Posts

Possible way of reducing great power war probability? 2019-11-28T04:27:19.768Z · score: 27 (16 votes)
Americans give ~4%, not 2% 2019-11-03T19:10:13.012Z · score: 34 (13 votes)
Remote local group leaders? 2019-10-13T21:43:20.814Z · score: 22 (11 votes)
David Denkenberger: Loss of Industrial Civilization and Recovery (Workshop) 2019-02-19T15:58:01.214Z · score: 17 (7 votes)
Alliance to Feed the Earth in Disasters (ALLFED) Progress Report & Giving Tuesday Appeal 2018-11-21T05:20:37.922Z · score: 16 (12 votes)
Cost-Effectiveness of Foods for Global Catastrophes: Even Better than Before? 2018-11-19T21:57:05.518Z · score: 20 (22 votes)
[Paper] Interventions that May Prevent or Mollify Supervolcanic Eruptions 2018-01-15T21:46:27.407Z · score: 20 (20 votes)
How you can save expected lives for $0.20-$400 each and reduce X risk 2017-11-27T02:23:44.742Z · score: 24 (28 votes)
Should we be spending no less on alternate foods than AI now? 2017-10-29T23:28:39.440Z · score: 31 (33 votes)
Futures of altruism special issue? 2016-12-18T19:16:02.114Z · score: 1 (3 votes)
Saving expected lives at $10 apiece? 2016-12-14T15:38:38.561Z · score: 15 (15 votes)
Advice Wanted on Expanding an EA Project 2016-04-23T23:20:02.455Z · score: 4 (4 votes)
Essay Competition on Preparation for Global Food Catastrophes 2016-03-17T01:49:12.131Z · score: 6 (6 votes)
Investment opportunity for the risk neutral 2016-01-25T15:29:48.579Z · score: -1 (11 votes)
My Cause Selection: Dave Denkenberger 2015-08-16T15:06:25.456Z · score: 6 (6 votes)

Comments

Comment by denkenberger on Are there any public health funding opportunities with COVID-19 that are plausibly competitive with Givewell top charities per dollar? · 2020-03-15T17:38:52.664Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks, though it appears that the article says that China's production rate of masks has still not quite recovered to last year's rate (50 billion per year, or 137 million per day, if the above number counts all days in the year).

Comment by denkenberger on All Bay Area EA events will be postponed until further notice · 2020-03-11T05:18:44.317Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Edited for clarity.

Comment by denkenberger on All Bay Area EA events will be postponed until further notice · 2020-03-10T02:36:21.503Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

I was thinking of short term as weeks, e.g. canceling events in March instead of waiting until April to cancel events from then on.

Comment by denkenberger on All Bay Area EA events will be postponed until further notice · 2020-03-08T19:13:08.989Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

1. Good point
2. Without sustained protective measures, we only get herd immunity after a certain number get infected, roughly 50% for R0 = 2. So I don't think short-term measures alone (e.g. earlier travel or event banning) would impact this.
3. Again, you need sustained efforts, not just a difference in short-term effort to flatten the curve.
4. Good point
5. Without 4, it appears that the outbreak would have already peaked by the time we develop, test, and scale up a vaccine
6. This is possible, but most think other countries will not take as extreme measures

So overall, this does give significant probability that short-term actions could have high impact, so they do look worth doing.

Comment by denkenberger on Quantifying lives saved by individual actions against COVID-19 · 2020-03-08T18:59:48.041Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I agree that if we have sustained protective measures, it would not only lower the peak but also reduce the total number of people exposed. However, I am defining a short-term action as doing something we would not normally do in the next few weeks, like canceling a conference or early travel bans. I think this would delay the peak, but it's not clear to me that the peak would be appreciably lower. Furthermore, this says there are about 60,000 full function ventilators and 160,000 total ventilators. If 10% percent of people are infected at the peak and 3% of those require ventilation, that would be 1 million requiring ventilation. So even in the US, and with moderate protective measures, it looks like most people would not be getting the ventilation they need (though lowering the peak will still help somewhat). Of course if the protective measures actually stopped the spread early, then that would be a big benefit.

Comment by denkenberger on All Bay Area EA events will be postponed until further notice · 2020-03-07T19:18:17.944Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for making your model explicit. See my comment here. Basically, the crux is that if there is going to be global spread, it could be that the final mortality is independent of short-term actions. It would be great for an epidemiologist to weigh in.

Comment by denkenberger on Quantifying lives saved by individual actions against COVID-19 · 2020-03-07T19:00:03.735Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · EA · GW

I agree that it is useful to make simple models. The consensus appears to be that there will be a global spread, so then it appears that short-term actions could have very high impact. However, one could also argue that then the end state is going to be the same, so that would mean short-term actions would have no impact. It is true if social distancing (physical distance, handwashing, gloves, masks, etc.) is maintained for the entire pandemic, then R0 falls below one sooner, so fewer people get the disease. You can see a model of this here. On the 80,000 Hours podcast, they say that reducing travel out of the place of origin by 90% in the beginning only delays the outbreak 3 weeks, likely not enough time to get a vaccine. So which one is right, a huge impact due to short-term actions or basically nothing?

Comment by denkenberger on Potential High-Leverage and Inexpensive Mitigations (which are still feasible) for Pandemics · 2020-03-06T03:54:55.862Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Yes, this morning in Fairbanks it was -32F (-36C)!

Though many of the recommendations seem like common sense in retrospect, the reality is that these interventions are relatively neglected. We would have been better off if we had done some planning ahead of time about how to scale up personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks. Furthermore, common sense varies. For some, it is common sense that a mask will protect you from illness, but people do not realize that the pore size of a simple polymer surgical mask is significantly larger than most evaporated cough/sneeze droplets. At the other end of the spectrum, common sense might lead you to believe that an improvised fabric mask would be ineffective because the pore size is larger than the typical surgical mask made of polymer. And indeed the median particle that is sneezed would go through a fabric mask. However, when you look at the droplet size distribution, the majority of mass (and therefore viruses) are actually contained in the larger droplets that would be stopped by a fabric mask. Similarly, common sense might lead you to believe that a glove needs to be rubber because that is how we get most of them. But if dexterity is not critical, one can use plastic (e.g. garbage bags). Another piece of common sense that I had before embarking on this project was that this PPE would just slow down the spread, but eventually everyone would get the disease, so the mortality at the end would be the same (assuming a vaccine is not developed in time). But in reality, since people who have had the disease generally have immunity, the number of people that infected person spreads to eventually falls below one, and the virus dies out, not infecting everyone. So these simple PPE interventions could actually significantly reduce overall mortality. Furthermore, if people can do more distancing early on, the spread of the virus could be stopped early, preventing a pandemic. So there really is a lot that we can do on the non-medical side.

Comment by denkenberger on Potential High-Leverage and Inexpensive Mitigations (which are still feasible) for Pandemics · 2020-03-05T21:46:23.194Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Same as in the post above here.

Comment by denkenberger on Potential High-Leverage and Inexpensive Mitigations (which are still feasible) for Pandemics · 2020-03-05T05:13:52.734Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Depending on how the situation develops, I think our suggestions about homemade versions of masks, gloves, etc. could also be useful. Hopefully we do not get to the point of loss of critical industries and needing backup plans.

Comment by denkenberger on AI Impacts: Historic trends in technological progress · 2020-02-24T05:32:33.772Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

What about the cost of a painting/photograph? You would have to deal with issues of resolution and color, but it seems like there could be a significant discontinuity going to digital.

Comment by denkenberger on Has anyone done an analysis on the importance, tractability, and neglectedness of keeping human-digestible calories in the ocean in case we need it after some global catastrophe? · 2020-02-18T18:44:50.763Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for your interest—all of ALLFED's published research is here. But what is not yet published is that it is looking like the ocean fertilization effect will not be as strong as we had originally estimated. However, there are ~10 billion tons of deeper water fish (200 to 1000 m down), though they would be expensive to harvest. We think producing seaweed would be low cost and feed many people.

Comment by denkenberger on AI Impacts: Historic trends in technological progress · 2020-02-16T01:02:14.860Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

This is fascinating work! Small comment: you mentioned that the practical lens concentration limit is about 50% of the intensity at the surface of the sun and that we likely achieved that 1000 years ago. But then you say that magnesium combustion reaches 3370 Kelvin. Since the sun is about 5800 Kelvin and the total radiation goes with the fourth power of the absolute temperature, that would mean magnesium would only be 1/9 the intensity of the sun. So that would mean that magnesium combustion would not have surpassed a good magnifying glass.

Comment by denkenberger on Update on civilizational collapse research · 2020-02-13T04:10:09.365Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for writing this up. I would love to see more detail in general, but in particular on this point:

The highest leverage point for intervention in a potential post-collapse environment would be at the state level. Individuals, even wealthy individuals, lack the infrastructure and human resources at the scale necessary to rebuild effectively. There are some decent mitigations possible in the space of information archival, such as seed banks and internet archives, but these are far less likely to have long term impacts compared to state efforts.

So you're assuming that the states still function after the collapse? What do you think they would do and what would you like them to do differently? What do you think about interventions post catastrophe to reduce the likelihood of collapse? For instance, there is the idea of a backup shortwave radio system that I mentioned in our joint salon that would not require a state.
Why is the Internet archive (I assume printed out) not important, because there would already be enough information preserved in books? I don't think that would apply so much in the case of seeds because we might not be able to continue growing the high-yielding varieties that are dependent on fertilizer and pesticides.

Comment by denkenberger on Clean cookstoves may be competitive with GiveWell-recommended charities · 2020-02-12T23:04:01.928Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

I think this is important to investigate given the high mortality. I noticed that you ignored the savings in fuel. My understanding was that this could be quite significant and the stoves could pay for themselves either in saved fuel cost or saved opportunity cost of time from gathering the fuel. If this were true, you might be able to argue that the life savings and climate benefit came at zero cost. You would still have the issue that people are not willing to pay for them, perhaps because they have a high discount rate. Loans might ameliorate this.

Comment by denkenberger on Update on civilizational collapse research · 2020-02-11T19:35:37.038Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · EA · GW
I think most nuclear winter scenarios also have less than a 90% food reduction impact

The Open Philanthropy funded nuclear winter project will soon have an estimate of global agricultural impact, but I think without relocation of crops, 90% production loss is plausible. How that translates into mortality is complicated. It may be possible to relocate crops towards the equator, but the likelihood of that happening would depend on preparation ahead of time for coordination, etc. On the positive side, we have some food storage, which has the potential to take ~10% of the population through a nuclear winter with complete agricultural collapse if perfectly protected. However, on the other extreme, if food were distributed equally, then perhaps a 70% food supply reduction would mean everyone starves. The reality is likely to be between these extremes of perfect protection and equal distribution. Of course the situation changes dramatically if we can produce alternative foods.

Comment by denkenberger on Four components of strategy research · 2020-02-03T07:56:57.661Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for mentioning ALLFED! As we note in the model you link to, a more updated model is here.

Comment by denkenberger on Cotton‐Barratt, Daniel & Sandberg, 'Defence in Depth Against Human Extinction' · 2020-02-02T18:38:52.975Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

I heartily agree-I've been saying for years that response and resilience are neglected in the X risk/GCR community relative to prevention.

Comment by denkenberger on Concerning the Recent 2019-Novel Coronavirus Outbreak · 2020-01-29T05:20:11.463Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Have you looked at how long pandemics have lasted in the past? I think it's a lot longer than five weeks.

Comment by denkenberger on Doing good is as good as it ever was · 2020-01-26T22:12:18.641Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I agree that absolute impact is the better way of looking at this. You talk about the original pitch of EA of donating 10% of your salary and saving quite a few lives. But now that same person can donate the same amount of money to the long-term future and potentially save orders of magnitude more lives in expectation. So I think EA has gotten more exciting. I could see if someone has inflexible career capital in the global poverty or animal space and little ability to donate and became convinced of the value and tractability of the long-term future, that this could decrease one's relative impact. But I think this is less common than the case of being able to pivot (at least somewhat) towards higher impact. So I think a change in enthusiasm is more related to general trends with age and movements, rather than a change in perception of relative impact.

Comment by denkenberger on Financial Planning Advice for Charitable Giving · 2020-01-25T03:58:54.479Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Welcome to the EA Forum! Kudos to you for your generosity! You’ve probably already joined Giving What We Can, but you may also be interested in Bolder Giving (giving high percentages, but not focused on effective giving).

Since you can deduct state taxes and interest on a mortgage, I would guess you are already exceeding the $14,000 standard deduction. So then I think it would be important to donate every year to make sure you are saving taxes on the money you make in the top bracket. Here is a post that might be helpful. There are also quite a few posts (e.g. this recent one) on investing with an EA mindset.

Comment by denkenberger on Growth and the case against randomista development · 2020-01-19T18:05:01.593Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW
Rural to urban migration: Unskilled (subsistence) farmers migrate to cities and start working in factories. Over night, this increases their productivity many times over.

Perhaps tangential, but unless the urban workers are fed by imports, in order to allow rural to urban migration, the country needs agricultural improvements so that people can feed a lot more than themselves. So I think the green revolution technologies of fertilizer, pesticides, and improved crop varieties (mentioned by the OP) are quite important beyond the direct food supply improvement, and the penetration of these is much lower in Africa.

Comment by denkenberger on Dataset of Trillion Dollar figures · 2020-01-18T05:24:54.304Z · score: 9 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Wealth is accumulated money, while GDP is per year. Debt is also accumulated, while deficit is per year.

Comment by denkenberger on Physical Exercise for EAs – Why and How · 2020-01-18T01:30:15.540Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · EA · GW

The fun bucket is a good one, and I think another good bucket for many EAs is the multitasking bucket, e.g. treadmill desk, stationary bicycle (desk or video gaming), resistance exercising while on the phone, etc.

Comment by denkenberger on The ‘far future’ is not just the far future · 2020-01-18T01:08:27.654Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW
I think the case for it under a symmetric person-affecting view (like presentism or necessitarianism) is much weaker compared to, say, global health and poverty work, for which we have far more robustly cost-effective interventions.

Two analyses here indicate expected cost per life saved in the present generation from both AGI safety and alternative foods for nuclear winter, abrupt climate change, etc to be lower than global health. There are orders of magnitude of uncertainty in the X risk interventions, but still little overlap with the global health cost effectiveness distributions, so I think it is fairly robust.

Comment by denkenberger on [Notes] Could climate change make Earth uninhabitable for humans? · 2020-01-15T07:47:58.946Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · EA · GW
Humans thrive in climates as diverse as Bahrain and St. Petersburg — climates that vary in average over 16 degrees centigrade.

Or go up to Fairbanks, Alaska where I live, and add another ~8 C to the range!

Comment by denkenberger on Long-term investment fund at Founders Pledge · 2020-01-14T17:24:08.087Z · score: 12 (3 votes) · EA · GW

I really like your idea of a GCR response fund-I was thinking about something similar (though did you mean it was in category b) not a)?). It seems that there could be quite a few EAs who think that contributing to AI is the highest priority, but if there were a global catastrophe, they might recognize that it could jeopardize all the work on AI and there are things we could do to make it go better.

Comment by denkenberger on More info on EA Global admissions · 2019-12-26T19:54:56.817Z · score: 20 (9 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks to everyone who helps make these events possible. I assume UC Berkeley in the summer that accommodated ~1000 people in 2016 was not more expensive, so you would describe it as less suited to the event? Why is that? It had the large advantage of very inexpensive housing in the dorms. That is understandable if CEA only wants to subsidize a certain number of tickets, but I would think there are significant number of additional people who would pay the full cost. I'm interested in the estimate of the percent reduction in value to the first ~600 participants associated with a larger conference and how that was weighed against the value that additional participants could get. With fewer EAGx events, I expect the value of the latter would be larger this year than other years.

Comment by denkenberger on Taking advantage of climate change concerns to channel donations to EA-recommended organizations at low marginal cost (proposal and call for more research) · 2019-12-25T00:22:40.789Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · EA · GW

I generally agree, and as I mentioned in the comments to the article you refer to, we might also be able to redirect some of this enthusiasm to actual EA organizations that do some work relevant to climate change, such as FLI, CSER, and ALLFED. Disclosure: I direct ALLFED.

Comment by denkenberger on "Altruism-driven research" (EA meets... plant pathology?) · 2019-12-20T18:16:13.968Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Since ALLFED was mentioned… Yes, it is good to see more fields using the EA framework. The paper mentioned the green revolution, which many EAs have noted as being highly effective. There was not quantitative analysis about further interventions related to plant pathology to see if they might be competitive with GiveWell interventions for the present generation. As for the longterm future, they mentioned extreme risks, such as those that could affect the entire grass family (much of grazing fodder, wheat, rice, corn (maize), sugarcane, etc.) and we at ALLFED are concerned about that, especially if it were a coordinated global attack. But in terms of preventing a catastrophe like that (as opposed to the resilience work that ALLFED does), I have not seen any quantitative cost-effectiveness analyses.

Comment by denkenberger on Community vs Network · 2019-12-19T03:02:56.701Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · EA · GW

This is very helpful to understand where you are coming from. Local groups have 2124 regular attendees (more than an event every 2 months or more than 25% of events, which appears to be more selective than your criterion, and not all groups would have filled out the survey). Then there are ~18,000 main EA Facebook group members (and there would be some non-overlaps in other EA-themed Facebook groups), but many of them would not actually be contributing to online discussions. Of course there would be overlap with the active local group members, but there could be people in neither of these groups who are still in the community. Giving What We Can members are now up to 4,400, who I would count as being part of the EA community (though some of those have gone silent). 843 out of the 2576 people who took the 2018 EA survey had taken the GWWC pledge (33%). Not all of the EA survey takers identified as EA, and not all would meet your criterion for being in the community, but if this were representative, that would indicate about 13,000 EAs. Still, in 2017, there were about 23,000 donors to GiveWell. And there would be many other EA-inspired donations and a lot of people making career decisions based on EA who are not engaged directly with the community. So that would be evidence that the number of people making EA-informed donations and career decisions is a lot bigger than the community, as you say. The 80k newsletter has >200,000 subscribers do you have a different term for that level of engagement? I would love to hear others’ perspectives as well.

Comment by denkenberger on Community vs Network · 2019-12-16T23:22:44.275Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for the feedback-now I have broken it into two paragraphs. It's not clear to me whether to use the reference class of average person in the developed country versus reference class of EA community. I was not envisioning someone who has read 5+ years of EA content and is making career and donation decisions as the "EA network." Then I would agree that the EA community would be a better reference class for EA network. I was envisioning for the EA network more people who have heard about EA through an EA community contact, and might've had a one hour conversation. How would you define the EA community and how large do you think it is?

Comment by denkenberger on Community vs Network · 2019-12-16T05:50:40.541Z · score: 8 (6 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for writing this-it is important to think about. However, I have very different impressions of the ratio of impact of people in the EA community versus the EA network. Comparisons have been made before about the impact of an EA and, e.g., the average developed country person. If we use a relatively simple example of charity for the present generation, if we say the impact to a typical developed country charity is one, and a typical less developed country charity is 100, and 1% of the charity goes to less developed countries, that would have an impact per dollar of 1.99 (false precision for clarity). However, if the EA donates to the most effective less developed country charity, that could have a ratio of 1000 (perhaps saving a life for $5000 vs $5 million), or about 500 times as effective as the average US money going to charity (in the average, very little would go to GiveWell recommended charities). Then there could be a factor of several more in terms of the percentage of income given to charity (though it appears not yet), so I think the poverty EA being three orders of magnitude more effective than the mean developed country giver is reasonable. If you switch to the longterm future, then an extremely tiny amount of conventional money goes to high impact ways of improving the long-term future, so the ratio of the EA to mean would be much higher.

I'm not sure how to quantify the impact of the EA network. It very well could be significantly higher impact than the mean developed country person, because the EA community members will generally have chosen high-impact fields and therefore have connections with EA network people in those fields. However, many people's connections would not be in their field, and the field as a whole might not be very effective. Also, the EA community tends to be especially capable. So depending on the cause area, I would be surprised if the typical EA community member is less than one order of magnitude more effective than the typical EA network member. So then the impact of the EA community would be larger than the EA network (which I believe you are saying is 9x as many people and I think this is the right order of magnitude). Then there is the question of how much influence the EA community could have on the EA network. I would guess it would be significantly lower than the influence the EA community could have on itself. I still think it is useful to think about what influence we could have on the EA network because it is relatively neglected, but I don't think it should be as large a change in priorities as you are suggesting. If we could bring more professionals into the EA community through your suggested groups, I think that could be high impact.

Comment by denkenberger on Managing risk in the EA policy space · 2019-12-13T04:24:34.809Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks - very helpful. I'm curious if you think the U.S. allowing lots of immigration to stay more powerful than China to possibly reduce the chance of great power war is a terrible idea.

Comment by denkenberger on Eight high-level uncertainties about global catastrophic and existential risk · 2019-12-05T06:30:53.086Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

The results of a small survey on the longterm future potential reduction of agricultural catastrophes are in here, and results of a small poll on the longterm future potential reduction of catastrophes that disrupt electricity/industry are in here. I agree - lots of uncertainty.

Comment by denkenberger on How to Survive the End of the Universe · 2019-12-04T07:36:52.264Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I like how comprehensive this is.

Comment by denkenberger on A corrected model suggests climate change interventions may be within a factor of two of direct cash transfers · 2019-12-04T04:44:02.891Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

I guess I'm concerned that if the scenario continues of less-developed countries catching up with developed countries that an adjustment based on differing present day incomes would be too strong. Have you tried contacting the authors to find out what they actually did?

Comment by denkenberger on A corrected model suggests climate change interventions may be within a factor of two of direct cash transfers · 2019-12-03T22:40:01.167Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for making everything explicit. I see that the original paper uses 1% and 2% pure time preference, which means that roughly it has a time horizon of 100 and 50 years, respectively. If India continues to grow at the roughly 1.8%/yr GDP per capita real of the last decade, it will become as rich per capita as the US is now in about 130 years. Are you adjusting for this with your income adjustment?

Comment by denkenberger on Possible way of reducing great power war probability? · 2019-12-01T07:17:35.687Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks - fixed the link.

Comment by denkenberger on Managed Honey Bee Welfare: Problems and Potential Interventions · 2019-11-28T16:47:06.746Z · score: 8 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Great report!

An intervention that reduced overwinter colony mortality in the United States by just 5% would prevent at least 400 million premature bee deaths.

I assume that is per year. It sounds like it might not be too hard to become an animal millionaire (saving a million animals’ lives).

Comment by denkenberger on ALLFED 2019 Annual Report and Fundraising Appeal · 2019-11-28T03:55:55.681Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks, Greg! Peanuts (groundnuts) are cheap, but generally the cheapest are the grains including wheat, maize (corn), and rice. However, if we're talking about growing outside in a nuclear winter, it would be so cool that plants might not be able to flower. So we looked at crops that can produce food without flowering, such as potatoes, carrots, cabbage, etc., and potatoes were the cheapest per calorie. However, we recognize that the wealthy of the world will still want to eat a greater variety of food. We are very concerned that they will use a tremendous amount of energy to grow just a little bit of food with artificial light. Then there may not be much energy left to feed the masses, say with natural gas single cell protein. That's why we have the greenhouse project where we have found that we can grow pretty much any crop in the tropics in nuclear winter. I think that will include a sizable amount of peanuts.

Comment by denkenberger on ALLFED 2019 Annual Report and Fundraising Appeal · 2019-11-26T05:21:03.307Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · EA · GW

That's right.

Comment by denkenberger on ALLFED 2019 Annual Report and Fundraising Appeal · 2019-11-26T00:12:59.239Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Sure - we wrote a script to analyze this database for frequency of X-risk authors. We had to use some judgment on combining authors with slightly different entries (like the inclusion of a middle initial or not). So there is some uncertainty, and this database is a combination of human and machine learning algorithms, so there will be some debate about which papers to include in the existential risk field.

Comment by denkenberger on Next Steps in Invertebrate Welfare, Part 2: Possible Interventions · 2019-11-25T19:16:41.407Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I'm really impressed by all these writeups!

However, repelled insects will probably move off to another plant. Therefore, the use of these substances does not appear to be an effective solution.

But wouldn't this reduce the total insect population if food were the limiting factor?

Comment by denkenberger on AGI safety and losing electricity/industry resilience cost-effectiveness · 2019-11-17T18:56:45.511Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for the feedback. We are working on the figures. I struggled with how to phrase this. Of course we can never believe anything with 100% confidence, but the software rounds to 100%. So maybe phrasing it as "99-99+%" confidence? Also, it sounds like we should phrase it as "the model result", rather than "it can be said"?

Comment by denkenberger on Assumptions about the far future and cause priority · 2019-11-13T05:33:33.585Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Also, my wild guess is that if the existential risk intervention came out as cost effective for the present generation, then it may pass your test even with continued exponential growth in utility.

Comment by denkenberger on Update on CEA's EA Grants Program · 2019-11-12T17:16:55.710Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Sorry - was writing too late at night for me - I got confused.

Comment by denkenberger on Update on CEA's EA Grants Program · 2019-11-12T17:16:40.637Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Sorry - was writing too late at night for me - I got confused.

Comment by denkenberger on Update on CEA's EA Grants Program · 2019-11-12T07:56:57.684Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for the update. I was not aware that people could apply for EA funds. The FAQ seems to be just for donors, and I hadn't seen anything on the EA forum about applying.

Comment by denkenberger on Assumptions about the far future and cause priority · 2019-11-12T05:20:32.292Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Very interesting!

Again I want to stress that the point here is not to debate these numbers (I was told that a decrease of the extinction risk of 0.1 percentage point for an investment of 0.1% of the world GDP was reasonable, but found it difficult to find references; I would appreciate comments pointing to relevant references).

If I understand you correctly, this is a one time expenditure, so we are talking about ~$80 billion. This is a model that considered $3 billion being spent on AGI safety. It was a marginal analysis, but I think many would agree that it would address a large fraction of the AGI risk, which is a large fraction of the total existential risk. So if it reduced existential risk overall by one percentage point, that would be 2.5 orders of magnitude more cost-effective than you have assumed, which is much better than your growth assumption. Investment into nuclear winter resilience has similar or even better returns. So I think we could be spending a lot more money on existential risk mitigation that would still be no regrets even with continued exponential growth of utility.

But, to give some substance to it, if we very crudely conflate our utility function with world GDP, then I think it is reasonable to place a return of at least a factor of 10 on some of the better growth investments.

If I understand you correctly, this one-time investment of 0.1% of GDP increases the GDP by 1% above the business as usual for all time. So if you look over one century without discounting, that looks like you have gotten a benefit to cost ratio of 1000. I think there has been discussion about how we have increased our R&D dramatically over the past few decades, but GDP growth has not increased. So maybe someone can jump in with the marginal returns for R&D. Or maybe you had something else in mind?

Incidentally, this would go some way into mitigating Fermi’s paradox: maybe other advanced civilizations have not come to visit us because they are mostly busy optimizing their surrounding environment, and don’t care all that much about colonizing space.

This sounds like an argument in the Age of Em, that once we accelerate our thought processes, expanding into space would be too painfully slow.