All of Yannick_Muehlhaeuser's Comments + Replies

What We Owe The Future is out today

Congratulations to the team that did the media outreach work for the book - looks like you guys did an incredible job!  

Call for action for German university groups!

Another thing that came to my mind recently. In Germany many EA meetups are still held in english. Maybe there are some people who would be open to EA ideas, but having to listen and more importantly speak english before people they don't know comes with extra effort. So at the beginning the hurdle for joining may be a just a bit higher. 

I agree that this is an important thing to keep in mind. Especially introductory events (talks, fellowships etc.) should be offered in German (or at least with a German option, i.e. one fellowship group which is in German).
Call for action for German university groups!

From my limited experience with Fachschaften, they don't seem like they are being overrun with new members. Maybe there are some where it's different. 

Call for action for German university groups!

I meant it more in the sense that students might either not even attend university on a regular basis or not be at a point where they don't really value intellectual pursuits that much. Or they might just be registered at the university for some  legal and administrative privileges. 

But your right, in one sense it also can be an advantage. 

Call for action for German university groups!

I have thought about this topic a lot, so I am always excited what other people think about the question. I basically agree with all the explanations you came up with and I think they explain most of the difference. 

There is another points I think might be part of the explanation: Many highly engaged EAs are very ambitious and often highly intelligent. Those are the kinds of people that would be much more likely to attend highly competitive universities like Oxford or Cambridge. So if you just look at the EA-potential of the set of students at one of ... (read more)

I'm looking forward to having this discussion specifically for EA Tübingen, but I'm pretty sure EA needs to focus much more on community-building. More than anything, this means creating opportunities to socialize with interesting people, and create a shared community-building culture. It means taking into account the local context and adjacent communities. To me, it also means unbundling EA (the philosophy) from EA (the community) to make it easier to join even as a newbie. It could mean doing more public events, like talks and discussions. It could mean sponsoring and connecting the best existing local initiatives.
That does not seem to be a problem for all the uni politics groups? Also, maybe we could turn this into a selling point? I personally find EA stuff so much more interesting than my studies.
EA Analysis of the German Coalition Agreement 2021–2025

I am personally also very unsure of how to feel about european federalism. At this present moment it seems to me there is neither a strong political majority for further political integration, nor is there one for a significant roll-back. I expect the next years to be about management of the status-quo.

While I think that a federal EU would be desirable in principle, at the present moment the risk of backlash seems high enough to me that I don't think EAs should invest resources into pushing for it. Although if such a push were to happen, there seem to be many opportunities in the steering of this process, as I expect it to be in large part elite-driven.

EA Analysis of the German Coalition Agreement 2021–2025

I agree in general that depending on Russia for your energy is concerning. However, two points:

(1) Given that it is possible to import  LNG from the US (although more expensive), energy dependence on Russia is always in a sense chosen and needs itself to be explained.

(2) This is just one data point, but at least in 2017 german dependence on gas was not higher than neighbouring countries.

2Charles Dillon 7mo
Good points, thanks!
Why doesn't the EA forum have curated posts or sequences?

Wasn't it announced at launch, that this would be implemented at some point?

Ironically enough, I can't find the launch announcement to verify this.
Combination Existential Risks
I think people who think about existential risk should devote some of their energy to thinking about risks that are not themselves existential but might be existential if combined with other risks. For example, climate change is not an existential risk, but it plausibly plays a role in many combination existential risks, such as by increasing international tensions or by rendering much of the globe difficult to inhabit. Similarly, many global catastrophic risks may in fact be existential if combined with other global catastrophic risks, such as a nuclear w
... (read more)
What’s the Use In Physics?

Very good post, thank you for collecting everything.

I'd be interested in a closer look into the field of energy (especially nuclear fussion, modern nuclear energy technology), i don't really know if there are neglected areas or positions.

What’s the Use In Physics?

Not an expert on the foundations of QM, but a few points on your question:

  • For some interpretations the mathematics does change somewhat (e.g. Bohmian Mechanics, Collapse Theories)
  • Some interpretations actually do make testable predictions (like the Many Wolds Interpretation), but they tend to be quite hard to test in practice
  • Some people have argued that some interpretations follow more naturally from the mathematics. It's pretty clear in my opinion that Bohmian Mechanics is postulating additional structure on top of the mathematics we have now, while m
... (read more)
Your comment, and the links, were very helpful and thought-provoking - thanks. I've definitely reached the limit of my expertise - so take this with a pinch of salt - but I think the key thing for me is whether any of the interpretations lead to observable real-world differences. I didn't fully understand the link you provided to the many worlds interpretation making testable predictions, but it appeared to be talking only of thought experiments that would require non-existent technology to carry out in practice. I agree with you that some interpretations would, if "true"*, require additional mathematics to describe the new underlying mechanism they postulate. But, from my limited understanding, that new mathematics would itself not be testable - because it would only result in the same real-world observable behaviour as all the other interpretations. Thanks again. *I'm not really sure what this word even means in this context (spot the non-philosopher), when there is no means of using experimental results to distinguish between interpretations.
[Link] "Would Human Extinction Be a Tragedy?"
How many human lives would it be worth sacrificing to preserve the existence of Shakespeare’s works? If we were required to engage in human sacrifice in order to save his works from eradication, how many humans would be too many?

This strikes me as a good way of making people think of the distinction between instrumental- and terminal values.

Critique of Superintelligence Part 1

I don't see how using Intelligence (1) as a definition undermines the orthogonality thesis.

Intelligence(1): Intelligence as being able to perform most or all of the cognitive tasks that humans can perform. (See page 22)

This only makes reference to abilities and not to the underlaying motivation. Looking at high functioning sociopaths you might argue we have an example of agents that often perform very well at all most human abilities but still have attitudes towards other people that might be quite different from most people and lack a lot of ordinar... (read more)

How Effective Altruists Can Be Welcoming To Conservatives

Good and important points. I feel maybe the same care should be taken towards people who have various kinds of anti-capitalist beliefs.

Response to a Dylan Matthews article on Vox about bipartisanship

I share you irriation with this article. This struck me as a normal opinion Vox opinion piece, which never should have been postet on Future Perfect.

I think some of your points of criticism might be explained by the fact that we had to/wanted to keep the article below a certain length. But i also believe that when Dylan writes for Future Perfect about such political topics, he should make sure to argue every point carefully as well as be especially rigorous and careful in his arguments.

Announcing PriorityWiki: A Cause Prioritization Wiki

was trying to figure out how opinionated the Wiki should be

Certainly an important question. 80k certainly explains why they don't recommend certain careers and it's important for them to continue to do so. In my opinion we should make our reasons for considering a cause effective very clear, so they can be challenged. In practice, of course, how such an entry depends strongly on the wording. I would prefer to word it like "Cause X has traditionally been considered not neglected enough/not tractabe/too small by EA organisations. ... According to that reasoning you'd have to show Y to establish X as an effective cause. ..." instead of "X is not effective, because ...".

Remote Volunteering Opportunities in Effective Altruism

Thank you, this was very helpful. I think to possibility to do volunteer work remotely is something that should be stressed more and also communicated in EA local groups more frequently.

The Importance of EA Dedication and Why it Should Be Encouraged

I share the impression that dedication is less encouraged in EA these days than five years ago

Not sure i agree with this. Certainly there is less focus on donating hug sums of money, but that may also be explained by the shift to EA Orgs now often recommending direct work. But i think the EA community as a hole now focusses less on attracting huge ammounts of people and more on keeping the existing members engaged and dedicated and influencing their career choice (if i remember correctly the strategic write-ups from both CEA and EAF seem to reflect this... (read more)

Concrete Ways to Reduce Risks of Value Drift and Lifestyle Drift

There's probably something to be gained by investigating this further, but i would guess that most cases of value drift are because a loss of willpower and motivation, rather that an update of one's opinion. I think the word value drift is a bit ambigious here, because i think the stuff you mention is something we don't really want to include in whatever term we use here. Now that i think about it, i think what really makes the difference here are deeply held intuitions about the range of our moral duty and so for which 'changing your mind' doesn't alway seem appropriate.

Announcing the Effective Altruism Handbook, 2nd edition

Reading the book as Epub in iBooks, in enumerations there are often certain sentences that have a bigger font size than the normal text (for instance in the section "A Proposed Adjustment to the Astronomical Waste Argument"). I can't post a picture here but i don't think it was intendet to be that way. Hope that helps.

Thanks, we'll look into that.
Announcing the Effective Altruism Handbook, 2nd edition

If i could only recommend one book to someone should i recommend this or Doing Good Better? Not really sure about that. What do you think?

As Josh says, they're slightly different resources, and I think it will depend on the person. The EA Handbook was designed for people who have already showed some interest and inclination towards EA's core principles - maybe they've been pitched by a friend, or listened to a podcast. I think Doing Good Better is likely to be better as an introduction to those core principles, whilst the Handbook is an exploration of where the principles might lead. So in terms of level, Doing Good Better feels more introductory. In my view, the content of the EA Handbook better reflects our best current understanding of which causes to prioritize, and so I would prefer it in terms of content. Overall, my guess is that if you've had a chance to briefly explain some of EA's core principles and intuitions, it would be best to recommend the EA Handbook.
Doing Good Better is more accessible and spends a lot more time introducing and defending the basic idea of EA instead of branching out into more advanced ideas. It is also much more focused on global poverty.
Or Singer's The Most Good You Can Do.
Doing Good Better
Heuristics from Running Harvard and Oxford EA Groups

Very helpful post. As someone running an german EA group i didn't really find anything that doesn't apply to us in the same way it did for you.

One interesting thing is your focus on 1on1 conversations: We have never attempted something like this, mostly because we thought it would be at least a bit weird for both parties involved. Did you have the same fear and where proven wrong or is this a problem you run into with some people?

If that's helpful: EA Berlin has been using 1:1s for a while now, so there doesn't seem to be a cultural context that would make a difference. That said, I usually distinguish between 1:1s with people interested joining the group, and with existing group members. We've done the former and are only starting to do the latter (partly because it seemed like a really good idea after talking to James). Introducing that wasn't weird at all, when messaging people saying "we're trying this new thing that might be good for a bunch of different reasons", they seemed quite happy about it, perhaps only a bit confused about what was supposed to happen during the 1:1. I'd also emphasise the active element of reaching out to people that seem particularly interested instead of just having 1:1s with anyone who approaches you. I like Tobias's suggestion to approach people based on answers they write in a feedback form, but I'm not sure how much effort it'd take to implement that.
Hi! I think there are easy ways to make it not weird. Some tips: 1) Emailing from an official email account, rather than a personal one, if you've never met the person before. 2) Mention explicitly that this is 'something you do' and that, for newcomers, you'd like to welcome them into the community. This makes it less strange that you're reaching out to them personally. 3) Mention explicitly that you'll be talking about EA, and not other stuff. 4) It's useful to meet people in real life at an event first and say hello and introduce yourself there. 5) Don't feel like you have an agenda or anything; keep it informal. Treat it as if you were getting to know a friend better and have an enjoyable time. 6) Absolutely don't pressure people, just reach out and offer to meet up if they'd find it useful
Empirical data on value drift

Thank you very much for this important work. This should be an important consideration for everyone and an important factor in career planning. I'll make sure to say something about that in our local EA group at some point.