saulius

5977 karmaJoined Bow Rd, London E3, UK

Bio

My name is Saulius Šimčikas. I spent the last year on a career break and now I'm looking for new opportunities. Previously, I worked as an animal advocacy researcher at Rethink Priorities for four years. I also did some earning-to-give as a programmer, did some EA community building, and was a research intern at Animal Charity Evaluators. I love meditation and talking about emotions.

Personal feedback form: https://forms.gle/3QBCJ3wsJnjPPWqF6 It can be anonymous. I especially welcome negative feedback.

How others can help me

Tell me what you want me to do with my life, especially if you can pay me for it.

Comments
428

Topic contributions
5

It’s also useful to ask yourself why you want to write in the first place. I personally think that there are too many people whose plan to help the world is to write on the EA forum and that a lot of effort spent on writing for the EA forum would be better spent on doing more direct forms of altruism. I sometimes find that I fool myself that I’m doing something effective just because I’m spending time on the EA forum. It can be useful for some niche careers, but it depends.

Answer by saulius6
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This is how I felt when I first tried to write for the EA forum. In order to know what kind of text is needed, and what would be new in the topic you are writing about, you kind of need to know everything that was already written and what sort of stuff would influence decision-makers. It’s impossible to know all that for someone new to the space. This is why I think it’s useful for senior people to suggest very concrete topics to junior researchers and then to guide them. And especially for the first few articles, the more specific the topic, the better. I think this article has more advice like that.

I like making a distinction between superficial beliefs and deeply held beliefs which are often entirely subconscious. You have a superficial belief that Starcraft is balanced but a deeply held belief that your faction is the weakest. 

For another example, my dad lived all his life in a world where alcohol was socially acceptable, while everyone agreed that all other drugs were the worst thing ever, quickly leading to addiction, etc. He once even remarked how if alcohol was invented today, it would surely be illegal because it has so many negative consequences, even compared to some other drugs. But it’s just a funny thought to him. He offers me a drink whenever I come to visit him, but he got immediately very concerned when I mentioned that I’ve tried cannabis. He can’t just suddenly rewire his brain to change the associations he has with something like cannabis. Even if I tell him about some studies about cannabis not being that harmful, especially when used rarely, in his subconsciousness, there might barely be a difference between cannabis and drugs like heroin. Maybe he could rewire his subconscious reaction by going through all his memories where he was told something bad about drugs and reinterpreting them in the face of the new evidence. But ain’t nobody has time for that. 

Well, it’s worth trying to rewire yourself about deeply held beliefs that really harm you like “I am unlovable”, "I don't deserve happiness", "I can't trust anyone", etc. This is a big part of what therapy does, I think. But for most topics like Starcraft factions, we just have to accept that there will always be a mismatch between superficial beliefs and deeply held beliefs.

A lot of these arguments apply for wild animals but not so much for farmed.

Even if most humans die young if they lose the ability to feel pain, that is not true for Jo Cameron. And the idea of some people thinking about this is to just modify the mutated gene she has in others. I asked GPT-4 and it says that other animals have that gene too.

But it's not such a big issue if farmed animals injure themselves or die young because they injure themselves. I imagine that injuries are mostly bad because of pain. Higher pre-slaughter mortality would make it less profitable but farmers might find ways to prevent them from dying young or meat prices could be higher.

Regarding "10 million species": most of the impact would be from doing this for the few species that are farmed in very large numbers like chickens and whiteleg shrimp

There were many predictions about AI and AGI in the past (maybe mostly last century) that were very wrong. I think I read about it in Superintelligence. A quick Google search shows this article which probably talks about that.

Cultured meat predictions were overly optimistic, although many of those predictions might have been companies hyping up their products to attract investors. There's also probably a selection bias where the biggest cultured meat optimisits are the ones who become cultured meat experts and make predictions

Detach the grim-o-meter comes to mind. I think that post helped me a little bit.

I'm afraid that I don't remember anymore. You can reach out to the Welfare Footprint Project directly about this if this is decision-relevant to you. If you do that, updating with their answer here would be useful as I would like to know this too.

I wonder if Open Philanthropy thinks about it because they fund both animal advocacy and global poverty/health. Animal advocacy funding probably easily offsets its negative global poverty effects on animals. It takes thousands of dollars to save a human life with global health interventions and that human might consume thousands of animals in her lifetime. Chicken welfare reforms can half the suffering of thousands of animals for tens of dollars. However, I don't like this sort of reasoning that much because we may not always have interventions as cost-effective as chicken welfare reforms.

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