Ulrik Horn

822 karmaJoined Apr 2021Working (6-15 years)

Bio

Participation
4

​​I have received funding from the LTFF and the SFF and am also doing work for an EA-adjacent organization.

My EA journey started in 2007 as I considered switching from a Wall Street career to instead help tackle climate change by making wind energy cheaper – unfortunately, the University of Pennsylvania did not have an EA chapter back then! A few years later, I started having doubts about my decision that climate change was the best use of my time. After reading a few books on philosophy and psychology, I decided that moral circle expansion was neglected but important and donated a few thousand sterling pounds of my modest income to a somewhat evidence-based organisation. Serendipitously, my boss stumbled upon EA in a thread on Stack Exchange around 2014 and sent me a link. After reading up on EA, I then pursued E2G with my modest income, donating ~USD35k to AMF. I have done some limited volunteering for building the EA community here in Stockholm, Sweden. Additionally, I set up and was an admin of the ~1k member EA system change Facebook group (apologies for not having time to make more of it!). Lastly, (and I am leaving out a lot of smaller stuff like giving career guidance, etc.) I have coordinated with other people interested in doing EA community building in UWC high schools and have even run a couple of EA events at these schools.

How others can help me

Lately, and in consultation with 80k hours and some “EA veterans”, I have concluded that I should consider instead working directly on EA priority causes. Thus, I am determined to keep seeking opportunities for entrepreneurship within EA, especially considering if I could contribute to launching new projects. Therefore, if you have a project where you think I could contribute, please do not hesitate to reach out (even if I am engaged in a current project - my time might be better used getting another project up and running and handing over the reins of my current project to a successor)!

How I can help others

I can share my experience working at the intersection of people and technology in deploying infrastructure/a new technology/wind energy globally. I can also share my experience in coming from "industry" and doing EA entrepreneurship/direct work. Or anything else you think I can help with.

I am also concerned about the "Diversity and Inclusion" aspects of EA and would be keen to contribute to make EA a place where even more people from all walks of life feel safe and at home. Please DM me if you think there is any way I can help. Currently, I expect to have ~5 hrs/month to contribute to this (a number that will grow as my kids become older and more independent).

Comments
205

Another aspect I would be interested in exploring is a gendered analysis of what lead to the mistake. I think it is super helpful that reflections on what lead to the mistake is done in public, I think it is potentially super valuable for a movement like EA with quite skewed gender demographics. But while perhaps the exact circumstance around what happened is unique, I could imagine it to be part for something like "male entitlement" or other parts of a culture that has gendered elements. In other words, I think every time a male transgresses towards a female, it is possible to frame it in terms of wholesomeness, asocial behavior, etc. But this might miss the point that when it comes to the frequency of transgressions, they are much more frequent from males towards females than the other way around, so it seems such individualistic analysis misses an important driver of all such behavior. 

In danger of writing too long, it is a bit like safety incidents on airplanes: Each incident can be explained in terms of a missing bolt, or the missed replacement of some seal. However, all these incidents together might point at another causal factor: A lax safety culture.

One thing I reflected on after learning about your experiences is the challenge of getting in touch with other, non-EA established organizations. I further reflected that this might be a pain point for many EA orgs. Not sure what can be done about it though - my instinct after some years doing similar type of work is that most founders have to figure this out themselves. This might mean that co-founders good at outreach/sales etc. might be especially important in EA something I have not heard before but I am sure the CE team has tons of experience with this.

Awesome work by the way!

Tu Youyou might be a model for EAs. According to Wikipedia she has saved millions of lives due to her discovery of treatments for Malaria for which she received a Nobel prize. I am guessing, without having done research that at least hundred thousand of these lives might be counterfactually saved due to the time it would take until the next person made this discovery. I randomly came across her going down a GPT/Wikipedia rabbit hole and was surprised to see her not mentioned once on the Forum so far. That said, I am unsure how many people there are that might have counterfactually saved ~100k people or more.

Not sure how much to trust GPT's outputs here (I have not verified it), but I was a bit surprised to find that so many female Nobel prize recipients might (again, GPT might hallucinate) have had children. I think this is more towards anecdotal evidence, but might indicate that just counting number of articles leaves out important information. Perhaps the quality of work stays the same or is even increased by having children, even though the amount of work decreases? At least in my case with my kids, while my hours available for work has decreased, I definitely have not experienced a decrease in quality of my work, and if anything, I feel more invigorated and ideas come easily to me when I am not working.

NameFieldYearChildrenBefore/After
Carol W. GreiderPhysiology or Medicine2009YesAfter
Elizabeth H. BlackburnPhysiology or Medicine2009YesAfter
Ada E. YonathChemistry2009YesAfter
Doris LessingLiterature2007YesBefore
Françoise Barré-SinoussiPhysiology or Medicine2008NoN/A
Harriet A. WashingtonLiterature2007YesBefore
Leymah GboweePeace2011YesBefore
Linda B. BuckPhysiology or Medicine2004NoN/A
May-Britt MoserPhysiology or Medicine2014YesBefore
Olga TokarczukLiterature2018YesBefore
Orhan PamukLiterature2006YesBefore
Shirin EbadiPeace2003YesBefore
Svetlana AlexievichLiterature2015NoN/A
Tawakkol KarmanPeace2011YesBefore
Tu YouyouPhysiology or Medicine2015YesBefore
Wangari MaathaiPeace2004YesBefore
Wislawa SzymborskaLiterature1996NoN/A
Yoshinori OhsumiPhysiology or Medicine2016YesBefore
Ōe KenzaburōLiterature1994YesBefore
Alice MunroLiterature2013YesBefore

I also asked GPT to do the same for wealthy, self-made women:

NameNet WorthSource of WealthChildrenChildren Timing
Zhou QunfeiEstimated $12.8 billionLens Technology2Before
Diane HendricksEstimated $11 billionABC Supply7Before
Meg WhitmanEstimated $5.1 billioneBay, Hewlett Packard2Before
Judy FaulknerEstimated $6 billionEpic Systems3Before
Wu YajunEstimated $9.4 billionLongfor Properties1Before
RihannaEstimated $1.7 billionMusic, Fenty Beauty1After
Kim KardashianEstimated $1.2 billionReality TV, Cosmetics4After
Whitney Wolfe HerdEstimated $1.3 billionBumble1After


If not already obvious, I am probably at risk of some degree of motivated reasoning given that I already have 2 kids!

guesses it would cost hundreds of billions of dollars to design and test shelters

I looked at the referenced article and could not find a mention of this sum of money - could you please point me to where exactly Salotti makes this guess?

I would caution against leaning to heavily on only productivity impacts when deciding whether to have a child or not. I do not think this post intends to say this, but I worry this could be the takeaway for some readers and therefore thought it worthwhile to expand on. Something the material in this post leaves out is the effect of wanting to have children but deciding not to due to concerns about productivity. While this has not been studied to my knowledge, I would be concerned about studies on involuntary childlessness - my precursory understanding is that people who want children but do not have them are more likely to suffer mentally. Moreover, if you have kids and obsess about productivity, they will likely pick up on it - I have 2 examples of that (i.e. my own kids and how they very easily pick up on "daddy has to work")! I therefore think that issues around parenting and productivity should be navigated with a lot of care and deliberation. If nothing else - if you worry about productivity and decide against having kids I think you should strongly consider freezing some eggs and sperm to increase the chance that you can have kids later on if you regret your decision - treat your future self with compassion! One further idea might be to survey current EA parents if anyone regrets having children due to the impact on productivity.

That said, I think this article can be helpful for those of us that have children but are wondering about healthy ways to increase productivity. One tip from my side is to set a fixed number of hours to work each week that feels achievable. I do this and feel good about the work I completed while I can after than dedicate time to my family "productivity guilt free".

Amazing work! With only lay understanding of this subject, I am wondering: Do you think the low contribution of GDP in some way might compel us to place less weight on economic growth? I get a bit confused when thinking about this because freedom might in part derive from the freedom to not have to worry about how to pay for necessities, and shelter and clean water requires substantial tax revenue to be delivered reliably and at scale.

Ambition is like fire. Too little and you go cold. But unmanaged it leaves you burnt.

Has it been considered to use MEAROs strategically to address EA causes? I am thinking e.g.:
-EA Taiwan for semiconductor work on AI safety
-EA in the Global South for local talent pipelines where interventions are delivered (I think EA Nigeria has posted about this)
-Probably other causes that have particular geographical focal points, e.g. EA China or similar

I am sure people have thought of this, but it struck me as a potential use of MEAROs that naively seem high impact.

Excellent post, it offers a really nice overview!

I have for a time wanted something like a list of "personal" interventions likely to be ~GiveWell cost effective. This means when I or people in my social circle encounter someone struggling to pay for e.g. fixing a blocked aortic valve, I can feel somewhat confident about donating money directly to the afflicted person.

I imagine many of us EAs know several people who live or travel in poor countries where they every now and then encounter people in desperate situations. I myself am somewhat frequently contacted by friends about paying for someones surgery or school fees. 

Basically I understand our current EA global health initiatives to require a high density of people to help. But this requirement might be bypassed if instead we have networks of people we trust that can identify people in situations we know are likely to be cost-effective to support financially. I agree with other commenters that this is not scalable, but it might make EAs have better standing in their respective social circles and could have other positive effects. This is almost like a personal re-granting program.

I love your post - I think it goes a long way towards understanding if such a list might be useful. And I, like the other commenters, feel admiration and sadness after reading your piece.

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