Some EA Forum Posts I'd like to write

post by Linch · 2021-02-23T05:27:26.992Z · EA · GW · 9 comments

Contents

  After the Apocalypse: Why Personal Survival in GCR Scenarios Should Be Unusually High Priority For Altruists/Consequentialists
  Shelters MVP: A Concrete Proposal to Robustly Mitigate Global Catastrophes
  Moral Circle Expansion: Is it Highly Overrated?
  How to Get Good At Forecasting: Lessons from Interviews With Over 100 Top Forecasters
  What Are Good Humanities Research Ideas for Longtermism?
  Acknowledgements
None
9 comments

I decided to write a list of posts I’d like to write, on the hypothesis that perhaps I can crowdsource interest or pre-emptively get people’s takes on goodness to a) prioritize my writings better and b) to develop better intuitions for which systems/processes can preemptively determine what research/writings are valuable. Note that I’m currently quite unlikely to write >2 of these posts unless I get substantive feedback otherwise.

Unless explicitly stated otherwise, names/links/quotes of other people are referenced for partial attribution. They  should not be construed as endorsements by those people, and on base rates it should be reasonable to assume that in this post I misrepresented someone at least once.

This post is written in my own capacity, and does not represent the position or output of my employer (RP) or past employers. 

 

After the Apocalypse: Why Personal Survival in GCR Scenarios Should Be Unusually High Priority For Altruists/Consequentialists

Shelters MVP: A Concrete Proposal to Robustly Mitigate Global Catastrophes

Moral Circle Expansion: Is it Highly Overrated?

How to Get Good At Forecasting: Lessons from Interviews With Over 100 Top Forecasters

What Are Good Humanities Research Ideas for Longtermism?

Acknowledgements

Thanks to conversations with Jake Mckinnon, Adam Gleave, Amanda Ngo, David Moss, Michael Aird, Peter Hurford, Dave Bernard and I’m sure many others for conversations that helped inspire or crystallize some of these ideas. Thanks also to Salius Simcikas, David Moss, Janique Belman, and especially Michael Aird for many constructive comments on an earlier draft of this post.

All mistakes and inaccuracies are, naturally, the fault of a) the boundary conditions of the universe and b) the Big Bang. Please do comment if/when you identify mistakes, so I can sigh resignedly at the predetermined nature of such mistakes.

9 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by MathiasKirkBonde · 2021-02-23T11:04:17.519Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

This is such a great idea!

I have a laundry list of blog posts I'd like to write as well and I imagine many others do too. Would it maybe make sense to make a monthly mega thread where people can share their blog post ideas?

Wrt. to your ideas, I would be super excited to read "How to get good at forecasting"!

Replies from: Ramiro
comment by Ramiro · 2021-02-25T16:06:59.854Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

It would be great to have more people posting lists of blog posts ideas - people could coordinate, maybe even collaborate. 

comment by Ramiro · 2021-02-25T16:27:56.463Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Thanks for this. I'd rate the ideas on Moral Circle Expansion & Good Humanities Research first, because I'm quite uncertain about them.

I liked the idea about Forecasting, too - I'd like to see what comes from this.

Though I would like to see some ITN assessment of After the Apocalipse & Shelter MVP, my priors are that these are not very cost-effective - at least for individuals.  It seems usually better to invest my resources in my health and sanity than in acquiring survivalist skills or equipment; maybe some "cheap survivalist tips" are cost-effective ("you can't have too much canned food"), but even so it'd likely be more cost effective to invest in a group that can survive a catastrophe and restart civilization (and then have contact with EA ideas) than in myself - afterall, this is a commons problem.

comment by Jpmos · 2021-02-23T15:26:35.994Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

After the apocalypse

I think this is interesting in of itself but also related to something I haven't seen explored much in general: How important is it that EA ideas exist a long time? How important is it that they are widely held?  How would we package an idea to propagate through time? How could we learn from religions?  

More directly to the topic: is this a point in favor of EAs forming a hub in New Zealand? 

  • Comparative lit studies of whether ambitious science fiction (might not be well operationalized) is correlated with ambitious science fact.

I've seen some discussion around this topic but I feel like it hasn't been satisfyingly motivated. For personal reasons I'd like to hear more about this. 

comment by BrianTan · 2021-02-23T05:44:36.290Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Just my two cents, but in my view, these are how valuable these forum posts would be:

  1. Shelters MVP - 9/10
    1. I'd be interested to read about this since you say it could be what OpenPhil spends its last longtermist dollar on. It's also just something personally interesting to me, and I think other longtermist EAs would be interested in it too.
  2. What are Good Humanities Research Ideas for Longtermism? - 8/10
    1. I think it'd be good to get people with humanities backgrounds to do more research work on longtermism.
  3. After the Apocalypse - 7/10
    1. I think this is quite interrelated with the Shelters MVP post, and so initially I ranked this an 8/10 . But I'm a bit more interested though in Shelters MVP as a way to protect people rather than just helping people get better at surviving in the wild or after a catastrophe, which there might be resources already for outside of EA.
  4. How to Get Good at Forecasting - 6/10
    1. I think a lot of EAs would be interested in this, myself included, but I think the value of the 3 posts above are higher, and I think they are more neglected/unique. I presume it would be easier for someone to interview forecasters themselves if they were interested in learning from them on how to get good at forecasting, rather than for someone to compile a bunch of research about any of the 3 topics above.
  5. Moral Circle Expansion - 5/10
    1. I'm skeptical of how much this would change people's views on Moral Circle Expansion, so I don't think this post would have a lot of value, since it might not be concrete/applicable enough.
Replies from: Simon_Eckerström_Liedholm
comment by Simon_Eckerström_Liedholm · 2021-02-23T08:49:05.342Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

I think I roughly agree with your ranking Brian!

I'm skeptical of how much this would change people's views on Moral Circle Expansion, so I don't think this post would have a lot of value, since it might not be concrete/applicable enough.

Speaking for myself here, I'd be very interested in reading a more in-depth critique of Moral Circle Expansion, and I'm open to changing my mind on that topic. Although I'm perhaps most interested in predictions of specific questions, like whether our descendants will care about the welfare of invertebrates and other wild animals, and (relatedly) whether sentience is likely to be the main determinant of moral concern in the future.

(Thanks Linch for a great post!)

comment by Neel Nanda · 2021-02-23T13:13:39.822Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

I love the idea of this post! I'd be extremely excited to read the forecasting post and I think making that would be highly valuable. I'm not that interested in the others

comment by BrianTan · 2021-02-23T09:56:22.917Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Btw, a way you could get more feedback on which of these posts readers would like you to write is to place each of these topics as a comment on this post, and let people upvote or strong upvote the ones they are interested in reading or would think are more valuable. 

You can also have a separate comment that people could downvote,  so they could offset the added karma you gain through using comments as a poll. I say this because some forum users think that using comments as a poll is an unfair way to gain karma, which is somewhat true.

comment by Aaron Gertler (aarongertler) · 2021-02-25T05:30:49.765Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

The ideas that most interest me here are shelter MVPs and interviews with forecasters -- particularly the latter, since you have enough forecasting ability and experience to filter and contextualize the collected interviews, and most other people do not.

None of these seem like bad ideas, but the above two seem most actionable, and the MVP post in particular seems like it could draw a lot of useful commentary (because your ideas are great, or because someone thinks you are concretely "wrong on the internet", or both).