comment by Open_Thinker ·
2019-11-01T03:57:56.637Z · EA(p) · GW(p)
This point is reasonable, and I fully acknowledge that the EA Hotel cannot have much measurable data yet in its ~1 year of existence. However, I don't think it is a particularly satisfying counter response.
If the nature of the EA Hotel's work is fundamentally immeasurable, how is one able to objectively quantify that it is in fact being altruistic effectively? If it is not fundamentally immeasurable but is not measured and could have been measured, then that is likely simply incompetence. Is it not? Either way, it would be impossible to evidentially state that the EA Hotel has good yield.
Further, the idea that the EA Hotel's work is immeasurable because it is a meta project or has some vague multipler effects is fundamentally dissatisfying to me. There is a page full of attempted calculations in update 3, so I do not believe the EA Hotel assumes it is immeasurable either, or at least originally did not. The more likely answer, a la Occam's Razor, is that there is simply insufficient effort in resolving the quantification. There are, after all, plenty of other more pressing and practical challenges to be met on a day-to-day basis; and [surprisingly] it does not seem to have been pressed much as a potential issue before (per the other response by Greg_Colbourn).
Even if it is difficult to measure, a project (particularly one which aspires to be effective--or greatly effective, or even the most effective) must as a requirement outline some clear goals against which its progress can be benchmarked in my opinion, so that it can determine its performance and broadcast this clearly. It is simply best practice to do so. This has not been done as far as I can tell--if I am mistaken, please point me to it and I will revise my opinions accordingly.
There are a couple additional points I would make. Firstly, as an EA Hotel occupant, you are highly likely to be positively biased in its favor. Therefore, you are naturally inclined to calculate more generously in its favor; and certainly the article you wrote and linked to is positive in its support indeed. Is this refutable? It is also likely an objective fact that your interests align with the EA Hotel's, and someone whose interests were less aligned could easily weight the considerations you stated less heavily. You are therefore not an objective or the best judge of the EA Hotel's value, despite (or because of) your first-hand experience.
The other point, which I think is common throughout the EA community, is that it is somewhat elitist in thinking that the EA way is the best (and perhaps only) way--there is some credibility to this claim I believe as it was noted on the recent EA survey. For example, is Bill Gates an EA? He does not visit the EA forum much AFAIK, focuses on efforts that differ somewhat from the EA's priorities, etc. But undeniably I would think that his net positive utility vastly outweighs the entire EA Forum's even if he does not follow EA, or at least does not follow strictly. Bill Gates does not (to my knowledge) support the EA Hotel, and if he does then not to a level to make it financially sustainable in perpetuity. Should he--and if he does not, is he wrong for not doing so? If you believe that the EA Hotel is the best use of funds (as has been claimed at the top of this thread and is supported in your article), then yes, you would probably conclude that he is wrong based on his inaccurate allocation of resources which results in a sub-ideal outcome in terms of ethical utility. This logic is misguided in my opinion.
Contrarily to EA puritanism, the fact in my opinion is that there are generally EAs commonly beyond EA borders, e.g. celebrities like Bill Gates and Elon Musk, but also plenty of anonymous people in general. Is the "Chasm" you described real? I am not sure that it is, or at least not so acutely. In particular for the EA Hotel's context, there are plenty of other organizations already which are richly-funded such as Google's DeepMind that are active and significantly contributing to the same fields which the EA Hotel is interested in (from my understanding). The EA Hotel's contributions in such an environment are therefore likely not to be a large multipler (although it is not impossible to the opposite, and I am open to that possibility), but instead small relatively. It is a possibility that contributing to the EA Hotel is actually suboptimal or even unethical because of its incremental contributions which yield diminished returns relative to what could be the result via alternative avenues. This is not a definite conclusion, but I am noting it for completeness or inclusivity of contrary viewpoints.
To be clear, none of what I have written is intended as an insult in any way. The point is only that it is not clear that the EA Hotel is able to substantiate its claim to being effectively altruistic (e.g. via lack of measurability, which seems to be your argument), particularly "very" or even "the most" effective (in terms of output per resource input). Based on this lack of clarity, I find that I cannot personally commit to supporting the project.
However, it looks like the EA Hotel already has the funding it needs now, so perhaps we may simply go our separate ways at this point. My aim throughout was to be constructive. Hopefully some of it was useful in some way.
comment by Greg_Colbourn ·
2019-11-07T19:01:07.976Z · EA(p) · GW(p)
Bill Gates does not (to my knowledge) support the EA Hotel
We are far too small to be on Bill Gates' radar. It's not worth his time looking at grants of less than millions of $ (Who know's though, maybe we'll get there eventually?)