Posts

Counterfactual impact when your coworkers share your values 2021-10-16T11:48:32.803Z
Clarifying the Petrov Day Exercise 2021-09-26T22:39:54.146Z
Most research/advocacy charities are not scalable 2021-08-07T11:26:42.923Z
FAQ: UK Civil Service Job Applications 2021-03-27T18:34:52.426Z
Khorton's Shortform 2019-08-17T12:02:26.342Z
Why do EA events attract more men than women? Focus group data 2019-05-18T13:29:24.187Z
What skills would you like 1-5 EAs to develop? 2019-03-01T11:01:11.654Z
Are men more likely to attend EA London events? Attendance data, 2016-2018. 2018-08-09T15:51:29.187Z
Effective Volunteering 2018-01-24T16:09:11.731Z

Comments

Comment by Khorton on Liberty in North Korea, quick cost-effectiveness estimate · 2021-11-30T23:33:58.215Z · EA · GW

That's true, but on the other hand almost every country is currently better for its people than North Korea, so the bar is not high.

Comment by Khorton on How many EA 2021 $s would you trade off against a 0.01% chance of existential catastrophe? · 2021-11-28T16:38:10.367Z · EA · GW

Agreed on all points

Comment by Khorton on How many EA 2021 $s would you trade off against a 0.01% chance of existential catastrophe? · 2021-11-28T16:37:00.966Z · EA · GW

Yes sorry, edited!

Comment by Khorton on How many EA 2021 $s would you trade off against a 0.01% chance of existential catastrophe? · 2021-11-28T15:02:49.169Z · EA · GW

Around $3 billion also sounds intuitively about right compared to other things governments are willing to spend money on.

Comment by Khorton on How many EA 2021 $s would you trade off against a 0.01% chance of existential catastrophe? · 2021-11-28T15:01:45.839Z · EA · GW

With 7 billion people alive today, and our current most cost effective interventions for saving a life in the ballpark of $5000 USD, then with perfect knowledge we should probably be willing to spend up to ~$3.5 billion USD to reduce the risk of extinction or similar this century by 0.01 percentage points even if you're not all that concerned about future people. Is my math right?

(Of course, we don't have perfect knowledge and there are other reasons why people might prefer to invest less.)

Comment by Khorton on How many EA 2021 $s would you trade off against a 0.01% chance of existential catastrophe? · 2021-11-28T14:50:40.734Z · EA · GW

It's also possible that different people have different views of what "humanity's potential" really means!

Comment by Khorton on How many EA 2021 $s would you trade off against a 0.01% chance of existential catastrophe? · 2021-11-28T00:37:27.803Z · EA · GW

Point of clarification: Is this like the world had a 3% chance of ending and now the world has a 2.99% of ending? For what length of time? Are we assuming perfect knowledge?

Comment by Khorton on Announcing my retirement · 2021-11-25T19:17:42.461Z · EA · GW

Yes! So happy for you Aaron!

Comment by Khorton on A Red-Team Against the Impact of Small Donations · 2021-11-24T22:23:34.439Z · EA · GW

I have also been thinking about whether GiveWell/other donors will fill the funding needs at AMF and I should look for something in between AMF and GiveDirectly that needs funding.

Comment by Khorton on A Red-Team Against the Impact of Small Donations · 2021-11-24T21:34:29.256Z · EA · GW

The first point only applies to long-termist charities as far as I can tell. I think if you're earning to give and excited to give to GiveDirectly (or other charities that are 2-5x more effective) there's not a problem.

Comment by Khorton on Don’t wait – there’s plenty more need and opportunity today · 2021-11-24T15:56:46.570Z · EA · GW

I agree that the criticism is very welcome and also in places felt a bit odd - I think your comment about the pandemic remark being both unrelated to GiveDirectly's arguments and very emotive captures why it doesn't feel quite right.

Comment by Khorton on Where should I donate? · 2021-11-22T22:48:18.756Z · EA · GW

Congratulations on the new job! That's very exciting :)

Comment by Khorton on We need alternatives to Intro EA Fellowships · 2021-11-21T11:07:23.948Z · EA · GW

I don't sorry! It was organized by weeatquince

Comment by Khorton on We need alternatives to Intro EA Fellowships · 2021-11-20T00:48:46.692Z · EA · GW

My intro to EA was a 6-week series of workshops on how to evaluate charities if you're motivated by equality and justice.

Comment by Khorton on [Linkpost] Don't Look Up - a Netflix comedy about asteroid risk and realistic societal reactions (Dec. 24th) · 2021-11-19T13:43:15.576Z · EA · GW

It might give people language to describe their experiences. Like "when I watched this movie, it was just like how it was before Covid - people were either really scared or just laughed it off! I see people doing the same thing when it comes to [other risk]"

Comment by Khorton on What are the bad EA memes? How could we reframe them? · 2021-11-17T01:00:52.830Z · EA · GW

At first with the question of "bad EA memes" I also wondered if it might include "things lots of EAs believe that make them less effective at doing good"

Comment by Khorton on What are the bad EA memes? How could we reframe them? · 2021-11-16T11:43:05.192Z · EA · GW

I think something about properly testing powerful new technologies and making sure they're not used to hurt people sounds pretty intuitive. I think people intuitively get that anything with military applications can cause serious accidents or be misused by bad actors.

Comment by Khorton on Improve delegation abilities today, delegate heavily tomorrow · 2021-11-13T23:40:53.717Z · EA · GW

I also donate directly to charities I choose, looking at recommendations from GiveWell, rather than delegating to EA Funds / GiveWell.

Reasons for delegating:

-better coordination

-they might have better/more up-to-date empirical information about the kinds of charities that match my values

Reasons for not delegating:

-money gets to recipient charity faster (monthly, not quarterly)

-less bank fees

-funds almost certainly won't match my values exactly

-I can double-check their work (I still think some of the deworming assumptions are absolutely ludicrous)

Ambiguous:

-I'm nervous about a fund finding a new opportunity and suddenly leaving a charity with a large funding gap, crippling a very good charity. Ideally this would be solved by the fund phasing over to the new opportunity slowly. In practice it can also be solved by individual donors taking a long time to move to new recommendations (or not moving).

Comment by Khorton on How to decide which productivity coach to try? · 2021-11-12T11:16:00.168Z · EA · GW

When it comes to therapy, the best predictor of a successful outcome is (1) you knowing what kind of outcome you'd like and (2) you having a really good relationship with your therapist, such that you can communicate what's working and not working.

So in the absence of other evidence, I'd reluctantly suggest you have an intro session with a couple of coaches (potentially including someone outside EA just to mix it up?) and see who you feel the best relationship potential with.

Comment by Khorton on How many people should get self-study grants and how can we find them? · 2021-11-11T20:55:09.206Z · EA · GW

The best thing they can do is probably to lead a project, either through paid work or as a volunteer.

Another good thing would be to speak to a mentor about their leadership work.

When those two things are already happening, books or courses can be really useful. But without practicing leadership and getting regular feedback, I don't expect very good returns from independent study.

(The exception would be someone who's already working at an executive level and wants to take a secondment for personal study and then return to a similar role - the fact that they've already gotten a lot of leadership experience and feedback makes me more positive about the value of them taking time off to study and reflect.)

Comment by Khorton on How many people should get self-study grants and how can we find them? · 2021-11-11T17:28:12.466Z · EA · GW

Hey Toon, that's the kind of person I was talking about in my third paragraph (someone with a proven track record of a variable skill). Like I said, in most cases I'd expect this person to learn faster in a job context or with a grant for a particular project than simply "self-study" but I do think there are some cases where people with a good track record should apply for a self-study grant!

Comment by Khorton on How many people should get self-study grants and how can we find them? · 2021-11-10T20:11:27.639Z · EA · GW

I am pretty pessimistic about the number of people who aren't in a position to contribute to the world's most pressing problems today, but could readily contribute with a year of self-study.

I think the biggest constraint for having more people working on EA projects is management and leadership capacity. But those aren't things you can (solely) self-study; you need to practice management and leadership in order to get good at them.

I am most optimistic about a year of self-study being useful if someone already has a proven track record of really established skills (whether inside the EA community or outside) and wants to pivot to apply those skills to a different situation. But in those cases I would often expect the person to get hired and learn on the job, or to get a grant for whatever their new project will be with some learning time built in.

tl;dr I think group B is small.

Comment by Khorton on Buck's Shortform · 2021-11-09T16:36:11.704Z · EA · GW

I strongly agree that local groups should encourage people to give for a couple years before taking the GWWC Pledge, and that the Pledge isn't right for everyone (I've been donating 10% since childhood and have never taken the pledge).

When it comes to the 'Further Giving' Pledge, I think it wouldn't be unreasonable to encourage people to get some kind of pre-Pledge counselling or take a pre-Pledge class, to be absolutely certain people have thought through the implications of the commitment they are making .

Comment by Khorton on Should EA Global London 2021 have been expanded? · 2021-11-09T14:20:43.436Z · EA · GW

I am not especially concerned about Covid risk (and am not convinced responsibility for evaluating Covid risk should lie with CEA to the extent this post sometimes implies) but I think these criticisms are pretty reasonable and I appreciate seeing them communicated so clearly.

Comment by Khorton on Open Thread: November 2021 · 2021-11-08T22:45:58.492Z · EA · GW

I think there are extensions of (1) and (3) that could also be true, like "people at EA Global were particularly likely to be college-educated" and "people who successfully applied to EA Global are particularly willing to sacrifice today in order to improve the future"

EDIT: and just generally wealth leads to increased fitness I think - obesity is correlated with poverty and food insecurity in Western countries

Comment by Khorton on FAQ: UK Civil Service Job Applications · 2021-11-08T18:10:28.570Z · EA · GW

If your citizenship is from a Commonwealth or EEA country, it's fine. Otherwise, unfortunately not.

Comment by Khorton on How can we make Our World in Data more useful to the EA community? · 2021-11-05T12:38:21.520Z · EA · GW

I know you've been campaigning for open access climate data - I'd be really excited for that. My policy team found your work on access to electricity pretty interesting.

Comment by Khorton on Liberty in North Korea, quick cost-effectiveness estimate · 2021-11-03T22:39:51.565Z · EA · GW

I'm uncertain about this - I've heard people often send messages back, and I imagine a society where people regularly escape the country would be somewhat destabilising as well.

Comment by Khorton on FAQ: UK Civil Service Job Applications · 2021-11-03T16:10:18.945Z · EA · GW

Hi Stella, as far as I know, there's no restriction on how long you've been in the UK (or even applying from abroad).

However you'll want to be careful of two things:

  1. You'll need the right to work in the UK. The Civil Service does not sponsor work visas.
  2. Living in another country can make it more difficult to get security clearance (for example, you might need to get a local police check and to get it translated).
Comment by Khorton on Liberty in North Korea, quick cost-effectiveness estimate · 2021-11-03T08:54:52.571Z · EA · GW

LINK argues that people who escape often send back money and information that can improve the life of their family and destabilise the regime

Comment by Khorton on Liberty in North Korea, quick cost-effectiveness estimate · 2021-11-03T08:53:54.291Z · EA · GW

This is a great write-up, succinct but with all the relevant info. Thanks!

Comment by Khorton on Most research/advocacy charities are not scalable · 2021-11-01T09:44:28.068Z · EA · GW

RTI and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in your earlier comment are good counterexamples to what I said - I didn't expect to see a research organisation hiring quite that many people. I would be really surprised to see the organisations you listed grow to more than 5000 employees, but you're right that it's not impossible, especially for Open Philanthropy.

I don't think of Bell Labs as a counterexample because afaik they spent a lot of money on expensive equipment, rather than spending $50M+ just on staff, but maybe I'm wrong about that.

Comment by Khorton on Khorton's Shortform · 2021-10-31T00:18:00.148Z · EA · GW

I agree, except I think stage 1 implies something more like "Group X acts badly in about 80% of examples of Situation Y."

I think the criticism tends to be something like "white people" or "rich white men", which I agree is very vague. I'm really keen we get better at predicting how likely EA is to screw up in particular ways by finding a better reference class.

Comment by Khorton on Khorton's Shortform · 2021-10-30T21:09:09.446Z · EA · GW

Sometimes I see criticisms of EA that argue, "Historically, groups of white people deciding the direction of the future hasn't been great for groups who aren't represented in that decision-making process."

The responses I see to this are usually something like, "Don't worry about it, we're altruists." But I feel like this would be a good opportunity to take the outside view and do some proper forecasting.

Comment by Khorton on APPG for Future Generations Impact Report 2020 - 2021 · 2021-10-28T15:32:22.229Z · EA · GW

The House of Lords Library has published an overview: https://lordslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/lln-2020-0070/

The Wellbeing of Future Generations Bill [HL] is a private member’s bill introduced by Lord Bird (Crossbench). It aims to ensure UK policymaking takes into account the interests of future generations. It sets out a series of steps to achieve this, including:

Defining the concepts of “sustainable development”, a “future generations principle” and “wellbeing goals”.

Requiring the Government to devise, publish and report on a set of indicators on progress towards the wellbeing goals.

That any proposed change in public expenditure, taxation or policy should be accompanied by a “future generations impact assessment”.

Establishing a “future generations commissioner” for the UK to act as a guardian of the interests of future generations.

Setting up a parliamentary joint committee on future generations.

Requiring certain companies to include in their directors’ reports a statement of the impact of their activities on the wellbeing goals.

Requiring public bodies to consider the wellbeing goals in their procurement exercises.

Comment by Khorton on How much should I care about my undergrad grades? · 2021-10-27T12:29:57.110Z · EA · GW

Just a quick comment - there are definitely degree requirements that you have to take but aren't very useful. That said, if you're finding the majority of your classes are neither useful nor interesting, and you're still early in your degree, you might want to consider switching your major. I know a lot of people who found their classes at least somewhat useful and interesting, so if you're not finding them useful or interesting at all that's a red flag.

Comment by Khorton on Counterfactual impact when your coworkers share your values · 2021-10-24T13:19:12.125Z · EA · GW

I've seen 80,000 Hours say something similar, but I don't actually think this provides counterfactual impact unless one of the things I listed above is also true.

If you're hired as a research assistant or programmer and someone else would have done the role equally well otherwise, you wouldn't have any counterfactual impact. It's only if the role wouldn't have been filled otherwise, or the other candidates wouldn't have taken the initiative to automate others' work, that you have a counterfactual impact.

Comment by Khorton on Listen to more EA content with The Nonlinear Library · 2021-10-22T22:45:35.592Z · EA · GW

<0.01% is definitely overconfident given at that point I had already expressed misgivings and we do not have 10,000 authors on the EA Forum.

(I'm not against my writing being podcastified in principle but I want to check out any podcast services who broadcast my work in advance to decide if I'm happy to be associated with them. I'm strongly against someone else making that decision for me.)

Comment by Khorton on Petrov Day Retrospective: 2021 · 2021-10-21T10:53:06.998Z · EA · GW

Sounds good to me :) Thanks for posting!

Comment by Khorton on MaxDalton's Shortform · 2021-10-20T18:18:26.365Z · EA · GW

Move slowly with high quality makes more sense for people whose "product" is not optional, eg monopolies or public services.

You really don't want your water provider to upgrade quickly if it increases the chance you won't have water at all for a month.

Comment by Khorton on Charles He's Shortform · 2021-10-20T07:48:32.200Z · EA · GW

They could be shorter. That said, using bullet points and quoted extracts the way you do definitely helps keep them readable (and skimmable). The ones I've seen are relevant, on topic and useful.

Comment by Khorton on Listen to more EA content with The Nonlinear Library · 2021-10-19T21:08:55.875Z · EA · GW

I've seen this reasoning a lot, where EA organisations assume they won't get sued because the only people they're illegally using the data of are other EAs, and and as someone whose data has been misused with this reasoning, I don't love it!

Comment by Khorton on Listen to more EA content with The Nonlinear Library · 2021-10-19T15:18:07.018Z · EA · GW

That is not how copyright works Kat!

Comment by Khorton on Listen to more EA content with The Nonlinear Library · 2021-10-19T14:07:14.038Z · EA · GW

Are you getting author's consent before turning their work into a podcast?

Comment by Khorton on Future Funding/Talent/Capacity Constraints Matter, Too · 2021-10-19T08:21:01.828Z · EA · GW

Phil Trammell argues the same thing (that patient philanthropists should look somewhat more favourably on earning to give than people who want to do good immediately) in this podcast. https://80000hours.org/podcast/episodes/phil-trammell-patient-philanthropy/

The main counterargument was that the world might change in a way that makes donating in many years less valuable than donating right now. An obvious example would be if we have transformative AI very soon, completely changing the economy and the x-risk landscape, or another example would be if the world ends, but this could also be if you think certain investments in global poverty would outperform most financial investments (Phil is not convinced but you might be).

Comment by Khorton on Counterfactual impact when your coworkers share your values · 2021-10-19T08:17:51.948Z · EA · GW

Ah right, not just releasing the next-best candidate to do another job, but helping other people save time as well (in a better way than another candidate would ie because you have rare and valuable skills)

Comment by Khorton on Counterfactual impact when your coworkers share your values · 2021-10-18T21:38:36.040Z · EA · GW

I think the most impactful civil service job would be a job I created for myself, in an important area I've worked in a long time, using my unique perspective, institutional knowledge and rare skills.

That's very doable - when you've worked in a policy area for a while, you can often make the case that a new piece of work needs to be done and you're the person to do it.

I'm not sure how to compare that to other jobs I could do though!

Comment by Khorton on Concerns about AMF from GiveWell reading - Part 1 · 2021-10-18T07:32:31.812Z · EA · GW

There's a really interesting meta-point here where it looks like the Europeans broadly agreed that requesting a title change was reasonable (was at +30 karma when I went to sleep) and the West coast EAs disagreed (back down to the original +2 when I woke up).

Comment by Khorton on Concerns about AMF from GiveWell reading - Part 1 · 2021-10-18T07:29:41.308Z · EA · GW

This mostly seemed to be a criticism of how GiveWell communicates about AMF rather than of AMF itself, given the author hasn't even visited AMF's website yet, but either would make sense.

Comment by Khorton on Concerns about AMF from GiveWell reading - Part 1 · 2021-10-17T21:45:53.104Z · EA · GW

I literally have nothing to do with AMF, I just think the title is bad and not representative of the post.