Posts

Bottlenecks and Solutions for the X-Risk Ecosystem 2018-10-08T12:47:42.068Z · score: 24 (24 votes)

Comments

Comment by florentberthet on What should EAs interested in climate change do? · 2020-01-11T10:16:01.659Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Clean meat could also have a huge impact on CO2 levels. According to Vinod Khosla (source):

  • about 30-50% of all land area is used for animal husbandry
  • clean meat and plant-based alternatives could allow us to take back most of it
  • restoring this land would solve the carbon emissions problem by carbon capture (~100 out of 110 of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s scenarios for carbon reductions on the planet involve freeing millions of acres of land for reforestation)
Comment by florentberthet on Assumptions about the far future and cause priority · 2019-11-12T14:54:29.608Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Agreed. And even in the scenario where we could continue to find more valuable patterns of matter even billions of years in the future, I don’t think that efforts to accelerate things now would have any significant impact on the value we will create in the future, because it seems very likely that our future value creation will mostly depend on major events that won’t have much to do with the current state of things.

Let’s consider the launch of Von Neumann probes throughout the universe as such a possible major event: even if we could increase our current growth rate by 1% with a better allocation of resources, it doesn’t mean that the future launch of these probes will be 1% more efficient. Rather, the outcomes of this event seem largely uncorrelated with our growth rate prior to that moment. At best, accelerating our growth would hasten the launch by a tiny bit, but this is very different than saying “increasing our growth by 1% now will increase our whole future utility by 1%”.

Comment by florentberthet on How do you decide between upvoting and strong upvoting? · 2019-08-26T15:37:35.569Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · EA · GW

I vote based on how much I think something contributes to the discussion, aiming for a roughly equal split between upvotes and strong-upvotes (which I expect to be somewhat of a Schelling point). Same logic for downvotes vs strong-downvotes, though I obviously don't split 50/50 between upvotes and downvotes.

Comment by florentberthet on After one year of applying for EA jobs: It is really, really hard to get hired by an EA organisation · 2019-02-28T09:48:43.050Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Yes I agree 100% that merely trying to create more EA jobs won't be enough, hence my 4th point. What I am suggesting is that we should both increase our internal capacity *and* change our message by making it clear that the work done at EA-branded orgs is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to having an impact.

Comment by florentberthet on After one year of applying for EA jobs: It is really, really hard to get hired by an EA organisation · 2019-02-26T11:01:28.943Z · score: 51 (43 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for this, we can clearly do better. Some ideas:

  • When you recruit as an org, be 100% transparent on the number of applicants you have for a given position, so that people don’t overestimate their chances.
  • As a community, let's do more to promote the creation of more impactful orgs (e.g. through communications and increased funding for early-stage initiatives)
  • Scale existing orgs by following best practices so that they can recruit more. Get experienced mentors on board if needed.
  • Stop talking as if there was a binary divide between what is “EA” and what is “non-EA”. This is a spectrum, and we should promote way more than just the usual ~20 EA orgs as good career options (it seems we are getting better at this, but there's still a long way to go).
  • Make it easier for EAs to collaborate on projects (e.g. by creating an online project platform), so that they can still have an impact even when they can’t or won’t be hired in an org. This could also boost the creation of new orgs that could then hire later on.
Comment by florentberthet on List of possible EA meta-charities and projects · 2019-01-14T18:01:20.376Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Great post. Here are some other lists of EA projects that were posted here a while back but can still be relevant:

Comment by florentberthet on The Importance of EA Dedication and Why it Should Be Encouraged · 2018-05-07T12:50:07.702Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks Joey, that's an important subject!

We want to build a culture that fosters dedication without putting off newcomers too much, and right now we are trying to see where to put the cursor between these two positions:

  1. “Even small efforts are good, EA Should stay fun!”
  2. “EA is a moral duty that requires full dedication!”

I think this is the wrong way to look at it. The apparent trade-off between them is based on a false dichotomy, because these two statements don’t talk about the same things: the first is about psychology, while the second is about philosophy. Debates where we discuss different things tend to be less productive. Instead, we could frame the message so that both views are aligned. After all, when the right conditions are met, people can be very dedicated and have a blast, without feeling that they are sacrificing themselves.

We could say “Dedication for a cause and well-being are both very important, and thankfully they tend to go hand in hand. Therefore, find a job that suits you well and has a big impact, and chances are you will be happy.” That way, we could still promote the value of a strong dedication but without putting people off.

In my experience, dedication is like motivation: it’s good to have, but it can only be increased indirectly. Just like it’s not helpful to say “be more motivated!’, it’s probably not very useful to encourage people to "be more dedicated". But if we see dedication as a consequence, something that happens when specific elements are present, then we can focus on these elements. To find which ones influence dedication the most, we should look at the science of dedication (anyone?), but one simple concept we could use is Ikigai (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ikigai). According to the Ikigai concept, doing something for the world is only one piece of the dedication puzzle. Using this example, in order to increase the number of dedicated EAs, we could try to make it easier for us to find people who can fill these 4 circles with EA stuff. Recommendations could include:

  • “What you love” circle: let’s find more people who love the things that should be done (by doing more/different outreach, and by showing the fun aspects of impactful careers).

  • “What you are good at” circle: let’s find more people who are good at those things (e.g. headhunting) and let’s provide training for those who need it.

  • “What the world needs” circle: let’s identify more ways to have positive impact.

  • “What you can be paid for”: let's fund more projects.

In summary, by considering dedication as an emergent feature, we could optimize for it by acting on its causes rather than by trying to convince people of its importance (which I think is way harder to do).

Comment by florentberthet on Cosmic EA: How Cost Effective Is Informing ET? · 2017-12-31T10:17:24.874Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · EA · GW

Any investment related to ET is probably not cost-effective, because there are probably no ET in our Universe (or at least not in our neighborhood).

Here's my take on why: https://www.quora.com/Is-the-Fermi-Paradox-and-the-concept-of-parallel-universes-related-in-any-way/answer/Florent-Berthet.

Also, watch this excellent talk by Stuart Armstrong on the Fermi Paradox: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQTfuI-9jIo&index=663&list=FLxEpt5QlyYGAge0ot24tuug

Comment by florentberthet on I am Nate Soares, AMA! · 2015-06-10T16:49:33.013Z · score: 9 (11 votes) · EA · GW

Congrats on the new position!

My question: what advances does MIRI hope to achieve in the next 5 years?