I agree that such a system would be terrifying. But I worry that its absence would be even more terrifying. Limited surveillance systems work decently for gun control, but when we get to the stage where someone can kill tens of thousands or even millions instead of a hundred I suspect it'll break down.ramiro on Ramiro's Shortform
Should donations be counter-cyclical? At least as a "matter of when" (I remember a previous similar conversation on Reddit, but it was mainly about deciding where to donate to). I don't think patient philanthropists should "give now instead of later" just because of that (we'll probably have worse crisis), but it seems like frequent donors (like GWWC pledgers) should consider anticipating their donations (particularly if their personal spending has decreased) - and also take into account expectations about future exchange rates. Does it make any sense?derek on EA Forum feature suggestion thread
''Next" and "Previous" arrows/buttons at the bottom of a post, to move to the next/previous post - useful when you haven't read the forum for a while and want to catch up. This would obviously have to assume a certain ordering (e.g. chronological vs karma) and selection (e.g. all or excluding Community/Questions), which could perhaps be adjusted in Settings.evelynciara on Is some kind of minimally-invasive mass surveillance required for catastrophic risk prevention?
Background: I am an information science student who has taken a class on the societal aspects of surveillance.
My gut feeling is that advocating for or implementing "mass surveillance" targeted at preventing individuals from using weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) would be counterproductive.
First, were a mass surveillance system aimed at controlling WMDs to be set up, governments would lobby for it to be used for other purposes as well, such as monitoring for conventional terrorism. Pretty soon it wouldn't be minimally invasive anymore; it would just be a general-purpose mass surveillance system.
Second, a surveillance system of the scope that Bostrom has proposed ("ubiquitous real-time worldwide surveillance") would itself be an existential risk to liberal democracy. The problem is that a ubiquitous surveillance system would create the feeling that surveillees are constantly being watched. Even if it had strong technical and institutional privacy guarantees and those guarantees were communicated to the public, people would likely not be able to trust it; rumors of abuse would only make establishing trust harder. People modify their behavior when they know they are being watched or could be watched at any time, so they would be less willing to engage in behaviors that are stigmatized by society even if the Panopticon were not explicitly looking out for those behaviors. This feeling of constantly being watched would stifle risk-taking, individuality, creativity, and freedom of expression, all of which are essential to sustain human progress.
I think that a much more limited suite of targeted surveillance systems, combined with other mechanisms for arms control, would be a lot more promising while still being effective at controlling WMDs. Such limited surveillance systems are already used in gun control: for example, the U.S. federal government requires dealers to keep records of gun sales for at least 20 years, and many U.S. states and other countries keep records of who is licensed to own a gun. Some states also require gun owners to report lost or stolen guns in order to fight gun trafficking. These surveillance measures can be designed to balance gun owners' privacy interests with the public's interest in reducing gun violence. We could regulate synthetic biology a lot like we do gun control: for example, companies that create synthetic biology or sell desktop DNA sequencers could be required to maintain records of transactions.
However, I don't expect this targeted approach to work as well for cyber weapons. Because computers are general-purpose, cyber weapons can theoretically be developed and executed on any computer, and trying to prevent the use of cyber weapons by surveilling everyone who owns a computer would be extremely inefficient (since the vast majority of people who use computers are not creating cyber weapons) and impractical (because power users could easily uninstall any spyware planted on their machines). Also, because computers are ubiquitous and often store a lot of sensitive personal information, this form of surveillance would be extremely unpopular as well as invasive. Strengthening cyber defense seems like a more promising way to prevent harm from cyber attacks.khorton on Resources to learn how to do research
I would generally encourage you to consider what discipline(s) you expect to be researching within (are you going to be doing AI research? historical research? economic research?) and learn from the research methods that are common for researchers in that field.edoarad on Resources to learn how to do research
Also, there is this collaborative doc on advice for new EA researchersedoarad on Resources to learn how to do research
Effective Thesis has a bunch of resources on improving research skills, but the focus is more academic.david_moss on Resources to learn how to do research
If you are interested in EA research/an EA research job, I would recommend just reading EA research on this forum and on the websites of EA research organisations. Much of this research doesn't involve any research method beyond general desk/secondary research, i.e. reading relevant literature and synthesising it.
In the cases where you see EA research relies on some specific technical methodology, such as stats, cost-effectiveness modelling, surveys etc., I would just recommend googling the specific method and finding resources that way. In general, I think there are too many different methods and approaches even within these categories, for it to be too helpful to link to a general introduction to stats (although here's one, for example, since depending on what you want to do, a lot won't be relevant.david_moss on EA Survey 2019 Series: How many people are there in the EA community?
I think "been influenced by EA to do EA-like things" covers a very wide array of people.
In the most expansive sense, this seems like it would include people who read a website associated with EA (this could be Giving What We Can, GiveWell, The Life You Can Save or ACE or others...) decide "These sound like good charities" and donate to them. I think people in this category may or may not have heard of EA (all of these mention effective altruism somewhere on the website) and they may even have read some specific formulation that expresses EA ideas (e.g. "We should donate to the most effective charity") and decided to donate to these specific charities as a result. But they may not really know or understand what EA means (lots of people would platitudinously endorse 'donating to to the best charities') or endorse it, let alone identify with or be involved with EA in any other way.
I agree that there are many, many more people who are in this category. As we note in footnote 7, there are literally millions of people who've read the GiveWell website alone, many of whom (at least 24,000) will have been moved to donate. Donating to a charity influenced by EA principles was the most commonly reported activity in the EA survey by a long way, with >80% [EA(p) · GW(p)] of respondents reporting having done so, and >60% [EA · GW] even among the second lowest level of engagement.
I think we agree that while getting people to donate to effective charities is important (perhaps even more impactful than getting people to 'engage with the effective altruism community' in a lot of cases) these people, don't count as part of the EA community in the sense discussed here. But I think they also wouldn't count as part of the "wider network of people interested in effective altruism" that David Nash refers to (i.e. because many of them aren't interested in effective altruism).
I think a good practical test would be: if you went to some of these people who were moved to donate to a GiveWell/ACE etc. charity and said "Have you heard that many adherents of effective altruism, believe that we should x?", if their response is some variation on "What's that?" or "Why should I care?" then they're not part of the community or network of people interested in EA. I think this is a practically relevant grouping because this tells you who could 'be influenced by EA to do EA things', where we understand "influenced by EA" to refer to EA reasoning and arguments and "EA things" to refer to EA things in general, as opposed to people who might be persuaded by an EA website to do some specific thing which EAs currently endorse but who would not consider anything else or consider maximising effectiveness more generally.fccc on How to Fix Private Prisons (and Immigration)
Thanks for the kind comment.
My guess is that the US would be the best place to start (a thick "market", poor outcomes), but I'm talking about prison systems in general.
I'm not familiar with the UK system, but I haven't heard of any prison system with a solid theoretical grounding. Theory is required because we want to compare a proposed system to all other possible systems and conclude that our proposal is the best. You want theoretical reasons to believe that your system will perform well, and that good performance will endure.
Most systems can work well in the short run, but that doesn't mean they're good. For example, if I were ruled by a good king, I still wouldn't want to have a monarchy in place. If the UK system currently works well, I suspect that you have good regulators who are manually handling the shortcomings of the underlying system.