10 Habits I recommend (2020)

Found this very helpful, thank you!

What quotes do you find most inspire you to use your resources (effectively) to help others?

There's a powerful poem in my native language (Irish) that was published in 1971, whose title loosely translates to "Indifference cannot be permitted". It calls for equality, compassion, and our obligation towards people in all parts of the world, people with mental illness, non-human animals, and (depending on how one translates) possible life beyond earth. It was my first introduction to principles such as those that underpin EA. I won't try to translate it, but it's talked about (and part of it translated) in a recent blog post here:


Níl cuil, níl leamhan, níl beach
Dar chruthaigh Dia, níl fear,
Nach dualgas dúinn a leas,
Níl bean; ní ceadmhach neamhshuim
A dhéanamh dá n-imní;
Níl gealt i ngleann na ngealt,
Nár chuí dhúinn suí lena ais,
Á thionlacan an fhaid
A iompraíonn thar ár gceann
Ár dtinneas-ne ‘na mheabhair.

Níl alt, níl sruth, níl sceach,
Dá iargúlta iad, níl leac,
Bídís thuaidh, thoir, thiar nó theas,
Nár cheart dúinn machnamh ar a suíomh
Le gean is le báidhíocht;
Dá fhaid uainn Afraic Theas,
Dá airde í gealach,
Is cuid dínn iad ó cheart:
Níl áit ar fuaid na cruinne
Nach ann a saolaíodh sinne.

Donating against Short Term AI risks

A couple of resources that may be of interest here:

- The work of Aviv Ovadya of the Thoughtful Technology Project; don't think he's an EA (he may be, but it hasn't come up in my discussions with him):

- CSER's recent report with Alan Turing Institute and DSTL, which isn't specific to AI and social media algorithms only, but addresses these and other issues in crisis response:
"Tackling threats to informed decisionmaking in democratic societies"

- Recommendations for reducing malicious use of machine learning in synthetic media (Thoughtful Technology Project's Aviv Ovadya and CFI's Jess Whittlestone)

- And a short review of some recent research on online targeting harms by CFI researchers

When does it make sense to support/oppose political candidates on EA grounds?

Yes, and this is likely to reflect that (1) initial outbreaks were concentrated in cities/international hubs, more of which vote democrat and (2) in the initial outbreak testing capacity was lower, meaning that there were likely many more undiagnosed cases in these states. Treatment and therefore survival has improved too, but I think overall Linch's suggestion of mortality is a fairer metric for covid prevalence.

AI Governance: Opportunity and Theory of Impact

A quick note on epistemic security: we've just published a report exploring some of these ideas (previously discussed with GovAI) in partnership with the Alan Turing Institute and the UK's Defence Science Technology Laboratory, and building on a previous series of workshops (which Eric Drexler among others participated in). For those interested, it's available below.

"Access to reliable information is crucial to the ability of a democratic society to coordinate effective collective action when responding to a crisis, like a global pandemic, or complex challenge like climate change. Through a series of workshops we developed and analysed a set of hypothetical yet plausible crisis scenarios to explore how technologically exacerbated external threats and internal vulnerabilities to a society’s epistemic security – its ability to reliably avert threats to the processes by which reliable information is produced, distributed, and assessed within the society – can be mitigated in order to facilitate timely decision-making and collective action in democratic societies.

Overall we observed that preserving a democratic society’s epistemic security is a complex effort that sits at the interface of many knowledge domains, theoretical perspectives, value systems, and institutional responsibilities, and we developed a series of recommendations to highlight areas where additional research and resources will likely have a significant impact on improving epistemic security in democratic societies"

Open Communication in the Days of Malicious Online Actors

As a datapoint, the issues Ozzie raises feel quite relevant to issues I find myself needing to think about where it comes to different communities engaging with Xrisk-related issues and different aspects of our (an xrisk/gcr centre's) work - especially when it comes to different communities with different epistemic and communication norms - so I find it relevant and helpful in that sense.

Will protests lead to thousands of coronavirus deaths?

Thanks Juan, I hadn't seen that most recent R0 estimate you link to - concerning.

Will protests lead to thousands of coronavirus deaths?
I'm not convinced that we would have already seen a significant uptick in reported/confirmed case numbers quite yet (weren't the largest protests this past Saturday?). The median incubation period is ~5 days, most people don't get tested at the time of symptom onset, and the PCR test turnaround time still seems to still be at least a day or two. Perhaps most importantly, most of the protestors seem to be relatively young and so many may be asymptomatic or may have mild cold/flu-like symptoms. I'm more interested in (and concerned about) any secondary transmission events that may involve older family members that protestors might live with/come into contact with. Many of these older folks would presumably have more serious symptoms and so would be more likely to show up in confirmed cases/hospitalizations data over the coming weeks.

Right. But with regard to R0 =0.9, I understand R0=0.9 was being used as the background R0 prior to the impact of the protest, rather than the R0 following the impact of the protests (if 'background' R0 is <1, then the impact of an R0-increasing event/set of events will have a lesser effect than if 'background' R0 is >1). It may be the case, as you suggest, that R0 has increased significantly since the start of the protests until now (whether due to the protests or in combination of other factors), in which case protests right now are happening against a higher R0 than these estimates assume - but we don't have the data. I agree that NYC will be interesting.

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