Comment by cullen_okeefe on Bounty: Guide To Switching From Farmed Fish To Wild-Caught Fish · 2019-03-01T18:25:09.899Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Brian Tomasik has written about this here:

Substitution across fish types
The analysis becomes more complex when considering other wild fish species and fish farming. A decrease in the wild population of a given fish species may not reduce total fish consumption but might merely shift consumption to other fish.
Fishing down the food web
Big fish tend to be overexploited first, since they're easier to catch and take longer to mature. As populations of big fish decline, the result is fishing down the food web, i.e., harvesting smaller fish species. To produce the same amount of fish meat, more total fish will need to be harvested. Even if Fred weighs the badness of killing fish by the brain complexity of the fish killed, as long as Fred's brain-complexity function is less than linear in the mass of the fish being caught, then catching a given mass of smaller fish will be worse in Fred's eyes.c Assuming the total mass of fish harvested stays roughly the same now and into the long run, then eating more big fish and thereby reducing their long-term yields will have made things worse for Fred.
Fish farming
In addition to causing consumption of more small wild fish, overfishing of big species in the wild creates pressure to produce farmed fish. Some farmed fish are fed smaller wild-caught fish, which means fish farming can significantly increase total fishing. This would be prima facie bad in Fred's eyes.
However, there might be cases where fishing pressure on smaller wild-caught fish who are fed to bigger fish is sufficiently intense that populations of the smaller fish also decline. One example of this was the Peruvian anchovy fishery, which had supplied fish meal for livestock but which collapsed, leading to increased demand for soy protein instead.
Unfortunately, other fish-feed sources might be even worse than wild-caught fish, such as insects. Farming insects to feed farmed fish would significantly multiply the number of animals killed by humans. That said, fish feed may also include plant-based ingredients.
How much would substitution happen?
In rich countries, I would expect that demand for fish would remain pretty stable in the face of further fishery declines. As there become fewer big wild fish, prices of fish increase slightly, which slightly reduces the quantity demanded. And some eco-conscious consumers might cut back on fish in response to overfishing. But on the whole I expect the effect to be modest for affluent omnivores.
However, the effect might be more pronounced in poor countries, which may lack the resources to undertake aquaculture. According to the UN FAO:
In many areas of sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, [...] fish consumption levels remain too low and they are failing to benefit from the contributions that fisheries and aquaculture are increasingly making elsewhere in terms of sustainable food security and income.
Given that up to 90% of US seafood comes from outside the US and that most rich countries import a lot of seafood from developing countries, increased consumption of fish in rich countries might indeed reduce long-term fishing by poor countries (to the detrmiment of indigent people in those countries).
Total fish production
One macroscopic perspective from which to assess the total impact of fishing is the following graph (compiled by Earth Policy Institute). [Graph here] I think the trends in the graph might be overstated if these figures include China, which is a major fish producer that's widely believed to overreport its fish numbers.d So the increase in fishing is possibly less dramatic than what's shown. But assuming the overall trend of wild + farmed fish is still an increasing one, then this is a bad sign from Fred's perspective, even if Fred only cares about fish in proportion to their mass (so that Fred wants to minimize the total biomass of fish caught). This is weak evidence that further demand for fish would make things worse for Fred, since most of the trend in the graph was probably driven by growing fish demand.
Of course, some fishery doomsayers might claim that the upward trend in the graph can't last forever (especially since fish farming often relies on wild-caught fish), and if they're correct, then drawing conclusions from the portion of the curve we can see now would give the wrong impression. But given that some fisheries are recovering, especially in the US, I'm personally skeptical about "end of fish" scenarios.
When considering substitution of fish consumers away from a declining fish species toward other species and fish farming, the effect of marginal big-fish consumption in the short run on total long-term fish harvesting becomes unclear. It's not obvious how much a reduction in populations of big wild fish reduces total fish consumption especially by the global poor (which could be good from Fred's perspective) versus how much it merely shifts consumption to other fish types (which could be quite bad from Fred's perspective).

On the (In)Applicability of Corporate Rights Cases to Digital Minds

2019-02-28T06:14:22.176Z · score: 12 (4 votes)
Comment by cullen_okeefe on EAs and EA Orgs Should Move Cash from Low-Interest to High-Interest Options · 2019-02-25T15:47:51.912Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for the cite; great analysis. I've updated my post to incorporate some of yours. :-)

FHI Report: Stable Agreements in Turbulent Times

2019-02-21T17:12:51.085Z · score: 23 (11 votes)
Comment by cullen_okeefe on EAs Should Invest All Year, then Give only on Giving Tuesday · 2019-01-23T19:48:45.793Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Done, thanks :-)

Comment by cullen_okeefe on EAs Should Invest All Year, then Give only on Giving Tuesday · 2019-01-11T15:43:44.973Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks Jeff. I agree.

Note that, strictly speaking, the formula is the value of a given dollar if invested until GT. So, if we're referring to the 20,001st dollar, then we should probably adjust the probability of it getting matched down, way below my 30%. (Due to the time it takes to make several donations on Giving Tuesday morning, that probability should curve down before that anyway). But if you still assign it a probability of 12%, it's worth doing now.

My personal credence that donations above $20K would be matched is probably much lower than this for the reasons you identify, though.

Comment by cullen_okeefe on EAs Should Invest All Year, then Give only on Giving Tuesday · 2019-01-11T15:38:36.773Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

And note that you can adjust for the probability of value drift in the spreadsheet :-)

EAs Should Invest All Year, then Give only on Giving Tuesday

2019-01-10T21:17:26.812Z · score: 49 (30 votes)
Comment by cullen_okeefe on [Link] How to set up your planned giving now · 2019-01-04T20:46:43.725Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Set up a bank account beneficiary (CEA USA) as a result of this. Thanks Aaron!

Comment by cullen_okeefe on Which Image Do You Prefer?: a study of visual communication in six African countries · 2018-12-09T21:50:33.009Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Totally. I'll do some elaboration on why I found it useful [we discussed some of this on Facebook, but I thought it worthwhile to post publicly :-)]:

When I table for EA causes, I get a lot of pushback from left-leaning people that are worried (both justifiably and not) about histories of paternalistic and imperialistic aid in the developing world. Specifically, a lot of grad students (where I am) are already quite committed to using a social justice framework to evaluate potential interventions, which puts a lot of emphasis on avoiding these things.

I think EA as such does a good job of mitigating this at the object level by focusing on demonstrable impact. But I don't think we currently do a great job communicating this to people with those worries, which in my experience are quite popular. Adopting better messaging can be a cheap signal that we take these concerns seriously, or moral trade with people who care about donor side attitudes more than effectiveness. My prediction is that this would potentially open them up to both global giving and further engagement with EA. Otherwise, it's hard for us to distinguish ourselves from the reference class of potential white-savior-y people who want to do good overseas.

Which Image Do You Prefer?: a study of visual communication in six African countries

2018-12-03T06:38:40.758Z · score: 11 (14 votes)

Fisher & Syed on Tradable Obligations to Enhance Health

2018-08-12T22:17:20.304Z · score: 6 (6 votes)
Comment by cullen_okeefe on Bangladesh is in Desperate Need For Effective Altruists · 2018-08-05T16:47:36.336Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for sharing this with us, Farhan. Like Holly, my heart goes out to you and the people of Dhaka.

I wish I was in a better position to help. This feels a bit feeble, but I'm sharing it just because there's a small probability that it helps. The EA community has done a little work on traffic safety. Obviously, this is quite different from the root problem of political corruption. However, given the entanglement of the corruption/violence with the traffic safety catalyst here, perhaps some of the listed organizations would amplify the concerns being voiced and bring more attention to Bangladesh—both the traffic issue and the resulting protests/crackdown.

Comment by cullen_okeefe on Harvard EA's 2018–19 Vision · 2018-08-05T16:12:21.620Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks Michael! I've linked to a Google Doc version with footnotes for ease-of-reading:

Comment by cullen_okeefe on One for the World as a potential vehicle to expand the reach of Effective Altruism · 2018-08-04T23:47:01.809Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA · GW

This is correct about HLS. We think that OFTW outreach has generally been a good way to build name recognition for EA—if you ask people what we do, they know about OFTW because it's a big, very visible effort. I think there's some risk that they think we're limited to poverty work (a general EA problem), but I don't think this is an unavoidable consequence of our partnership with OFTW—it's because our other programming has so far been less visible.

It's also a good way for us to stratify our programming (both for our members and for involving non-members) so that we have meaningful interaction with both EA-sympathetic "normal" (i.e., not EA career things) people and career-minded EAs.

Harvard EA's 2018–19 Vision

2018-08-04T22:47:29.289Z · score: 11 (13 votes)
Comment by cullen_okeefe on Governmental CBA as an EA Career Step: A Shallow Investigation · 2018-07-08T23:13:55.989Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I generally agree, which is why I explicitly acknowledge this in the post. But I also think you're mistaken about what's democratically feasible. The citizenry definitely gives a nonzero value to foreign lives (e.g.,, but current CBA only weighs them quantitatively (which is as good as not at all). I really doubt that diminishing the discounting rate by a point or so would engender political backlash; most people presumably think we should care about the future too and in any case have no clue what the discount rate is.

Basically, the social welfare function of the US citizenry is actually probably more cosmopolitan than current CBA. CBA is pretty well isolated from political scrutiny (most people have no idea what it is and it generally has bipartisan support), so I don't think minor positive adjustments are a big risk.

Comment by cullen_okeefe on Governmental CBA as an EA Career Step: A Shallow Investigation · 2018-07-08T21:30:06.237Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks! I've added it to the Goodreads list.

Governmental CBA as an EA Career Step: A Shallow Investigation

2018-07-07T13:31:13.728Z · score: 6 (6 votes)
Comment by cullen_okeefe on Announcing Rethink Priorities · 2018-03-26T21:51:38.824Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · EA · GW

Super interesting! Keep up the good work! :-)

Comment by cullen_okeefe on We Could Move $80 Million to Effective Charities, Pineapples Included · 2018-03-26T21:49:56.032Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

A final update for this: it looks like they have stopped considering new applications. They have made grants to the following (arguably) EA orgs:

  • GiveDirectly ($2 MM)
  • Possible ($1 MM)
  • MAPS ($5 MM)
  • SENS ($2 MM)

Total directed to EA orgs: $10MM

Apologies if I'm missing any.

Comment by cullen_okeefe on We Could Move $80 Million to Effective Charities, Pineapples Included · 2018-01-17T06:53:58.076Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

It looks like they also donated to Possible, which is a TLYCS charity :-)

Comment by cullen_okeefe on We Could Move $80 Million to Effective Charities, Pineapples Included · 2017-12-21T23:24:04.928Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I'm running a PredictionBook prediction on the success of this: :-)