Wiki Contributions


The most persuasive writing neutrally surveys both sides of an argument

This seems like a good opportunity for collaboration! Perhaps one-sided posts could include a disclaimer at the end of, "In this post, I've covered the most compelling arguments for X because I think the considerations on the other side are things most people already know. However, I invite someone with more time/interest to compile those in a comment, or message me and I can add them to the post itself."

Of course, this assumes we want to be "persuasive" in the way Rob means rather than the common definition of, "most likely to get people to agree with you."

Some considerations for different ways to reduce x-risk

The very same, from a future perspective, applies to values-spreading.

Why do you think that? There are different values we can change that seem somewhat independent.

This is a suspiciously antisocial approach

That seems mean and unfair. Having different values than the average person doesn't make you antisocial or suspicious; it just makes you different. In fact, I'd say most EAs have different values than average :)

Some considerations for different ways to reduce x-risk

"Quality risk" is meant to include both of those ideas, just any situation where we get "very large" (~"technologically mature") but not "very good."

Some considerations for different ways to reduce x-risk

Thanks for noting. I should have included links to those and other existing materials in the post. Was just trying to go quickly and show an independent perspective.

Some considerations for different ways to reduce x-risk

Thanks for sharing. I think my post covers some different ground (e.g. the specific considerations) than that discussion, and it's valuable to share an independent perspective.

I do agree it touches on many of the same points.

I might not agree with your claim that it's been a "prominent" part of discussion. I rarely see it brought up. I also might not agree that "Trajectory Changes" are a slightly cleaner version of "quality risks," but those points probably aren't very important.

As to your own comments at the end:

The reason people don't usually think about trajectory changes (and quality risks) is not that they've just overlooked that possibility.

Maybe. Most of the people I've spoken with did just overlook (i.e. didn't give more than an hour or two of thought - probably not more than 5 minutes) the possibility, but your experience may be different.

It's that absent some device for fixing them in society, the (expected) impact of most societal changes decays over time.

I'm not sure I agree, although this claim is a bit vague. If society's value (say, moral circles) is rated on a scale of 1 to 100 at every point in time and is currently at, say, 20, then even if there's noise that moves it up and down, a shift of 1 will increase the expected value at every future time period.

You might mean something different.

However, it is not straightforward to argue that such an ideology would be expected to thrive for millenea when almost all other poliyical and ethical ideologies have not.

I don't think it's about having the entire "ideology" survive, just about having it affect future ideologies. If you widen moral circles now, then the next ideology that comes along might have slightly wider circles than it would otherwise.

The challenge that the existential risk community has not yet successfully achieved, is to think of ones that are probable and worth moving altruistic resources towards, tgat couod as easily be used to reduce exyinction risk.

As a community, I agree. And I'm saying that might be because we haven't put enough effort into considering them. Although personally, I see at least one of those (widening moral circles) as more promising than any of the extinction risks currently on our radar. But I'm always open to arguments against that.

Why EA events should be (at least) vegetarian

It's definitely a trade-off. I think many more EAs are bothered by other people eating animals than the use of QALYs, that eating animals is far less useful than QALYs, and (less certain here) they are bothered for more EA reasons. If a large number of EAs opposed the use of QALYs because, for example, they felt QALYs painted a very misleading picture of what makes for the worst health issues, then I do think the EA community should seriously reconsider their use.

I do worry, for example, that people could start acting upset by something in order to make changes in the EA community. Although that abuse is possible, I think accepting some risk of it is worth making people more comfortable in cases of genuine discomfort. If I started seeing more abuse, I could change my views, but right now I think there's basically none. So given the lack of these issues, I'm okay with a norm of, "When something is upsetting a lot of community members and doesn't have a clear, substantial benefit for other community members, we should strongly reconsider including it in the community."

Why EA events should be (at least) vegetarian

Because people generally care about animals in an aggregative sense - they care about the total amount of suffering.

That doesn't seem to do the work you imply it does. Being able to spare 100 lives is a huge feat of good, even if the total amount of people suffering is much greater.

No, firstly because it costs AMF over $3,000 per life, which is 600,000x more than the figure I was discussing. Multiplying a trivial number by 600,000 can yield non-trivial numbers!

But it's still very cheap, even if it's much larger than other very cheap figures.

Secondly because we generally think of human lives as being less interchangeable. Killing one human to save one other is not acceptable.

It seems speciesist to apply some moral standards to humans but not nonhumans.

It's unreasonable to expect people to dedicate 100% of their resources to altruism. But what people are willing to dedicate, we should dedicate in the most efficient manner. It's better for both the individual and animals in aggregate for someone to eat meat for lunch and donate $1 than to abstain from meat.

As argued elsewhere on this page, it seems dietary change has many more benefits than a small donation that has roughly the same (or even better) direct impact. And your original argument, that "many people are willing to pay much more than 2 cents to eat meat," doesn't do any work in addressing those additional benefits and simply draws from personal preference.

Why EA events should be (at least) vegetarian

That seems basically right, but different from what Lark actually said.

Why EA events should be (at least) vegetarian

How does the high effectiveness of the recommended ACE charities make a harm more trivial? AMF can save a human life very cheaply; does that make taking a human life a trivial harm?

Same for the willingness of many people to pay much more than 2 cents to eat meat. Why does their strong preference for eating meat make it very ineffective to avoid eating meat? We should be thinking about what does the most good here, not just what satisfies people's personal preferences.

Why EA events should be (at least) vegetarian

As mentioned in the post, I don't think preventing direct harm is the major argument for having EA events be vegetarian, so it seems weird that you've chosen that argument to rebut and used it as evidence that the overall case seems "much weaker."

Regardless, I don't think the 'tip jar' or offset style norms are better than vegetarianism, mainly because they seem much less salient and harder to maintain. It seems difficult to remember to bring out a tip jar, coordinate the donations, etc. at every EA event. Simply not purchasing animal bodies seems much more straightforward.

Moreover, I think the offsets norm does even worse than individual consumption change in terms of provoking moral outrage and nonlinear change, and that the personal cost of serving vegetarian food at EA events is sufficiently low, as argued in the OP. The personal cost of year-round personal dietary change is what seems troubling.

Also, offsets seem weird and confusing to the general population. Vegetarian events is a clear statement from EA that we oppose the suffering of farmed animals that's much easier to understand.

I don't think the offsets would do much to relieve the discomfort people have at seeing their friends consume animal bodies. It doesn't seem to remove the broader norm-issues. It just seems to potentially alleviate the direct harm consideration, which, again, isn't the important point here.

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