Comment by FlorianH on How much does performance differ between people? · 2021-04-01T04:12:22.543Z · EA · GW

Surprised to see nothing (did I overlook?) about: The People vs. The Project/Job: The title, and the lead sentence,

Some people seem to achieve orders of magnitudes more than others in the same job.

suggest the work focuses essentially on people's performance, but already in the motivational examples

For instance, among companies funded by Y Combinator the top 0.5% account for more than ⅔ of the total market value; and among successful bestseller authors [wait, it's their books, no?], the top 1% stay on the New York Times bestseller list more than 25 times longer than the median author in that group.

 (emphasis and [] added by me)

I think I have not explicitly seen discussed whether at all it is the people, or more the exact project (the startup, the book(s)) they work on, that is the successful element, although the outcome is a sort of product of the two. Theoretically, in one (obviously wrong) extreme case: Maybe all Y-Combinator CEOs were similarly performing persons, but some of the startups simply are the right projects! 

My gut feeling is that making this fundamental distinction explicit would make the discussion/analysis of performance more tractable.


Of course, you can say, book writers and scientists, startuppers, choose each time anew what next book and paper to write, etc., and this choice is part of their 'performance', so looking at their output's performance is all there is. But this would be at max half-true in a more general sense of comparing the general capabilities of the persons, as there are very many drivers that lead persons to very specific high-level domains (of business, of book genres, etc.) and/or of very specific niches therein, and these may have at least as much to do with personal interest, haphazard personal history, etc.

Comment by FlorianH on Some quick notes on "effective altruism" · 2021-03-24T18:11:58.877Z · EA · GW

Thanks, I think antipathy effects towards the name “Effective Altruism”, or worse, “I’m an effective altruist”, are difficult to overstate.

Also, somewhat related to what you write I happen to have thought to myself just today: “I (and most of us are) am just as much an effective egoist as an effective altruist”, after all even the holiest of us probably cannot always help ourselves putting a significantly higher weight on our own welfare than on those of average strangers.

Nevertheless, some potential upside of the current term – equally I’m not sure it matters much at all, but I attribute a small chance to them being really important: If some people are kept away by the name’s bit geeky/partly unfashionable connotation, maybe these are exactly the people that would anyways be mostly distractors. I think the bit narrow EA community has this extraordinary vibe along a few really important dimensions, and it seems invaluable (in that sense while RyanCarey mentions we may not attract the core audience with different names, I find the problem might be more another way round, we might simply dilute the core).

Maybe I’m completely overestimating this, and maybe it’s not outweighing at all the downside of attracting/appealing to fewer. But in a world where the lack of fruitful communication threatens entire social systems, maybe having a particularly strong core in that regard is highly valuable.

Comment by FlorianH on Ranking animal foods based on suffering and GHG emissions · 2021-03-23T15:22:55.410Z · EA · GW

Love the endeavor. But the calculation method really should be changed before anyone interested in the quantification of the combined CO2+animal suffering harm should use it, in my opinion: a weighted product model is inappropriate to express the total harm level of two independent harms, I really think you want to not multiply CO2 and animal suffering harm, but instead separately sum them, with whichever weight the user chooses. In that sense, I fully agree with what MichaelStJules also mentioned. But I want to give an example that makes this very clear - and please let me know if instead, it seems like I misread your calculation details in :

Imagine a product A with 0 CO2 but a huge animal suffering impact, B with huge CO2 but 0 suffering, and C with non-zero but tiny impact on both dimensions. Your weighting would favor C, while for any rational person either A or B (or both) would necessarily be preferable. Your WPM may sound nicer in theory but it cannot be applied here, I'd really want to see it changed before considering the model useable for quantitative indications of the harm on a general level!

NB: I actually have an interest in using your model in the medium-term future! We're trying to set up an animal food welfare compensation scheme, and happen to have CO2 on our list in addition to animal suffering itself, (very much work in progress).

Comment by FlorianH on Name for the larger EA+adjacent ecosystem? · 2021-03-19T18:02:29.608Z · EA · GW

I find "new enlightenment" very fitting. But wonder whether it might at times be perceived as a not very humble name (must not be a problem, but I wonder whether some, me included, might at times end up feeling uncomfortable calling ourselves part of it).

Comment by FlorianH on Name for the larger EA+adjacent ecosystem? · 2021-03-19T17:53:03.381Z · EA · GW

Spontaneously I find "Broad Rationality" a plausible candidate (I spontaneously found it being used as a very specific concept mainly by Elster 1983, but I find on google only 46 hits on '"broad rationality" elster ', though there are of course more hits more generally on the word combination)

Comment by FlorianH on Dutch anti-trust regulator bans pro-animal welfare chicken cartel · 2021-03-04T10:19:28.541Z · EA · GW

Thanks, interesting case!

1. We might have loved to see the cartel here succeed, but we should probably still be thankful for the more general principle underlying the ruling:

As background, it should be mentioned that it is a common thing to use so-called green policies/standards for disguised protectionist measures, aka green protectionism: protecting local/domestic industry by imposing certain rules, often with minor environmental benefits (as here at least according to the ruling), but helping to keep out (international) competition.

So for the 'average' citizen, say those for whom animal welfare may be relevant but not nearly as central as for many EAs, the principles underlying the ruling seem very sensible. Potentially even crucial for well-functioning international trade without an infinitude of arbitrary rules just to rip off local consumers.

Governmental policy (minimal welfare standards) is the place for addressing the public goods problem that Paul and other commentators describe: here that would mean binding animal welfare standards, agreed in the democratic process.

2. An potentially much larger issue w.r.t. trading laws preventing higher welfare standards, is related to WTO/GATT rules, making it (seemingly) ambiguous whether a country is even allowed to politically raise welfare standards and apply these to imports (which is necessary for the effectiveness of the domestic rule):

Free trade rules are regularly used by industry lobbies to delegitimize proposals for higher domestic animal welfare standards, with the claim that imposing welfare restrictions on imported foods would be impossible as it violated free trade rules. In reality, it is not trivial to interpret the relevant paragraphs of the trade agreements & case rulings, although I would imagine it to be difficult for anyone to attack a country for imposing high-welfare standards in a reasonably transparent way; nevertheless, the uncertainty around the issue is being successfully abused in the political discourse.

Comment by FlorianH on Why I'm concerned about Giving Green · 2021-01-29T06:27:24.688Z · EA · GW

The post mentions 

Giving Green agrees with the consensus EA view that the framing of “offsetting personal emissions” is unhelpful

To some degree such a consensus seems natural, though I believe the issues with the idea of offsetting do not automatically mean helping people in search specifically of effective (or thus maybe least ineffective) offsetting possibilities is by nature ineffective. 

I wonder: is the mentioned "consensus" detailed/made most obvious in any particular place(s) - blog, article, ... ?

Comment by FlorianH on EA Hotel with free accommodation and board for two years · 2018-06-23T18:37:46.068Z · EA · GW

Indeed, I think I'm not the only one to whom the nudge towards eating more fully vegan would seem a highly welcome side-effect of a stay in the hotel.