regions, in regions with lower agricultural productivity, and in regions with more pronounced land degradation. The results also point towards heterogeneity of the effect with respect to the type of violence and the crucial role of population dynamics. Considering the consequences of increases in the frequency of extreme events in a long-differences analysis delivers evidence for a positive effect on conflict.

Global non-linear effect of temperature on economic production pdf

...We show that overall economic productivity is non-linear in temperature for all countries, with productivity peaking at an annual average temperature of 13 °C and declining strongly at higher temperatures. The relationship is globally generalizable, unchanged since 1960, and apparent for agricultural and non-agricultural activity in both rich and poor countries. These results provide the first evidence that economic activity in all regions is coupled to the global climate and establish a new empirical foundation for modelling economic loss in response to climate change, with important implications. If future adaptation mimics past adaptation, unmitigated warming is expected to reshape the global economy by reducing average global incomes roughly 23% by 2100 and widening global income inequality, relative to scenarios without climate change. In contrast to prior estimates, expected global losses are approximately linear in global mean temperature, with median losses many times larger than leading models indicate. 

More resources here (beware duplicates, sorry)

Also, business continuity planning can be relevant if you change corporations to states, but I'm not familiar with the literature therefore less certain. From Wikipedia:

“[it] is the process of creating systems of prevention and recovery to deal with potential threats to a company. In addition to prevention, the goal is to enable ongoing operations before and during execution of disaster recovery
An organization's resistance to failure is "the ability ... to withstand changes in its environment and still function". Often called resilience, it is a capability that enables organizations to either endure environmental changes without having to permanently adapt, or the organization is forced to adapt a new way of working that better suits the new environmental conditions.”

I bet urban design and climate change adaptation literature have something valuable to say about the topic.

EDIT: I added this later

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