TA

Transient Altruist

56 karmaJoined Apr 2022

Comments
33

As I mentioned in a different thread, I want to study both Maths and Economics because I don’t know whether I will want to go into stats stuff or policy stuff, but I now think that this is not as important as I thought it was.

Yeah my worry was that I don't know whether I wanted to go into stats stuff or policy, so I thought that if I just did Maths at Oxford I wouldn't gain enough information about which is a better fit for me to be able to make the switch into economics, which is possible but requires a commitment.

Having reconsidered, I think there are likely to be ways of learning which route I want to go down even if I don't go to a uni where I can study both, and the costs of doing this are likely to be outweighed by the benefit of attending Oxford, especially considering the responses this post has gotten.

(This means I am now unlikely to apply to American universities since I am able to attend a top uni in the UK, and the probability of getting accepted to an American one AND not Oxford is even lower [especially since the American assessment criteria suit me worse])

Sorry there's something really basic I don't get about Example 1. There is a good chance I am mistaken but I think this confusion will be shared by many so I think it's worth commenting.

Your point is that Scenario 1 is what they would come to if they each try to maximise their personal counterfactual impact. In your example, Alice and Bob are calculating their counterfactual impact in each scenario on the basis that the other person's decision is not affected by theirs. But if both are trying to maximise their personal counterfactual impact, then the other person's decision IS affected by theirs! So their calculations of counterfactual impact were wrong!

Each person can say to the other "I'll donate to P if you donate to P, otherwise I'll donate to Q/R" (because that is what would maximise their counterfactual impact). Each will then see that donating to P provides a counterfactual impact of 5 (utility of 15 is created rather than 10), while donating to Q/R gives a counterfactual impact of 10 (20 is created rather than 10). They will both donate to Q/R, not P like you suggest.

(You CAN make it so that they can't communicate and they each THINK that their decision doesn't affect the other's [even though it does], and this WOULD make the counterfactual impact in each scenario the same as the ones you give. BUT you would have to multiply those impacts by the probability that the other person would make the given choice, and then combine it with the situation where they don't... so it doesn't work the same and even then it would be an information issue rather than a problem with maximising counterfactual impact...)

Well I’m currently taking Economics A-level and I do find it really interesting so I can see myself pursuing economics in the future, but I don’t plan on it specifically. That’s why I thought it might be good to be able to do a bit of it to know whether to do it at masters? Maybe the A-level is enough though

Oh I had assumed that was more of a secondary consideration because of being hard to predict well. I’ll make sure to talk to some more people.

The only modules you can’t do at Oxford are the Economics ones. I hear it’s relatively easy to switch into Economics from Maths, but maybe it would be good to be able to try it out earlier?

I also got the same feeling, but then discarded it because this is not supposed to be a prioritisation argument, simply motivation.

It doesn’t need to (suspiciously) claim that AI safety so happens to also be best for your other interests, just that it helps there too, and that that’s nice to know :)

So long as make your commitments based on solid rational reasoning, it’s ok to lean into sources of motivation that wouldn’t be intellectually persuasive, but motivate you nonetheless.

Ah yes I forgot about that. Considering I’m personally equally able/willing to do Maths, things seem to be lining up to say that Maths gives much of the same benefits as Econ but keeps more options open.

The thing is I really don’t have any specific objectives/goals. It sounds like Maths is best for keeping options open, so I suppose I should do that and narrow down later.

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