All of tuukkasarvi's Comments + Replies

Potential High-Leverage and Inexpensive Mitigations (which are still feasible) for Pandemics

Thanks for the article. I had an idea related to your category number 2 Triage and manage medical care remotely which I also posted to another forum article as a comment [Please delete this comment in either of the articles if it is unnecessary in two places] :

If it were possible to make a home test kit for COVID, I think that would be helpful. By home test kit I mean an arrangement where people could order these tests by phone or from Internet and they would be mailed to them. Then the person would proceed to take a test sample according to the instructio... (read more)

There is a lot of discussion in the literature about setting up local testing centers, and a significant drawback is that even staffed with nurses and trained volunteers, there are real quality control and process issues. Given that, I can't imagine that home testing wouldn't have far larger problems. For example, if samples weren't gathered and handled exactly correctly, I'd expect the false negative rates could be incredibly high, and people who would otherwise self-isolate or get tested correctly would assume they could go out.
Are there good EA projects for helping with COVID-19?

If it were possible to make a home test kit for COVID, I think that would be helpful. By home test kit I mean an arrangement where people could order these tests by phone or from Internet and they would be mailed to them. Then the person would proceed to take a test sample according to the instructions in the kit and mail it back to the laboratory. The laboratory would test the sample and give the person the results via phone or web.

This kind of arrangement would allow people suspecting that they might have COVID to self-quarantine until they have a certai... (read more)

You might be interested in the Just One Giant Lab OpenCovid19 project []. They just had their first conference call and their goal is to "develop an open source methodology to safely test for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 using tools as common as possible".
Harsanyi's simple “proof” of utilitarianism

I am not an expert in this topic but I believe this recent paper is relevant and may derive a result that is more general than Harsanyi-style utilitarianism

Insomnia: a promising cure

Agreed. In Why We Sleep, there is also discussion about the lark-night owl -spectrum. The author even suggests that currently society is actively discriminating against night owls because office hours 8-16 are assumed almost everywhere, and thus the population of night owls have poorer health and productivity than other groups.

Insomnia: a promising cure

I am currently listening to an awesome popular science book on sleep called Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker

I highly recommend this book which summarizes the current state of sleep research and its practical implications to most people since most are spending about a third of their time sleeping. If you care about your learning ability, social skills, recovery, creativity or memory, I think it is likely you will find this book valuable.

2John G. Halstead4y
Yes I've heard good things about this book. I also think that whether you are a lark or a night owl will determine whether you can succeed in certain jobs. I naturally get out of bed after 9am - this is recalcitrant in the face of extensive efforts to get up earlier. The evidence [] suggests that lark/owl is ~20-50% heritable, and that people are fairly evenly distributed across the lark/owl range. In a large sample: "Approximately, 27% identified as definite morning types, 35% as moderate morning types, 28% as moderate evening types and 9% as definite evening types." I don't think I or other hard owls could hack it in a finance job where I had to be in the office at 8am, and so get out of bed at 630am. I think owls probably thrive best in jobs that have flexible hours. I think 80k should potentially take this into account when giving job advice. (I owe this observation to Bastian Stern). According to the above study, owls have a 10% higher mortality risk than larks, which is plausibly due to working hours that aren't in line with people's natural circadian rhythms.
A rough estimate of social impact of a psychotherapist in QALYs added

Yes, I agree: probably much of the therapy given is not given according to the protocol and that means the average effectiveness is likely lower than the numbers in the studies indicate. In many cases, I think this might not be due to the psychotherapists or therapists themselves but the organization which they work in, e.g. crowded outpatient clinics where the policy is to meet each client in every 3 weeks or in order to not to make the queues to treatment appear so long.

I think think there might be potential for big impact for somebody with clinical back... (read more)

Good point. The choice of moral stance (ie. totalist, person-affecting, "moral uncertanitist" etc) is the biggest factor behind any preference ordering for allocation of resources and courses of action. Thus, it is possible that further rigorous study of ethics, if lesser uncertainty between the competing views or greater agreement among scholars is achieved, could bring very high returns in terms of impact

A rough estimate of social impact of a psychotherapist in QALYs added

Thanks. Yes, many therapists work with people who have mental health problems with weaker treatment response to psychotherapy such as bipolar disorder, psychotic disorders and various personality disorders. This lowers the average impact or effectiveness of psychotherapy over the whole population treated

I haven't tried to make explicit estimate of replaceability. My baseline estimate would be the same number as used for doctors (0.6 in 80000 hours article) because both occupations are highly skilled.

I think the replaceability is dependent on the specific c... (read more)

How to get a new cause into EA

The people at 80kh etc. probably have their hands full. Therefore, even though your post making the case for mental health was laudable, I can well imagine it might not result in action in the short term on their part because of heavy prioritization.

If one wants to make substantive case and roadmap for possible actions for MH, it might make sense to take the initiative and do it oneself or together with a group of interested people. Given there is enough credence for the case, this effort might lead to formation of a new EA-aligned MH organization. I for one, might be interested in helping out with making the case for MH

Why not to rush to translate effective altruism into other languages

Great points!

I like the book Doing Good Better a lot: it is the single most important source that introduced me to EA and convinced me that it is a remarkable and very exciting idea and movement.

Does having "doing good better" available at stores do more good than bad? -- In my estimation it does more good. It is one of the vehicles of spreading the word about EA.

How much less viable vehicle of spreading word a translation of the book would be given that the translation is distributed in a similar cultural environment as the original book (eg. pa... (read more)

I agree it's a great book, and it has net positive value. My concern is that we might be able to get something even better. Also I don't think professional translators are in a good position to do this work, since they don't understand the nuance and aims of EA well enough to decide what the terms should be in the local language. We already find it really hard to pick the right terms in English. You'd need someone who really understands EA marketing and a professional translator working together.
Anti-tribalism and positive mental health as high-value cause areas

Thanks for the post Kaj. I agree that this is a high priority area.

"By tribalism, I basically mean the phenomenon where arguments and actions are primarily evaluated based on who makes them and which group they seem to support, not anything else. "

I think tribalism could be described as a class of (largely biased) decision and judgement heuristics. It might be helpful to investigate why a person chooses to use such heuristics.

At least, as a heuristic it is much less cognitively taxing than the alternative of trying to figure things out by onesel... (read more)

Capitalism and Selfishness

Hi! Apologies for response delay.

"True, but to if I put myself in the perfect altruist company owner shoes I would really want to delegate the allocation of the my charitable giving, because I am too busy running my company to have much good information about who to donate to."

I agree with that usually it is not efficient for same person to take care and optimize 1) (for-profit private) company operations 2) allocation of charitable giving. So person doing 1) would do well to delegate 2) to someone who she trusts.

In any case, I reiterate my previ... (read more)

Capitalism and Selfishness

I think I have now a better understanding of what you meant.

I think there are at least three optimization problems here: 1) what to produce? (investment decision) 2) how to produce? (organization of operations) and 3) how to use the returns , for EA-minded, how to donate?

Company traditionally optimizes 2) and 1) in a more restricted manner (within their field of business or local opportunities)

I think there might be some problems with a hypothetical "benevolent" company that also commits to donate all the profits to an charity or portfolio of ch... (read more)

True, but to if I put myself in the perfect altruist company owner shoes I would really want to delegate the allocation of the my charitable giving, because I am too busy running my company to have much good information about who to donate to. If I come happen to come in to some information about what good charitable giving is, I should be able to take the information to whoever I have delegated it too and they should incorporate it (being altruists wanting to do the most good as well). It seems only when you distrust other agents, either morally, or their ability to update on information should you allocate it yourself. Does that explain my intuitions?
Capitalism and Selfishness

"So why wouldn't the benevolent individual give their share of the company to whatever collective system that determined the needs of the world? They could still be ceo, so that they could manage the company better (as they have good data about that). It seems like the capitalist system would morph into either socialism or charity-sector owned means of production, if everyone were benevolent."

I don't understand this. Do you suggest that all companies should be trying to fulfill (all) the needs of some collective. It is very useful for companies t... (read more)

I expect all benevolent companies to fulfil the needs of others with their profits (if they are not reinvesting them in expansion). For that is the definition of benevolence right? People have an ethos of benevolence insofar as they pursue the interests of others. There are two aspects of ownership of the means of production 1. Control over the operations 2. Control of the profits I would expect that a benevolent person/company would give away the control of the profit to an external entity. Why? Comparative advantage, it is unlikely that the person who specialises in control over operations of a company will be better than some group that specializes in getting the maximum charitable return (as long as the external groups is also benevolent). So you'd expect all the profits to go to something like open phil, directly so as to reduce costs from friction. So who owns the company in this case? The people that controls operations or the group that controls profits? I can't see a benevolent person arguing for needing private control over the profits (this might not mean public control, it might mean charitable control). So I was trying to break down the concept of ownership some more and arguing that in a benevolent world private ownership might only mean keeping control over operations. We don't live in a world of complete benevolence, so it is almost irrelevant. But it struck me as interesting as thought about how benevolence and capitalism would interact and look a lot different.
Capitalism and Selfishness

In general, I like the conceptual distinction you make here. Few comments:

"Capitalism = The private ownership of the means of production. Socialism = The collective ownership of the means of production." I find this still a bit problematic. One could argue companies and other possible legal entities are collective means of ownership. Alternative definition that socialism = State ownership of the means of production?

I like the the way you phrase the relationship between system of ownership and ethos of selfishness/benevolence as an empirical quest... (read more)