Posts

Proposed Longtermist Flag 2021-03-24T05:40:13.325Z
What Makes Outreach to Progressives Hard 2021-03-14T00:32:57.180Z
The Troubling Ethics of Writing (A Speech from Ancient Sumer) 2021-02-15T20:17:36.979Z
Blameworthiness for Avoidable Psychological Harms 2021-02-09T02:46:23.802Z
EA and the Possible Decline of the US: Very Rough Thoughts 2021-01-08T07:30:54.679Z
Cullen_OKeefe's Shortform 2020-11-22T06:37:39.812Z
FHI Report: How Will National Security Considerations Affect Antitrust Decisions in AI? An Examination of Historical Precedents 2020-07-28T18:33:17.256Z
AI Benefits Post 5: Outstanding Questions on Governing Benefits 2020-07-21T16:45:27.763Z
Parallels Between AI Safety by Debate and Evidence Law 2020-07-20T22:52:42.496Z
AI Benefits Post 4: Outstanding Questions on Selecting Benefits 2020-07-14T17:24:50.683Z
Antitrust-Compliant AI Industry Self-Regulation 2020-07-07T20:52:21.472Z
AI Benefits Post 3: Direct and Indirect Approaches to AI Benefits 2020-07-06T18:46:03.433Z
AI Benefits Post 2: How AI Benefits Differs from AI Alignment & AI for Good 2020-06-29T16:59:29.859Z
CARES Act Allows Charitable Deduction of 100% of Gross Income in 2020 2020-06-23T23:48:31.231Z
AI Benefits Post 1: Introducing “AI Benefits” 2020-06-22T16:58:20.103Z
Should EA Buy Distribution Rights for Foundational Books? 2020-06-17T05:38:32.723Z
FHI Report: The Windfall Clause: Distributing the Benefits of AI for the Common Good 2020-02-05T23:49:43.443Z
I'm Cullen O'Keefe, a Policy Researcher at OpenAI, AMA 2020-01-11T04:13:33.250Z
Defending Philanthropy Against Democracy 2019-10-06T07:20:45.888Z
Should I give to Our World In Data? 2019-09-10T04:56:41.437Z
Should EA Groups Run Organ Donor Registration Drives? 2019-03-27T16:29:40.261Z
On the (In)Applicability of Corporate Rights Cases to Digital Minds 2019-02-28T06:14:22.176Z
FHI Report: Stable Agreements in Turbulent Times 2019-02-21T17:12:51.085Z
EAs Should Invest All Year, then Give only on Giving Tuesday 2019-01-10T21:17:26.812Z
Which Image Do You Prefer?: a study of visual communication in six African countries 2018-12-03T06:38:40.758Z
Fisher & Syed on Tradable Obligations to Enhance Health 2018-08-12T22:17:20.304Z
Harvard EA's 2018–19 Vision 2018-08-04T22:47:29.289Z
Governmental CBA as an EA Career Step: A Shallow Investigation 2018-07-07T13:31:13.728Z

Comments

Comment by Cullen_OKeefe on Concerns with ACE's Recent Behavior · 2021-04-17T06:41:26.494Z · EA · GW

Agreed that it’s not dominant in society at-large, though I think it is dominant in a number of important institutions (esp. higher ed, the liberal nonprofit sphere, and journalism)

Comment by Cullen_OKeefe on Cullen_OKeefe's Shortform · 2021-04-09T02:12:09.289Z · EA · GW

Random, time-sensitive charity idea: start a pledge drive for people who have received their COVID vaccine to contribute the cost of at least one vaccine to the COVAX facility. Unfortunately, Americans can’t directly donate to COVAX, but people from the UK can.

Comment by Cullen_OKeefe on [deleted post] 2021-04-09T01:54:38.437Z

I suggest that this be merged with the motivation tag.

Comment by Cullen_OKeefe on Open Thread: April 2021 · 2021-04-09T01:50:59.211Z · EA · GW

A Wikipedia-style "random post" feature for the Forum could be cool, to help people find new posts. It would also help people find posts that are not fully tagged or organized.

Comment by Cullen_OKeefe on [deleted post] 2021-04-09T00:27:55.818Z

Citation Formatting

I would suggest that we don't encourage citations to books to include the name or (especially) city of the publisher. This information is almost always superfluous.

Comment by Cullen_OKeefe on A Comparison of Donor-Advised Fund Providers · 2021-04-06T15:40:44.249Z · EA · GW

Great post. One more resource that EAs should be aware of is Charitable Solutions LLC. They facilitate large (>$250k) DAF donations of exotic assets like restricted stock, LP interests, art, etc.

Comment by Cullen_OKeefe on Law school vs MPP in Australia for those who have strong verbal skills but are weak at maths · 2021-04-04T23:45:48.702Z · EA · GW

Fair points. My impression is that it's actually just hard to get into those lines of work without substantial experience. US law school is also just structured to make getting traditional law jobs much easier than policy jobs. I also think it's often prudent to model oneself as the median person in the reference class, even if there's good reason to think that one is not. Finally, empirically, most EAs that I knew in law school did in fact end up working as traditional lawyers.

Comment by Cullen_OKeefe on What Makes Outreach to Progressives Hard · 2021-04-04T23:43:17.457Z · EA · GW

Ah great, very happy to hear about the broader success. Seems like the causes may have been more local to my approach while leading HLSEA.

Comment by Cullen_OKeefe on EA for Jews - Proposal and Request for Comment · 2021-03-28T19:55:45.077Z · EA · GW

With the obvious caveat that Israel is not synonymous with Judaism, it may be worth noting that Israel has a (AFAICT) active and successful EA (or EA-adjacent) ecosystem, especially in the space of animal advocacy and meat alternatives.

Comment by Cullen_OKeefe on Law school vs MPP in Australia for those who have strong verbal skills but are weak at maths · 2021-03-28T19:42:11.047Z · EA · GW

Unfortunately I'm not sure I have great answers to this question given my lack of knowledge about the Australian law ecosystem. I would defer more heavily to those who, like Michael, know much more about that.

As Michael pointed out, law is not very well tailored to policy careers generally in the sense that it both teaches you much more than you need to know for policy in some areas (e.g., the minutiae of contract law) and much less in others (e.g., how to analyze proposed policy changes, economic/fiscal policy). However, it's also true that, for whatever reason, lawyers tend to be very overrepresented in lawmaking AFAICT.

Nevertheless, the prudent assumption in pursuing a law degree would be that you will be doing traditional lawyering for a while (maybe at least a decade) before being able to branch out into areas like policy or politics. This is the modal career path for lawyers and so you should assume it would be yours, too. For commercial law, this can entail grueling hours—you should be very clear-eyed about that. Opportunities within government can be both more livable and higher leverage, while still prestigious and good career experience (at the cost, of course, of lower pay).

Lesser quantitative skills are certainly more common among lawyers, though in many areas of law (e.g., tax, securities) they are important. It's also true that philosophers tend to do well in law due to similar skill requirements. So overall, I tend to agree that law is the better option here (as opposed only to an MPP). However, I'd only pursue the law degree if you're comfortable working as a lawyer in some capacity for a while, before pursuing things like policy or politics.

Hope this helps!

Comment by Cullen_OKeefe on Proposed Longtermist Flag · 2021-03-25T20:24:34.006Z · EA · GW

Seems reasonable :-)

Comment by Cullen_OKeefe on Proposed Longtermist Flag · 2021-03-25T17:07:21.545Z · EA · GW

Thanks Aaron! I think I made a mistake by calling it “proposed”, which probably implied more certainty than appropriate, and caused people to vote as if it was a proposal rather than a starting point for discussion.

Comment by Cullen_OKeefe on Some quick notes on "effective altruism" · 2021-03-25T17:06:15.021Z · EA · GW

Amazing. I knew RP did a lot of great work in this space, but didn’t realize how systematized you’d gotten. Great stuff :-)

Comment by Cullen_OKeefe on Some quick notes on "effective altruism" · 2021-03-25T03:39:58.798Z · EA · GW

It seems like EA could benefit from a dedicated, evidence-based messaging consultancy that served all EA orgs.

Comment by Cullen_OKeefe on Proposed Longtermist Flag · 2021-03-25T03:04:11.453Z · EA · GW

Thanks; wasn't even aware it was a thing one could do :-)

Comment by Cullen_OKeefe on Proposed Longtermist Flag · 2021-03-25T03:03:40.888Z · EA · GW

I think it looks a bit too much like pizza, though.

Comment by Cullen_OKeefe on Proposed Longtermist Flag · 2021-03-25T03:02:56.049Z · EA · GW

Another, simpler concept: Longtermist Flag v2

The hourglass represents time, as well as an "X" shape for X-risk.

Comment by Cullen_OKeefe on Proposed Longtermist Flag · 2021-03-25T03:01:50.596Z · EA · GW

Also like this concept a lot

Comment by Cullen_OKeefe on Proposed Longtermist Flag · 2021-03-25T03:01:32.081Z · EA · GW

I like the concept a ton, but think the dot is a bit too small, aesthetically and functionally.

Comment by Cullen_OKeefe on Proposed Longtermist Flag · 2021-03-25T01:53:29.686Z · EA · GW

You don't have to apologize! I'm not a graphic designer; it's not surprising to me that many people don't like it.

Your feedback is good; I might try to iterate and incorporate in it.

Comment by Cullen_OKeefe on What Makes Outreach to Progressives Hard · 2021-03-24T16:03:14.310Z · EA · GW

Discussion of progressive ordinal speciesism on the latest 80,000 Hours podcast:

Robert Wiblin: What’s something important that your political fellow travelers get really wrong, in your view?

Ezra Klein: Animal rights. Maybe since I’ve already said that, you want me to do a different one. But I do first want to say just animal rights.

Ezra Klein: I think this is just a tremendous quantity of suffering that a political movement that thinks of itself as concerned with suffering ignores. Not only ignores, but mocks and dismisses. A lot of people who think of themselves as good on all these issues, you say, “Well, how about we don’t torture so many chickens?” They’re like, “Oh, you crazy vegan.”

Robert Wiblin: Yeah.

Ezra Klein: I really don’t like it. I think it’s a way we teach ourselves to be less compassionate.

Comment by Cullen_OKeefe on Proposed Longtermist Flag · 2021-03-24T06:26:56.417Z · EA · GW

Interesting point re the sun — I literally just copied it from Malawi’s flag and tweaked a few things :-)

Comment by Cullen_OKeefe on Proposed Longtermist Flag · 2021-03-24T06:26:14.516Z · EA · GW

Yeah, I do think it’s a bit more complicated than generally accepted vexillological best practices.

Comment by Cullen_OKeefe on What Makes Outreach to Progressives Hard · 2021-03-24T05:43:33.256Z · EA · GW

Another thought I meant to include with my original post:

These reflections/experiences have also led me to believe that, all else equal, EA groups at colleges are more valuable than ones at grad schools. Anecdotally, One For The World college chapters were much more successful on average than HLS's, despite HLS grads' higher earning potential. My model is that many people adopt the sort of EA-skeptical progressive worldview described here in college, which makes outreach in grad schools harder.

I think making EA a viable alternative or complement to which college students are exposed during their formative years would be very valuable for this.

Comment by Cullen_OKeefe on Why are some EAs into cryonics? · 2021-03-18T04:41:15.912Z · EA · GW

I found Jeff Kaufman's comment from the 2013 compilation persuasive:

It's also useful to step back, however, and consider how valuable it is to preserve and revive people. If you're a total hedonistic utilitarian, caring about there being as many good lives over all time as possible, deaths averted isn't the real metric. Instead the question is how many lives will there be and how good are they? In a future society with the technology to revive cryonics patients there would still be some kind of resource limits bounding the number of people living or being emulated. Their higher technology would probably allow them to have as many people alive as they chose, within those bounds. If they decided to revive people, this would probably come in place of using those resources to create additional people or run more copies of existing people. This suggests cryonics doesn't actually make there be more people, just changes which people there are. If you're funding cryonics for the most intelligent, conscientious, or creative people then this might be somewhat useful, but the chances that any of us are the best candidate here are low.

Comment by Cullen_OKeefe on What Makes Outreach to Progressives Hard · 2021-03-15T23:57:14.460Z · EA · GW

I think for many it would depend on what the Harvard Law grad actually did as a profession, eg - are you a corporate lawyer (class traitor) or a human rights lawyer (not class traitor).

This is consistent with my experience. But also, I think a lot of people that end up at HLS don't think in those sort of Marxist/socialist class terms, but rather just have a sort of strong Rawslian egalitarianism commitment.

I also think many people at HLS are hilariously unaware of their class privilege. In fact, many of them think of themselves as victims of unfair power structures vis-a-vis being students. This is how you get HLS grads advocating for their student loans to be forgiven by the federal government (this was truly a fashionable position when I was there) or generally spending their time advocating for HLS students getting better treatment. For example, there were at least two student groups [1] [2] advocating for HLS students to get better financial treatment The second one explicitly focuses on how large law firms (starting salary: $180-190k) treat early-career lawyers.

Comment by Cullen_OKeefe on What Makes Outreach to Progressives Hard · 2021-03-15T23:49:37.437Z · EA · GW

This is my experience too.

Comment by Cullen_OKeefe on What Makes Outreach to Progressives Hard · 2021-03-15T23:48:24.639Z · EA · GW

I think it's a matter of prioritization and non-quantification: they either don't really appreciate how much bigger/worse extreme poverty is, or else agree that it's very bad but just don't want to get involved in stopping it because they're worried about being Neo-Colonialist or something similar and it's easier to just focus on the domestic context.

Comment by Cullen_OKeefe on What Makes Outreach to Progressives Hard · 2021-03-15T23:47:02.957Z · EA · GW

And I guess totalism would also imply we should have more children, in contradiction to the idea that we should have fewer to protect the environment.

This is mostly what I was referring to. Matt Yglesias has often said that he gets a lot of pushback against his One Billion Americans book from leftists who implictly have some sort of prior against both population and economic growth.

Also, as Michael says below, I think they (like most people who aren't moral philosophers) just don't really have coherent population ethics.

Comment by Cullen_OKeefe on Why do so few EAs and Rationalists have children? · 2021-03-15T03:26:46.652Z · EA · GW

That is a very worthwhile question, but invoking Shakerism is likely to obfuscate the process of answering it.

Comment by Cullen_OKeefe on Why do so few EAs and Rationalists have children? · 2021-03-15T03:05:41.181Z · EA · GW

Seem like pretty reasonable assumptions. If you thought that either was untrue, then this whole line of inquiry would seem self-defeating.

Comment by Cullen_OKeefe on Why do so few EAs and Rationalists have children? · 2021-03-15T03:04:54.880Z · EA · GW

This wrongly assumes that people act only on moral reasoning, not other (e.g., personal happiness) factors. It also wrongly assumes that factors that apply to one's own moral deliberation should universalize to either other EAs or people in general, when in fact I hold neither. I am generally very happy to see other EAs have kids, but don't feel morally compelled to do so enough to override my selfish preference against.

Comment by Cullen_OKeefe on Why do so few EAs and Rationalists have children? · 2021-03-15T02:58:22.053Z · EA · GW

I suspect that's not true (due to the popularity of total population ethics in the movement), but would be interested in getting solid empirical data on the point.

Comment by Cullen_OKeefe on Why do so few EAs and Rationalists have children? · 2021-03-15T02:57:07.053Z · EA · GW

Think on the margin. Once the cost of conversion is high, transmitting the ideology (and humanity) by child-rearing makes more sense. In general, there are plenty of ways for me to promote population growth and the ideology that don't require me reproducing.

Comment by Cullen_OKeefe on Why do so few EAs and Rationalists have children? · 2021-03-15T02:55:12.581Z · EA · GW

Shakers seemed to believe that any procreation was wrong.

Comment by Cullen_OKeefe on Why do so few EAs and Rationalists have children? · 2021-03-15T02:50:12.036Z · EA · GW

We can expect that we can "convert" people much more cheaply/effectively than they could. At current margins, it almost certainly costs far less to create EAs by "converting" existing people than "creating" new people and raising them in an EA household in hopes that they will later become EA. EA already has far more "adherents" than Sharkerism did at its peak. Also, neither celibacy nor childlessness is a "plank" of EA.

Comment by Cullen_OKeefe on When to get a vaccine in the Bay Area as a young healthy person · 2021-03-15T00:17:42.218Z · EA · GW

In my view, the main problem with US vaccination right now is slow rollout, not poor prioritization. Excessive deference slows down rollout even further.

Comment by Cullen_OKeefe on Why do so few EAs and Rationalists have children? · 2021-03-15T00:13:10.443Z · EA · GW

I agree—I'm ideologically pro-natalist but averse to having kids myself due to cost and more effective ways to positively impact the future.

Comment by Cullen_OKeefe on Why do so few EAs and Rationalists have children? · 2021-03-15T00:11:58.104Z · EA · GW

We have much better communications technologies than the Shakers had.

Comment by Cullen_OKeefe on What Makes Outreach to Progressives Hard · 2021-03-14T23:00:56.299Z · EA · GW

Thanks!

Comment by Cullen_OKeefe on Cullen_OKeefe's Shortform · 2021-03-14T22:59:48.620Z · EA · GW

Should EAs prepare to start stockpiling N95s when the pandemic is over? There will presumably be a lot of excess capacity, so later this year it may be easier than usual to buy up a ton on N95s and store them for the next few years.

Comment by Cullen_OKeefe on Why do so few EAs and Rationalists have children? · 2021-03-14T19:21:28.148Z · EA · GW

Having kids is very expensive.

Comment by Cullen_OKeefe on Certificates of impact · 2021-03-14T02:21:24.402Z · EA · GW

Ah, that makes sense :-)

Comment by Cullen_OKeefe on Certificates of impact · 2021-03-13T18:58:49.450Z · EA · GW

Shouldn’t impact be fungible at some level though?

Comment by Cullen_OKeefe on How should EAs manage their copyrights? · 2021-03-11T01:40:31.697Z · EA · GW

Fixed, thanks!

Comment by Cullen_OKeefe on How should EAs manage their copyrights? · 2021-03-10T03:50:57.583Z · EA · GW

It's good to think about this, though most of the value probably comes from the small number of most valuable works, of course. For most people and works, it's probably a trivial problem.

I'm not sure that I agree that

On the other hand, verbatim copying may not be as valuable as it used to be, because one can simply link to your work instead of copying it to another URL, but this runs into the problem of link rot. At the same time, some EA-related works have been published commercially and likely benefit from aspects of traditional copyright, at least in the short term.

A number of valuable things, like compiling copyrighted works into an anthology or preparing other derivative works, can be prevented by copyright.

EAs with influential writings should definitely pay attention to their copyrights during estate planning, to avoid the Orphan Works problem. It may also behoove Forum admins to think about having the site TOU to have some explicit licensing language to make preservation of EA Forum posts easier.

I generally use perma.cc in my own academic writings to prevent linkrot. I assume some people also archive various EA sites; if not, somebody should!

Comment by Cullen_OKeefe on How should EAs manage their copyrights? · 2021-03-10T03:38:33.926Z · EA · GW

Related: Should EA Buy Distribution Rights for Foundational Books?

Comment by Cullen_OKeefe on Charges against BitMEX and cofounders · 2021-03-08T03:29:25.363Z · EA · GW

Following up on this: I had a conversation that updated me to believe that CEA is doing the right thing here. Unfortunately I can't disclose much about that conversation, but I am posting this here for accountability.

Comment by Cullen_OKeefe on The Importance of Artificial Sentience · 2021-03-04T17:11:31.750Z · EA · GW

This post is a very valuable resource—one of the best current compilations on the issue I've seen so far.

Comment by Cullen_OKeefe on Dutch anti-trust regulator bans pro-animal welfare chicken cartel · 2021-02-28T00:23:27.467Z · EA · GW

I haven't read the case, but under US antitrust law this case would have the same result. The reasoning would be that individual consumers WTP for animal welfare improvements is a benefit to them, but that benefit can be realized without anticompetitive harms of raised costs and reduced variety: namely, welfare-conscious consumers can pay more for chicken raised in better conditions, and welfare-indifferent consumers still have the option to buy cheaper chickens. The discussion of "welfare" as such would therefore be a bit misleading in the US context—it's a shorthand for the maximal consumer surplus in competitive market conditions, not the type of felicific calculus EAs often do.