Comment by Chris Kerr (frenbaim) on Strong Longtermism and Dobbs v. Jackson · 2022-07-03T09:03:43.198Z · EA · GW

An additional longtermist benefit of the decision is that the need to present the case for legal abortion in language that is biologically accurate and understandable to the general public (e.g. by using the word "woman") will improve epistemics among activists and the media. 

Hopefully this effect will extend outside gender to other questions where "progressive" dogma is obviously contrary to reality.

Comment by Chris Kerr (frenbaim) on What important truth do very few people agree with you on? · 2022-06-05T17:58:36.192Z · EA · GW

[With the caveat in Imma's comment]
I hold the following combination of beliefs, which are individually relatively common but rarely held together:

  • Many of the problems that anti-immigrationists claim are caused by migration are real and important.
  • Nevertheless, the benefits of reducing or eliminating migration restrictions would be so large that it is still a good idea on net.

As a corollary: I have heard many people (the example that springs to mind is Peter Singer in his interview for the 80k podcast, but there have been others) say something along the lines of "I would support open borders, but high immigration leads to the election of right-wing populist nativists who will enact harmful policies, therefore I reluctantly support immigration restrictions." I contend that it is not the mere presence of people of different ethnic groups that causes right wing populism, but rather the aforementioned problems (e.g. cultural clash, crime, stress on government services, collision with government-imposed inflexibility in the housing and labour markets etc.) combined with left-wing denials that the problems exist (and insistence that anyone complaining about them is a deplorable racist) that drive voters towards the only politicians offering to solve the problems. Therefore, interventions to engage with and reduce the problems caused by migration ("keyhole solutions" in Open Borders lingo) could enable more open borders without a political backlash.

Comment by Chris Kerr (frenbaim) on EA Tours of Service · 2022-05-12T08:12:53.842Z · EA · GW

Many intergovernmental organizations have a similar recruitment model with limited term contracts for most staff members. (My experience is with EMBL but I don't think the practice is limited to research-focused organizations.) The explicit aim is that staff members will join (possibly on secondment from national governments), bring their existing knowledge and share it with other staff from other countries, and then return to their home country bringing new experience to improve things there too.

The packages of benefits and perquisites offered by these organizations include some that EA organizations should consider duplicating if they want to encourage "tour of service" style employment.

  • Relocation assistance not only before starting the job but also after the end of the contract period.
  • Travel subsidies to encourage continuing links with the home country (and with the seconding organization, if applicable).
  • Dependents allowance, to compensate for the fact that e.g. if one spouse relocates to a foreign country for work then this lowers the earning potential of the other spouse.
Comment by Chris Kerr (frenbaim) on Effective [Re]location · 2022-05-12T08:00:30.501Z · EA · GW

A platform that collates and displays data about localities from around the country (and world) in an easily digestible, comparable manner. High-level and granular data that could be provided may include wi-fi quality, acceptance of minority groups, frequency of crime, voting history and tax rate. provides a lot of this information. AFAIK it's funded by a company that sells relocation assistance to tech companies wanting to recruit internationally.

Comment by Chris Kerr (frenbaim) on How Do You Get People to Really Show Up to Local Group Meetups? · 2022-05-07T09:55:40.222Z · EA · GW

A necessary (but not sufficient) condition is that the people who want to attend meetups can find out when and where they are happening. You might think this is obvious, but my local group requires a login in order to view its "public calendar".

Comment by Chris Kerr (frenbaim) on Privacy as a Blind Spot: Are There Long Term Harms in Using Facebook, Google, Slack etc.? · 2022-05-06T17:21:07.921Z · EA · GW

One useful resource for gathering such evidence is the EA Polls Facebook group.

I strongly doubt that a poll hosted on Facebook will provide unbiased evidence on those questions.

Comment by Chris Kerr (frenbaim) on Would it be convenient / effective to have an EA-aligned "investigations agency"? · 2022-03-02T19:39:20.191Z · EA · GW

In addition, it could be particularly convenient to identify malevolent aspiring leaders and show their true colors while they are in the "political cradle" - before they become famous and powerful enough to deflect public criticism.

I agree that this would be useful. However, any organisation which sets out to do this will become an attractive target for anyone who currently holds power and wants to disrupt challengers by claiming that they are malevolent.

In addition, given the state of libel laws in many countries, having a single well-funded organisation making public claims of malevolence is going to end with a huge fraction of those funds being spent on lawyers.

Comment by Chris Kerr (frenbaim) on Information security: Become a hacker, not a consultant · 2022-03-02T19:07:38.448Z · EA · GW

My experience as a recipient of security consultants' advice matches what you are saying. The sole result has been paperwork. Admittedly, some of this paperwork has actually been helpful (IT workers are not always very good at writing documentation.) but I still don't think it was worth the opportunity cost.

Comment by Chris Kerr (frenbaim) on How impactful is free and open source software development? · 2022-02-16T19:41:17.658Z · EA · GW

Thanks for writing this! Writing a post on FOSS as an EA intervention has been on my to-do list ever since I noticed about six months ago that nobody had written one yet.

One additional benefit of FOSS that you appear to have missed is that, by offering a competitive alternative to proprietary software (and importantly, an alternative which can never be bought out in a corporate takeover), FOSS helps prevent the vendors selling proprietary software from exploiting their users quite as much as they otherwise would.

I definitely started using FOSS to save money while I was still at school and university, but now I would pay thousands to avoid the pervasive anti-features in all the (now often free-as-in-beer) proprietary ecosystems.