I'm an Oxford researcher, working in the intersection of moral psychology and philosophy.

Wiki Contributions


Buck's Shortform

The GWWC pledge is akin to a flat tax, as opposed to a progressive tax - which gives you a higher tax rate when you earn more.

I agree that there are some arguments in favour of "progressive donations".

One consideration is that extremely high "donation rates" - e.g. donating 100% of your income above a certain amount - may affect incentives to earn more adversely, depending on your motivations. But in a progressive donation rate system with a more moderate maximum donation rate that would probably not be as much of a problem.

What are things everyone here should (maybe) read?

Interesting. Can you say a bit more about what aspects of EA Ramsey had thought of, in your view? His views on discounting and probability?

Effects of anti-aging research on the long-term future

Thanks for this. Regarding moral and cultural progress, I think there is some research that suggests that this largely occurs through generational replacement.

[O]n six of the eight questions we examined—all save gay marriage and marijuana legalisation—demographic shifts accounted for a bigger share of overall movement in public opinion than changes in beliefs within cohorts. On average, their impact was about twice as large.

Regarding the selfish incentives:

Politically, dramatically increased lifespans should give people much stronger personal incentives to care about the long-term future

Potentially, but initially, lifespan extension would be much more muted, and would not give particularly strong selfish incentives for people to care about the long-term future. My sense is that this factor would initially be swamped by the negative effects on moral progress of slower generational replacement.

Multilateral Lock-In

Thanks for this original post.

1. Lock-in is supposed to be highly stable. As far as I understand, your argument therefore is, or rests on, the notion that competitive dynamics between multiple agents can become highly stable. But I wonder whether that's usually the case. 

For instance, you mention the wars/competition between European countries. However, these wars eventually stopped - and currently, most European countries rather cooperate as members of the European Union. I think that we have some reason to believe that that's the default - particular competitive dynamics won't be stable, but will eventually evolve into something else. So one would like more details on what specific mechanisms would give rise to a locked-in competitive dynamic. (By contrast, it seems to me that we do have a hunch of how a powerful global autocracy could cause a lock-in - e.g. they could use advanced surveillance, meticulously control transfers of power, etc.) 

2. The post is nominally about multilateral lock-in, but it seems to me that some parts of it (e.g. section V) are concerned with demonstrating that multilateral systems have downsides in general, rather than with lock-in specifically. Though maybe I'm missing some aspect of the dialectic.


But lock-in, as it is understood by EAs, contains an additional component: that the future of humanity must be locked into a highly negative end-state. 

As far as I can tell, effective altruists haven't generally seen a negative end-state as part of the definition of "lock-in". It seems possible to be locked into a positive end-state.


> [U]nless we have good reason to assume a selective process is heavily biased towards desirable states, we ought to assume that it will produce undesirable states.

I guess that sometimes we do have such reasons. E.g. the selection process may be biased towards wealth (since wealth is useful in competition) or towards making your country attractive to migrants from competitors (thereby typically making it attractive to natives as well).

Giving and happiness

That seems too broad - this is a more specific topic.

Giving and happiness

Similar phrases (e.g. "income and happiness", "income inequality and happiness") do generate a fair number of hits.

"The relationship between giving and happiness" is another possibility.

What should we call the other problem of cluelessness?

Yeah, I agree that one would need to add some adjective (e.g. "total" or "radical") to several of these.

"Unknowability" sounds good at first glance; I'd need to think about use cases.

I see now that you made the agent-decision situation distinction that I also made above. I do think that "unknowable" putting an emphasis on the decision situation is to its advantage.

What should we call the other problem of cluelessness?

Yeah, I'm unsure. I think that the term "clueless" is usually used to refer to people who are incompetent (cf. the synonyms). (That's why they have no knowledge.) But in this case we don't lack knowledge because we're incompetent, but because the task at hand is hard. And one might consider using a term or phrase that implies that. But there are pros and cons of all candidates.

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