Shoot Your Shot 2020-02-18T06:39:22.964Z · score: 7 (4 votes)
Does the President Matter as Much as You Think? | Freakonomics Radio 2020-02-10T20:47:27.365Z · score: 5 (5 votes)
Prioritizing among the Sustainable Development Goals 2020-02-07T05:05:44.274Z · score: 9 (6 votes)
Open New York is Fundraising! 2020-01-16T21:45:20.506Z · score: -4 (2 votes)
What are the most pressing issues in short-term AI policy? 2020-01-14T22:05:10.537Z · score: 9 (6 votes)
Has pledging 10% made meeting other financial goals substantially more difficult? 2020-01-09T06:15:13.589Z · score: 15 (11 votes)
evelynciara's Shortform 2019-10-14T08:03:32.019Z · score: 1 (1 votes)


Comment by evelynciara on Any response from OpenAI (or EA in general) about the Technology Review feature on OpenAI? · 2020-02-22T02:51:32.214Z · score: 1 (8 votes) · EA · GW

I think some of the cultural aspects are deeply worrying, although I'm open to some of the claims being exaggerated.

The employees work long hours and talk incessantly about their jobs through meals and social hours... more than others in the field, its employees treat AI research not as a job but as an identity.

Although I would also be excited if my work were making a difference, this is a red flag. It's been argued that encouraging people to become very emotionally invested in their work leads to burnout, which can hurt their long-term productivity. I think effective altruists are especially susceptible to this dynamic. There needs to be a special emphasis on work-life balance in this community.

I'm also confused about the documentary thing. What is that statement referring to? It makes the documentary sound like a gratuitous attempt to flex on DeepMind.

Comment by evelynciara on Shoot Your Shot · 2020-02-20T03:46:30.434Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Thank you—this is really helpful feedback!

What tactics do you think could be more effective at promoting effective altruism? I've been thinking about promoting EA practices in a public interest tech context, but I'd be flying blind because I have no idea what's effective and relatively little experience in PIT overall. One possibility would be to deliver an EA talk at a tech conference such as GHC.

"trying to do things that will really help people, rather than ignoring their needs in favor of what we think will help"

is uncontroversial; I think cause prioritization would be more controversial, though. I wouldn't be surprised if people working on one cause objected to being told that they'd have more impact working on a different one.

In past Splash courses I've taught, I've noticed that some students were already familiar with the topic; for example, during my introductory machine learning class, one student asked about a type of neural network that I had heard of but was unfamiliar with. Do you think I'd be mostly preaching to converts?

Comment by evelynciara on Aligning Recommender Systems as Cause Area · 2020-02-14T21:09:54.795Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

There's a growing area of research on fair ranking algorithms. Where the problem you've scoped out focuses on the utility of end users, fairness in ranking aims to align recommender systems with the "utility" of the items being recommended (e.g. job applicants) and the long-term viability of the platform.

Comment by evelynciara on Prioritizing among the Sustainable Development Goals · 2020-02-14T16:48:17.698Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · EA · GW

This implies that the "experts" think that "Eliminate the most extreme poverty" is a matter of distribution of money and power via state authority (taxation).

I don't think it implies that these experts think redistribution is the best way to eliminate extreme poverty. Increasing GDP per capita is 40th out of 117 targets, and being ranked this low could mean that they value it as a means of reducing poverty but not as an end in itself.

Comment by evelynciara on Prioritizing among the Sustainable Development Goals · 2020-02-13T01:44:37.269Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Thank you!

Yes; although they don't seem to have published the entire dataset of responses, they published a few here:

  • "The most important criterion in determining the order of the SDGs should be how to expand the capability set of the least advantaged members of society"
  • "Extent to which a target focuses on a system and not individual people"
  • "Looked at specific macro issues that would benefit people who could then play a more effective role in society, thus helping with the other goals"
  • "Start with the most basic human needs (food, water), then education and then the natural environment, where government has a strong role to play (including to address negative externalities)"
Comment by evelynciara on evelynciara's Shortform · 2020-02-11T21:55:16.337Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

A social constructivist perspective on long-term AI policy

I think the case for addressing the long-term consequences of AI systems holds even if AGI is unlikely to arise.

The future of AI development will be shaped by social, economic and political factors, and I'm not convinced that AGI will be desirable in the future or that AI is necessarily progressing toward AGI. However, (1) AI already has large positive and negative effects on society, and (2) I think it's very likely that society's AI capabilities will improve over time, amplifying these effects and creating new benefits and risks in the future.

Comment by evelynciara on Prioritizing among the Sustainable Development Goals · 2020-02-08T05:30:03.111Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Well, for starters, I think any kind of policy work is a moonshot. Lobbying for pro-growth/globalist policies would have a small chance of boosting econ growth by a lot, which would in turn affect a lot of the other SDG targets.

Comment by evelynciara on Prioritizing among the Sustainable Development Goals · 2020-02-07T16:44:27.604Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

I wonder what the experts believed the appropriate tradeoffs between individual vs. institutions and urgency vs. process were.

Comment by evelynciara on evelynciara's Shortform · 2020-02-06T18:42:08.670Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

I like Kaufman's second, third, and fourth ideas:

  • Allow the driver to start while someone is still at the front paying. (The driver should use judgment if they're allowed to do this, because the passenger at the front might lose their balance when the bus starts. Wheelchairs might be especially vulnerable to rolling back.)
  • Allow buses to drive 25mph on the shoulder of the highway in traffic jams where the main lanes are averaging below 10mph.
  • Higher speed limits for buses. Lets say 15mph over. (I'm not so sure about this: speed limits exist in part to protect pedestrians. Buses still cause fewer pedestrian and cyclist deaths than cars, though.)

But these should be considered only after we've exhausted the space of improvements to bus service that don't sacrifice safety. For example, we should build more bus-only lanes first.

Comment by evelynciara on evelynciara's Shortform · 2020-02-05T08:59:03.439Z · score: 7 (5 votes) · EA · GW

I think improving bus systems in the United States (and probably other countries) could be a plausible Cause X.

Importance: Improving bus service would:

  • Increase economic output in cities
  • Dramatically improve quality of life for low-income residents
  • Reduce cities' carbon footprint, air pollution, and traffic congestion

Neglectedness: City buses probably don't get much attention because most people don't think very highly of them, and focus much more on novel transportation technologies like electric vehicles.

Tractability: According to Higashide, improving bus systems is a matter of improving how the bus systems are governed. Right now, I think a nationwide movement to improve bus transit would be less polarizing than the YIMBY movement has been. While YIMBYism has earned a reputation as elitist due to some of its early advocates' mistakes, a pro-bus movement could be seen as aligned with the interests of low-income city dwellers provided that it gets the messaging right from the beginning.

Also, bus systems are less costly to roll out, upgrade, and alter than other public transportation options like trains.

Comment by evelynciara on Growth and the case against randomista development · 2020-02-05T00:38:42.150Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · EA · GW

I agree with your concerns. It's hard enough as an American citizen to fix America's broken immigration citizen, and like you said, it would be harder still to lobby these foreign countries for exactly the kinds of pro-growth policies that they are distancing themselves from. I'm half-Taiwanese, but I can barely speak Mandarin and have 1% of the cultural context I'd need to be an effective political advocate there.

But there's a lot we can do from the vantage point of rich countries to benefit citizens of poor countries, like lobbying for more immigration. In terms of benefits to the global poor, open borders would probably trump any policy that developing countries could enact on their own. And it's probably more tractable if we focus on the countries whose political climates already favor immigration.

Comment by evelynciara on evelynciara's Shortform · 2020-02-01T04:58:04.925Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Joan Gass (2019) recommends four areas of international development to focus on:

  • New modalities to foster economic productivity
  • New modalities or ways to develop state capabilities
  • Global catastrophic risks, particularly pandemic preparedness
  • Meta EA research on cause prioritization within global development

Improving state capabilities, or governments' ability to render public services, seems especially promising for public-interest technologists interested in development (ICT4D). For example, the Zenysis platform helps developing-world governments make data-driven decisions, especially in healthcare. Biorisk management also looks promising from a tech standpoint.

Comment by evelynciara on AMA: Rob Mather, founder and CEO of the Against Malaria Foundation · 2020-01-30T18:18:04.360Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

I understand that AMF collects a lot of data about net distributions to ensure transparency. How do you protect the privacy of households that receive nets? How concerned are you about potential misuse of personal data on recipients?

I'm thinking about this in the context of concerns that some humanitarian organizations are over-surveilling their aid recipients, especially those who are already vulnerable to political violence.

Comment by evelynciara on evelynciara's Shortform · 2020-01-30T16:59:16.308Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Thank you for sharing this! I took a class on surveillance and privacy last semester, so I already have basic knowledge about this subject. I agree that it's important to reject false tradeoffs. Personally, my contribution to this area would be in formulating a theory of privacy that can be used to assess surveillance schemes in this context.

Comment by evelynciara on evelynciara's Shortform · 2020-01-28T18:48:13.201Z · score: 8 (5 votes) · EA · GW

We're probably surveilling poor and vulnerable people in developing and developed countries too much in the name of aiding them, and we should give stronger consideration to the privacy rights of aid recipients. Personal data about these people collected for benign purposes can be weaponized against them by malicious actors, and surveillance itself can deter people from accessing vital services.

"Stop Surveillance Humanitarianism" by Mark Latonero

Automating Inequality by Virginia Eubanks makes a similar argument regarding aid recipients in developed countries.

Comment by evelynciara on What posts you are planning on writing? · 2020-01-28T02:03:55.485Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I'm writing a post about how our discussions of emerging technologies could apply technological determinism or social construction theory more rigorously. For example, we often talk about AI in a way that suggests that it is likely to advance towards superintelligence (technological determinism), but then assert that society has the power to shape the development of AI (social constructivism), given that superintelligence will emerge (determinism again). I think this reasoning is muddled, but I am not suggesting that we must choose either-or between determinism and constructivism.

Comment by evelynciara on Growth and the case against randomista development · 2020-01-19T05:51:51.922Z · score: 7 (2 votes) · EA · GW

If lower-skilled labor reduces AI R&D and therefore slows the pace of AI development, wouldn't it also reduce the risk of x-risks from AI?

Comment by evelynciara on What posts you are planning on writing? · 2020-01-16T17:01:44.349Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Concern trolling?

Comment by evelynciara on I'm Cullen O'Keefe, a Policy Researcher at OpenAI, AMA · 2020-01-15T06:03:54.027Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

I think so too. I created a question here to solicit some preliminary thoughts, but it would be cool if someone could do more thorough research.

Comment by evelynciara on EAF’s ballot initiative doubled Zurich’s development aid · 2020-01-14T23:29:49.726Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · EA · GW

This is awesome! I didn't know that municipalities had international development budgets. I wonder if something like this has been done in the United States.

Comment by evelynciara on I'm Cullen O'Keefe, a Policy Researcher at OpenAI, AMA · 2020-01-13T19:26:52.270Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

I'm not sure whom this ranking would be relevant for, though. If you're interested in basic research on AI ethics, you'd want to know whether doing research on fairness or privacy is more impactful on the margin. But engineers developing AI applications have to address all ethical issues simultaneously; for example, this paper on AI in global development discusses all of them. As an engineer deciding what project to work on, I'd have to know for which causes deploying AI would make the greatest difference.

Comment by evelynciara on I'm Cullen O'Keefe, a Policy Researcher at OpenAI, AMA · 2020-01-13T01:57:36.255Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

That's a really good suggestion! Do you know of any attempts at cause prioritization in near-term AI policy? I think most AI policy wonks focus on near-term issues, so publishing a stack ranking could be really influential.

Comment by evelynciara on I'm Cullen O'Keefe, a Policy Researcher at OpenAI, AMA · 2020-01-12T21:32:48.394Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA · GW

What do you think are the most pressing "mainstream" ethical issues in AI? (fairness, interpretability, privacy, attention design, etc.)

How do you think the public interest tech movement (which encompasses tech-related public policy, doing software development or data science for social good, etc.) could be more effective?

Comment by evelynciara on What should EAs interested in climate change do? · 2020-01-11T06:05:09.590Z · score: 7 (2 votes) · EA · GW

According to Let's Fund: Fund clean energy research.

Comment by evelynciara on New study in Science implies that tree planting is the cheapest climate change solution · 2019-10-30T07:33:46.988Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Caveat: Tree-planting programs can backfire if they disrupt local ecosystems such as wetlands and arid areas. For example, when Canada planted spruce trees in swamps, this actually made them more susceptible to forest fires.

The current #TeamTrees program ensures that the trees planted are well suited to their local ecosystems. They're aiming to raise $20M to plant 20 million trees around the world. I suggest donating to this campaign if you're interested in reforestation.

Comment by evelynciara on Effective Altruism and Meaning in Life · 2019-10-27T07:56:25.049Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Thank you for sharing this! As a student about to graduate from college, I've been researching ways to maximize my social impact through my career, and I found 80,000 Hours' career guide a very trustworthy, general-purpose resource for a long time. But I've noticed that their more recent material seems aimed at funneling readers into their preferred career paths, especially academic careers and positions at EA organizations. For a short period of time over the summer, I became hyped up about AI safety because it was the #1 issue from 80K's perspective and my skill set (computer science) seemed like a fit, but that enthusiasm didn't last long.

I've noticed that the set of causes I am passionate about changes very frequently (about once every two weeks), but I continually and repeatedly return to certain causes - typically immigration, criminal justice reform, mental health, and global development. I would like to pursue a career doing direct work, and in order to do so effectively, I need to be able to make a durable commitment to a cause that I will be passionate about over the next several years. I would not be an effective "effective altruist" if I spent my career chasing trends.

Comment by evelynciara on evelynciara's Shortform · 2019-10-23T02:00:58.615Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

[crossposted to r/neoliberal]

Comment by evelynciara on evelynciara's Shortform · 2019-10-23T01:58:54.001Z · score: 6 (5 votes) · EA · GW

John, Katherine, Sarah, and Hank Green are making a $6.5M donation to Partners in Health to address the maternal mortality crisis in Sierra Leone, and are trying to raise $25M in total. PIH has been working with the Sierra Leone Ministry of Health to improve the quality of maternal care through facility upgrades, supplies, and training.

PIH blog postvlogbrothers video

Comment by evelynciara on evelynciara's Shortform · 2019-10-14T08:03:32.023Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

A series of polls by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs show that Americans increasingly support free trade and believe that free trade is good for the U.S. economy (87%, up from 59% in 2016). This is probably a reaction to the negative effects and press coverage of President Trump's trade wars - anecdotally, I have seen a lot of progressives who would otherwise not care about or support free trade criticize policies such as Trump's steel tariffs as reckless.

I believe this presents a unique window of opportunity to educate the American public about the benefits of globalization. Kimberly Clausing is doing this in her book, Open: The Progressive Case for Free Trade, Immigration, and Global Capital, in which she defends free trade and immigration to the U.S. from the standpoint of American workers.