Posts

New EA Cause Area: Run Blackwell's Bookstore 2022-02-05T05:57:00.528Z
LessWrong is now a book, available for pre-order! 2020-12-04T20:42:58.102Z
DontDoxScottAlexander.com - A Petition 2020-06-25T23:29:46.491Z

Comments

Comment by Ben Pace on Remuneration In Effective Altruism · 2022-07-29T01:14:05.075Z · EA · GW

The charity section famously has lower salaries because the work is more intrinsically rewarding than regular corporate fare.

I thought it was because there's no profit to be made doing the work.

Comment by Ben Pace on EAs should use Signal instead of Facebook Messenger · 2022-07-21T01:31:59.041Z · EA · GW

Nah, I am regularly wildly un-careful in my speech, so moving to Signal is a major benefit precisely for me.

Agree on UI though, the first time ppl text me I don't know who they are, and no photos for most of my contacts.

Comment by Ben Pace on EAs should use Signal instead of Facebook Messenger · 2022-07-21T01:02:06.402Z · EA · GW

Happy to get behind this, I am always down to move to Signal. You can reach me there at five one oh, nine nine eight, four seven seven one (also a +1 at the front for US country code). (Please identify yourself when you text me.)

Comment by Ben Pace on EAs should use Signal instead of Facebook Messenger · 2022-07-21T00:58:58.003Z · EA · GW

Pretty sure non-zero people have tried, my guess is the question is "how competent of an attacker and how much effort do they put into it".

Comment by Ben Pace on Fill out this census of everyone who could ever see themselves doing longtermist work — it’ll only take a few mins · 2022-06-21T23:43:41.236Z · EA · GW

Sure, done.

Comment by Ben Pace on Transcript of a talk on The non-identity problem by Derek Parfit at EAGxOxford 2016 · 2022-06-21T18:06:07.955Z · EA · GW

Heeheehee. Sounds like Anders poking fun at his friend live.

Comment by Ben Pace on Transcript of a talk on The non-identity problem by Derek Parfit at EAGxOxford 2016 · 2022-06-20T21:58:34.522Z · EA · GW

It's nice to see this again <3 

I asked Parfit to give this talk at that EAGxOxford, a conference Jacob Lagerros and I were the lead organizers of [edit: I see James Aung posted this, who was on the team too!]. It was one of the last talks of his life. I remember writing him an email about what talk to give, and he wrote a very long word document back as an attachment. He was a very careful thinker.

Also I remember a pretty endearing interaction between him and Anders Sandberg, where Anders pretended to be a fan and got Parfit to sign a copy of his book. (It was a joke because Anders and Parfit were former roommates and good friends.)

Comment by Ben Pace on On Deference and Yudkowsky's AI Risk Estimates · 2022-06-19T21:22:34.238Z · EA · GW

I think chapter 4, The Kinetics of an Intelligence Explosion, has a lot of terms and arguments from EY's posts in the FOOM Debate. (I've been surprised by this in the past, thinking Bostrom invented the terms, then finding things like resource overhangs getting explicitly defined in the FOOM Debate.)

Comment by Ben Pace on A Critical Review of Open Philanthropy’s Bet On Criminal Justice Reform · 2022-06-19T17:37:34.961Z · EA · GW

Yeah, well, I haven't thought about this case much, so maybe there's some good counterargument, but I think of personal attacks as "this person's hair looks ugly" or "this person isn't fun at parties", not "this person is not strong in an area of the job that I think is key". Professional criticism seems quite different from personal attacks, and I hold different norms around how appropriate it is to bring up in public contexts.

Sure, it's a challenge to someone to be professionally criticized, and can easily be unpleasant, but it's not irrelevant or off-topic and can easily be quite valuable and important.

Comment by Ben Pace on A Critical Review of Open Philanthropy’s Bet On Criminal Justice Reform · 2022-06-18T22:01:59.215Z · EA · GW

Hi, can you give an example of a speculative personal attack in the post that you're referring to?

Comment by Ben Pace on Announcing the launch of Open Phil's new website · 2022-06-08T07:32:34.822Z · EA · GW

Feedback that the following page had like 1-2 letters width of horizontal scroll when I loaded on iPad.

https://www.openphilanthropy.org/grants/berkeley-existential-risk-initiative-seri-summer-fellowships/

Added: this page too:

https://www.openphilanthropy.org/open-philanthropy-course-development-grants/

Comment by Ben Pace on Announcing the launch of Open Phil's new website · 2022-06-08T07:28:03.758Z · EA · GW

Habryka left a lot of the relevant comments. My main positive is the separation of blogposts and research reports, I think that is likely pretty helpful when looking just for the high-effort research. My main negative was the information density decrease on the grants page, a page for a few years of my life I used to check regularly. Comparing on iPad right now with the way back machine, I used to see 8 grants on a page, but now I only see 2, so a 4x reduction.

Comment by Ben Pace on Results from the First Decade Review · 2022-05-15T00:41:36.947Z · EA · GW

Took me a while to find where you got your 2x+y from, I see it's visible if you highlight the cells in the sheet.

Here's a sheet with the score as sorted by the top 1k people, which is what I was interested in seeing: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1VODS3-NrlBTnSMbGibhT4M2FpmfT-ojaPTEuuFIk9xc/edit?usp=sharing

Comment by Ben Pace on Results from the First Decade Review · 2022-05-14T17:06:29.672Z · EA · GW

Feedback: I tried and failed on my phone to read the voting results by the ranking of how people voted. I don’t know what weighting is used in the spreadsheet so the ordering feels monkeyed-with.

Comment by Ben Pace on Why CEA Online doesn’t outsource more work to non-EA freelancers · 2022-05-07T18:08:09.797Z · EA · GW

(Someone told me this comment read as hostile to them; FYI I thought it was a funny series of thoughts that I had, no hostility meant at all!)

Comment by Ben Pace on Why CEA Online doesn’t outsource more work to non-EA freelancers · 2022-05-04T15:34:30.838Z · EA · GW

I saw this title and assumed someone was making a public criticism of CEA.

Then I saw it was written by a present CEA staff member. 

And I thought "Wow, creative way to get changes made at your organization." :D

Comment by Ben Pace on A retroactive grant for creating the HPMoR audiobook (Eneasz Brodski)? · 2022-05-04T12:22:22.794Z · EA · GW

If I were Thomas Kwa right now I would be offering Eneasz $10,000 for 5% of his impact certificate for making the HPMOR podcast.

Comment by Ben Pace on Is working for Meta a good or bad option? · 2022-04-29T23:18:05.059Z · EA · GW

Ah, this is the true meta trap for EAs.

Comment by Ben Pace on I burnt out at EAG. Let's talk about it. · 2022-04-23T19:30:48.981Z · EA · GW

Woop, thank you for true but contrary datapoints.

Comment by Ben Pace on I burnt out at EAG. Let's talk about it. · 2022-04-23T14:18:06.884Z · EA · GW

I had three on my first day and then was emotionally done. I remember thinking "to all other people, I can either cry with joy at what you say, or cry in frustration, but no other responses are available right now".

It involved (for me) gearing up a ton of context and interest in one person, finding something critical to say with them, and then they were gone and it was happening again.

I mean, maybe we were all just being dumb and should handle it better. I also wonder if there's some natural way for event organizers to be like "there are set break periods where we stop 1-1s from being booked" or something, though probably that's a bad solution and there's a better one.

Comment by Ben Pace on Neil Buddy Shah has been appointed CEO of the Clinton Health Access Initiative · 2022-04-20T15:07:31.124Z · EA · GW

After the mixup with CLR and CLTR, I can't believe there are also now two CHAI's that will sometimes be discussed on the EA Forum.

Comment by Ben Pace on FTX/CEA - show us your numbers! · 2022-04-19T17:05:23.571Z · EA · GW

Yeah, pretty reasonable.

Comment by Ben Pace on FTX/CEA - show us your numbers! · 2022-04-19T09:47:51.868Z · EA · GW

Well, you don’t have to be any more, because now it’s Jessica McCurdy’s reply.

Comment by Ben Pace on FTX/CEA - show us your numbers! · 2022-04-18T12:59:45.410Z · EA · GW

To be clear I think this instance is a fairly okay request to make as a post title, but I don’t want the reasoning to imply anyone can do this for whatever reason they like.

Comment by Ben Pace on FTX/CEA - show us your numbers! · 2022-04-18T12:58:31.608Z · EA · GW

Forgive the clickbait title, but EA is as prone to clickbait as anywhere else.

I mean, sometimes you have reason to make titles into a simple demand, but I wish there were a less weaksauce justification than “because our standards here are no better than anywhere else”.

Comment by Ben Pace on The Vultures Are Circling · 2022-04-08T03:05:40.019Z · EA · GW

I remember hearing that the money was just for the person and I felt alarmed, thinking that so many random people in my year at school would've worked their asses off to get $50k — it's more than my household earned in a year. 

Sydney told me scholarships like this are much more common in the US, then I updated that it's only to be paid against college fees which is way more reasonable. But I guess this is kind of ambiguous still? Does seem like it's two radically different products.

Comment by Ben Pace on Update from Open Philanthropy’s Longtermist EA Movement-Building team · 2022-03-11T22:14:57.669Z · EA · GW

Thanks! The core thing I'm hearing you say is that the scholarships are the sort of thing you wouldn't fund on a cost-effectiveness metric and 80k is, but that on a time-effectiveness metric that changes it so that the scholarships are now competitive.

Comment by Ben Pace on Update from Open Philanthropy’s Longtermist EA Movement-Building team · 2022-03-10T20:56:02.523Z · EA · GW

Great post.

I didn't quite parse this paragraph:

For example, when we fund e.g. 80,000 Hours, we (amongst other activities) support their full-time advisors to advise interested people about how to have more impactful careers. With our scholarship programs, we’re also trying to cause people to spend more time on more impactful activities. But rather than do this via the 80k advisors, our scholarship programs use money “directly” (without much intermediating EA labor) to try to make impactful careers more accessible and attractive. In general, we think we get less impact per dollar from interventions that consume money “directly” like this. Since EA labor is the scarcer resource in many contexts, these types of interventions can make sense for grantmakers to prioritize.  

I think you're saying that your scholarships seem good to you, and that this has something to do with the value of your time versus the value of 80k staff time, but I'm not quite sure how you're connecting these variables, and exactly whose time you're saving with the scholarships (I imagine it takes you a lot of time to make the scholarship decisions, but maybe not).

Comment by Ben Pace on Introducing 80k After Hours · 2022-03-02T03:35:13.090Z · EA · GW

This is excellent branding.

Comment by Ben Pace on New EA Cause Area: Run Blackwell's Bookstore · 2022-03-01T00:24:13.329Z · EA · GW

Beaten to the punch by a big established player! Grr, I'll not forget this one Waterstones. Someday I'll have my own publishing company and you'll rue the day you bought Blackwell's from under me...

Comment by Ben Pace on New EA Cause Area: Run Blackwell's Bookstore · 2022-02-07T00:58:46.843Z · EA · GW

Your very own Swiss-army coal-mine! It can also be used as a hidden lair for secret planning, a well-heated winter home, and if you make a couple of changes to your strength training, a place to turn your personal exercise/workouts into valuable coal that you can sell for money.

Comment by Ben Pace on New EA Cause Area: Run Blackwell's Bookstore · 2022-02-07T00:54:14.719Z · EA · GW

That’s right.

Comment by Ben Pace on New EA Cause Area: Run Blackwell's Bookstore · 2022-02-07T00:53:19.700Z · EA · GW

Mods! Weed ad!

Comment by Ben Pace on New EA Cause Area: Run Blackwell's Bookstore · 2022-02-06T17:07:57.731Z · EA · GW

Wait — what use do you have in mind for a coal-mine?

Comment by Ben Pace on New EA Cause Area: Run Blackwell's Bookstore · 2022-02-06T02:14:25.187Z · EA · GW

Added a note just below the epistemic status.

Comment by Ben Pace on New EA Cause Area: Run Blackwell's Bookstore · 2022-02-06T02:06:13.680Z · EA · GW

You're welcome.

Re hours: maybe? Personally I only imagine that being true for someone who's worked in this sort of retail before. If you haven't, and expect do a good job, then I reckon you'll be scrambling to get oriented and execute for at least several months if not the first year. Especially so if it's a business in decline and you're working to pull it out.

Comment by Ben Pace on New EA Cause Area: Run Blackwell's Bookstore · 2022-02-06T02:02:16.589Z · EA · GW

Thanks :)

Comment by Ben Pace on New EA Cause Area: Run Blackwell's Bookstore · 2022-02-06T02:01:49.755Z · EA · GW

+1. SSC argued that there was not enough money in politics, and I wonder to what extent the same argument applies to academic publishers. How much would it cost to buy top journals in every field? How much would it take to by Nature, or Science?

Comment by Ben Pace on New EA Cause Area: Run Blackwell's Bookstore · 2022-02-06T02:00:09.121Z · EA · GW

Yeah, this is the most likely reason to not ahead. Someone else suggested Blackwell's would have signed some legal agreement to not publish further, which would be a pretty severe obstacle.

I'm interested to understand why the publishing house is valued 10x the bookstore, I don't know why the book-publishers would make 10x-50x what the book-sellers do.

Comment by Ben Pace on FTX EA Fellowships · 2021-10-25T04:59:30.423Z · EA · GW

Yep!

Comment by Ben Pace on FTX EA Fellowships · 2021-10-25T04:45:24.292Z · EA · GW

Both forms say "This form can only be viewed by users in the owner's organisation."

Comment by Ben Pace on The LessWrong Team is now Lightcone Infrastructure, come work with us! · 2021-10-01T20:42:23.067Z · EA · GW

We've discussed the consultancies a fair bit in the team, I'd love to have consultants at the Bay Area Lightcone Office who can do high quality lit reviews or help make websites or whatever else there's demand for amongst the members.

I've not read the other post, sounds interesting.

Comment by Ben Pace on Buck's Shortform · 2021-09-02T06:44:50.916Z · EA · GW

Something I imagined while reading this was being part of a strangely massive (~1000 person) extended family whose goal was to increase the net wealth of the family. I think it would be natural to join one of the family businesses, it would be natural to make your own startup, and also it would be somewhat natural to provide services for the family that aren't directly about making the money yourself. Helping make connections, find housing, etc.

Comment by Ben Pace on EA Infrastructure Fund: May 2021 grant recommendations · 2021-06-04T09:07:10.395Z · EA · GW

Yeah, I think you understand me better now.

And btw, I think if there are particular grants that seem not in scope from a fund, is seems totally reasonable to ask them for their reasoning and update pos/neg on them if the reasoning does/doesn't check out. And it's also generally good to question the reasoning of a grant that doesn't make sense to you.

Comment by Ben Pace on EA Infrastructure Fund: May 2021 grant recommendations · 2021-06-04T08:37:39.859Z · EA · GW

Though it still does seem to me like those two grants are probably better fits for LTFF.

But this line is what I am disagreeing with. I'm saying there's a binary of "within scope" or not, and then otherwise it's up to the fund to fund what they think is best according to their judgment about EA Infrastructure or the Long-Term Future or whatever. Do you think that the EAIF should be able to tell the LTFF to fund a project because the EAIF thinks it's worthwhile for EA Infrastructure, instead of using the EAIF's money? Alternatively, if the EAIF thinks something is worth money for EA Infrastructure reasons, if the grant is probably more naturally under the scope of "Long-Term Future", do you think they shouldn't fund the grantee even if LTFF isn't going to either?

Comment by Ben Pace on EA Infrastructure Fund: May 2021 grant recommendations · 2021-06-04T06:13:11.741Z · EA · GW

Yeah, that's a good point, that donors who don't look at the grants (or know the individuals on the team much) will be confused if they do things outside the purpose of the team (e.g. donations to GiveDirectly, or a random science grant that just sounds cool), that sounds right. But I guess all of these grants seem to me fairly within the purview of EA Infrastructure?

The one-line description of the fund says:

The Effective Altruism Infrastructure Fund aims to increase the impact of projects that use the principles of effective altruism, by increasing their access to talent, capital, and knowledge.

I expect that for all of these grants the grantmakers think that they're orgs that either "use the principle of effective altruism" or help others do so.

I think I'd suggest instead that weeatquince name some specific grants and ask the fund managers the basic reason for why those grants seem to them like they help build EA Infrastructure (e.g. ask Michelle why CLTR seems to help things according to her) if that's unclear to weeatquince.

Comment by Ben Pace on EA Infrastructure Fund: May 2021 grant recommendations · 2021-06-03T19:39:52.796Z · EA · GW

The inclusion of things on this list that might be better suited to other funds (e.g the LTFF) without an explanation of why they are being funded from the Infrastructure Fund makes me slightly less likely in future to give directly to the  Infrastructure Fund and slightly more likely to just give to one of the bigger meta orgs you give to (like Rethink Priorities).
 

I think that different funders have different tastes, and if you endorse their tastes you should consider giving to them. I don't really see a case for splitting responsibilities like this. If Funder A thinks a grant is good, Funder B thinks it's bad, but it's nominally in Funder B's purview, this just doesn't seem like a strong arg against Funder A doing it if it seems like a good idea to them. What's the argument here? Why should Funder A not give a grant that seems good to them?

Comment by Ben Pace on Draft report on existential risk from power-seeking AI · 2021-05-08T21:22:12.418Z · EA · GW

Fixed, tah.

Comment by Ben Pace on Draft report on existential risk from power-seeking AI · 2021-05-08T06:33:43.259Z · EA · GW

Thanks for the thoughtful reply.

I do think I was overestimating how robust you're treating your numbers and premises, it seems like you're holding them all much more lightly than I think I'd been envisioning.

FWIW I am more interested in engaging with some of what you wrote in in your other comment than engaging on the specific probability you assign, for some of the reasons I wrote about here.

I think I have more I could say on the methodology, but alas, I'm pretty blocked up with other work atm. It'd be neat to spend more time reading the report and leave more comments here sometime.

Comment by Ben Pace on Draft report on existential risk from power-seeking AI · 2021-05-08T06:15:40.835Z · EA · GW

Great answer, thanks.