14 karmaJoined Aug 2021


If I define impact as change and outcome as a result, then isn't every occurrence of an impact an outcome? Are you defining those words differently? 

I'm open to the idea and I probably haven't thought about it as much as you, but I'm skeptical about the way you discuss going about it in your post and also that the work of the experts that seem to have inspired you is impactful.  

I suspect the techniques you've discussed will greatly improve your memory, but I'd guess that it's often not worth the time to memorize something. Based on my experience working as a software engineer, my attitude has been you can't learn everything . At least in software engineering, you need to adapt to new languages and frameworks frequently and I'd imagine other relatively new fields are similar. In software engineering (and maybe these other fields) the most (if not the only) important thing to remember is what you need to google. 

Additionally, I'd also guess that a lot of the truly most impactful work comes from learning about new domains . This also can't be learned through memorization. Even googling the right questions often won't give you a quick answer. Haseeb Qureshi wrote a post about this type of learning, which he calls "unstructured learning" that I think is worth reading https://haseebq.com/the-hard-thing-about-learning-hard-things/ 

I'm aware that you said you mentioned you're not targeting superstars, but as far as I know there's no reason superstars would learn differently  than anyone else. I'd also guess anyone can get a lot more out of themselves if they do their best.

I'd also guess that it would be hard to make your idea be much more than an incremental improvement over the Learning How To Learn course. I admittedly haven't taken that course so take that with a big grain of salt.

Maybe it could be worthwhile to try to create a course or program that focuses on teaching unstructured learning. I don't know how you'd go about it and I think there's a high chance the course would be crap, but maybe its worth the risk?

Some of the charter cities movements have a similar philosophy to EA, but with more of a focus on improving governance.

In particular, I'd guess GameB is the closest to EA since it acknowledges a lot of the same X risks EA is focused on. https://www.gameb.wiki/index.php?title=Main_Page

The Seasteading Institute https://www.seasteading.org/, which promotes floating cities is also similar. It used to run Ephemerisle https://ephemerisle.github.io/, which was apparently sort of a Burning Man on water.

EA seems to interact most with the charter city community through the Charter Cities Institute https://www.chartercitiesinstitute.org/. Their founder has posted on the forum before. 

Besides improving governance, their messaging seems to focus on widely known causes such as climate change and poverty on their site so I'm not sure how close their philosophy is to those in the EA movement.

If you're interested in charter cities I'd also check out 2 new one's in Honduras: 

  1. Mariposa https://mariposa.hn/
    1. Scott Alexander writes about it here: https://astralcodexten.substack.com/p/model-city-monday-8221 
  2. Prospera https://prospera.hn/ 
    1. Scott Alexander writes about it here: https://astralcodexten.substack.com/p/prospectus-on-prospera 

I don't donate to any of them. I wonder if I should be more utilitarian by not tipping at restaurants and other things along those lines. 

The cases i can think of to donate to these services would be along these 3 lines:

  1. You actually do think donating to wikipedia or X podcast etc directly or indirectly helps you enough that it is the most effective way to do good. I find it hard to imagine the direct impact of a podcast would be that big, but I can imagine a podcast leading people to make impactful career changes. In this case, it would have a similar impact to 80,000 Hours. 
  2. You think a service makes an even more indirect impact by helping you take a break, which makes you more productive.
  3. I want to do it. I don't care if I'm effective. 

I'm open to argument 1. I do think stuff I've read online and podcasts I've listened too have been enormously important in my life. 

That said I'd think about the marginal impact of my donation. If I thought X podcaster really needed the money to continue podcasting I'd consider donating to them. If the podcaster was already really successful and I didn't think they'd use my money well then I'd be less likely to donate to them.

I also think argument 2 is valid, though I'm skeptical that any service which helps you take a break is the best cause.

I don't like my third argument, but I think there are plenty of effective altruists who would endorse it.