Posts

Why accelerating economic growth and innovation is not important in the long run 2020-08-11T07:20:19.242Z · score: 32 (16 votes)
Idea: statements on behalf of the general EA community 2020-06-11T07:02:08.317Z · score: 3 (19 votes)
kbog's Shortform 2020-06-11T02:58:51.376Z · score: 6 (1 votes)
An Effective Altruist "Civic Handbook" for the USA (draft, calling for comments and assistance) 2020-03-23T23:06:18.709Z · score: 6 (9 votes)
Short guide to 'prepping' for global catastrophes 2020-03-23T22:51:23.876Z · score: 3 (7 votes)
Voting is today (Tuesday March 3) in California and other states - here are recommendations 2020-03-03T10:40:32.995Z · score: 23 (9 votes)
An Informal Review of Space Exploration 2020-01-31T13:16:00.960Z · score: 39 (17 votes)
Candidate Scoring System recommendations for the Democratic presidential primaries 2020-01-31T12:25:00.682Z · score: 23 (19 votes)
Concrete Foreign Policy Recommendations for America 2020-01-20T21:52:03.860Z · score: 15 (11 votes)
Responding to the Progressive Platform of “Foreign Policy Generation” 2020-01-19T20:24:00.971Z · score: 14 (8 votes)
A small observation about the value of having kids 2020-01-19T02:37:59.391Z · score: 16 (9 votes)
Love seems like a high priority 2020-01-19T00:41:51.617Z · score: 21 (20 votes)
Tentative Thoughts on Speech Policing 2020-01-06T19:20:36.485Z · score: 1 (17 votes)
Response to recent criticisms of EA "longtermist" thinking 2020-01-06T04:31:07.614Z · score: 12 (26 votes)
Welfare stories: How history should be written, with an example (early history of Guam) 2020-01-02T23:32:10.940Z · score: 46 (18 votes)
Tentative thoughts on which kinds of speech are harmful 2020-01-02T22:44:58.055Z · score: -3 (13 votes)
On AI Weapons 2019-11-13T12:48:16.351Z · score: 48 (19 votes)
New and improved Candidate Scoring System 2019-11-12T08:49:34.392Z · score: 21 (20 votes)
Four practices where EAs ought to course-correct 2019-07-30T05:48:57.665Z · score: 52 (57 votes)
Extinguishing or preventing coal seam fires is a potential cause area 2019-07-07T18:42:22.548Z · score: 58 (31 votes)
Should we talk about altruism or talk about justice? 2019-07-03T00:20:40.213Z · score: 22 (21 votes)
Consequences of animal product consumption (combined model) 2019-06-15T14:46:19.564Z · score: 17 (16 votes)
A vision for anthropocentrism to supplant wild animal suffering 2019-06-06T00:01:43.953Z · score: 28 (14 votes)
Candidate Scoring System, Fifth Release 2019-06-05T08:10:38.845Z · score: 11 (10 votes)
Overview of Capitalism and Socialism for Effective Altruism 2019-05-16T06:12:39.522Z · score: 39 (21 votes)
Structure EA organizations as WSDNs? 2019-05-10T20:36:19.032Z · score: 10 (8 votes)
Reasons to eat meat 2019-04-21T20:37:51.671Z · score: 46 (55 votes)
Political culture at the edges of Effective Altruism 2019-04-12T06:03:45.822Z · score: 9 (23 votes)
Candidate Scoring System, Third Release 2019-04-02T06:33:55.802Z · score: 11 (8 votes)
The Political Prioritization Process 2019-04-02T00:29:43.742Z · score: 9 (3 votes)
Impact of US Strategic Power on Global Well-Being (quick take) 2019-03-23T06:19:33.900Z · score: 15 (10 votes)
Candidate Scoring System, Second Release 2019-03-19T05:41:20.022Z · score: 30 (15 votes)
Candidate Scoring System, First Release 2019-03-05T15:15:30.265Z · score: 11 (6 votes)
Candidate scoring system for 2020 (second draft) 2019-02-26T04:14:06.804Z · score: 11 (5 votes)
kbog did an oopsie! (new meat eater problem numbers) 2019-02-15T15:17:35.607Z · score: 31 (19 votes)
A system for scoring political candidates. RFC (request for comments) on methodology and positions 2019-02-13T10:35:46.063Z · score: 24 (11 votes)
Vocational Career Guide for Effective Altruists 2019-01-26T11:16:20.674Z · score: 31 (22 votes)
Vox's "Future Perfect" column frequently has flawed journalism 2019-01-26T08:09:23.277Z · score: 33 (30 votes)
A spreadsheet for comparing donations in different careers 2019-01-12T07:32:51.218Z · score: 6 (1 votes)
An integrated model to evaluate the impact of animal products 2019-01-09T11:04:57.048Z · score: 38 (21 votes)
Response to a Dylan Matthews article on Vox about bipartisanship 2018-12-20T15:53:33.177Z · score: 56 (35 votes)
Quality of life of farm animals 2018-12-14T19:21:37.724Z · score: 3 (5 votes)
EA needs a cause prioritization journal 2018-09-12T22:40:52.153Z · score: 1 (14 votes)
The Ethics of Giving Part Four: Elizabeth Ashford on Justice and Effective Altruism 2018-09-05T04:10:26.243Z · score: 5 (7 votes)
The Ethics of Giving Part Three: Jeff McMahan on Whether One May Donate to an Ineffective Charity 2018-08-10T14:01:25.819Z · score: 2 (2 votes)
The Ethics of Giving part two: Christine Swanton on the Virtues of Giving 2018-08-06T11:53:49.744Z · score: 4 (4 votes)
The Ethics of Giving part one: Thomas Hill on the Kantian perspective on giving 2018-07-20T20:06:30.020Z · score: 7 (7 votes)
Nothing Wrong With AI Weapons 2017-08-28T02:52:29.953Z · score: 17 (21 votes)
Selecting investments based on covariance with the value of charities 2017-02-04T04:33:04.769Z · score: 5 (7 votes)
Taking Systemic Change Seriously 2016-10-24T23:18:58.122Z · score: 7 (11 votes)

Comments

Comment by kbog on An Effective Altruist "Civic Handbook" for the USA (draft, calling for comments and assistance) · 2020-08-13T03:16:49.636Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Sent

Comment by kbog on Existential Risk and Economic Growth · 2020-08-13T03:08:24.759Z · score: 8 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Neat paper. One reservation I have (aside from whether x-risk depends on aggregate consumption or on tech/innovation, which has already been brought up) is the assumption of the world allocating resources optimally (if impatiently). I don't know if mere underinvestment in safety would overturn the basic takeaways here, but my worry is more that a world with competing nation-states or other actors could have competitive dynamics that really change things.

Comment by kbog on Why accelerating economic growth and innovation is not important in the long run · 2020-08-13T03:05:16.804Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks! Great find. Having read through it, I gather that positive economic shocks increase X-risk but indefinite increases in the rate of economic growth decrease it. I'm not sure if I trust the model tho.

Comment by kbog on Why accelerating economic growth and innovation is not important in the long run · 2020-08-13T03:00:50.323Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Assume that a social transition is expected in 40 years and the post transition society has 4x times as much welfare as a pre-transition society. Also assume that society will last for 1000 more years.

Increasing the rate of economic growth by a few percent might increase our welfare pre-transition by 5% and move up the transition by 2 years.

Then the welfare gain of the economic acceleration is (0.05*35)+(3*2)=8.

Future welfare without the acceleration is 40+(4*1000)=4040, so a gain of 8 is like reducing 0.2% existential risk.

Obviously the numbers are almost arbitrary but you should see the concepts at play.

Then if you think about a longer run future then the tradeoff becomes very different, with existential risk being far more important.

If society lasts for 1 million more years then the equivalent is 0.0002% X-risk.

Comment by kbog on An Effective Altruist "Civic Handbook" for the USA (draft, calling for comments and assistance) · 2020-08-11T06:06:54.239Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Hm. (Sorry for delay, I wasn't checking the EA forum) the link seems to work and I haven't moved it.

Do you not have a Microsoft account? maybe if you're not logged in, you won't be able to use OneDrive. I can email a copy to you if you wish

Comment by kbog on An Effective Altruist "Civic Handbook" for the USA (draft, calling for comments and assistance) · 2020-08-11T06:06:33.231Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Hm. (Sorry for delay, I wasn't checking the EA forum) the link seems to work and I haven't moved it.

Do you not have a Microsoft account? maybe if you're not logged in, you won't be able to use OneDrive. I can email a copy to you if you wish

Comment by kbog on As a small donor, should I donate with an ecosystem approach or focus on one organization? · 2020-06-11T08:00:42.715Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Hmm, I don't think you can read into the tea leaves of Open Phil's donations like that. They will donate to fill funding gaps, a large donation doesn't mean that ADDITIONAL money will be more or less valuable to that organization. And how recently they donated might be due to how recently they were discovered, or some other unimportant consideration. (But if an org hasn't received Open Phil money in many years, perhaps they are not effective or funding-constrained anymore.)

Out of all the Open Phil grantees, just try to pick the recent one that seems most important or most neglected.

For criminal justice, I think this is straightforward. These causes are getting a lot of attention from liberals and Black Lives Matter, especially given the current surge in interest. So a charity which is a little less appealing to these people will probably be more neglected these days. Looking at a glance, the American Conservative Union's Center for Criminal Justice Reform seems like one that will be more neglected - liberals and BLM won't want to donate to a conservative foundation. I'm not saying this is necessarily the right choice, but it's an example of how I would think about the matter. Yes it is very hard to fully estimate the cost-effectiveness of an organization, but if you have a good suspicion that other donors are biased in a certain way, you can go in the opposite direction to find the more neglected charities.

If you have no idea which charities might be best, you can always just pick at random, or split your donation, or donate to whichever one you like best for small reasons (e.g. you personally appreciate their research or something like that).

Comment by kbog on kbog's Shortform · 2020-06-11T07:45:47.601Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Shouldn't we collect a sort of encyclopedia or manual of organizational best practices, to help EA organizations? A combination of research, and things we have learned?

Comment by kbog on As a small donor, should I donate with an ecosystem approach or focus on one organization? · 2020-06-11T07:16:03.560Z · score: 10 (3 votes) · EA · GW

It's pretty straightforward: donate to wherever your money can do the most good at the moment. If this month it's Org A then you donate to Org A, and if next month it's Org B then you should switch. Cost-effectiveness rankings can change. This is not about ecosystems in particular. Sometimes we gain new information about charity effectiveness, sometimes a charity fills its funding needs and no longer needs more money.

Glancing at that Open Phil page, it looks like they are saying that they don't only look at how much good an organization is directly doing, but they also look at how effective they are when considering the more general needs of their sector of the nonprofit industry.

I don't know if it's common that Open Phil or anyone correctly identifies an ecosystem consideration that substantially changes the cost-effectiveness of a particular charity, but if you have identified such a consideration, of course you shouldn't simply ignore it from your analysis. If it means the charity does more or less good, of course you should pay attention to it.

Comment by kbog on Will protests lead to thousands of coronavirus deaths? · 2020-06-11T03:00:00.657Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Here's my cost-benefit analysis. (I also posted it to my shortform, but I don't see a way to link directly to a shortform post.)

https://www.getguesstimate.com/models/16272

Comment by kbog on kbog's Shortform · 2020-06-11T02:58:51.687Z · score: 10 (5 votes) · EA · GW

I just noticed this post and the ensuing discussion. I want to share a model I recently made which seeks to answer the question: are these protests beneficial or harmful.

https://www.getguesstimate.com/models/16272

In summary:

  • The expected deaths caused by COVID spread outnumber the expected lives saved from reducing police brutality by a factor of 16.
  • If we adjust for QALYs (COVID mainly kills older folks), the COVID mortality is still worse than the reduction in police killings, though only by a factor of 5.
  • When I estimate a general positive impact of these protests upon America's political system - specifically, that they'll increase Democratic voteshare this November - it seems that the protests are neutral as far as American citizens are concerned, but (more importantly of course) positive when we include foreigners and animals.

I want to say upfront that this doesn't mean I endorse the protests, I still feel a bit negative about them due to the prisoner's dilemma at play (as in Larks' highly upvoted comment in the other thread, I also came up with the same point).

Comment by kbog on EA and tackling racism · 2020-06-11T01:44:36.371Z · score: 1 (2 votes) · EA · GW
Besides, I think someone should deeply think about how EAs should react to the possibility of social changes – when we are more likely to reach a tipping point leading to a very impactful event (or, in a more pessimistic tone, where it can escalate into catastrophe).

In my head I am playing with the idea of a network/organization that could loosely, informally represent the general EA community and make some kind of public statement, like an open letter or petition, on our general behalf. It would be newsworthy and send a strong signal to policymakers, organizations etc.

Of course it would have to be carried out to high epistemic standards and with caution that we don't go making political statements willy nilly or against the views of significant numbers of EAs. But it could be very valuable if used responsibly.

Comment by kbog on Climate Change Is Neglected By EA · 2020-06-11T01:34:28.794Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW
(C) Social cost of carbon is usually computed from an IAM, a practice which has been described as such:
"IAMs can be misleading – and are inappropriate – as guides for policy, and yet they have been used by the government to estimate the social cost of carbon (SCC) and evaluate tax and abatement policies." [Pindyck, 2017, The Use and Misuse of Models for Climate Policy]

You can also use economists' subjective estimates ( https://policyintegrity.org/files/publications/ExpertConsensusReport.pdf ) or model cross validation ( https://www.rff.org/publications/working-papers/the-gdp-temperature-relationship-implications-for-climate-change-damages/ ) and the results are not dissimilar to the IAMs by Nordhaus and Howard & Sterner. (it's 2-10% of GWP for about three degrees of warming regardless.)

In any case I think that picking a threshold (based on what exactly??) and doing whatever it takes to get there will have more problems than IAMs do.

I see that you use GWWC's estimate of tonnes of CO2 per life saved. I critiqued GWWC's approach in this previous post.

Nice, that looks like a good noteworthy post. I will look at it in more detail (would take a while). Until then I'm revising from 258,000 tons down to 40,000 (geometric mean of their estimate and your 15,620 but biased a little towards you).

"40% of Earth’s population lives in the tropics, with 50% projected by 2050 (State of the Tropics 2014) so we estimate 6 billion people affected (climate impacts will last for multiple generations)." - The world population is expected to be ~10 billion by 2050, so 50% would be 5 billion. How are you accounting for multiple generations?

I figured many people will be wealthy and industrialized enough to generally avoid serious direct impacts, so it wasn't an estimate of how many people will live in warming tropical conditions. But looking at it now, I think that's the wrong way to estimate it because of the ambiguity that you raise. I'm switching to all people potentially affected (12 billion), with a lower average QALY loss.

"We discount this to 2 billion to account for the meat eater problem" - What is the meat eater problem?

Described in "short-run, robust welfare" section of "issue weight metrics," it's the fact that increases in wealth for middle-income consumers may be net neutral or harmful in the short run because they increase their meat consumption.

"If each of them suffers -1 QALY over their lifetime from climate change on average" - why did you choose -1 QALY?

Subjective guess. Do you think it is too high or too low? Severely too high, severely too low?

Why did you choose to multiply 550 by ~3.9?

Arbitrary guess based on the quoted factors. Do you feel that is too low or too high.

I agree that this is a plausible possibility, but not one which I'd like to have to rely on.

I'm not saying to rely on it. I'm saying your estimates of climate damages cannot rely on geoengineering not happening. The chance that we see "full" geoengineering by 2100 (restoring the globe to optimal or preindustrial temperature levels) is, hmm 25%? Higher probability for less ambitious measures.

If we were in in the 1980s it would be improper to write a model which assumed that cheap renewable energy would never be developed.


Based on these changes I've increased the weight of air pollution from 15.2 to 16. (It's not much because most of the weight comes from the long run damage, not the short run robust impacts. I've increased short run impact from 2.15 million QALYs to 3 million.)

I already did that: "Review of Climate Cost-Effectiveness Analyses". I would love to get your feedback on that post.

Yes I will look into that and update things accordingly.

Comment by kbog on Climate Change Is Neglected By EA · 2020-05-27T10:45:51.232Z · score: 32 (18 votes) · EA · GW

I find this whole genre of post tedious and not very useful. If you think climate change is a good cause area, just write an actual cause prioritization analysis directly comparing it to other cause areas, and show how it's better! If that's beyond your reach, you can take an existing one and tweak it. This reads like academic turf warring, a demand that your cause area should get more prestige, instead of a serious attempt to help us decide which cause areas are actually most important.

1) There is a lack of evidence for the more severe impacts of climate change, rather than evidence that the impacts will not be severe.

OK, but I don't know if anyone here was previously assuming that the impacts will definitely not be severe. The EA community has long recognized the risks of more severe impact. So this doesn't seem like a point that challenges what we currently believe.

One of the central ideas in effective altruism is that some interventions are orders of magnitude more effective than others. There remain huge uncertainties and unknowns which make any attempt to compute the cost effectiveness of climate change extremely challenging. However, the estimates which have been completed so far don’t make a compelling case that mitigating climate change is actually order(s) of magnitude less effective compared to global health interventions, with many of the remaining uncertainties making it very plausible that climate change interventions are indeed much more effective.

I haven't read those previous posts you've written, but the burden of argument is on showing that a cause is effective, not proving that it's ineffective. We have many causes to choose from, and the Optimizer's Curse means we must focus on ones where we have pretty reliable arguments. Merely speculating "what if climate change is worse than the best evidence suggests???" does nothing to show that we've neglected it. It just shows that further cause prioritization analysis could be warranted.

The EA importance, tractability, neglectedness (ITN) framework discounts climate change because it is not deemed to be neglected (e.g. scoring 2/12 on 80K Hours). I have previously disagreed with this position because it ignores whether the current level of action on climate change is anywhere close to what is actually required to solve the problem (it’s not).

This criticism doesn't make sense to me. The mere fact that a problem will be unsolved doesn't mean it's more important for us to work on it. What matters is how much we can actually accomplish by trying to solve it.

The 80K Hours problem profile makes no mention of the concept of a carbon budget - the amount of of carbon which we can emit before we are committed to a particular level of warming.

That's fine. Marginal/social cost of carbon is the superior way to think about the problem.

4) EA often ignores or downplays the impact of mainstream climate change, focusing on the tail risk instead

I've seen EAs talk about 'mainstream' costs many times. GWWC's early analysis on climate change did this in detail. In any case, my estimate of the long-term economic costs of climate change (detailed writeup in Candidate Scoring System: http://bit.ly/ea-css ) aggregates over the various scenarios.

5) EA appears to dismiss climate change because it is not an x-risk

This phrasing suggests to me that you didn't read, or perhaps don't care, what is actually in many of the links that you're citing. We do not believe that climate change is irrelevant because it's not an x-risk. We do, however, believe that the arguments in favor of mitigating x-risks do not apply to climate change. So that provides one reason to prioritize x-risks over climate change. This is clearly a correct conclusion and you haven't provided arguments to the contrary.

6) EA is in danger of making itself a niche cause by loudly focusing on topics like x-risk

If you think that people will like EA more when they see us addressing on climate change, why don't you highlight all the examples of EAs actually addressing climate change (there are many examples) instead of writing (yet another, we've had many) post making the accusation that we neglect it?

7) EA tries to quantify problems using simple models, leading to undervaluing of action on climate change

Other problems have complex, far-reaching negative consequences too, so it's not obvious that simplistic modeling leads to an under-prioritization of climate change. It is very easy to think of analogous secondary effects for things like poverty.

In any case, estimating the damages of climate change upon the human economy has already addressed by multiple economic metanalyses. Estimating the short- and medium-term deaths has been done by GWWC. Estimating the impacts on wildlife is generally sidelined because we have no idea if they are net positive or net negative for wild animal welfare.

Global health interventions have a climate footprint, which I’ve never seen accounted for in EA cost effectiveness calculations.

I briefly addressed it in Candidate Scoring System, and determined that it was very small. If you look at CO2 emissions per person and compare it to the social cost of carbon, you can see that it's not much for a person in the United States, let alone for people in (much-lower-emissions) developing countries.

Climate change is a problem which is getting worse with time and is expected to persist for centuries. Limiting warming to a certain level gets harder with every year that action is not taken. Many of the causes compared by EA don’t have the same property. For example, if we fail to treat malaria for another ten years, that won’t commit humanity to live with malaria for centuries to come. However, within less than a decade, limiting warming to 1.5C will become impossible.

Climate change being expected to persist for centuries is conditional upon the absence of major geoengineering. But we could quite plausibly see that in the later 21st century or anytime in the 22nd century.

Failing to limit warming to a certain level is a poor way of defining the problem. If we can't stay under 1.5C, we might stay under 2.0C, which is not that much worse. The right way to frame the problem is to estimate how much accumulated damage will be caused by some additional GHGs hanging around the atmosphere for, probably, a century or more. That is indeed a long term cost.

But other cause areas also have major long-run impacts. There is plenty of evidence and arguments for long-run benefits of poverty relief, health improvements and economic growth.

10) Case study: Climate is visibly absent or downplayed within some key EA publications and initiatives

Pick another cause area that's currently highlighted, compare it to climate change, and show how climate change is a more effective cause area.

Comment by kbog on An Effective Altruist "Civic Handbook" for the USA (draft, calling for comments and assistance) · 2020-03-31T02:32:13.662Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

1. But WHY do you believe that the costs outweigh benefits? Again - the paper looking at Ethiopia estimated that benefits of lower prices outweighed costs on average. This seems intuitively sensible, too - if we sell subsidized low-priced goods, it should increase their wealth in the short run at least.

2. It could be - and there are also many other ways to address vulnerability to spikes in global commodity prices, as described in the last paper I linked. Of course none of these solutions is perfect and simple otherwise the problems would not exist anymore. I think we should look at the likely consequences within current regimes rather than assuming that countries/societies will get much better at responding to problems.

3. But you see how it's a tradeoff, right? People can specialize in farming or they can specialize in other trades, not both. There can be different people doing different jobs, but every person who becomes a farmer is neglecting the possibility of specializing in something else. If a country has an industrial policy it will have to make a tough choice of what industries it wants to specialize in.

I am adding these considerations to Candidate Scoring System, which is more of an encyclopedia with all kinds of policy issues, but for the Civic Handbook I think I will leave the matter out as it does not have the kind of clear argumentative support necessary to build an Effective Altruist consensus.

Comment by kbog on An Effective Altruist "Civic Handbook" for the USA (draft, calling for comments and assistance) · 2020-03-28T22:22:53.136Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Regarding food aid, you showed a couple papers discussing negative impacts from 'food dumping', subsidized agricultural exports from wealthy countries to poor ones. A topic that you studied in detail.

https://sci-hub.tw/10.1017/s1742170519000097

https://digitalcommons.law.seattleu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1089&context=sjel

I did not read all of the text, but they mainly say: the foreign impact is that it displaces farmers. We send cheap exports, which are in fact cheaper than what a free market would produce, for a combination of reasons but mainly because of our agricultural subsidies. This puts farmers in the aid-receiving country out of work because they cannot compete.

My immediate objection is, why believe that the costs to farmers outweigh the benefits to consumers? If food is lower-priced then that should help many people. I found this paper arguing that the consumer benefits outweighed the hit to farming, on average, for households at all income levels in Ethiopia. It was not cited by either of the papers listed above.

The 1st article also says that dependence on food imports creates vulnerability to price spikes, citing this paper. But local food sources are volatile too, no? Local weather patterns, political instability, plant diseases, etc can create local price spikes. I imagine this would be worse than volatility in global commodity prices. Now, you can have imports step up to cover local price spikes, but you can also have local production step up to cover global price spikes. The former may be easier, but overall I just don't see good reason to believe that dumping increases price volatility.

There is then the long-run question of whether a country should develop its agricultural sector vs other sectors. The 1st paper touches on this. I will have to think/read more on this, or maybe you can better answer it.

Comment by kbog on An Effective Altruist "Civic Handbook" for the USA (draft, calling for comments and assistance) · 2020-03-27T21:06:11.392Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · EA · GW

1. OK, I am emboldening key sentences now. Not entirely sure if I like it though.

2. Thanks, I replied in comments within the document.

Comment by kbog on An Effective Altruist "Civic Handbook" for the USA (draft, calling for comments and assistance) · 2020-03-27T20:54:22.081Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Done though I still haven't identified a proper catchy name. "Effective Altruist civic handbook" was just meant as a placeholder.

Comment by kbog on Why not give 90%? · 2020-03-24T14:47:59.840Z · score: 5 (6 votes) · EA · GW

You can receive answers to these claims by making a dedicated thread rather than hijacking the current one.

Comment by kbog on Why not give 90%? · 2020-03-24T02:40:31.471Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

To respond to the on-topic part of your post (I also downvoted because it's mostly off-topic), I don't see how you can shrug off the benefits of donating >10% as if 10% is good enough, while also saying that we must interview and read whole swathes of additional papers and people in the hope that some of it might be useful for achieving better cause prioritization. If you really want Effective Altruists to capture the benefits from reading non-Western scientific literature, then clearly you don't think that we can shrug our shoulders and say that we're good enough, and should recognize that donating more money is another way we can similarly do better. The two are actually fungible, as you can donate money to movement growth with advertisements targeted to foreign countries, or you can donate to cause prioritization efforts with researchers hired to survey, review and summarize the fields of literature that you think are valuable.

Comment by kbog on Why not give 90%? · 2020-03-23T21:06:09.110Z · score: 7 (5 votes) · EA · GW

You're assuming that the probability of giving up each year is conditionally independent. In reality, if we can figure out how to give a lot for one or two years without becoming selfish, we are more likely to sustain that for a longer period of time. This boosts the case for making larger donations.

Moreover, I rather doubt that the probability of turning selfish and giving up on Effective Altruism can be nearly as high as 50% in a given year. If it were that high, I think we'd have more evidence of it, in spite of the typical worries regarding how we can hear back from people who aren't interested anymore.

Also, this doesn't break your point, but I think percentages are the wrong way to think about this. In reality, donations should be much more dependent upon local cost of living than upon your personal salary. If COL is $40k and you make $50k then donate up to $10k. If COL is $40k and you make $200k then donate up to $160k.

People whose jobs are higher impact/higher-salary (they are correlated due to donation potential if nothing else) are likely to face more expensive costs of living and are also likely to obtain greater benefits from personal spending (averting a 1% chance of personal burnout is much more important if your job is high-impact, saving an hour out of your week is much more important if your hourly wage is higher, etc). So the appropriate amount of personal spending does scale somewhat with income. However this effect is weak enough that I think it makes more sense to usually think about thresholds rather than percentages.

Comment by kbog on Voting is today (Tuesday March 3) in California and other states - here are recommendations · 2020-03-23T20:46:05.816Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

New candidates have never served in Congress and therefore do not have legislative track records on animal welfare, and it's such a minor issue to most voters that candidates almost never express their views on it while running for office.

Comment by kbog on 80,000 Hours: Anonymous contributors on flaws of the EA community · 2020-03-04T05:04:58.942Z · score: -8 (4 votes) · EA · GW

80k ought to frame this as "room for improvement" or something along those lines instead of "flaws." This is part of being media savvy.

Comment by kbog on Candidate Scoring System recommendations for the Democratic presidential primaries · 2020-03-03T09:07:15.526Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

(Sorry for late reply)

First, did you see the truthfulness part? I rated candidates per their average truth/lies to the public, according to PolitiFact. That's not identical to what you're asking about, but may be of interest.

Biden does relatively poorly. Sanders does well, though (and I haven't factored this in, maybe I should) he seems to have a more specific and serious trend of presenting misleading narratives about the economy. Warren does well, though I did dock some points for some specifically significant lies. Bloomberg seems to be doing quite well, though he has less of a track record so it's harder to be sure.

OTOH, it seems like you're primarily concerned about epistemics within an administration - that there might be some kinds of political correctness standards. I've docked points from Trump because there have been a number of cases of this under his watch. Among Democrats, I feel there would be more risk of it with Sanders, because of how many of his appointments/staff are likely to come from the progressive left. Even though he's perceived as a rather unifying figurehead as far as the culture wars are concerned, he would likely fare worse from your angle. But I feel this is too speculative to include. I can't think of any issues where the 'redpill' story, if true, would be very important for the federal government to know about. And there will not be a lot of difference between candidates here.

EA forum user Bluefalcon has pointed out that Warren's plan to end political appointments to the Foreign Service may actually increase groupthink because the standard recruitment pipeline puts everyone through very similar paces and doctrine. Hence, I've recently given slightly fewer points to Warren's foreign policy than I used to.

Comment by kbog on Candidate Scoring System recommendations for the Democratic presidential primaries · 2020-02-02T15:33:11.145Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I previously included wild animal suffering in the long run weight of animal welfare. Having looked at some of these links and reconsidering, I think I was over-weighting animal welfare's impact on wild animal suffering.

One objection here is that improving socioeconomic conditions can also broadly improve people's values. Generally speaking, increasing wealth and security promotes self-expression values, which correspond decently well to having a wide moral circle. So there's less general reason to single out moral issues like animal welfare as being a comparatively higher priority.

However, improving socioeconomic conditions also accelerates the date at which technological s-risks will present themselves. So in some cases, we are looking for differential moral progress. So this tells me to increase the weight of animal welfare for the long run. (It's overall slightly higher now than before.)

Another objection: a lot of what we perceive as pure moral concern vs apathy in governance could really be understood as a different tradeoff of freedom versus government control. It's straightforward in the case of animal farming or climate change that the people who believe in a powerful regulatory state are doing good whereas the small-government libertarians are doing harm. But I'm not sure that this will apply generally in the future.

Emerging tech is treated as an x-risk here, so s-risks from tech should be considered separately. In terms of determining weights and priorities I would sooner lump s-risks into growth and progress than into x-risks.

I don't see climate change policy as promoting better moral values. Sure, better moral values can imply better climate change policy, but that doesn't mean there's a link the other way. One of the reasons animal welfare uniquely matters here is that we think there is a specific phenomenon where people care less about animals in order to justify their meat consumption.

At the moment I can't think of other specific changes to make but I will keep it in mind and maybe hit upon something else.

Comment by kbog on Responding to the Progressive Platform of “Foreign Policy Generation” · 2020-02-02T13:28:51.675Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW
Migration and Development: Dissecting the Anatomy of the Mobility Transition
The Hypothesis of the Mobility Transition by Wilbur Zelinsky (1971)

Mexico's GDP per capita and Gini coefficient have been about constant for the past decade. I can't find evidence on changes in college education attainment. So it's not apparent that they are pushing forward along this transition. Moreover, Mexico only constitutes ~half of illegal immigration, and many Latin American countries are poorer (in fact they are behind the $6k transition peak).

All the data+papers presented before and in this post.

None of them asked Mexican people how content they are to stay or immigrate.

The obvious, the number of kids being born in Mexico peaked in 1994 at 2.9 million and has fallen to 2.16 million births in 2018. If emigration rates remain same we can expect lower number of Mexicans trying to emigrate.

Mexico's population is still growing. So if the emigration rate per 1000 people remains constant, the number of annual emigres will grow year over year, just at a lower rate than it would grow if fertility were higher.

When fertility rates fall, the pulls of home country are greater for emigres as parents age, + parents are less enthusiastic about kids emigrating in the first place.

Please provide a source. It may be the case that people with aging families to support desire to emigrate in order to send remittances.

Mexican emigration has gone down similar to Ireland, Japan, UK etc

It is still a vastly different country.

Around 5% of those wishing to move to US actually moved.

And many more tried to move but were apprehended at the border, or chose not to move because they were afraid of being apprehended at the border or otherwise policed.

The number of Mexicans attempting to cross the border illegally has crashed from a high of 1.615 million in 2000 to 152,257 in 2018

You're confusing apprehensions with crossing attempts and neglecting to mention the increase in apprehensions of non-Mexican migrants.

However neither FPGen or Democrats are advocating open borders, I doubt that even under the least restrictive proposals US net immigration will exceed 1 million average over the next 20 years

Whether or not a country has open borders is not a question of the quantity of immigrants who enter the country.

I just ignore them.

Fine, but don't then tell me I'm wrong when I'm not.

Second of all, the American right-wing is correct when they perceive that America fails to reliably control the southern border or police the undocumented migrant population.

I look for universal definitions, open borders means that anyone can come and live in USA

That's probably what would happen here: assuming that you make it to the border, then CBP will not have the power to detain you, ICE will not exist, you will be "legally protected," you will not have a criminal record, and you will have a "pathway to citizenship."

Comment by kbog on Candidate Scoring System recommendations for the Democratic presidential primaries · 2020-02-02T12:18:16.872Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

These seem like small impacts on the national level. My comment on this dimension of wealth taxation is simply:

"Wealth taxes would also encourage more rapid spending on luxury consumption, political contributions, and philanthropy. It’s not clear if this is generally good or bad. Of course the tax would also reduce the amount of money that is ultimately available for the rich to use on these things, although the cap on political contributions means that it probably wouldn’t make much difference there."

Comment by kbog on Candidate Scoring System recommendations for the Democratic presidential primaries · 2020-02-01T07:53:10.573Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Good find, adding this too

Comment by kbog on Candidate Scoring System recommendations for the Democratic presidential primaries · 2020-02-01T07:49:29.666Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Good point. Increasing the weight by 40% until I or someone else does a better calculation.

Comment by kbog on An Informal Review of Space Exploration · 2020-02-01T07:43:34.764Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

OK, I plan to look at some of this in tandem with Deudney's book, due to the similar themes.

Comment by kbog on Candidate Scoring System recommendations for the Democratic presidential primaries · 2020-02-01T07:32:36.926Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Hm, I thought that 'air pollution' would be readily interpreted as including climate change.

I called it air pollution rather than climate change because I think it's perceived as a more convincing and less partisan term. And it's more correct, given that we're also addressing other consequences besides climate change.

I don't call it environment because we don't have evaluations regarding ground and water pollution but I could change it, if more people feel the same way.

Comment by kbog on Responding to the Progressive Platform of “Foreign Policy Generation” · 2020-02-01T05:55:30.874Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW
I would not use it for FPGen but would use it in context when discussing "Open Borders: The Science and Ethics of Immigration Paperback – October 29, 2019 by Bryan Caplan" here authors themselves choose to describe their views as "open borders"

This is the book that many more people around here (including myself) are familiar with.

I already gave you data about undocumented mexican immigrant numbers falling,

The number in the US is affected by many factors including border security, so it is not a good way of discussing the number of potential people who might migrate depending on different policies for border security.

I also gave you specific reasons of why this is happening

They are not reliable evidence. I was hoping for solid specific analysis predicting immigration trends.

repeating myself "Mexico is an upper middle income country

The income gap between the US and Mexico is has been growing over the last few decades, no one knows quite what the future holds for these economies, and I'm not sure what the income-immigration connection really is.

with fertility rate is 2.2,

How does a fertility rate of 2.2 imply that demand to emigrate to the US will decrease?

in addition women aged 15-24 are finishing 11.3 years of schooling.

I'm not sure what the education-immigration connection really is. Or what is even different about this from the past.

Mexicans are relatively content to stay in Mexico.

According to...?

This is similar to immigration trajectories of Ireland, UK, Japan etc.. etc.."

Mexico will not be like these countries anytime soon.

I prefer to see numbers, not just words.

150 million is the number of people who would like to emigrate to the US. 5 million of them are in Mexico.

And note that Mexicans are not even half of the US illegal immigrant population.

Total number of undocumented immigrants went down in the last 10 years https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/07/12/how-pew-research-center-counts-unauthorized-immigrants-in-us/

Does not change the fact that the number of those who wish to emigrate (and who may attempt it illegally) exceed the capacity that is allocated through legal mechanisms.

So overall immigration is solidly under control in USA,

It's very odd that you say this right after presenting evidence that the status quo is being perceived and discussed by people on the American right as a condition of open borders.

I don't think you've properly recognized the fact that I am discussing political perceptions and responses to the state of the border rather than making a moral claim about whether I want more immigration.

its pointless to discuss "open borders" because such a policy is not being advocated by anyone with even a remote chance of coming to power.

Most of FPGen's immigration recommendations are being advocated by some major Democratic politicians, including presidential candidates.

Comment by kbog on Candidate Scoring System recommendations for the Democratic presidential primaries · 2020-02-01T04:59:32.091Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Hard to say but I think at this point we have to take note of why Clinton and her emails were perceived so badly. The idea was that there was real corruption in the government. Sexist remarks in the workplace are a known quantity, whereas a private unsecured email server is a kind of rabbit hole.

I definitely don't deny that it could hurt him, my view is just that trying to aggregate and compare these concerns across all the candidates with their respective foibles doesn't lead one to any substantive conclusions.

But now you are making me worry more that perhaps a woman will accuse him of sexual assault. With Mike's locker room talk, and him being an old oligarch, there is cause for worry about him in particular. These accusations often follow people who are rising in the public conscience. Bloomberg was already famous before now and subject to sexism controversy, but not as much as he will be if he gets nominated, and his political career had apparently stopped by the time the #MeToo campaign started. You would expect a victim to come forward earlier while he was initially rising in the primary polls, but since he's a late entrant who has been absent from debates, I wouldn't be too confident about that. Bernie and Biden have been top political figures for a long time, so there is no appreciable risk with them. Pete's gay and young. Warren's a woman.

Adding a 1% probability of sexual assault accusations after the nomination causing Mike to lose against Trump, his campaign score drops from 8 to 6, putting him close to Pete. So I'm less enthusiastic about him now, but I don't think this is yet enough to change the recommendations. (I will think more about it though.)

Comment by kbog on Candidate Scoring System recommendations for the Democratic presidential primaries · 2020-02-01T01:16:09.378Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I generally don't.

There are some reasons to think scandals will be as or more consequential in 2020 as they were in 2016: The executive branch under Trump could seize upon them to manipulate the election, and the mainstream media doesn't seem to recognize that they had central role in damaging Hillary. OTOH, most American elections in history have not been decided by scandals. The Comey letter that probably cost Hillary the election made for a somewhat unusual perfect storm. Swing voters will probably go into this knowing that Trump is more corrupt/scandalous - it's not like 2016 when Trump was a kind of unknown alternative. And the mainstream media might behave better this time, despite not publicly blaming themselves for 2016. For one thing, they won't assume that Trump will lose, which is likely what motivated the disproportionate coverage of the email scandal.

Anyway, scandals can happen to anyone and it's hard to differentiate stronger/weaker candidates without descending into tea-leaves divination.

I was previously worried about Biden-Ukraine, but as Vox pointed out, the coverage surrounding the Trump-Ukraine scandal doesn't seem to have hurt Biden either in the Dem primaries or in head-to-head polling against Trump.

There is Warren's deception about her ancestry. But that is kind of well known and internalized by now.

There have been other controversies turning up in the Dem primaries, most notably against Pete, and then we have the story that Bernie is a millionaire, but these are mostly things that bother highly politically engaged left wing voters, who are unrepresentative and likely to turn out for the Dems anyway.

Comment by kbog on Candidate Scoring System recommendations for the Democratic presidential primaries · 2020-02-01T00:10:21.733Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

The first link, "CSS Model," is the one produced at the time of the most recent PDF report, and should be looked at for understanding the report.

The second link, "CSS model for current draft" is the file that can have more recent updates (e.g. new polling) and should be used if you want to get the most accurate scores, whether or not you insert your own weights.

Comment by kbog on Responding to the Progressive Platform of “Foreign Policy Generation” · 2020-01-31T11:03:58.127Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW
US on average has been gaining 1 million residents a year for the last 20 years, and this is showing signs of slowing down.

I have not assumed that the rate of immigration to the US has been increasing.

Overall though the long term trend is for people choosing to stay in their home countries as they get better educated and as their demographics change.

I would like to see evidence that demand to immigrate to the US is falling, and in any case, it will continue to greatly exceed the capacity that is allocated through legal mechanisms.

Perceptions are different from reality as you point out.

Which is why it is not "much better to talk specific numbers" as you claim. You are taking us back in a circle.

Let's not reinforce the false perception by using loaded words.

I communicate accurate ideas by using accurate words. For what it's worth, I don't find "open borders" to be a loaded term. Especially not when there is a new book called Open Borders which explicitly argues that 'open borders' are a good thing and is selling tons of copies and getting great reviews. And when open borders advocates have openly called for 'open borders' and made websites titled 'Open Borders' and so on.

By that definition I cannot think of countries that have open borders in recent history

Indeed. Open borders would be an unprecedented policy development in the current period. As a matter of political reality, FPGen's recommendations for immigration are unlikely to all be implemented, but I wanted to respond comprehensively to their ideas.

Comment by kbog on Concrete Foreign Policy Recommendations for America · 2020-01-28T14:01:32.002Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

The National Guard system wards off high achievers who want to be devoted to their (primary) job.

It makes sense because of the military's need for large potential reserves, intense deployments and long periods of low-intensity training and recovery. Would that apply to the civil service? I'm kinda skeptical.

Comment by kbog on Concrete Foreign Policy Recommendations for America · 2020-01-28T13:57:53.309Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks. I have rewritten it to be more qualified.

Comment by kbog on Responding to the Progressive Platform of “Foreign Policy Generation” · 2020-01-28T13:52:46.643Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Re: the first part of your comment, the structural question of whether immigration rates are high, low, rising or falling doesn't change the fact that softer immigration policy will encourage more people to immigrate on the margin. Although I was not aware (as the other comment also pointed out) that decriminalization won't actually make things easier for many immigrants, so maybe the effect will be very minor.

A definition of open borders is needed.

The condition where the state does not exercise controls on immigration in a meaningful practical sense.

Decriminalization doesn't necessarily mean open borders, but in concert with the other proposals here, I think it effectively would.

I see it is a propaganda term without any meaning

Best not to impute such meanings on the EA forum.

I don't see this at all. Unless one defines ineptness as no one should enter US via the border. I expect 300,000 people entering without inspection in the worst case or 0.1% of the population. I expect a third of them will return or be deported over the next 10 years after entry. This is hardly inept border control, or an emergency.

I don't think such a calculation is a good metric, not least because natives' perceptions of numbers of immigrants and illegal immigrants are often very off the mark, if not ignored due to scope insensitivity, which implies that looking at the numbers does not do a great job of determining how natives will perceive and react to things.

Comment by kbog on Responding to the Progressive Platform of “Foreign Policy Generation” · 2020-01-28T13:39:15.528Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Good point on decriminalization and asylum.

When you say the other things are fine, are you referring to my positions, or FPGen's?


Comment by kbog on Growth and the case against randomista development · 2020-01-28T13:35:17.088Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW
A digression, but I do wonder if people working on these smaller, niche areas with an EA spirit, (assuming they did make the right call on the impact and it's just an area that can't absorb a lot of EA resources) feel sidelined or dismissed by the EA movement. (Might be the case for climate for instance.) And I wonder if this were really the case how the EA movement can be better at encouraging such independent thinking and work.

The answer is simply to grow the EA movement so that more causes have adequate numbers of people working on them. Rather worrying about giving people equal slices of the pie.

Comment by kbog on Love seems like a high priority · 2020-01-21T20:35:22.538Z · score: 1 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Read both and still don't see anything to contradict my post, unless you are assuming "person-affecting" ethics.

Comment by kbog on Concrete Foreign Policy Recommendations for America · 2020-01-21T20:28:17.667Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

See http://bit.ly/ea-css , specifically sections "Capitalism and Socialism", "taxation and budget" (wealth and corporate tax), "Trade", "Housing Policy" (rent control), "Healthcare" (drug price controls), and "Education Policy".

Comment by kbog on Love seems like a high priority · 2020-01-20T19:55:34.020Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · EA · GW
In making this claim you completely overlook the fundamental quantitative reasoning you need to make to tackle the question of impact.

Those issues are addressed in different sections. Scope just refers to what % of the future people are affected.

Ending malaria and "solving" love will give everyone a better life for at best 80 years, solving aging for... 1000 years as a lower bound.

This is reasoning from the lifetime utility of a given individual. I think that's incorrect. Assume population size remains the same; if there are 10 people living 100 years, that's comparable to one person living 1000 years, save for the unfortunate experiences surrounding death. OTOH, if we imagine 10 people living 1000 years, the principal advantage is not to be understood as improved quality of life, but rather as an increase in population size over time. So I give credit to anti-aging both for making mortality/morbidity very rare, and for increasing the population size.

I've only skimmed your part 1 LEV post so I may be missing something. But the way I see it, if you assign full QALYs for the 1000 years, you are doing one of two things: 1) assuming that the fertility rate (births per person per year) will not decline as a result of the greater population, or 2) not worried about the foregone births. I presume the population will grow as a result of solving aging, but not to the extent that is naively implied by assuming that fertility remains constant.

I implicitly assumed that both of these interventions are going to happen at some point anyway, and early research can just shift them forwards.

Comment by kbog on Love seems like a high priority · 2020-01-20T03:27:02.404Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Dating apps and matching are not neglected, but for some reason this more deliberate experimental approach seems largely ignored.

Comment by kbog on Love seems like a high priority · 2020-01-19T20:36:35.430Z · score: 11 (8 votes) · EA · GW

As an aside, if we are getting many novel ideas but there are not enough people to fund/implement them, that's good evidence that we should be worrying more about movement growth (& less about cultivating a small cadre of uber-rational people).

Comment by kbog on Love seems like a high priority · 2020-01-19T19:27:52.865Z · score: 1 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I don't see what your disagreement is. Reaching LEV means we end greatly reduce or end natural deaths, which is what I discussed above.

I don't think there's a huge benefit of going from, say, 1000 year lifespans to infinite lifespans.

Comment by kbog on A small observation about the value of having kids · 2020-01-19T19:22:45.518Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

No idea, it's just something that I've heard EAs say when they're talking about having kids

Comment by kbog on Growth and the case against randomista development · 2020-01-19T03:17:36.404Z · score: 11 (4 votes) · EA · GW

I'm not going to get into this, but if you think this is the answer to big questions of how to increase economic growth, it would be better to properly define the dataset and show an analysis which demonstrates causation rather than mere correlation.

Comment by kbog on A small observation about the value of having kids · 2020-01-19T03:08:29.028Z · score: 5 (6 votes) · EA · GW

Are you talking about the general conversations about whether EAs should have kids, or are you talking about the point I'm making right here?

Either way, I'm confident we are all perfectly capable of discussing right and wrong action on such issues while steering clear of moralistic judging, just as we have generally done on other issues such as diet and donations.