Posts

What questions would you like to see forecasts on from the Metaculus community? 2020-07-26T14:40:17.356Z · score: 29 (13 votes)
Climate change donation recommendations 2020-07-16T21:17:57.720Z · score: 36 (11 votes)
[Linkpost] - Mitigation versus Supression for COVID-19 2020-03-16T21:01:28.273Z · score: 9 (6 votes)
If you (mostly) believe in worms, what should you think about WASH? 2020-02-18T16:47:12.319Z · score: 33 (14 votes)
alexrjl's Shortform 2019-11-02T22:43:28.641Z · score: 2 (1 votes)
What book(s) would you want a gifted teenager to come across? 2019-08-05T13:39:09.324Z · score: 26 (15 votes)
Can the EA community copy Teach for America? (Looking for Task Y) 2019-02-21T13:38:33.921Z · score: 84 (47 votes)
Amazon Smile 2018-11-18T20:16:27.180Z · score: 8 (7 votes)

Comments

Comment by alexrjl on What's the latest on cultured meat? · 2020-10-08T09:08:35.644Z · score: 11 (8 votes) · EA · GW

Some relevant forecasts from metaculus are here (mouseover or click to see predictions):

https://www.metaculus.com/questions/3060/when-will-the-first-clean-meat-company-be-valued-at--1bn/

https://www.metaculus.com/questions/3516/will-beyond-meat-outperform-the-the-general-us-stock-market-in-2020/

https://www.metaculus.com/questions/3088/when-will-a-supermarket-sell-a-product-made-of-80-clean-meat-for-3-per-100-grams-or-cheaper/

https://www.metaculus.com/questions/3087/when-will-a-supermarket-sell-a-product-made-of-20-clean-meat-for-3-per-100-grams-or-cheaper/

https://www.metaculus.com/questions/3103/what-will-the-lowest-retail-price-in-usd-per-kg-of-any-product-containing-50-clean-meat-be-in-the-calendar-year-2026/

https://www.metaculus.com/questions/3077/how-much-revenue-will-the-us-market-for-clean-meat-generate-in-the-fiscal-year-2030-in-millions-of-usd/

https://www.metaculus.com/questions/3059/when-will-there-be-a-publicly-listed-clean-fish-company/

Several more relevant questions can be found here.

Comment by alexrjl on Open Communication in the Days of Malicious Online Actors · 2020-10-07T21:10:22.465Z · score: 10 (7 votes) · EA · GW

I thought this was interesting and well written. Thanks for posting it, and thanks especially for writing it in a way which (at least in my view) was balanced and fair.

I'm unsure about whether the specific example you used was a wise choice. I see the merits to making this abstract enough that it doesn't feel like an attack on people with some particular set of political views (and I think you succeeded on this front), however I found some parts a little hard to follow, and found myself struggling to remember and then having to check whether people were pro-porridge or not. I don't know whether it would have been possible to use a more "realistic" example without compromosing the neutrality I praised at the start however, so maybe this was best.

Comment by alexrjl on Nathan Young's Shortform · 2020-10-07T20:04:31.510Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I like this idea and think it's worth you taking further. My initial reactions are:

  • Getting more EA books into peoples hands seems great and worth much more per book than the cost of a book.
  • I don't know how much of a bottleneck the price of a book is to buying them for friends/club members. I know EA Oxford has given away many books, I've also bought several for friends (and one famous person I contacted on instagram as a long shot who actually replied.
  • I'd therefore be interested in something which aimed to establish whether making books cheaper was a better or worse idea than just encouraging people to gift them.
  • John Behar/TLYCS probably have good thoughts on this.
Comment by alexrjl on Denise_Melchin's Shortform · 2020-10-02T12:28:50.035Z · score: 8 (3 votes) · EA · GW

One positive secondary effect of this is that Great but uncontroversial posts will be seen by lots of people. Currently posts which are good but don't generate any disagreement get a few upvotes then fall off the front page pretty quickly because nobody has much to say.

Comment by alexrjl on A Case and Model for Aggressively Funding Effective Charities · 2020-09-25T12:04:57.254Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Optimising for hearing from people who think they have something to add is not the same as optimising for heaing from people who actually have something to add.

Comment by alexrjl on Some thoughts on EA outreach to high schoolers · 2020-09-15T16:48:14.906Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · EA · GW

As someone who works with young people, I strongly agree with this.

Comment by alexrjl on Challenges in evaluating forecaster performance · 2020-09-11T21:17:42.086Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

The long-term solution here is to allow forecasters to predict functions rather than just static values. This solves problems of things like people needing to update for time left.

In terms of the specific example though, I think if a significant new poll comes out and Alice updates and Bob doesn't, Alice is a better forecaster and deserves more reward than Bob.

Comment by alexrjl on Are there any other pro athlete aspiring EAs? · 2020-09-10T21:27:46.500Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

"If you need to be a one-in-a-million soccer player to earn as much as a one-in-a-thousand poker player"

But you don't, unless you define "poker player" as "winning poker player" and "soccer player" as "anyone who's kicked a football".

Comment by alexrjl on Are there any other pro athlete aspiring EAs? · 2020-09-10T13:41:54.174Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

I'm not sure why you're dividing by the number of people who try to play sport? If you include in your definition of "poker pro" everyone who plays poker, on average they are losing money.

I'd be prepared to bet that, counting "earner" as "someone with positive lifetime earnings", the nth highest earner in sport is making more than the nth highest earner in poker for all n.

 

Comment by alexrjl on Are there any other pro athlete aspiring EAs? · 2020-09-10T06:39:55.254Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Seperately to why this was downvoted, I think your second bullet point is wrong. I expect that the top few earners in sport are at least an order of magnitude better off than in poker, and the set {pro sportspeople} earns at least three orders of magnitude more in total than {poker pros}.

Comment by alexrjl on Are there any other pro athlete aspiring EAs? · 2020-09-10T05:48:41.610Z · score: 19 (10 votes) · EA · GW

Like Mischa, I think it's easily read as cringy and self congratulatory i.e. 

"thanks for trying but I'm not sure you're smart enough to join our cause."

If I'd wanted to make that point, I'd probably have gone for something like:

> (probably as the third point) "however, I think that outreach to sportspeople might be much harder than to poker pros. Some EA ideas are quite counterintuitive, and there's a lot of very similar reasoning in poker/EA, while in general I wouldn't expect pro sports people to be as familiar with things like expected value reasoning".

Comment by alexrjl on Are there any other pro athlete aspiring EAs? · 2020-09-09T20:40:38.781Z · score: 6 (5 votes) · EA · GW

I also didn't downvote but the first bullet point comes across really badly, and that's speaking as someone who's had considerably more success in poker than sport. My guess is that the downvotes are because of that.

Comment by alexrjl on Some thoughts on the EA Munich // Robin Hanson incident · 2020-08-29T13:29:10.463Z · score: 22 (16 votes) · EA · GW

I appreciate you writing this and leaving it up, I feel basically the same (including the edit, so I'm pretty unlikely to reply to further comments) but felt better having seen your post, and think that you writing it was, in fact, doing good in this case (at least in making me and probably others not feel further separated from the community).

Comment by alexrjl on How can good generalist judgment be differentiated from skill at forecasting? · 2020-08-23T19:49:23.071Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

I also understand all of these as very important to forecasting.

Comment by alexrjl on What questions would you like to see forecasts on from the Metaculus community? · 2020-08-13T06:04:50.005Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Lots of good ideas here, and I think I'll be able to help with several, sent you a pm.

Comment by alexrjl on What questions would you like to see forecasts on from the Metaculus community? · 2020-08-12T14:08:52.044Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I assume the former?
 

 

Yes.

I'm not sure you I know what you mean by this (particularly the part after the comma).


The not was in the wrong place, have fixed now.

I had briefly got in touch with rethink about trying to predict survey outcomes, but I'm not going ahead with this for now as the conerns your raised seem bad if low probability. I'm consider, as an alternative, asking about the donation split of EAF in ~5 years, which I think kind of tracks related ideas but seems to have less downside risk of the form you describe. 

Comment by alexrjl on What questions would you like to see forecasts on from the Metaculus community? · 2020-08-11T11:49:19.409Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

This is really interesting, and potentially worth my abandoning the plan to write some questions on the outcomes of future EA surveys. 
 

The difficulty with "what will people in general think about X" type questions is how to operationalise them, but there's potentially enough danger in doing this for it not to be worth the tradeoff. I'm interested in more thoughts here.

In terms of "how big a deal will X be, there are several questions already of that form. The Metaculus search function is not amazing, so I'm happy to dig things out if there are areas of particular interest, though several are mentioned elsewhere in this thread.

Comment by alexrjl on Should we create an EA index? · 2020-08-04T12:55:29.932Z · score: 13 (6 votes) · EA · GW

A good starting point for reading on this would be this post by HaukeHillbrandt and this response by grissman.

Comment by alexrjl on What questions would you like to see forecasts on from the Metaculus community? · 2020-08-03T08:24:57.903Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Here are the three upcoming questions I've written in response to the ideas on this thread:

Who will win the 'worm wars'?

When will Charity Entrepreneurship help create a new GiveWell top charity?

How many charities will Charity Entrepreneurship help launch in 2021?

Comment by alexrjl on What questions would you like to see forecasts on from the Metaculus community? · 2020-08-02T15:14:21.321Z · score: 8 (4 votes) · EA · GW

These are great questions. Several similar questions are already up which I've linked below (including one I approved after this post was written). I've also written three new questions based on your ideas, which I'm just waiting for someone else to proofread and will then add to this post.

Will one of GiveWell's 2019 top charities be estimated as the most cost-effective charity in 2031?

How much will GiveWell guess it will cost to get an outcome as good as saving a life, at the end of 2031?

Will the number of people in extreme poverty in 2020 be lower than the number in 2015?

Fewer than 375M in extreme poverty by 2030?

What will the percentage of the world population in $1.90-a-day poverty be in 2030?

How large will the largest single grant made by Open Philanthropy in 2020 be?

Will the impact of the Effective Altruism movement be picked up by Google Trends in 2030?

Will global malaria mortality rates be reduced by 90% when compared with 2015 rates, by 2030?

Comment by alexrjl on What questions would you like to see forecasts on from the Metaculus community? · 2020-07-31T13:12:54.609Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · EA · GW

This question is now open.

How many of the "priority paths" identified by 80,000hours will still be priority paths in 2030?

Comment by alexrjl on What questions would you like to see forecasts on from the Metaculus community? · 2020-07-31T12:49:24.785Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

It looks like a different part of the survey asked about cause prioritisation directly, which seems like it could be closer to what you wanted, my current plan (5 questions) for how to use the survey is here.

Comment by alexrjl on What questions would you like to see forecasts on from the Metaculus community? · 2020-07-30T22:06:16.624Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Metaculus did briefly experiment with a finance spinoff but I don't believe it was successful. I can definitely write a couple and I think they'd get a lot of interest, but I'd be surprised if making investment decisions based on metaculus was a winning strategy in the long-term. I'd be more optimistic, though still cautious, about political betting using metaculus predictions.


Here are some current questions which seem relevant, you can find more here.

https://www.metaculus.com/questions/2807/will-the-uk-housing-market-crash-before-july-2023/

https://www.metaculus.com/questions/4699/what-will-the-lbma-gold-price-be-in-us-dollars-on-december-31-2020/

https://www.metaculus.com/questions/4813/short-fuse-will-teslas-stock-price-close-below-1000-per-share-before-2021/

https://www.metaculus.com/questions/4119/what-will-be-the-sp-500-end-of-day-low-in-2020/

Comment by alexrjl on Stripe's first negative emissions purchases · 2020-07-29T07:22:06.523Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Predictions are now live, you can see the community predictions by mousing over the links below:

What will be the cost of carbon storage sold by Charm Industrial in 2030?

What will be the cost of carbon storage sold by CarbonCure in 2030?

What will be the cost of negative emissions sold by Climeworks in 2030?

What will be the cost of negative emissions sold by Project Vesta in 2030?

Will Charm Industrial still exist in 2030?

Will CarbonCure still exist in 2030?

Will Climeworks still exist in 2030?

Will Project Vesta still exist in 2030?

Comment by alexrjl on Delegate a forecast · 2020-07-29T06:53:00.250Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Ok awesome, thanks!

Comment by alexrjl on What questions would you like to see forecasts on from the Metaculus community? · 2020-07-28T21:19:09.748Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I really like this and will work something out to this effect

Comment by alexrjl on What questions would you like to see forecasts on from the Metaculus community? · 2020-07-28T13:16:12.941Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Do you want to have a look at the 2019 EA survey and pick a few things it would be most useful to get predictions on? I'll then write a few up.

Comment by alexrjl on Delegate a forecast · 2020-07-27T07:22:26.475Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Also had misunderstood this as being personal questions. If you prefer, replace me with something like:

A randomly selected person from the top ~50 recently active Metaculus users (so maybe this list or this one), excluding those who are already supers.

Comment by alexrjl on What questions would you like to see forecasts on from the Metaculus community? · 2020-07-27T06:01:58.660Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

The best operationalisation here I can see is asking that we are able to attach a few questions if this form to the 2030 EA survey, then asking users to predict what the results will be. If we can get some sort of pre-commitment from whoever runs the survey to include the answers, even better.

One thing to think about (and maybe for people to weigh in on here) is that as you get further out in time there's less and less evidence that forecasting performs well. It's worth considering a 2025 date for these sorts of questions too for that reason.

Comment by alexrjl on What questions would you like to see forecasts on from the Metaculus community? · 2020-07-26T22:31:10.618Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA · GW

I'm kind of hoping that this thread ends up serving that purpose. There's also a thread on metaculus where people can post ideas, the difference there is nobody's promising to write them up, and they aren't necessarily EA ideas, but I thought it was worth mentioning.

(I do have some thoughts on the top level answer here, but don't have time to write them now, will do soon)

Comment by alexrjl on Delegate a forecast · 2020-07-26T22:27:59.947Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Assume that I will try to become a GJP registered superforecaster, giving up all the time I currently spend on other platforms and only focusing on making Good judgement Open predictions to the best of my ability, choosing questions based on whether they'll help me be a superforecaster, not how useful predictions are for the world. Let's say I'll give up after 2 years if I don't make it.

When do I become a superforecaster? Time interval now->2022, with an open upper bound indicating "didn't make it".

If it matters, assume I haven't seen your distribution, but if you also want to do a seperate distribution assuming I have seen it, that might be fun (not sure if it would converge though).

Comment by alexrjl on Stripe's first negative emissions purchases · 2020-07-24T08:17:47.318Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · EA · GW

I thought this idea was really cool, and that working out how successful it's likely to be seemed important, so I've written a series of Metaculus questions on how these investments will pan out. The questions open in two days, and can be found here:

Stripe miniseries

Comment by alexrjl on Should local EA groups support political causes? · 2020-07-22T08:25:25.434Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Voting reform also. While there's some partisan opposition to it in some countries, it can certainly be presented in a way which is highly non-partisan.

Comment by alexrjl on Climate change donation recommendations · 2020-07-19T11:41:27.950Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · EA · GW

We deliberately didn't perform these because their primary goal is not emissions reduction, so we thought it might be misleading to include. If it helps, I can however tell you that I personally do allocate some of my monthly donations to GFI, but expect (95% confidence) that I would not do so if I felt that animals had no moral value.

Comment by alexrjl on Can the EA community copy Teach for America? (Looking for Task Y) · 2020-07-19T10:49:40.897Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · EA · GW

The more time I spend forecasting, the more I think it has lots of the features I was looking for in a good "Task Y":

  • It's fun and interesting.
  • It's beneficial for the people doing it; it helps people be Less Wrong<sup>TM<\sup> and plausibly has nontrivial signalling value in EA-adjacent circles for those who are good at it.
  • While the impact probably isn't huge, there's a reasonable case that, especially from a long-term perspective, it's not negligible, especially for something that can be done in your free time.
  • It's something that bright students and/or other people without much disposable income can easily participate in, which sets it apart from Earning to Give.
Comment by alexrjl on AMA or discuss my 80K podcast episode: Ben Garfinkel, FHI researcher · 2020-07-18T08:50:20.105Z · score: 14 (5 votes) · EA · GW

I have nothing to add to the discussion but wanted to say that this was my favourite episode, which given how big a fan I am of the podcast is a very high bar.

Comment by alexrjl on How do i know a charity is actually effective · 2020-07-17T14:25:04.734Z · score: 12 (5 votes) · EA · GW

At some point, with any charitable decision, you're going to have to trust someone; you're going to have to trust that the people running the charity are going to do what they say with the money, and you're also going to have to trust that the thing they say they are going to do is a good idea.

Donating based on the recommendations of a charity evaluator is still going to involve trusting someone, the difference is this time you're trusting someone who is indepedent.

Comment by alexrjl on Concern, and hope · 2020-07-16T21:56:13.217Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · EA · GW

This post does a much better job that I could manage of explaining how I've felt recently. Thank you for writing it.

Comment by alexrjl on Are there superforecasts for existential risk? · 2020-07-08T15:11:05.051Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

"Indeed, some people have actually joked betting low on the more existential questions since they won't get a score if we're all dead (at least, I hope they're joking)"

I think several of them aren't joking, they care more about feeling "smart" because they've gamed the system than the long-term potential consequences of inaccurate forecasts.

I do, like you, really hope that I'm wrong and they are in fact joking.

Comment by alexrjl on Are there superforecasts for existential risk? · 2020-07-07T10:09:51.833Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · EA · GW

As another very active user of metaculus recently, who's come from an EA background, I basically agree with all of the above, except that I don't think all the users are joking about betting low on the existential questions.

Comment by alexrjl on Deworming vs other GiveWell charities · 2020-07-05T07:08:09.071Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

I wrote this a while ago, it wasn't intended as an update on Deworming but the claims I made about the evidence for Deworming in it were up-to-date at the time of writing.

Comment by alexrjl on I'm Linch Zhang, an amateur COVID-19 forecaster and generalist EA. AMA · 2020-07-02T13:17:02.284Z · score: 7 (8 votes) · EA · GW

Forecast your win probability in a fight against:

500 horses, each with the mass of an average duck.

1 duck, with the mass of an average horse.

(numbers chosen so mass is roughly equal)

Comment by alexrjl on I'm Linch Zhang, an amateur COVID-19 forecaster and generalist EA. AMA · 2020-06-30T20:58:22.974Z · score: 18 (13 votes) · EA · GW

Here's a ton of questions pick your favourites to answer. What's your typical forecasting workflow like? Subquestions:

  • Do you tend to make guesstimate/elicit/other models, or mostly go qualitative? If this differs for different kinds of questions, how?

  • How long do you spend on initial forecasts and how long on updates? (Per question and per update would both be interesting)

  • Do you adjust towards the community median and if so how/why?

More general forecasting:

  • What's the most important piece of advice for new forecasters that isn't contained in Tetlock's superforecasting?

  • Do you forecast everyday things in your own life other than Twitter followers?

  • What unresolved question are you furthest from the community median on?

Comment by alexrjl on Problem areas beyond 80,000 Hours' current priorities · 2020-06-26T13:22:35.182Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I think it depends somewhat on what you mean by longterm, but my (limited) understanding is that wild-animal welfare is currently very much in the "we should do some thinking and maybe some research stage but not take any actions until we know a lot more and/or have much greater ability to do so" stage, which does put it on a timeframe which is decidedly *not* "neartermist"

Comment by alexrjl on Impacts of rational fiction? · 2020-06-25T13:05:47.280Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

I'd also love to see a fictional world with a moral system that was explictly a karmic-utilitarian moral system. That is, the consequences of actions for particular agents matter proportionally to the amount of utility previously generated by those agents.

Comment by alexrjl on Impacts of rational fiction? · 2020-06-25T12:14:39.145Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · EA · GW

What if you had a world where karma is discovered to be real, but the amount of good karma you get is explicitly longtermist consequentialist and focus on expected utility? It'd be a great way of looking at effectiveness, and you'd also be able to explore really interesting neglectedness effects as people pile into effective areas.

Comment by alexrjl on Modeling the Human Trajectory (Open Philanthropy) · 2020-06-21T11:29:54.149Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I really enjoyed the blogpost, and think it's really valuable work, but have been somewhat dismayed to see virtually no discussion of the final part of the post, which is the first time the author attempts to include an admittedly rough term describing finite resources in the model. It... does not go well.

Given a lot of us are worried about x-risk, this seems to urgently merit further study.

Comment by alexrjl on EA considerations regarding increasing political polarization · 2020-06-19T21:54:31.713Z · score: 3 (4 votes) · EA · GW

I'd strongly suggest adding this post to appendix 1, especially given its 235 comments.

https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/YCPc4qTSoyuj54ZZK/why-and-how-to-make-progress-on-diversity-and-inclusion-in

Comment by alexrjl on EAGxVirtual Unconference (Saturday, June 20th 2020) · 2020-06-17T19:06:10.750Z · score: 13 (6 votes) · EA · GW

What is forecasting and how do I get started?

I'm currently teaching this as a 4x90 minute course. If there was sufficient interest I'd be happy to put together a half hour lightning version.

Edit: looks like I was about a week late having this idea, though I'm still happy to run this at some point if people want.

Comment by alexrjl on EA Forum Prize: Winners for April 2020 · 2020-06-11T13:54:43.452Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · EA · GW

It seems appropriate based on the content of my comment to spend the $50 buying copies of Doing Good Better or The Precipice for people in my social group who aren't EAs, so that's my current plan.

Edit: for reasons which should be fairly obvious, I don't think now is the best time to do this, so am also planning to wait a few weeks.