Comment by khorton on What type of Master's is best for AI policy work? · 2019-02-23T09:58:06.478Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

I'm happy with the route I chose. I love education, so the Master's was very pleasant and a real confidence boost. I also learned a lot about research methods, both quantitative and qualitative, which was one of the goals I had - I don't think I could have taught myself those skills. I also think it's useful to know the theoretical literature even if I don't use it every day because it's changed some of the assumptions I hold.

I also like having more options. It turns out that I really like the Civil Service and plan to stay in it for a few years, but it was good to test my fit in research and know that I could work in a think tank or do a PhD if I wanted to.

That said, I didn't previously know that the Civil Service will pay for employees to do a Master's if they have a reasonable business case. It probably would have been more rational for me to do this on the Civil Service's dime than my own. But overall, I think I made the best decision with the information I had available.

Comment by khorton on What type of Master's is best for AI policy work? · 2019-02-22T23:06:04.579Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

No. I entered the UK Civil Service, which I could have done anyways. I'm probably one pay grade higher because of experience gained during my Master's / because I had a lot of time to apply for jobs rather than taking the first one I could get.

Comment by khorton on What type of Master's is best for AI policy work? · 2019-02-22T20:36:54.470Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I studied public policy at King's College London and wrote my dissertation on AI policy. I'm happy to answer questions about that particular programme.

Comment by khorton on Three Biases That Made Me Believe in AI Risk · 2019-02-16T08:54:22.329Z · score: 8 (5 votes) · EA · GW

Not necessarily, because people can believe that multiple kinds of work are significant. I will never be in the military, but I believe there are Generals out there whose decisions are life-and-death for a lot of people. I could presumably believe the same about AI safety.

Comment by khorton on The Need for and Viability of an Effective Altruism Academy · 2019-02-15T20:58:24.455Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · EA · GW

Or, frankly, that it would make EA seem even more like a cult than it already does.

Comment by khorton on The Need for and Viability of an Effective Altruism Academy · 2019-02-15T20:55:43.285Z · score: 18 (8 votes) · EA · GW

I was going to raise some similar objections, but you did it better. :) The only extra point I would raise is that my worst fear with project isn't it being a waste of resources - my worst fear would be that it leads to significantly worse group-think as the "best and brightest" absorb the "right answers" from one or two teachers.

Comment by khorton on Does giving to charity make it more likely you‘ll be altruistic in future? · 2019-02-14T22:05:08.597Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Is this the difference between "I'm a person who eats healthy" vs "I did such a good job avoiding cake at the staff party, so I deserve a couple cookies"?

Comment by khorton on The Narrowing Circle (Gwern) · 2019-02-12T08:32:42.136Z · score: 8 (6 votes) · EA · GW

Elderly people in the West are treated with less regard than they might been a century ago, I think (although I'm not certain - maybe elderly people in the West have always been treated poorly?)

Comment by khorton on Are men more likely to attend EA London events? Attendance data, 2016-2018. · 2019-02-12T08:25:27.241Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

I have done some interviews, actually - the Forum post has just gotten held up by my personal life.

Comment by khorton on Reflections on doing good with lump sums - the retired person's dilemma · 2019-02-09T16:58:57.929Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

"Given that there is no useful analysis which could be meaningful, I need to make an arbitrary, instinctive decision."

I agree that analysing which charities best match your goals is difficult, but I'm surprised that you don't think there's any useful analysis out there - especially since you're obviously involved with EA! Can you explain that to me?

Comment by khorton on Open Thread #43 · 2019-02-08T14:09:19.525Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Risks of an Effective Thesis Prize

Poor quality:

-The entries (and winning dissertation) are low quality and make EA look bad.

-The judge(s) don't have sufficient expertise to evaluate the submissions properly.

-The person who organizes the competition doesn't have the skills to run it properly (eg the prize is awarded very late or not at all).

Waste of resources compared to counterfactual:

-Thousands of dissertations could be entered. Even if you spent 5 minutes evaluating each, that's 100+ hours of your time. Depending on what your time is worth, if you spent the time working instead of evaluating dissertations, you could potentially save a toddler's life from malaria.

-It's unlikely that announcing a prize now will impact current PhD students, who probably chose their topic years ago (although it could potentially influence new students).

-Are we sure that prizes influence dissertations? Is there any evidence base for this?

Comment by khorton on What Courses Might Be Most Useful for EAs? · 2019-02-03T12:49:49.094Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Taking one programming class to test your aptitude (or spending the equivalent time learning online) might also be worthwhile. If your one programming class goes well, you might decide that programming would be a good back-up option in case you don't end up working at MIRI/GPI/CEA/wherever else you really want to work.

I think people don't stress enough how important it is to be able to pay your student loan and keep a roof over your head after your graduation. Learning a programming language and, if that goes well, interning or working part time or taking a summer job working in that language, is an excellent way to keep yourself out of poverty.

Comment by khorton on What are the easiest highly positive and effective things that people can do? · 2019-02-02T17:38:07.063Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Easy ways to do more good:

  1. Set up a direct debit to one of GiveWell.com's top charities. You can always start with $20 a paycheck and change it later; it's just useful to get started and know you're helping people.
  2. Work through the 80,000 Hours career guide. Use their career planning tool to think about how you could help more people with your career.
Comment by khorton on What Courses Might Be Most Useful for EAs? · 2019-02-02T17:28:26.927Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · EA · GW

I'm not sure I can answer from an EA perspective, but I'll try to personally reflect on the most useful university courses I've taken:

-I took two postgraduate research methods courses (Quantitative Research Methods and Evaluating Public Policy). I am now much better at evaluating the claims made in social sciences papers, which I'm really happy about.

-My Christian theology courses helped develop my thinking about my faith, which I've found personally valuable.

-Sociology / Psychology courses have influenced some of my core beliefs (nature vs nurture; rewards vs punishment; etc), so in a sense I use this knowledge on a daily basis.

-Drama classes can be great for developing your communication skills, as well as your ability to put yourself in someone else's shoes.

-I trained as a teacher, and my classroom management class was surprisingly transferable to an office setting. It really helped me think about how I can influence other people's behaviour by choosing a meeting's environment and agenda and through my own verbal and nonverbal communication.

Comment by khorton on Research on Effective Strategies for Equity and Inclusion in Movement-Building · 2019-02-01T22:29:26.544Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I'm glad you decided to cross-post this to the Forum after all. :)

Comment by khorton on What Are Effective Alternatives to Party Politics for Effective Public Policy Advocacy? · 2019-01-30T11:12:22.863Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · EA · GW

It's worth noting that state- or province-level powers are usually not "less important," they're just based on particular categories, so they're worth paying attention to. For example, Canada stopped exporting asbestos to developing countries in 2012 due to a provincial decision. http://www.preventcancernow.ca/canada-has-stopped-mining-and-exporting-asbestos-but-the-battle-to-protect-people-from-asbestos-harm-continues/

Comment by khorton on What Are Effective Alternatives to Party Politics for Effective Public Policy Advocacy? · 2019-01-30T08:53:13.432Z · score: 8 (3 votes) · EA · GW

There's a lot to be said for public opinion or "political mood." I think the legalization of gay marriage in Canada would be a good case study. Factors that led to legalization included:

-lobbying

-court decisions

-Private Member's bills

-a change in public opinion

-political circumstances

For a large-scale issue, working on any of the above would probably be worth your time.

Comment by khorton on We should make academic knowledge easier · 2019-01-27T18:12:35.640Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Slight downvote because I don't think this is what EAs should focus on. The claim that we could make academic knowledge 50% simpler isn't well-evidenced in the article, and the area seems quite intractable for reasons explained in the article.

Comment by khorton on Vocational Career Guide for Effective Altruists · 2019-01-26T12:01:11.893Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

The UK Civil Service has several posts which don't require a degree, including their apprenticeship scheme. https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/civil-service-fast-track-apprenticeship

Comment by khorton on How can I internalize my most impactful negative externalities? · 2019-01-23T08:38:43.942Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I don't think it makes sense to donate to an "effective charity" in the typical sense when it comes to obesity because your externality is only affecting taxpayers in your own healthcare system.

Comment by khorton on How can I internalize my most impactful negative externalities? · 2019-01-23T08:37:06.603Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Given that the table listed the cost of obesity as affecting socialized medicine, you would presumably donate to something local and medical, like a hospital. You could also potentially donate to (eg diabetes) research or a charity that makes healthy eating easier in your area.

Comment by khorton on [Offer, Paid] Help me estimate the social impact of the startup I work for. · 2019-01-21T23:21:00.258Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Please tell me you found someone - the small number of comments makes me sad!

Comment by khorton on [Offer, Paid] Help me estimate the social impact of the startup I work for. · 2019-01-21T23:19:43.816Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Are you looking for people to evaluate your impact based on the data you have, or is your company genuinely willing to research its counterfactual impact if you push for it?

Comment by khorton on High-priority policy: towards a co-ordinated platform? · 2019-01-14T20:56:43.488Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

I also imagine immigration policy could be fairly impactful, although also fairly controversial and potentially intractable.

Comment by khorton on EA Giving Tuesday Donation Matching Initiative 2018 Retrospective · 2019-01-07T23:27:40.977Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA · GW

From your comments, it sounds like it would be useful to have a team of people (maybe 5 or 6) who have precommitted 10-100 hours in November to Giving Tuesday prep if their effort is needed. Do you think that would have helped this year? Do you think that's practical for next year?

Comment by khorton on Recommendation for charity working on ocean plastic pollution · 2019-01-07T23:21:28.417Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

I'm not sure - maybe if you could stop waste being exported and subsequently mismanaged, that could also be very effective.

Comment by khorton on EA Giving Tuesday Donation Matching Initiative 2018 Retrospective · 2019-01-06T21:44:58.578Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · EA · GW

Super impressive! If you're looking to increase investment for next year, you could apply for funding from the EA Meta Fund

Comment by khorton on Finding it hard to retain my belief in altruism · 2019-01-02T19:21:35.430Z · score: 14 (8 votes) · EA · GW

It sounds to me like you're learning about the world, and it's causing you to question your core beliefs. I have two pieces of (arguably) good news for you:

  1. Questioning your entire belief system while traveling in your early twenties is VERY NORMAL. Almost every teenager with strong convictions goes through this on their path to adulthood.

  2. Questioning your beliefs makes them better. Engaging with different people and different belief systems makes your beliefs more nuanced and robust. Other people may have seen something you've missed! Alternatively, you may develop a new appreciation for the importance of your work. Either way, whether you decide to altruistically study machine learning or not, your thinking on the topic of moral philosophy shouldn't stop here. It's important to remain open to new ideas in the long term - all the most interesting people are.

I hope that's helpful, and I hope you can find interesting and compassionate people to discuss this with in real life. Good luck!

Comment by khorton on Recommendation for charity working on ocean plastic pollution · 2019-01-01T20:43:46.135Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA · GW

If you're looking to decrease the amount of plastic entering the ocean, I'd suggest looking to improve waste management in Asia. The vast majority of plastic entering the ocean is from mismanaged waste in China. https://www.statista.com/chart/12211/the-countries-polluting-the-oceans-the-most/

Comment by khorton on Recommendation for charity working on ocean plastic pollution · 2019-01-01T20:43:17.768Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

If you're looking to decrease the amount of plastic entering the ocean, I'd suggest looking to improve waste management in Asia. The vast majority of plastic entering the ocean is from mismanaged waste in China. https://www.statista.com/chart/12211/the-countries-polluting-the-oceans-the-most/

Comment by khorton on Women's Empowerment: Founders Pledge report and recommendations · 2018-12-22T15:42:54.905Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

It seems reasonable to use homicides as a proxy for physical violence, especially if no other data is available, but very odd to use homicides as a proxy for sexual violence.

Comment by khorton on Why Christians should have no opposition to Super-intelligence. · 2018-12-17T08:59:57.590Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Honestly, I don't have time to write up my objections to the theology in your post, but I also don't think my objections would be very helpful. Every flavour of Christianity has its own belief system; perfectly adapting your argument to my belief system wouldn't necessarily help convince your family. Why not just talk to your family about their concerns first, and then if you discover something useful, you can post it on the forum to share with others?

Edit: To be clear, I don't think all forms of superintelligence are necessarily anti-Christian, I just object to the theology in this post and think it is better fixed through an in-person conversation. The EA Forum is not the place to go to for theology advice!

Comment by khorton on Why Christians should have no opposition to Super-intelligence. · 2018-12-16T22:47:29.592Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

As a Christian, I think these arguments miss the point for a couple reasons, but I have a bigger question: how are you planning to use these arguments? In practice, I usually find people more open to being persuaded if I spend more time trying to understand their concerns, rather than presenting arguments - especially when it comes to family.

Comment by khorton on Open Thread #43 · 2018-12-09T10:43:22.780Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Usually I would agree with you, but I think within the EA community people have strong egoistic motivation to make "effective" donations. Your reputation is related to giving effectively.

Comment by khorton on EA gifts for kids? · 2018-12-01T17:23:06.223Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

An interesting way of using Dollar Street is filtering by income, rather than country. You start to notice that people all over the world with a similar income level have very similar homes. People at my income level have homes similar to mine; people making, say, $15k a year have homes very similar to when I was in uni. It's interesting to be able to distinguish between what's a cultural difference and what's an income difference.

Comment by khorton on Latest Research and Updates for November · 2018-11-30T20:53:44.586Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · EA · GW

This forum post is a copy of the EA London newsletter; you can get that straight to your inbox as well. https://www.ealondon.com/newsletter-signup

Comment by khorton on So you want to do operations [Part one] - which skills do you need? · 2018-11-28T21:16:40.569Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA · GW

For what it's worth, when I started teaching and was responsible for 30 children, I suddenly became a lot better at taking responsibility / noticing things that need doing / optimizing systems. That's a situation that I think forces people to take on the "heroic responsibility" mindset.

Comment by khorton on CEA is Fundraising for 2019 · 2018-11-28T08:20:27.860Z · score: 41 (23 votes) · EA · GW

Thank you for this excellent write-up! I agree with CEA's aims for 2019. As EA grows and EA organizations start to professionalize, I think I will be most impressed if 2019 is a year of doing the basics well. For example:

-Staff respond to emails within 48 hours.

-CEA invests in improving the security of personal data they hold.

-80% of public commitments are met on time; overdue commitments have a clear communications strategy.

-Hiring rounds include clear criteria and happen over a predetermined period of time.

I'm happy with your aims and I look forward to seeing what you'll do next year!

Comment by khorton on Why we have over-rated Cool Earth · 2018-11-27T21:16:49.609Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · EA · GW

"I think nobody delved into the Cool Earth numbers because it wasn't worth their time, because climate change charities generally aren't competitive with the standard EA donation opportunities"

I've heard this a lot on EA circles, but I'm not sure why. I tried to compare the Coalition for Rainforest Nations and the Against Malaria Foundation in terms of lives saved and could barely start. It's just too uncertain and complex for me - I don't know how to translate CO2 reductions into lives saved, although I'm certain that climate change will kill people. Has anyone even tried to do this kind of comparison? A link would be appreciated.

Comment by khorton on Earning to Save (Give 1%, Save 10%) · 2018-11-27T08:38:25.744Z · score: 20 (8 votes) · EA · GW

I understand that donating 10% is difficult if you're not used to it. However, as someone who grew up around plenty of working- and middle-class families that donated 10% or more, I strongly disagree with the claim that it's not possible.

However, I agree that if you have high-interest debts you should pay them first, and that some people starting their careers in expensive cities will struggle. I struggled when I was making £20k in London. But then, I budgeted for giving, lived in a smaller place* than I would have, saved like 5% and gave like 8%? It wasn't perfect, but it wasn't impossible to give. And now that I make more, I give more and save more. I'm not sure an alternative goal would have been helpful - I guess I just would have lived less frugally.

*Edit: Room. I lived in a tiny room in Zone 4.

Edit 2: Actually, now that I think about it, I saved more than 10%, but that was because I was a temporary worker who didn't get paid on holidays - so on balance I only really saved enough to buy a ticket back home.

Comment by khorton on EA Survey Series 2018: Subscribers and Identifiers · 2018-11-27T08:26:50.760Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Agreed. When I was reading the article, I thought, "Oh yes! I'm a subscriber. What a clever way of describing me."

When I read the actual questions, I realized there's no way I would have been counted as a subscriber. Because I regularly volunteer, other people would definitely describe me as EA, even if I'm a bit on the fence.

It seems like your causality might go this way as well. Rather than "subscribers volunteer less," the story might actually be "people who volunteer for the community know that others describe them as EA, so volunteers are usually identifiers."

Comment by khorton on Announcing the EA donation swap system · 2018-11-26T23:17:15.487Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Can I just say how clever and user-friendly this system is? I love that you're prompted to add an expiry date for your offer when you first create it, that you put both a minimum and a maximum so no one's time is wasted, and that you're auto-matched. And this is so much better than a spreadsheet when it comes to privacy! Thank you for creating this.

Comment by khorton on EA Survey Series 2018: Subscribers and Identifiers · 2018-11-26T21:39:48.268Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

It's interesting that you think of grouping Climate Change with GCRs. I normally think of it as an aspect of medium-term global poverty, because my impression is that climate change will displace and kill millions in the developing world, but doesn't present an existential risk. I'm open to changing my mind though.

Comment by khorton on Is The Hunger Site worth it? · 2018-11-25T19:03:37.460Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · EA · GW

First off, it's really cool that you've been so committed to this over time! I bet you have benefited many people, and it sounds like you've put in a lot of effort.

"Should I just donate $10 to the Anti-Malaria Foundation that I wouldn't otherwise and say that that accomplishes more good than a lifetime of clicking on The Hunger Site?"

If I were trying to answer this question, I'd probably contact the Hunger Site seeking concrete answers on a) which charities are being donated to and b) how much is being donated per click on average. I bet if you told them your story, they'd be happy to help you find that information. Good luck!

Comment by khorton on Towards Better EA Career Advice · 2018-11-24T13:26:31.186Z · score: 10 (5 votes) · EA · GW

I entered the UK Civil Service this year. I work on Fuel Poverty Policy - I think of ways to make it easier for the poorest people in the UK to heat their homes. I think the 80k article about it is actually pretty accurate, but let me know if you have any other questions about it. https://80000hours.org/career-reviews/policy-oriented-civil-service-uk/

Comment by khorton on Towards Better EA Career Advice · 2018-11-24T12:11:40.576Z · score: 10 (5 votes) · EA · GW

Teaching was my first career. I entered by doing a Bachelor of Education degree in Canada and then being recruited to work in the UK, because the UK is struggling to fill teaching vacancies. You can usually enter teaching by doing a 1-2 year course after your Bachelor degree as well. Some countries have a program like Teach First or Teach for America that will let you straight into the classroom.

In Canada, teaching is very competitive, but in the UK many schools are struggling to recruit enough teachers. That meant it wasn't too difficult to get a job offer, especially through a teaching agency. I found that, to get an interview and offer from a "good school," it was useful for me to ask the headteacher to take me on a tour of the school. Making small talk with the headteacher and asking interesting questions helped me to get an interview.

Teaching is a hard job, and it's probably true that the easier it is to get hired, the harder your job will be. You're expected to work 40-55 hours per week during the school year. Pay varies by country, but in the UK it starts just above the national median wage (£25-30k). Most people aren't particularly good teachers until they've had 5+ years experience. However, in teaching you get useful feedback very quickly, you make a living wage, and you learn lots of useful skills. Going back to teaching is my "plan Z" right now and I'm glad I have it as an option.

Comment by khorton on EA gifts for kids? · 2018-11-23T08:12:42.285Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA · GW

A little of date, but you could pair a tracked AMF donation with the "If the World Were a Village" book. https://www.amazon.co.uk/world-were-village-David-Smith/dp/0713668806

Comment by khorton on Towards Better EA Career Advice · 2018-11-22T18:05:04.741Z · score: 8 (6 votes) · EA · GW

Honestly, there are a LOT of jobs out there that will pay your bills, teach you valuable skills, and allow you to help people. I've been a teacher and a policy professional. Both jobs have less impact than an AMF employee but enough to be satisfying. Both jobs paid my rent. Both jobs have taught me really valuable lessons about management, organization, and public speaking. These lower prestige, conventional choices can teach people the skills that EA will need to be a strong and balanced movement going forward.

Comment by khorton on Literature Review: Why Do People Give Money To Charity? · 2018-11-21T08:17:35.649Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

This is great, and a really good example of how you can do something with your thesis!

Comment by khorton on William MacAskill misrepresents much of the evidence underlying his key arguments in "Doing Good Better" · 2018-11-17T21:23:44.257Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks!

Are men more likely to attend EA London events? Attendance data, 2016-2018.

2018-08-09T15:51:29.187Z · score: 31 (31 votes)

Effective Volunteering

2018-01-24T16:09:11.731Z · score: 11 (11 votes)

Changing the Government's Approach to Catastrophic Risks

2017-10-10T14:09:50.556Z · score: 4 (6 votes)