I think why I like this so much is that it isn't another idea that is fiddling on the margins of a problem with a complicated theory of impact - it just provides a project vehicle to solve one of the more tractable key problems head on.
I love this. Could be big or small nearly anywhere in the world. Some precedent too: Prison reform charity Nacro joins bid to run jails | Prisons and probation | The Guardian
Certainly there's a risk that it turns into a community wide equivalent of procrastination if the spreads are low. Would love someone to tackle that rigorously and empirically!
This is helpful. Might be worth defining EA as a movement that realises premises 1, 2, 3 are partially true, and that even if there are small differences on each, it is worth being really careful and deliberate about what we do and how much.
There was also something attractive to me as a young person many moons ago about Toby Ord & Will Mackaskill's other early message - which is perhaps a bit more general / not specific to EA - that there are some really good opportunities to promote the common good out there, and they are worth pursuing (perhaps this is the moral element that you're trying to abstract from?).
I like the way you introduced the calculus, it was artful. I think going one step further would be useful, I.e. Looking at the income distributions of recipients of different interventions and charities.
Id be interested in long run future and things focused more directly on human wellbeing than generic health and income. Id also be more interested if these groups not only updated on orgs we all know about but also did / collated exploratory work on speculative opportunities.
What will it cost?
Except that on point 3, the policies advocated and strategies being tried aren't as if people are trying to reduce x risk, they're as if they're trying to enable AI to work rather than backfire.
See recent pain control brief lee sharkey as example, or Auren Forrester's stuff on suicide.
What's wrong with low hanging fruit? Not entertaining enough?
The shift from patient as recipient of medicine from clinician with authority (old style developed world and much of e.g. Africa) to patient as consumer. There are good and bad things with this transition. Pain, pain control and patient perceptions are just under-studied as a nexus. Not a reason not to go ahead, just my biggest worry with this stuff. (I personally don't think risk of death / side effects are much of a worry at all when we're talking about opioid availability in inpatient settings).
Ben, I'm impressed - thank you for sharing and wish you continued success with the business despite the changing political environment.
I'm really happy to see this article - I mentioned it to givewell a while ago but they weren't interested. For me this hits what I see as the moral priority more than a lot of the other projects and options on the go.
Simple, complex and neuropathic pains respond differently to different anaelgasics. Opioids v effective for simple pain over the short term, e.g. surgeries, broken bones etc. Neuropathic and complex pain don't have good equivalents for pain relief and patients are stuck with cannabinoids, anti-epileptics and anti-depressants (or, ketamine, iro... (read more)
are harder for campaigns to avoid than even governments from where I'm sitting. But yes worth looking at more and yes I'm interested. Nice post.
I agree this is really strange. I agree many ai people supposedly into safety don't seem to givemuch thought to the more obvious policies, at least publicly (unless someone can signpost).
Why not move national security research funding from ai development and application to safety research?
Why not call out the risks and bring more skepticism to a. The hope of ever achieving aligned AI, and b. That aligned AI really improving the human condition anyway, while reminding people of the risks?
Why not ask all companies or industry researchers t apply for a permit... (read more)
Yep. Would also be keep on the more comprehensive one 😊 well done though
Why not test this? Probably only suggesting this because I'm reluctant to trust one or two papers on this alone. Would be cheap to do. eg:
-Write two similar tests of the key dimensions of performance you care about.
-Recruit a number of participants
-Put each test in an envelope marked 1 or 2 for first or second, then put two envelopes in a bigger envelope, making sure that the smaller envelopes marked 1 and 2 don't contain the same test.
-Assign people to two rooms. In one, a friend has raised CO2 to 1200ppm, in another, its 600ppm. You don't know which and you don't tell them which. They do test one first in one of the rooms, and test two second in the other.
-Look at results
I don't think that addresses my comment. I'm not talking about corruption as a general phenomenon being correlated with higher growth. I'm talking about corruption being a political phenomenon and anti-corruption being a cause-blind political intervention. Without local knowledge you don't know if you're improving things or not. Political economy doesn't equal economics. But thanks, useful article!
You didn't mention policiing or accountability campaigning, which the politics/development literature suggests is often a necessary step for a country to come out of poverty - depending on which country you're in.
I think you need to think a bit deeper about the corruption thing. A political-economists view might be that there isn't that much harm in corruption per se, but there is a lot of harm in certain types of corruption. Sometimes corruption is a means of achieving fantastic policy goals, anti-corruption one of them. The key thing is to keep an eye on what matters and the effects of your actions, and make sure you're completely honest with those you love. Imagine saying to someone they should go into consultancy but never wear a suit - in some environments its... (read more)
I think they're consistent with a Kantian perspective. Also, a risk averse consequentialist. Also, someone that likes to take responsibility for the consequences of their actions in a like for like manner for ethical-aesthetic reasons.
An important point. Failing to take this into account comes across as morally narrow.
Nice post, thanks. This is fun.
Class of people: modern slaves
Intervention: advocacy to bring about a decent evidence base, good law and effective policing in the countries most ameanable to change with the largest such populations.
Class of people: chickens
Intervention: experiments to find out what you can do to a factory farming environment to promote relaxation and prosocial behaviour (sounds, lights, temperature etc) among barn chickens
I think the only thing that changes is that you might disaggregate the economic flowthrough from the other stuff, which may or may not change the upper bound, and may or may not have higher returns depending on the theory and particular trade off between giving opportunities. I think this matters more with things that seek to fundamentally shift society. Imagine anti imperial outfits getting more traction earlier on, or slavery, or feminism. It could plausibly have lasting effects out of proportion for longer than donating to a poor house?
But its clear still seems that this social welfare function implicitly values the lives of low meat consuming beneficiaries of effective aid less than the original model.
You say its strong but doesn't development also reduce fertility? I hate to bring another argument that is positioned in a hypocritical farm owner mentality to wonderful and often downtrodden people,, but within your frame, how do you know that this doesn't just bring forward a bit of raised meat consumption while reducing the eventual human numbers after 20 years on a permanent basis, reducing total animal suffering?
Yep, I think the best way is to see it as a different social welfare function people are optimising for. Even if they focus only on the bits that don't cross over on a Venn diagram..
Theoretically, it is possible that Life can be better or worse forba given level of economic prosperity. Doesn't this challenge the model (not that I think 3% a year multipliers are likely over the long term)
This is fantastic!! Are you in a position to share how you were involved in lobbying for this?
Hi Diego. You don't need to lose hope just because the EA movement is drifting. You can still try to do your best in your own way. Thanks for sharing your experience :)
Thanks MIchelle, great to hear about your continuing fantastic work!
"In research, our comparative advantage continues to be identifying crucial considerations"
feels a little tautological/vague to me. Is there a particular interpretation of crucial considerations you were going for? Am I reading it right in thinking that you're key contribution here is challenging givewell's methods and joining the dots a bit more?
Have you raised this with Open Phil?
Let me know where you get to with it, very interesting proposal!
Soz, read the links. There are some great efforts underway that look fundable.
"Several approaches have been proposed to reduce mortality from pesticide self-poisoning including restricting access to means through regulation; conversion to less toxic pesticides; development of single-use packaging; safe storage of pesticides; agricultural strategies and work with pesticide vendors; improving medical management; and communication and training initiatives. A number of projects are now underway to assess the effectiveness of a range of interventions aimed at reducing pesticide self-poisoning in China, India and Sri Lanka."
Making suicide more inconvenient is certainly an effective goal. Gas ovens and over the counter pain killer restrictions was time-series consistent with an over 50% reduction in the suicide rate (its a compelling graph but not publicly available - UK government back-waters).
The issue is though, how do you make it really annoying to kill yourself from pesticides without getting rid of the benefits of pesticides?
Ever thought about reviewing high earning or direct work careers for non graduates? If someone did the work would it fit with the rest of the content to put it up? Do you have any considerations in the way of 'we're prettyt sure no one would take nottice' etc?
One win that might be quite quick because society is already aligned to it to a large extent - ban some forms of advertising for junk food. http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/economic_studies/how_the_world_could_better_fight_obesity
what is the pesticide initiative and what's the link between it and suicide please? Thanks!
Had a look at the form. Need to discuss with the family but this is looking like it asks all the right questions. Simply from a convenience perspective I'm not aware of anywhere you can get an effective legal will so easily - very nice work!!
Great to know - can you point me to an entomologist that thinks, or a paper that argues (that isn't philosophy), that insects have suffering that is in any way equivalent to what we would understand it as please?
Sorry, using suffering losely. The quality of suffering largely determines its value in my eyes. I ve seen entemologists argue there is no possible way insects can feel suffering. I don't necessarily go along with that, we deny suffering at every opportunity: Black people in apartheid denied pain killers, animals thought mot to feel pain, fish, mentally illetc etc but really, a little system of chemicals resembling something simpler than electronic systems we've built? The point in trying to make is that this seems like a rabbit hole. Get out of it and wake up to what really matters. There are litrrally millions of things anyone can be getting on with that are more pressing than the imaginary plight of insects.
It might be a good per hour return but there's a high per hour potential cost: each core relationship is worth a lot and people can feel used unless you do this tactfully. Charity Science's web page has some absolutely fantastic suggestions of how to fundraise if you didn't want to rinse your network.
Some feedback/experience on the wedding idea. We asked people for donations to SCI instead of gifts in 2011. We saw only £240 go to the charity + some money for ourselves (less than this). If we'd asked for money to set up a home / stuff instead we could have avoided costs exceeding that in the future. To put it in perspective, a few hours fundraising in Oxford highstreet got £280. I think the values etc. of your wedding invitees and what they think they're there for on the day are very important to take into account. Further, if you do a fundraiser among your friends / family for one thing once they're much less likely to give to that cause again a second time??
I think there are also a lot of non-selfish reasons for not wanting to breed a load of rats and protect insects that even entemologists think don't have a concept of suffering / pain that's in any way equivalent to what we consider morally valuable.
e.g questions of the good life, where things go wrong how to resolve, how to stay focused on what matters etc. - complicating the EA worldview a little
WHat about what EAs can learn from FBOs?
I'd kill these sentences
"Deciding what to do and where to give to have the biggest impact is not easy. But we think the best answers come from being open to new evidence and part of a community of likeminded individuals asking the same questions."
don't know why like minded is valued.
Also, your definition is too loose - literally millions of people have done this that will never identify as effective altruists. It might better differentiate if you said that an EA also identified with a community of people trying to evangelise the above 1 and 2 primarily through that community. But that isn't as positive a descriptor.
lots of excitement, little in the way of new or surprising successes.
From my point of view, I can't tell that EA wont be a distraction from already altruist and effective people in all cases, especially now as there are more people than direct-enough projects.
Which is I think why actually doing some cool stuff would be attractive for people / demostrate that we aren't just a cultish group of people that tithe/give in a slightly different way to several billion people doing it already.