Posts

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: 15 (11 votes)
Cost-Effectiveness of Foods for Global Catastrophes: Even Better than Before? 2018-11-19T21:57:05.518Z · score: 15 (18 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 Some personal thoughts on EA and systemic change · 2019-10-22T05:55:23.648Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW
I think the EA community currently has a limited amount to say to anyone with power.

More broadly, CSER has these recommendations for governments for global catastrophic risks.

Comment by denkenberger on Some personal thoughts on EA and systemic change · 2019-10-21T02:55:28.738Z · score: 5 (2 votes) · EA · GW
I think the EA community currently has a limited amount to say to anyone with power.

I think it would be useful for governments to have response plans for agricultural catastrophes such as nuclear and volcanic winter, and also for electricity/industry disrupting catastrophes including solar storms and high-altitude electromagnetic pulses (HEMPs). Governments could also fund research related resilience including alternative foods and backup communications systems.

Comment by denkenberger on Effective Altruism and International Trade · 2019-10-18T17:22:50.635Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Unfortunately I'm not familiar with that literature, but others feel free to jump in!

Comment by denkenberger on Resource Generation: Inheriting-to-give, for systemic change · 2019-10-17T19:10:41.206Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Very interesting. It sounds similar to Bolder Giving but more organized and focused and you don't actually have to give 50%.

Comment by denkenberger on Effective Altruism and International Trade · 2019-10-17T15:54:59.524Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Another advantage of increased trade is greater economic interdependence, which I think reduces the probability of conflict. If that conflict were to manifest itself as nuclear war, this could have catastrophic consequences, plausibly reducing the long-term potential of humanity.

Comment by denkenberger on Updated Climate Change Problem Profile · 2019-10-17T02:43:21.456Z · score: 8 (3 votes) · EA · GW

In addition to direct cost-effectiveness calculations for the present generation as StevenKaas recommends, I would recommend direct cost-effectiveness calculations for the long-term future. Here is an example where I compare AI and alternative foods to address agricultural catastrophes. It would not take very much work to use that framework for conventional emissions reductions for climate change. However, as others have pointed out, because emissions reductions are so expensive, they are unlikely to be competitive cost-effectiveness. Solar radiation management (SRM) (as opposed to non SRM geoengineering techniques such as CO2 air capture) has the potential of being much more cost effective, but it has its own risks, such as double catastrophe.

Comment by denkenberger on The Future of Earning to Give · 2019-10-17T02:30:09.591Z · score: 9 (3 votes) · EA · GW

I like the big thinking! I agree that there are many tens of billions of dollars we could spend as we work our way down the marginal cost effectiveness curve of existential risk mitigation. Some other things to include are biosecurity interventions, preventing supervolcanic eruptions, comet detection and deflection (much more expensive than asteroid detection and deflection).

Comment by denkenberger on [Link] "How feasible is long-range forecasting?" (Open Phil) · 2019-10-16T02:10:37.234Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

I'm not sure what you mean by resolution. But if you mean accuracy, perhaps a counter example is the reversion of stock values to the long-term mean appreciation curve creating value forecasts that actually become more accurate five or 10 years out than in the near term?

Comment by denkenberger on 'Longtermism' · 2019-10-15T03:25:49.625Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for your comment. I think my concern is basically addressed by Will's comment below. That is it is good to value everyone equally. However, it is not required in our daily actions to value a random person alive today is much as ourselves or a random person in the future as much as ourselves. That is, it is permissible to have some special relationships and have some personal prerogatives.

Comment by denkenberger on Remote local group leaders? · 2019-10-15T03:12:12.260Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I agree that feedback would be critical, which is why there would likely need to be some leadership locally, what I was referring to as "officers."
I like your idea of someone with flexible location moving to lead a local EA group in need of leadership!

Comment by denkenberger on Merging with AI would be suicide for the human mind - Susan Schneider · 2019-10-10T06:45:50.829Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Well, this is Robin Hanson's vision of the future (ems).

Comment by denkenberger on EA Meta Fund and Long-Term Future Fund are looking for applications again until October 11th · 2019-10-02T17:58:02.171Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · EA · GW

That would be very helpful - could you please link to that post?

Comment by denkenberger on Answering some questions about EA · 2019-09-23T21:27:45.774Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Financial independence retire early: FIRE: the words are not very descriptive – what about:

Live Economically - A Very Early Retirement or LEAVER?

As in leaving the workforce early. But we are glad you have remained and earned to give.

Comment by denkenberger on Survival and Flourishing Fund grant applications open until October 4th ($1MM-$2MM planned for dispersal) · 2019-09-21T03:42:15.487Z · score: 5 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I understand that they cannot make grants to individuals, but researchers in academia are part of a university which is a charity (501(c)(3) in the US). So legally it would be the same as a focused charity, but still it is a question of whether they would likely make a grant like that.

Comment by denkenberger on Survival and Flourishing Fund grant applications open until October 4th ($1MM-$2MM planned for dispersal) · 2019-09-20T17:51:56.741Z · score: 13 (4 votes) · EA · GW

I'm excited to see this. The application appears geared to focused charities. Is it open to researchers in academia?

Comment by denkenberger on Young data scientist seeks project ideas · 2019-09-18T06:11:12.234Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · EA · GW

I'm not sure if this is the right fit, but the Alliance to Feed the Earth in Disasters (ALLFED) has a number of GIS data projects you could contribute to.

Comment by denkenberger on Existential Risk and Economic Growth · 2019-09-10T05:57:09.079Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks - it worked!

Comment by denkenberger on New protein alternative produced from CO2 · 2019-09-07T06:54:39.268Z · score: 11 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Yes, ALLFED has talked to the company. It is a far more efficient use of electricity than turning into light and then photosynthesis (vertical farming). But at least at current prices, the natural gas digesting single cell protein would be even lower cost. We are planning on looking into it further, e.g. for diet diversification.

Comment by denkenberger on Existential Risk and Economic Growth · 2019-09-07T06:40:34.211Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

I'm getting site not secure errors on all 4 browsers for the draft. Could you please make it more accessible?

Comment by denkenberger on Cause X Guide · 2019-09-04T04:57:02.187Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Though you mentioned climate and nuclear, I think resilience to agricultural catastrophes and those catastrophes that could disrupt electricity/industry are separate possible cause X areas. This work is endorsed by ALLFED, BERI (through a grant), and CEA (through a grant). (Disclosure - I'm the director of ALLFED.)

Comment by denkenberger on How Life Sciences Actually Work: Findings of a Year-Long Investigation · 2019-09-02T19:27:10.956Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks-I found this quite useful. But I think in order to evaluate the claim that life sciences are not slowing down, it would be good to have some long time series. I think it would be productive to engage with the research that is looking at productivity per researcher. This may be difficult to quantify fairly, because individual papers may have gotten less impactful. For instance, people have claimed that since per capita GDP has grown more slowly in recent decades in developed countries and yet we have many more people doing research, that the productivity per researcher is much lower now. But if you look at specific capabilities, like genomes sequenced, you would say that the productivity per person has gotten much higher because of the strong exponential growth.

Comment by denkenberger on Best EA use of $500,000AUD/$340,000 USD for basic science? · 2019-08-28T06:21:41.673Z · score: 3 (4 votes) · EA · GW

I would check out Effective Thesis. At the bottom of the page are a number of scientific disciplines with many possible projects. With funding, the organizations who suggested the thesis may be able to do the project or find someone who could.

Comment by denkenberger on Ask Me Anything! · 2019-08-23T03:34:03.453Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Well, there is "eucatastrophe" in existential hope.

Comment by denkenberger on Impact Report for Effective Altruism Coaching · 2019-08-08T02:57:30.350Z · score: 7 (5 votes) · EA · GW

I’m very impressed both with how you have built this operation in terms of clients and the positive impact they report. It’s great that you appear to be partially addressing the 80,000 Hours bottleneck for coaching.

Could you give us an idea how many hours a week a typical client of yours works?

For people not familiar with how consulting works, they might naïvely multiply the $125 per hour (because I’m understanding that grants top off the sliding scale) by 40 hours per week, 50 weeks a year and get $250,000 per year “salary.” So it might be useful for them to see roughly how many billable hours a week you get and have a feel for how big expenses are.

Comment by denkenberger on Age-Weighted Voting · 2019-08-01T02:01:35.778Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Interesting - have you considering age-weighted voting in the context of quadratic voting?

Comment by denkenberger on 'Longtermism' · 2019-07-28T17:50:13.319Z · score: 35 (12 votes) · EA · GW

I second weakening the definition. As someone who cares deeply about future generations, I think it is infeasible to value them equally to people today in terms of actual actions. I sketched out an optimal mitigation path for asteroid/comet impact. Just valuing the present generation in one country, we should do alternate foods. Valuing the present world, we should do asteroid detection/deflection. Once you value hundreds of future generations, we should add in food storage and comet detection/deflection, costing many trillions of dollars. But if you value even further in the future, we should take even more extreme measures, like many redundancies. And this is for a very small risk compared to things like nuclear winter and AGI. Furthermore, even if one does discount future generations, if you think we could have many computer consciousnesses in only a century or so, again we should be donating huge amount of resources for reducing even small risks. I guess one way of valuing future generations equally to the present generation is to value each generation an infinitesimal amount, but that doesn't seem right.

Comment by denkenberger on How many people would be killed as a direct result of a US-Russia nuclear exchange? · 2019-07-23T02:22:26.139Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I have not read it, but that is an interesting conclusion from "Why Civil Defense Failed." Some of the interventions for preventing firestorming were natural gas shut off, electrical shutoff, enhanced sprinklers, and automatically closing shades. One proposed in 1967 was intentionally exploding nuclear weapons beneath the city to create a fire break to stop the spread of a mass fire-talk about fighting fire with fire! That is interesting that the political incentive might actually be greater now to prevent fire storming. Still, preparing for alternate foods would be lower cost than preventing fire storming given nuclear winter or storing more food. So that's why I think alternate foods have a better chance of actually getting implemented. Yes, the industry that could be used for alternate foods may be targeted, but some alternate foods do not depend on industry still functioning. Furthermore, if the world were prepared for alternate foods, it could potentially provide these foods to the target countries.


Comment by denkenberger on How many people would be killed as a direct result of a US-Russia nuclear exchange? · 2019-07-20T03:37:15.624Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

I looked into a dozen or so interventions for preventing firestorm given nuclear war. I estimated that some of them could be cost effective only looking at saving lives of US citizens. However, I abandoned the project once I realized that some of the ideas were around in the Cold War, and they were still not implemented, so it was very unlikely we would implement them now.

If one side believes they are being attacked and launches weapons, there would not be a period of tension before the attack. Even if there is a period of tension like the Cuban missile crisis, I don’t believe that caused people to evacuate cities, though of course the attack could not have occurred as quickly as it could now.

I’m not sure if your proposed diet has the required essential oils. These tend to go rancid, though they might still be safe to eat.

Comment by denkenberger on How many people would be killed as a direct result of a US-Russia nuclear exchange? · 2019-07-15T01:52:57.093Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Those videos were helpful. You mentioned that secondary fires can start because of natural gas supply-there is a book I’ve read discussing this in detail called Fire After Earthquake. I think secondary fires remain a large risk even with building codes because the valves to shut off the supply could be damaged by the blast.

Sprinklers only have the capacity to put out a fire in one limited location of the building-since the thermal radiation from the fireball would set multiple fires, sprinklers would be overwhelmed.

A big problem with food storage is that it would be trillions of dollars for the whole world to do it – very unlikely to get funded and it would exacerbate current malnutrition.

Comment by denkenberger on New study in Science implies that tree planting is the cheapest climate change solution · 2019-07-07T07:01:21.253Z · score: 18 (9 votes) · EA · GW

I did not look at the details, but it appears that neither of these estimates take into account opportunity costs. Typical farming profit is around $200 per hectare per year, so if instead you sequester 5 tCO2e per hectare per year, that would cost ~$40 per tCO2e, ~2 orders of magnitude more expensive. By the way, I believe $300 billion divided by 205 billion tons carbon = 750 billion tons CO2 would be $0.40 per ton CO2.

Comment by denkenberger on Effective Altruism is an Ideology, not (just) a Question · 2019-07-04T19:27:10.063Z · score: 14 (5 votes) · EA · GW

I think it is good to keep vigilant and make sure we are not missing good cause areas. However, I think that your examples are not actually neglected. Using this scale, ~$10 billion per year or more is not neglected.

The point is that there is a difference between working in a general area and working on the specific subset of that area that is highest impact and most neglected. In much the same way as AI safety research is neglected even if AI research more generally is not, likewise in the parallel cases I present, I argue that serious evidence-based research into the specific questions I present is highly neglected, even if the broader areas are not.

Below I try to look at actual effort to resolving the problem effectively, so it is not analogous to the total amount of money put into artificial intelligence. For resource depletion, the total amount of money put in could include all the money spent on extracting resources. So I’m just looking at efforts towards resource sustainability, which would be analogous to artificial intelligence safety.

One flaw with the 80,000 hours scale is that it does not take into account historic work. Historically, there has been a tremendous amount of effort devising and implementing practical alternatives to capitalism. So averaged over the last century, it would be far more than $10 billion per year.

Before climate change reached prominence in the environmental movement, much effort was directed at recycling and renewable energy to address the resource depletion issue. Even now some effort in these areas is directed at resource depletion. In previous decades, there was a large amount of effort on family planning, partly because of resource depletion issues, and even now billions of dollars are being spent per year on this. So I am quite sure more than $10 billion per year is being spent on addressing resource depletion.

I’m not easily finding the number of philosophers of religion. However, I know that many people who are disillusioned with the religion they grew up with do not just jump to atheism, and instead try to find the true religion (at least for certain period of time). So if you add up all the effort hours with some reasonable wage, I’m pretty sure it would average more than $10 billion per year over the last century.

So the neglectedness of these cause areas just cannot compare to that of artificial intelligence safety, which is only tens of millions of dollars per year (and very small more than a decade ago). Of course it is still possible that there are good opportunities within these cause areas, but it is just much less likely than in more neglected cause areas.

Comment by denkenberger on Corporate Global Catastrophic Risks (C-GCRs) · 2019-07-04T18:14:43.816Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I don't think your comparison between corporations and governments is quite fair. Governments can influence a larger amount of revenue than just their own through regulation of companies. So some people have compared the GDP of countries to the revenue of corporations. But then the problem is that GDP is calculated by value add, and the value add of a corporation is significantly lower than their revenue (because they are paying for other companies' products and services).

Comment by denkenberger on What is the effect of relationship status on EA impact? · 2019-07-04T06:03:30.285Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Lots of analysis on this here.

Comment by denkenberger on Raemon's EA Shortform Feed · 2019-07-03T04:22:02.766Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

I agree that EA does not have 1000 volunteer jobs. However, here is a list of some possibilities. I know ALLFED could still effectively utilize more volunteers.

Comment by denkenberger on Information security careers for GCR reduction · 2019-07-02T07:37:52.504Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Good points. Presumably infosec to prevent nuclear weapons from being hacked would also be valuable direct work?

Comment by denkenberger on How bad would nuclear winter caused by a US-Russia nuclear exchange be? · 2019-06-30T18:04:17.678Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · EA · GW

With just stored food, trade, and no conflict, I have estimated around 10% of people would survive. However, if the food is not well protected, migrants could go around the world and everyone would starve.

Comment by denkenberger on Raemon's EA Shortform Feed · 2019-06-30T07:23:14.798Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

How about volunteering for an EA org?

Comment by denkenberger on How likely is a nuclear exchange between the US and Russia? · 2019-06-30T06:21:50.580Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Another estimate of ~1%/year US-Russia nuclear war is:

M.E. Hellman, Risk Analysis of Nuclear Deterrence, The Bent of Tau Beta Pi, 2008.

Comment by denkenberger on How bad would nuclear winter caused by a US-Russia nuclear exchange be? · 2019-06-30T06:15:29.309Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

More feedback:

The label on the burning house should probably say urban rather than wildland.

With a mean of 2.7°C drop, your graph indicates more like 17% loss in precipitation, not 7%.

Though the growing season of a crop is usually expressed in days, more accurate is growing degree days, where you add up the temperature above some base temperature, typically around 4°C. Because nuclear winter would not only shorten the growing season but also reduce average temperatures, it would doubly reduce the growing degree days. Did you take this into account?

Comment by denkenberger on How bad would nuclear winter caused by a US-Russia nuclear exchange be? · 2019-06-30T03:39:23.288Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Nice work on the Guesstimate model. I don't think the limited or moderate countervalue scenarios are very likely. I saw study a long time ago that I believe was two people inflicting pain on each other thinking they were just getting tit for tat revenge, but actually there was escalation of something like a factor of three in each exchange. It seems like escalation is a very large factor in most wars. So I think full-scale countervalue is quite likely, even if it starts out as counterforce or limited countervalue.

Comment by denkenberger on How many people would be killed as a direct result of a US-Russia nuclear exchange? · 2019-06-30T03:00:56.055Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for all your work on this!

The US arsenal is large, accurate, flexible, and relatively low-yield — all characteristics associated with counterforce targeting.

The large could just be left over from the arms race. Accurate and flexible could be because the US has a big defense budget and likes using advanced technology. Low yield means more people killed for the same amount of total explosive energy in a countervalue scenario. So I don't think this should be a large update towards counterforce. However, I think it does make sense to have some probability mass on counterforce as I did on my risk analysis.

Comment by denkenberger on How many people would be killed as a direct result of a US-Russia nuclear exchange? · 2019-06-29T22:47:15.166Z · score: 8 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I agree that assuming only one nuclear weapon per metropolitan area is a severe underestimate. Luisa finds mortality of 36 million in the US of full-scale counter value. Most analysts find most people in metro areas to die, so it is more like 150 million dead.

But I don't think I agree that multiple independent reentry vehicles (MIRVs) will mean less firestorming. First we need to distinguish a mass fire with a moving combustion front and a firestorm which is the entire city burning simultaneously. It is the firestorm that would most likely inject smoke directly into the stratosphere because the plume is so wide that it does not get diluted. So having multiple nuclear weapons hit a city at once means a firestorm is more likely and therefore worse nuclear winter. In either case, with concrete buildings, there may very well be some combustible material that is trapped that does not burn. I account for this in my model here. However, at least in the US, a minority of buildings are concrete. Nagasaki still had a mass fire, though it did not firestorm.

Comment by denkenberger on How likely is a nuclear exchange between the US and Russia? · 2019-06-29T06:25:04.037Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW
Based on this reasoning, Barrett et al. (2013) concluded that the median annual probability of inadvertent nuclear war between the US and Russia is about 0.9% (90% CI: 0.02% — 7%).

Note that when I plug this distribution into Guesstimate, I get ~0.4% median and ~1.7% mean.

Comment by denkenberger on Which nuclear wars should worry us most? · 2019-06-20T01:35:08.648Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Are you only worried about extinction, or existential risk more broadly? I talk about a number of ways that a catastrophe the size of a regional nuclear war could lead to long-term impact, including instability leading to full-scale nuclear war.

Comment by denkenberger on Which nuclear wars should worry us most? · 2019-06-18T07:10:59.636Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · EA · GW

I hope that the risk of nuclear war between China the US remains low. However, 12 out 16 times that there has been a switch in which is the most militarily powerful country in the world, there has been war (Destined for War by Graham Allison) (though we should not take that literally for the current situation).

Comment by denkenberger on Framing Effective Altruism as Overcoming Indifference · 2019-06-18T00:59:01.841Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

+6 on "warm and calculating"

Comment by denkenberger on Long-Term Future Fund: April 2019 grant recommendations · 2019-06-13T03:29:14.102Z · score: 12 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Thank you for you recent post and your ALLFED feedback.

I have made my request for such publicly so also responding publicly, as such openness can only be beneficial to the investigation and advancing of the causes we are passionate about.

We appreciate your view of ALLFED’s work being of “decent quality, helpful to many and made with well-aligned intention”.

We also appreciate many good points raised in your feedback, and would like to comment on them as follows.

As I mentioned in the response linked above, I currently feel relatively hesitant about civilizational collapse scenarios and so find the general cause area of most of ALLFED's work to be of comparatively lower importance than the other areas I tend to recommend grants in

People’s intuition on the long-term future impact of these type of catastrophes and the tractability of reducing that impact with money varies tremendously.

One possible mechanism for extinction from nuclear winter is as follows. It is tempting to think that if there is enough stored food to keep the population alive for five years until agriculture recovers, that 10% of people will survive. However, if the food is distributed evenly, then everyone will die after six months. It is not clear to me that the food will be so well protected from the masses that many people will survive. Similarly, there could be some continuous food production in these scenarios if managed sustainably such as fish that could relocate to the tropics. However, again, if there are many desperate people, they might eat all the fish, so everyone would starve. Similarly, hunter gatherers generally don’t have stored food and could starve. Even if agrarian societies managed to have some people survive on stored food, if there were collapse of anthropological civilization, the people might not be able to figure out how to become hunter gatherers again. Even if there is not extinction, it is not clear we would recover civilization, because we have had a stable climate the last 10,000 years and we would not have easily recoverable fossil fuels for industrial civilization. And even if we did not lose civilization, worse values from the nastiness of the die off could result in totalitarianism or end up in AGI (though you point out that it is possible we could be more careful with dangerous technologies the second time around).

As for the tractability, people have pointed out that many of the interventions we talk about have already been done at small scale. So it is possible that they would be adopted without further ALLFED funding (and we have a parameter for this in the Guesstimate models). However, there is some research that takes calendar time and cannot be parallelized (such as animal research). Furthermore, if there is panic before people find out that we could actually feed everyone, then the chaos that results probably means the interventions won't get adopted.

Given the large variation in intuitions, we have tried to do surveys to get a variety of opinions. For the agricultural catastrophes (nuclear winter, abrupt climate change, etc.) we got eight GCR researcher opinions. The result varied nearly four orders of magnitude. The most pessimistic found marginal funding of ALLFED now the same order of magnitude cost effectiveness as AI at the margin, the most optimistic four orders of magnitude higher cost effectiveness than AI (considering future work that will likely be done). I know you in particular are short on time, but I would encourage anyone interested in this issue to put their own values into the blank model (to avoid anchoring) and see what they produce for agricultural catastrophes. Of course even if it does not turn out to be more cost-effective than AI, it still could be competitive with engineered pandemic.

This particular EA Long Term Future Fund application was focusing on a different class of catastrophes, those that could disrupt electricity/industry (including solar storm, high-altitude electromagnetic pulses, or narrow AI computer virus). In this case, a poll was taken at EAG San Francisco 2018, so the data are less detailed. There appears to be fewer orders of magnitude variation in this case. Since the mean cost-effectiveness ratio to AI is similar, this likely would yield the most pessimistic person judging preparations for losing electricity/industry at the margin to be more cost-effective than AI. Again, here is a blank model for this cause area.

Most of ALLFED's work does not seem to help me resolve the confusions I listed in the response linked above, or provide much additional evidence for any of my cruxes, but instead seems to assume that the intersection of civilizational collapse and food shortages is the key path to optimize for. At this point, I would be much more excited about work that tries to analyze civilizational collapse much more broadly, instead of assuming such a specific path.

As for the specific path to optimize for improving the long-term future, in the book Feeding Everyone No Matter What, we did go through a number of problems associated with nuclear winter and food shortage was clearly the most important (and this has been recognized by others, including Alan Robock). However, for catastrophes that disable electricity/industry, it is true that issues such as water, shelter, communications and transportation are very important, which is why we have developed interventions for those as well.

I have some hesitations about the structure of ALLFED as an organization. I've had relatively bad experiences interacting with some parts of your team and heard similar concerns from others. The team also appears to be partially remote, which I think is a major cost for research teams, and have its primary location be in Alaska where I expect it will be hard for you to attract talent and also engage with other researchers on this topic (some of these models are based on conversations I've had with Finan who used to work at ALLFED, but left because of it being located in Alaska).

This has been an interesting one for both myself and the team to consider.

One of the unique features of ALLFED is our structure which does correspond to our work on *both* research and preparedness. As such, we have opted for a small, flexible multi-location organization, which allows us to get to places and collaborate globally.

While I am myself indeed based in Alaska, we also have a strong UK team based in London and Oxford, busy developing collaborations with academia (e.g. UCL), finance and industry and attending European events (just back from Geneva and the United Nations Global Platform for DRR and heading to Combined Dealing with Disasters International Conference next month). As for attracting talent, we have built alliances with researchers at Michigan Technological University, Penn State, Tennessee State University, and the International Food Policy Research Institute who are ready to do ALLFED projects once we get funding. This is why our room for more funding in the next 12 months is more than $1 million. We have also co-authored papers with people at CSER, GCRI, and Rutgers University.

Overall, we feel the geographical spread has been beneficial to us and has certainly contributed to a greater diversity within the team and allowed access to a greater body of knowledge, contacts, connections. As a sideline, we feel all individuals with passion for the GCR work and with relevant talents should be able to contribute to it, regardless of their location, family/personal demands or physical abilities. Facilitating and enabling this via remote working has seemed an obvious benefit to the organization and the right thing to do.

We have read this EA forum post on local/remote teams with great interest and find its conclusions and recommendations consistent with our experience. Working across continents has certainly contributed to the development of robust internal organizational structures, clarity in goals, objectives, accountability, communications and such.

As for my personal experience of being based in Alaska, I don’t feel that my interaction with the team here has been significantly different than with remote team members (referring back to this: the people in Alaska are not in the same hallway, though we do have in-person meetings). So basically we can recruit students for projects that are routed through the University, but then other researchers can be remote.

The exceptions of course are if an experiment requires significant facilities and is not done by a student (as was the case with Finan) or if one’s personal preferences are for more social interactions.

We are of course concerned and have noted your comment on “relatively bad experiences interacting with some parts of (our) team”. We would very much like to learn more about this (if you don’t mind perhaps in private this time, to ensure people’s privacy/confidentiality).

We cannot help but wonder whether our commitment to diversity - including neurodiversity - may have had some unintended consequences… We do have individuals on the team whose communications needs and style may at times present something of a challenge, particularly to those unaware of such considerations. Thank you for alerting us of possible impacts of this; we will certainly look at this, and any other “team interactions” matters, and see how they can be managed better. We are hopeful that, overall, there have been many more positive interactions than dubious ones and would like to take this opportunity to thank you (and anybody else who may have experienced issues around this) for your patience and understanding.

Going forward - and this relates as much to this particular response and any future ALLFED team interaction at all, with anyone reading this - if any such interaction does not quite work out, please let me know (so we may either make good or provide context).

All in all, we are grateful for your feedback and pleased with our decision to engage in this publicly. Hopefully this will be of use not only to ALLFED as an organization but to the broader EA community.

Comment by denkenberger on Long-Term Future Fund: April 2019 grant recommendations · 2019-06-12T04:24:15.783Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · EA · GW

This is very helpful to see your reasoning and cruxes. I reply to the ALLFED related issues above, but I thought I would reply to the pandemic issue here. Here is one mechanism that could result in greater than 90% mortality from a pandemic: multiple diseases at the same time: multipandemic.

Comment by denkenberger on Insect herbivores, life history and wild animal welfare · 2019-06-11T07:17:03.640Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Very interesting! Is the dung beetle fecundity two per female? How can the population ever grow?

Comment by denkenberger on Public Spreadsheet of Effective Altruism Resources by Career Type · 2019-06-09T02:43:34.819Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Great to hear the Facebook group is inclusive!