Posts

Bored at home? Contribute to the EA Wiki! 2020-05-01T10:58:43.130Z
UK donor-advised funds 2020-01-22T12:03:12.285Z
‘I give away half to three-quarters of my income every year’ [The Guardian] 2019-11-09T09:03:33.307Z
The climate change policy with the most potential is the most neglected 2019-07-12T17:19:53.552Z
Sentience Institute: US Factory Farming Estimates 2019-04-25T09:32:59.129Z
Awesome Effective Altruism - a curated list of EA resources 2018-08-24T21:04:28.709Z
Visualising animal agriculture 2018-06-16T01:05:31.582Z
How to improve EA Funds 2018-04-04T09:27:47.838Z
EA Funds hands out money very infrequently - should we be worried? 2018-01-31T08:10:24.954Z
Introducing EA Work Club – high-impact jobs and side projects for EAs 2017-12-08T11:37:56.149Z

Comments

Comment by HenryStanley on An evaluation of Mind Ease, an anti-anxiety app · 2021-08-09T23:03:01.004Z · EA · GW

I could believe that mHealth/iCBT/online therapy is very cost-effective, but the claims here seem to be about Mind Ease in particular. As such the meat of the report is likely to be found in chapter 4, the actual evaluation of Mind Ease – but this section is inaccessible.

 

Is there a reason this was omitted from the public report?

Comment by HenryStanley on The EA Forum Editing Festival has begun! · 2021-04-10T15:08:22.222Z · EA · GW

Maybe I'm missing something, but it seems like the wiki isn't labelled as such - as in, there isn't a part of the site called the 'wiki'. There's also the 'tags portal' which refers to the 'EA Forum Wiki', but as I understand it that page essentially is the wiki. The language is confusing.

Should there be a section of the site called the 'wiki' that lists all these pages? Or maybe even consider renaming tags to wiki - where posts on the forum can be 'tagged' with a wiki article.

(The URLs for tags should probably more conventionally be in the format /tags/<tagname>, not /tag/<tagname>. Going to /tag gives a 404.)

Comment by HenryStanley on 10 Habits I recommend (2020) · 2021-01-04T15:15:25.202Z · EA · GW

Seconding the Replacing Guilt series (and podcast); it’s fantastic.

Comment by HenryStanley on Bored at home? Contribute to the EA Wiki! · 2020-12-15T23:35:18.496Z · EA · GW

Thanks for flagging - that's now approved. Still need to do some fiddling with the MediaWiki setup I think, both to ward off spam and to get email alerts for pending approvals.

Comment by HenryStanley on Slate Star Codex, EA, and self-reflection · 2020-07-06T20:04:22.706Z · EA · GW

My response to (b): the word is probably beyond rehabilitation now, but I also think that people ought to be able to have discussions about bioethics without having to clarify their terms every ten seconds. I actually think it is unreasonable of someone to skim someone’s post on something, see a word that looks objectionable, and cast aspersions over their whole worldview as a result.

Reminds me of when I saw a recipe which called for palm sugar. The comments were full of people who were outraged at the inclusion of such an exploitative, unsustainable ingredient. Of course, they were actually thinking of palm oil (palm sugar production is largely sustainable) but had just pattern-matched ‘palm’ as ‘that bad food thing’.

Comment by HenryStanley on Slate Star Codex, EA, and self-reflection · 2020-07-06T09:42:35.053Z · EA · GW

Much of this argument could be short-circuited by pulling apart what Scott means by 'eugenics' - it's clear from the context (missing from the OP's post) that he's referring to liberal eugenics, which argues that parents should have the right to have some sort of genetic choice over their offspring (and has almost nothing in common with the coercive "eugenics" to which the OP refers).

Liberal eugenics is already widespread, in a sense. Take embryo selection, where parents choose which embryo to bring to term depending on its genetic qualities. We've had chorionic villus sampling to check an embryo for Down syndrome for decades; it's commonplace.

Just dropping the word "eugenics" again and again with no clarification or context is very misleading.

Comment by HenryStanley on Investing to Give Beginner Advice? · 2020-06-20T19:01:38.026Z · EA · GW

Leveraged ETFs are meant for short-term investing I believe - they're rebalanced daily which reduces their value over time.

Comment by HenryStanley on [deleted post] 2020-06-20T17:33:03.949Z

I could be wrong but aren't leveraged ETFs intended to be held only for short periods of time (because the ETF is reindexed daily)?

Comment by HenryStanley on Climate Change Is Neglected By EA · 2020-05-24T18:21:59.383Z · EA · GW

Though I'm not entirely sure the comparison is fair. The kind of global poverty interventions that EAs favour (for better or for worse) tend to be near-term, low-risk, with a quick payoff. Climate change interventions are much less certain, higher-variance, and with a long payoff.

Comment by HenryStanley on Climate Change Is Neglected By EA · 2020-05-24T17:58:12.251Z · EA · GW

A huge amount is already spent on global health and development, and yet the EA community is clearly happy to try and find particularly effective global health and development interventions. There are definitely areas within the hugely broad field of climate change action which are genuinely neglected.

This is true. To steelman your point (and do some shameless self-promotion) - at Let's Fund we think funding advocacy for clean energy R&D funding is one such intervention, so they do exist.

Comment by HenryStanley on Climate Change Is Neglected By EA · 2020-05-23T20:31:31.778Z · EA · GW

Thoughtful post!

I don't agree with your analysis in (3) - neglectedness to me is asking not 'is enough being done' but 'is this the thing that can generate the most benefit on the margin'.

For climate change it seems most likely not; hundreds of billions of dollars (and likely millions of work-years) are already spent every year on climate change mitigation (research, advocacy, or energy subsidies). The whole EA movement might move, what, a few hundred million dollars per year? Given the relatively scarce resources we have, both in time and money, it seems like there are places where we could do more good (the whole of the AI safety field has only a couple hundred people IIRC).

Comment by HenryStanley on Racial Demographics at Longtermist Organizations · 2020-05-05T08:27:22.456Z · EA · GW

Gotcha. I actually meant to reply to Hauke (who thought the poster was talking about diversity of any kind, rather than racial diversity).

Comment by HenryStanley on Racial Demographics at Longtermist Organizations · 2020-05-03T13:40:55.552Z · EA · GW

Agreed - though many of the more successful diversity efforts are really just efforts to make companies nicer and more collaborative places to work (e.g. cross-functional teams, mentoring). My personal preference is to focus on making companies welcoming to all rather than specifically targeting racial minorities.

I'm also a little sceptical of the huge gains the HBR article suggests - do diversity task forces really increase the number of Asian men in management by a third? It suggests looking at Google as an example of "a company that's made big bets on [diversity] accountability... We should know in a few years if that moves the needle for them" - it didn't.

Comment by HenryStanley on Racial Demographics at Longtermist Organizations · 2020-05-02T17:28:16.657Z · EA · GW

How do you think cohorts like the self-identified conservatives in western democracies or the US intelligence community would view ideas coming from that hypothetical think tank?

I suggest this is a bad example; I imagine they'd be sceptical but more because of the involvement of a Chinese state actor (see e.g. concerns over Chinese government influence over Huawei) than because of their race.

Comment by HenryStanley on Racial Demographics at Longtermist Organizations · 2020-05-02T17:15:41.495Z · EA · GW

Promote formal diversity and inclusion programs

I’m sceptical; diversity programs often don't work (Google spent $300m+ on diversity programs and didn't move the needle) and in many cases reduce diversity.

Comment by HenryStanley on Racial Demographics at Longtermist Organizations · 2020-05-02T17:06:56.851Z · EA · GW

Larks’ view that they “do not place any value on diversity.”

I assume Larks means 'racial diversity' in the context of this thread (and based on their comment, which talks about increasing diverse viewpoints through other means).

Comment by HenryStanley on Bored at home? Contribute to the EA Wiki! · 2020-05-01T14:25:45.331Z · EA · GW

I've not attempted to consolidate other wikis - I think the LessWrong and Cause Prioritisation wikis are best kept separate. Concepts also hasn't been touched in a long time as far as I can see. My hope is that simply by not going offline or being unavailable this wiki will be the default Schelling point!

I also think the fact that this is run on MediaWiki (the same platform as Wikipedia) makes it more familiar/easier to get started, but I could be wrong.

Your point about reputation is very right - need to think more about ways I can surface people's contributions.

Comment by HenryStanley on Why I'm Not Vegan · 2020-04-12T13:10:23.662Z · EA · GW

Interesting - I would definitely not pick the 50 months as a pig on a factory farm.

Comment by HenryStanley on Why I'm Not Vegan · 2020-04-12T13:09:38.124Z · EA · GW

.

Comment by HenryStanley on Why I'm Not Vegan · 2020-04-10T22:29:01.103Z · EA · GW

Your claim that 1 year of human life is equivalent to 1,000 years of factory farming for chickens (or 100,000 years for fish) seems extraordinary. You don't provide a justification for this in the piece, despite the whole argument hinging on this number - do you have one?

(I also downvoted the post - I think it's lazily argued and doesn't add much to the debate. As abrahamrowe says, you could assign an arbitrary weight to anything, like a year of life for a person in the developing world being 'worth' 1/100th of a year of life for a Westerner, and call it done.)

Comment by HenryStanley on Why I'm Not Vegan · 2020-04-10T22:15:13.576Z · EA · GW

I included the "I think there's a very large chance they don't matter at all, and that there's just no one inside to suffer" out of transparency. The post doesn't depend on it at all

I don't see how that can be true. Surely the weightings you give would be radically different if you thought there was "someone inside to suffer"?

Comment by HenryStanley on The case for building more and better epistemic institutions in the effective altruism community · 2020-03-30T08:59:01.547Z · EA · GW

Hello! I started eawiki.org just a few weeks ago to try to reinvigorate the concept - will do a proper launch sometime soon.

Comment by HenryStanley on Against anti-natalism; or: why climate change should not be a significant factor in your decision to have children · 2020-02-27T12:50:19.832Z · EA · GW

.

Comment by HenryStanley on [Link] EA is featured in a mini documentary by The Economist · 2020-01-30T17:05:29.576Z · EA · GW

Working link for the Economist article: https://www.economist.com/international/2018/06/02/can-effective-altruism-maximise-the-bang-for-each-charitable-buck

Comment by HenryStanley on How we promoted EA at a large tech company · 2020-01-29T17:09:09.725Z · EA · GW

This is fantastic - great to see someone do this, and the branding you came up with is super nice (especially around "do orders of magnitude more good"). In my experience people tend to keep quiet about EA while at work; good to see that trend being bucked as this seems like an obviously underutilised way to get folks interested the movement.

Comment by HenryStanley on Doing good is as good as it ever was · 2020-01-24T12:49:09.250Z · EA · GW

This is wonderful. Thanks for writing it!

Comment by HenryStanley on Doing good is as good as it ever was · 2020-01-24T12:48:49.873Z · EA · GW

While I have heard about people believing ii) and iii), I haven't seen either argument carefully written up anywhere. I'd assume this is true for lots of people.

Agreed - would love to see this written up by someone.

Comment by HenryStanley on Growth and the case against randomista development · 2020-01-23T11:17:25.722Z · EA · GW

Will have a look at those links.

But my point was that your blanket statement about there being no countries which implemented widespread K-12 education and didn't have huge welfare gains (whether as wealth or e.g. HDI) is wrong on its face. e.g. South Africa and Switzerland since 1990 increased mean years of schooling by 50% (from 8y to 12y); South Africa saw its HDI increase by 0.04 but Switzerland saw it increase by 0.11 over the same period. OTOH, there are countries with very little increase in time spent in school which have seen huge increases in HDI.

Comment by HenryStanley on Growth and the case against randomista development · 2020-01-23T10:54:46.214Z · EA · GW

This seems fair - though I would hope there would be significant overlap between 'I agree with this' and 'this is a good argument'.

Comment by HenryStanley on UK donor-advised funds · 2020-01-22T14:45:51.211Z · EA · GW

Hm, the fees on the CAF account look pretty steep - seems like it eats 4% of everything you put in there up to £22k, and 1% thereafter.

Comment by HenryStanley on UK donor-advised funds · 2020-01-22T14:43:35.492Z · EA · GW

Gotcha. Thanks for the answer - I guess UK DAFs will only ever allow you to donate to UK charities, so maybe the lack of flexibility isn't worth it.

Comment by HenryStanley on UK donor-advised funds · 2020-01-22T14:38:51.749Z · EA · GW

You don't get Gift Aid until you actually make the donation

If you don't donate in a given tax year you won't get the Gift Aid for that tax year at all, if I understand right - the tax relief is lost.

The appeal of a DAF is you can claim the Gift Aid/tax deduction immediately but defer donating. I think you can also put securities in the DAF, so growth on it would be tax-free presumably.

Comment by HenryStanley on Growth and the case against randomista development · 2020-01-22T13:52:47.820Z · EA · GW

Getting downvoted isn't 'abuse' - it's just a signal that people disagree with you. :) I'm not convinced of the case you're making for education, for example.

Comment by HenryStanley on Growth and the case against randomista development · 2020-01-22T13:48:47.342Z · EA · GW

perhaps countries which didn't produce huge welfare gains also implemented widespread K-12 education

That list of countries is zero.

I'd like to see a source for that, given the Gapminder chart of years of schooling vs. GDP has plenty of examples of countries which have increased the number of years of schooling and seen no increase in GDP - e.g. Kyrgyz Republic, Moldova, Micronesia et al

Comment by HenryStanley on Niel Bowerman: Could climate change make Earth uninhabitable for humans? · 2020-01-21T16:12:08.346Z · EA · GW

Interested to know more about the estimated death toll from climate change - I'm finding the figures you give hard to believe.

You mention 'hundreds of millions' of deaths in coming decades - what's the source for that? You cite the WHO, which talks about "250,000 additional deaths per year between 2030 and 2050", or 2.5million per decade.

Your source for climate change having caused hundreds of thousands of deaths so far gets there by calculating excess deaths from a European heatwave, but presumably warming also caused a warmer winter and so fewer deaths from cold - the paper doesn't discuss that, surprisingly.

Are there more rigorous estimates out there?

(citations taken from Louis Dixon's notes on your talk)

Comment by HenryStanley on Let’s Fund: annual review / fundraising / hiring / AMA · 2020-01-06T18:24:24.844Z · EA · GW

I imagine that most of the $300k raised would have been raised for other longtermist causes

Certainly this is true of some of the money raised, but much of it came through us getting exposure to the broader public (read: non-EAs) on Vox; it's not likely that those funds were otherwise destined for longtermist causes.

I'll come back to you with a more detailed breakdown of donors by source.

Comment by HenryStanley on Let’s Fund: annual review / fundraising / hiring / AMA · 2019-12-31T16:59:46.944Z · EA · GW

I work with Hauke part-time on Let's Fund. We'd be happy to take any questions you might have!

Comment by HenryStanley on How frequently do ACE and Open Phil agree about animal charities? · 2019-12-18T16:36:05.205Z · EA · GW

This is a really neat analysis. Thanks for doing it!

Do you think there's some feedback in the system in which ACE/OpenPhil use the other's research to help make their decisions?

Comment by HenryStanley on I'm Buck Shlegeris, I do research and outreach at MIRI, AMA · 2019-11-20T14:24:43.980Z · EA · GW

(Notably, the other things you might work on if you weren't at MIRI seem largely to be non-software-related)

Comment by HenryStanley on I'm Buck Shlegeris, I do research and outreach at MIRI, AMA · 2019-11-20T01:16:43.728Z · EA · GW

This is an awesome answer; thanks Buck!

The motivation behind strategy 2 seems pretty clear; are you emphasising strategy 1 (become a great engineer) for its instrumental benefit to strategy 2 (become useful to EA orgs), or for some other reason, like EtG?

Strongly agree that some of the best engineers I come across have had very broad, multi-domain knowledge (and have been able to apply it cross-domain to whatever problem they're working on).

Comment by HenryStanley on I'm Buck Shlegeris, I do research and outreach at MIRI, AMA · 2019-11-17T21:20:21.957Z · EA · GW

How should talented EA software engineers best put their skills to use?

Comment by HenryStanley on Ask Me Anything! · 2019-08-22T15:21:56.232Z · EA · GW

Thanks for the thoughtful answer, Will! :)

Comment by HenryStanley on Ask Me Anything! · 2019-08-15T16:09:38.825Z · EA · GW

I remember going to a 'fireside chat' at EAGxOxford a few years ago - the first such conference I'd been to. The topic was general wellbeing amongst EAs. Hearing Will and the other participants talk candidly about difficulties they'd faced was very humbling and humanising.

I don't think we should necessarily shy away from such questions.

Comment by HenryStanley on Ask Me Anything! · 2019-08-15T16:01:39.439Z · EA · GW

Are you happy with where EA as a movement has ended up? If you could go back and nudge its course, what would you change?

Comment by HenryStanley on EA-aligned podcast with Lewis Bollard · 2019-08-15T15:59:57.982Z · EA · GW

Awesome - looks like a great podcast. Looks like it's still early days, but would love to see a write-up of your experience getting a new podcast off the ground. Seems like it's something more EAs could be doing.

Comment by HenryStanley on Ask Me Anything! · 2019-08-14T18:06:30.047Z · EA · GW

[Meta note: this post doesn't appear on the front page and it probably should! I only found it through the RSS feed.]

Comment by HenryStanley on Ask Me Anything! · 2019-08-14T18:06:01.483Z · EA · GW

Even though ‘utilitarianism’ gets several times the search traffic of terms like ‘effective altruism,’ ‘givewell,’ or ‘peter singer’, there’s currently no good online introduction to utilitarianism. This seems like a missed opportunity.

What similar gaps in easily-accessible EA topics do you think exist?

(I think Rob Wiblin's now-archived effective altruism FAQ was the best intro to EA around - much better than anything similar offered 'officially'. I've also toyed with writing up some of David Pearce's work in a more accessible format.)

Comment by HenryStanley on Effective Altruism T-shirt · 2019-08-12T12:32:02.141Z · EA · GW

These look kinda shonky. Maybe CEA offers them somewhere?

Comment by HenryStanley on Four practices where EAs ought to course-correct · 2019-07-30T15:25:29.724Z · EA · GW

On your final point: I've often been torn on the question of "how big should EA get?" (cf. Buck Shlegeris' point about EA saying 'small and weird'). For what it's worth, I asked Peter Singer this and he emphatically said we should be trying to grow the movement as much as possible.

Relatedly, I often notice that most EAs are media-shy. I can recall a handful of occasions where an EA (individual or org) had the chance to speak with the press and declined for fear of a negative outcome. Maybe it's time to embrace the limelight?

Comment by HenryStanley on Get-Out-Of-Hell-Free Necklace · 2019-07-16T18:01:58.363Z · EA · GW

While unpleasant, I don't think being punched in the face is comparable to having kidney stones (a pain so excruciating that often morphine can't touch it). It seems totally believable to me that such an experience might rank as among the worst in one's life.

There are probably also two systems at play here: the experience itself and the lingering memory of it. It's conceivable you might not remember some extremely painful experience as 'bad' (through post-hoc rationalisation, or the peak-end effect or similar); I'm not sure how to weight that against the actual raw badness of the experience itself.