Posts

Undergraduate Making Life-Altering Choices While Sober, Please Advise 2021-07-10T08:56:07.887Z
Creating A Kickstarter for Coordinated Action 2021-02-03T04:08:37.155Z
A Case Study in Newtonian Ethics--Kindly Advise 2020-12-05T07:40:18.893Z
Lumpyproletariat's Shortform 2020-09-29T11:09:01.554Z
New member--essential reading and unwritten rules? 2020-07-13T05:54:49.488Z

Comments

Comment by Lumpyproletariat on Effective Altruism, Before the Memes Started · 2021-10-13T10:18:15.047Z · EA · GW

I enjoyed reading this; the format and content agreed with me--pun unintended.

Comment by Lumpyproletariat on Johannes Ackva: An update to our thinking on climate change · 2021-10-07T03:45:29.581Z · EA · GW

I shared this video with a Discord server and the response was positive. I was worried that no one would watch it, since it was forty minutes long; but apparently many people are more willing to watch a long video than read a short article (well, that could be rational; it probably takes them less time). 

Comment by Lumpyproletariat on How do I find people who really don't care about having more money? · 2021-09-09T23:33:30.480Z · EA · GW

Have you encountered the FIRE (Financially Independent Retire Early) movement? I think that Mr. Money Mustache's blog is the most central example, though I haven't exactly been plugged into the community.

https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/

There's also a reddit I know near nothing about:

https://www.reddit.com/r/Fire/

They're a community characterized by turning their noses up at money and the things one can buy with it--they cut down their living expenses until they can afford to retire at a young age, and then do so.

Comment by Lumpyproletariat on Moral dilemma · 2021-09-09T20:56:13.429Z · EA · GW

I'm very glad to have helped in any way. Take care of yourself!

Comment by Lumpyproletariat on Moral dilemma · 2021-09-05T20:29:56.316Z · EA · GW

I know that people presenting Pascal's wager usually claim that the utility of being accepted to their favorite heaven or their least favorite hell is infinite--but I don't think it is. But we'll leave that aside, because as you point out other people believe that the utility of heaven is infinite and I could be mistaken.

(For the counter-argument that two people going to hell is worse than one, I would tend to think of it as some infinities being greater than others (as in mathematics).)

If different infinities are allowed to be better or worse than each other, than you shouldn't need to worry about heaven or hell! You should be focused on maximizing your odds of infinite utility by doing the things most likely to lead to such a state.

The odds of any given religion being true is very, very small. Especially considering that they are all logically inconsistent. The odds of me being an extraterrestrial being of phenomenal power, able to create heavens and hells, is substantially higher than Sunni Islam or the Church of England having the right of things. Because at least the idea isn't logically impossible. So making me happy with you is more important than abiding by the laws of any earthly religion. The chance of you being yourself an omnipotent alien who'll come into your power once you feel less tormented is larger than the odds of an earthly religion being true--because while it's a silly idea with no evidence backing it and the entire edifice of science flatly refuting it, at least it doesn't contradict itself.

But now that we're focusing on maximizing our odds of getting infinite utility, there are even more promising prospects than supposing impossible things about strangers or ourselves. The odds of future humans reversing entropy (or finding a way to make infinite computations using finite resources, or any other solution given trillions of years to think about it) is much higher than the odds of any of Earth's religions being true. So if we take that view, the most important thing one can do is maximize the odds of human civilization surviving and maximizing the daily positive utility of that future civilization.

Comment by Lumpyproletariat on Moral dilemma · 2021-09-04T23:30:13.370Z · EA · GW

I don't think that infinite utility or disutility is a common feature of Pascalian wagers, only a very large amount of utility or disutility. For instance, myself going to Hell isn't infinite disutility--there are worse things, such as two people going to hell. 

(Unless we consider a finite amount of utility or disutility extended perpetually to be an infinite amount, in which case everything we do is equally infinitely positive or negative utility and no good or bad deed is better or worse than any other good or bad deed. Which seems very wrong to me, though I admit I don't have a reason off the top of my head why that's the case.)

Once you've accepted Hell as a finite (though very large) disutility, you can multiply it by the (utterly minuscule) odds of a logically inconsistent religion being true and everything anyone knows about physics being wildly off base. 

Comment by Lumpyproletariat on Takeaways on US Policy Careers (Part 1): Paths to Impact and Personal Fit · 2021-08-30T02:27:32.529Z · EA · GW

I'm commenting here to make this post easier for me to find in the future, and also so that I'll be reminded of at random intervals in the future.

Comment by Lumpyproletariat on This Can't Go On · 2021-08-05T06:55:59.799Z · EA · GW

Thank you for writing this.

After I first read all the material on Cold Takes (well, I skimmed it--but only because you asked me to!) I figured that I wouldn't bother to keep up with new stuff as it comes out; what good would it do me? It was written for a general audience and I am not a general audience.

That attitude lasted until around the third time I found myself linking to or quoting from your blog as a starting point for conversations with the vastly inferentially removed. And, I've known about the blog less than a week.

Needless to say I'll be keeping up with what you write.

Comment by Lumpyproletariat on Undergraduate Making Life-Altering Choices While Sober, Please Advise · 2021-07-26T09:14:13.936Z · EA · GW

Thank you for linking me to Kelsey Piper--I haven't read Chris Olah's essay yet, but I'm sure I'd've thanked you for linking him too had I only. I'm going to give Focusmate a go; I've been meaning to set it up but procrastinated doing so long enough to generate an ugh field about that. Thank you for that, too.

Comment by Lumpyproletariat on Undergraduate Making Life-Altering Choices While Sober, Please Advise · 2021-07-26T09:10:06.831Z · EA · GW

Thank you for the recommendation, I'll check it out.

Comment by Lumpyproletariat on Undergraduate Making Life-Altering Choices While Sober, Please Advise · 2021-07-26T09:09:38.684Z · EA · GW

I've had a tab on my browser open to a page of therapists who take my parent's insurance for . . . semesters, now. Thank you for giving me the impetus to email a couple of them. I'll let you know how it goes. :)

Comment by Lumpyproletariat on Undergraduate Making Life-Altering Choices While Sober, Please Advise · 2021-07-26T09:06:41.612Z · EA · GW

Thank you for the response. I've given checklists a try in the past and found them useful then; my problem has been that I don't remember/think to draw up new ones. The obvious solution to that is obvious, so I set a repeating alarm on my phone to remind me. Whenever it goes off I'll draw up a to-do list for the day, even a short one.

If I hadn't had to explain why it was to-do lists hadn't worked for me in the past, I wouldn't have thought of the obvious solution (though, time will tell how well it works--I only just now set the alarm), so many thanks for replying to me and writing up such a long and thoughtful list of things which worked for you.

Comment by Lumpyproletariat on Is EA just about population growth? · 2021-01-20T23:46:30.304Z · EA · GW

"Regarding your aside, I think that illustrates an interesting potential solution to the dilemma (?) The purpose is not to save lives (because in your case, the world where 100% of people die is less or equally bad than 50% of people dying). This is an interesting case, and perhaps there's a way to rephrase the original claim to accommodate it, though I'm not certain how."

I must have inadequately written my parenthetical aside; perhaps I inadequately wrote everything. 

The purpose is entirely to save lives. We have a world with seven billion people. If all of them died, it amount of disutility in my view would be X times seven billion, where X is the disutility from someone dying. If the world instead had fourteen billion people and seven billion of them died, the disutility would still be X times seven billion. The human race existing doesn't matter to me, only the humans. If no one had any kids and this generation was the last one, I don't think that would be a bad thing.

This isn't something which all EAs think (some of them value "humanity" as well as the humans), though it does seem to be a view over represented by people who responded to this thread.

"The way I see it, the people of the future 'existing' is a knob that we have the power to control (in a broad sense). It's not something that would happen 'either way.'"

I know a man who plans to have a child the traditional way. We've spoken about the topic and I've told him my views; there's not terribly much more I could do. I have very little power over whether or not that child will exist--none whatsoever, in any practical way.

That child doesn't exist yet--there's some chance they never will. I want that child to have a happy life, and to not die unless they want to. When that entity becomes existent, the odds are very good I'll be personally involved in said entity's happiness; I'll be a friend of the family. Certainly, if twelve years in the child fell in a river and started to drown, I'd muddy my jacket to save them.

But I wouldn't lift a finger to create them. Do I explain myself? 

Something analogous could be said about all the humans who do not exist, but will. We have control over the "existence knob" in such a broad sense that there's little point bringing it up at all. So, living in a world where people exist, and will continue to do so, it seems like the most important thing is to keep them alive.

Valuing the people who exist is a very different thing from valuing people existing. EA is not just about population growth--it isn't about population growth at all.

Comment by Lumpyproletariat on Is EA just about population growth? · 2021-01-17T21:46:32.799Z · EA · GW

There must be something I don't understand; I don't see a puzzle here at all. You spent a lot of time writing this up, presumably you spent a lot of time thinking about it, so I'm going to spend at least a small amount of time trying to find where our worldviews glide past each other.

Here's my take. It's  a fairly simple take, as I'm a fairly simple person. 

If someone exists, one ought to be nice to them. Certainly, one ought not to let them die--to do so would be unkind, to say the least. People who exist should have good lives--if someone doesn't have a good life or will lose their good life, this is a problem one ought to fix. So far, nothing but bog-standard moral fare. 

If someone doesn't exist, they don't exist--it's impossible to be kind or cruel to someone who doesn't exist. I don't think many would disagree on that point either. 

Now here, perhaps, is where we lose each other: if someone is going to exist, and one is aware of this fact, one should probably take preemptive steps to ensure that future person will have a good life--a life happy, fulfilling, and long. This isn't because hypothetical people have moral value, it's because we are aware in advance that the problem won't always be a hypothetical one. We can realistically foresee that unless we course correct on this destroying the biosphere project we've undertaken, people will come into existence and lead terrible, cruelly short lives.

I (and many others, I gather) aren't doing this so that more people will be born--we're doing this so that people who will be born either way live happily.

(Parenthetical aside: some people place value on the human species continuing to exist--I don't, personally; if everyone alive died that would be awful, but I don't think it'd be more awful than if there had been fourteen billion minds before seven billion died. That said, if we care at all about aesthetics I can see the aesthetic argument in favor of human survival, in that all aesthetics would die with us.)

This is a very different problem from educating women and predictably causing fewer people to exist in the first place. My value isn't people existing, my value is good long lives for those who do (or will).

Comment by Lumpyproletariat on Is EA just about population growth? · 2021-01-17T09:40:11.115Z · EA · GW
  • Suppose, towards a contradiction, that the goal of life is to save lives.
  • We know educating women more is good and would be done in an ideal world.
  • Increasing women's education leads to fewer lives because of declining fertility.
  • Therefore, the goal of life must not be to save lives.

 

What if one's goal is to save lives which already exist, contingent on their already existing? 

Pure utilitarianism doesn't necessarily lead to screwy answers when thinking about the future--for instance, suppose that matter is convertible to computronium, and computronium is convertible to hedonium, and that there is thus a set amount of joy in the universe; in that instance, creating more people just trades against the happiness of those who already exist, who could have used all that matter for themselves, but are now morally obligated to share.

But I tend to be of the view that potential people don't exist and thus don't have moral significance. If it's foreseeable that someone in particular will exist (and at that point have moral significance) we ought to make sure things go well for them. But I don't feel any moral obligation to bring them into existence.

Comment by Lumpyproletariat on Lumpyproletariat's Shortform · 2021-01-04T00:43:43.454Z · EA · GW

This is crossposted from the December career advice thread:

I notice that the thread has gotten long and a lot of people's questions are being buried (one thing I intensely dislike about upvote-style forums is that it isn't trivial to scroll down to the end of the thread and see what's new ("Oh, but you can sort by new if you want to," one replies, and, sure, I guess, but unless everyone else with good opinions does too that doesn't exactly solve the problem, now does it?)). The buried questions don't seem less important than the ones posted first, and I wish I was competent to give expert advice apropos them/had a way to direct the community's gaze to them.

I have a question of my own--regarding changing my undergraduate major--but I'll wait for the January thread to ask it.

Comment by Lumpyproletariat on Careers Questions Open Thread · 2021-01-04T00:42:01.900Z · EA · GW

I notice that the thread has gotten long and a lot of people's questions are being buried (one thing I intensely dislike about upvote-style forums is that it isn't trivial to scroll down to the end of the thread and see what's new ("Oh, but you can sort by new if you want to," one replies, and, sure, I guess, but unless everyone else with good opinions does too that doesn't exactly solve the problem, now does it?)). The buried questions don't seem less important than the ones posted first, and I wish I was competent to give expert advice apropos them/had a way to direct the community's gaze to them.

I have a question of my own--regarding changing my undergraduate major--but I'll wait for the January thread to ask it.

Comment by Lumpyproletariat on A Case Study in Newtonian Ethics--Kindly Advise · 2020-12-13T03:34:51.849Z · EA · GW

You are an amazing alien, a soul akin enough to mine that I feel slightly less an alien for talking to you. I really don't know why people don't live stranger lives, when ordinary lives chasing money and status are so terribly depressing. It is nice to meet a fellow denizen of planet Camazotz dancing to the beat of a drum other than Its.

(Does one still waive the apostrophe when they're referring to a possession of the proper noun It?)

Clarification clarified. If someone invaded my personal space and dark triaded at me, I imagine I would use my bigness and noise to make them leave. I'm sympathetic to people less big. 

I feel fairly negative towards upvotes my self. They make it easy to pile on someone without actually engaging with them. 

Comment by Lumpyproletariat on A Case Study in Newtonian Ethics--Kindly Advise · 2020-12-09T00:34:07.761Z · EA · GW

I accidentally posted this comment four times, due largely to technical incompetence. Which is fine, I suppose; it adds emphasis!

Comment by Lumpyproletariat on A Case Study in Newtonian Ethics--Kindly Advise · 2020-12-09T00:29:41.074Z · EA · GW

Well. I'm floored. People keep upvoting this and saying such wonderfully kind things in the comments . . . Every time I got the notification there was a new comment under this post, I internally flinched and cringed. I'd just written at length about my internal subjective experience, an I regretted writing it from before I clicked submit. It took a lot of evidence piling up to convince the socially cautious part of my brain it was wrong. 

I'm going to update hard towards writing pieces like this one/writing more frequently. It seems like other people ought to as well, it seems like something people want to read. I imagine most of us don't have any new breakthroughs to report in the field of effective altruism. But we probably all have interesting days where we face dilemmas or win victories which would make utterly no sense to most anyone. And, I guess it makes sense you'd want to hear mine because I'd like to hear yours.

Comment by Lumpyproletariat on A Case Study in Newtonian Ethics--Kindly Advise · 2020-12-09T00:24:43.248Z · EA · GW

Well. I'm floored. People keep upvoting this and saying such wonderfully kind things in the comments . . . Every time I got the notification there was a new comment under this post, I internally flinched and cringed. I'd just written at length about my internal subjective experience, an I regretted writing it from before I clicked submit. It took a lot of evidence piling up to convince the socially cautious part of my brain it was wrong. 

I'm going to update hard towards writing pieces like this one/writing more frequently. It seems like other people ought to as well, it seems like something people want to read. I imagine most of us don't have any new breakthroughs to report in the field of effective altruism. But we probably all have interesting days where we face dilemmas or win victories which would make utterly no sense to most anyone. And, I guess it makes sense you'd want to hear mine because I'd like to hear yours.

Comment by Lumpyproletariat on A Case Study in Newtonian Ethics--Kindly Advise · 2020-12-09T00:24:17.902Z · EA · GW

Well. I'm floored. People keep upvoting this and saying such wonderfully kind things in the comments . . . Every time I got the notification there was a new comment under this post, I internally flinched and cringed. I'd just written at length about my internal subjective experience, an I regretted writing it from before I clicked submit. It took a lot of evidence piling up to convince the socially cautious part of my brain it was wrong. 

I'm going to update hard towards writing pieces like this one/writing more frequently. It seems like other people ought to as well, it seems like something people want to read. I imagine most of us don't have any new breakthroughs to report in the field of effective altruism. But we probably all have interesting days where we face dilemmas or win victories which would make utterly no sense to most anyone. And, I guess it makes sense you'd want to hear mine because I'd like to hear yours.

Comment by Lumpyproletariat on A Case Study in Newtonian Ethics--Kindly Advise · 2020-12-09T00:20:06.474Z · EA · GW

Well. I'm floored. People keep upvoting this and saying such wonderfully kind things in the comments . . . Every time I got the notification there was a new comment under this post, I internally flinched and cringed. I'd just written at length about my internal subjective experience, and I regretted writing it from before I clicked submit. It took a lot of evidence piling up to convince the socially cautious part of my brain it was wrong. 

I'm going to update hard towards writing pieces like this one/writing more frequently. It seems like other people ought to as well, it seems like something people want to read. I imagine most of us don't have any new breakthroughs to report in the field of effective altruism. But we probably all have interesting days where we face dilemmas or win victories which would make utterly no sense to most anyone. And, I guess it makes sense you'd want to hear mine because I'd like to hear yours.

Comment by Lumpyproletariat on A Case Study in Newtonian Ethics--Kindly Advise · 2020-12-06T07:07:47.539Z · EA · GW

I put on my goggles to attempt literary analysis, and then I took them back off. Anyone else want to give it a go?

Comment by Lumpyproletariat on A Case Study in Newtonian Ethics--Kindly Advise · 2020-12-06T07:05:38.875Z · EA · GW

So, I translated one of the poems. The other two are addressed to Jesus Christ, dated as being written in November this year, and signed with something incomprehensible. This one is shorter than the other two, written on a smaller piece of paper, and isn't signed, dated, or addressed. It reads: 

 

our hopeful nation

this high should've came with a barcode

25 candles hovered above a golden mountain top

Jesus Christ

the wind

the dust

and the Holy Spirit

revising sky rays

a violent gospel

volume 13

net speed 98.b

the taste of my music on a Sunday night

there's something about the riot that makes me want to breed 

Comment by Lumpyproletariat on A Case Study in Newtonian Ethics--Kindly Advise · 2020-12-06T06:58:57.498Z · EA · GW

Hm, it's interesting different people's thoughts on and reactions to the same events. Every one of us are aliens. You see people optimizing for money and you feel negatively towards them for participating in a race to the bottom. I see people optimizing for money and I respect their hustle. Maybe it's a class thing. I worked as a waiter until I found a way to hurt myself doing so (such tends to be how my stints of gainful employment end--I need to land an office job or one day I'll trip on my own feet and stumble into an open grave), and I spent every minute of it optimizing for money, sometimes aggressively so. Maybe as I claw my way up the social ladder I'll come around to your point of view. Yesterday was novel, I imagine it gets old.

Comment by Lumpyproletariat on A Case Study in Newtonian Ethics--Kindly Advise · 2020-12-06T06:58:41.238Z · EA · GW

Thank you for the kind words and human connection--I don't want to reiterate word for word what I said under EdoArad's post, but I'd like to. It seems to me that separating the conversation and disordering it is a a tradeoff upvote-style forums make, and I'm entirely unconvinced that such is worth it. Especially for a relatively small forum where everyone reading comments is reading all the way to the bottom anyway. 

My situation is a bit different than yours, I think. I don't feel the a strong need to spend money on things; I don't anticipate my personal expenses ever rising above five hundred dollars a month unless I move somewhere with a higher cost of living--with the expectation that such would be a net gain. After I can consistently cover essential expenses without worry, I plan to use my money as effectively as I can (well, before that point too). In my case spending money on anything trades directly against becoming financially independent sooner and then donating the surplus. I also imagine that if I made a habit of charitable giving at this juncture, I'd notice it financially pretty quick.

That said, your, EdoArad's, and DonyChristie's perspectives have helped me gain, well, perspective. I'll think about this more.

Comment by Lumpyproletariat on A Case Study in Newtonian Ethics--Kindly Advise · 2020-12-06T06:58:20.077Z · EA · GW

Thank you for kind words and for validation. If I were properly calibrated I'd find neither useful, but I'm not and I do. It's very gratifying that people seem to appreciate my having written this.

I did not set out to create something that people find beautiful, but if I did so I am happy. Seeing this upvoted, and tagged as "art", was surprising but pleasant. (Parenthetical aside: is art something created for the self, or something created to express the self to others? I've heard both stances espoused. If the latter, then expressing thoughts one finds ugly in a way others find beautiful could be regarded as a failure. Human endeavors are complicated, and I don't think art is often created for any one reason, but I still think there's an answer to something hiding in that line of questioning.)

In response to your first thought, I communicated poorly. When I referred to units of caring, I wasn't positing a finite amount of empathy, I was referencing this. I'll edit the OP to be less opaque. In response to your second thought, I think my thoughts are covered in my response to shaybenmoshe.

Comment by Lumpyproletariat on Make a $10 donation into $35 · 2020-12-05T05:14:41.638Z · EA · GW

I sent my free money towards the Malaria Consortium. Thank you to the people who spent the money, and the people who made me aware such was happening. 

I don't like having online accounts that are connected to my real info, especially financial info. No particular rationale, I just hang out in a weird part of mind-space and get anxious when I haven't cleaned up after myself. I'm having difficulties deleting my account--when I try it wants me to choose an application to do so with. I'm using Firefox on Ubuntu, if that matters--but it seems like this is something I should be able to do entirely on the every.org website?

Comment by Lumpyproletariat on Lumpyproletariat's Shortform · 2020-09-29T11:09:05.827Z · EA · GW

Salutations, all. I'mma scribble this out real fast before I go to bed.

In the book Inadequate Equilibria Elizier Yudkowsky rather casually points out that the coordination problem is a *solved* problem--quote, "Even in my world, Simplicio, coordination isn’t as simple as everyone jumping simultaneously every time one person shouts “Jump!” For coordinated action to be successful, you need to trust the institution that says what the action should be, and a majority of people have to trust that institution, and they have to know that other people trust the institution, so that everyone expects the coordinated action to occur at the critical time, so that it makes sense for them to act too. That’s why we have policy prediction markets and… there doesn’t seem to be a word in your language for the timed-collective-action-threshold-conditional-commitment… hold on, this cultural translator isn’t making any sense. “Kickstarter”? You have the key concept, but you use it mainly for making video games?"


A website that facilitated timed-collective-action-threshold-conditional-commitment for things other than video games would be tremendously useful, I think. Does such a thing currently exist, but I haven't seen it?

Comment by Lumpyproletariat on New member--essential reading and unwritten rules? · 2020-07-14T02:09:58.048Z · EA · GW

I thank you for your welcome, and your magnanimity, and the sentiment.

Though, I'm being honest--radically honest, as some are inclined to be when pseudonymous--when I say that I've only "achieved" two things: I've lucked into better than average genes and memes, and I've persisted long enough to see the sun set an arbitrary number of times. I didn't do much of anything to make my life better or to rise above my circumstances--I just ran out the clock. In a sense I've lived a hard life, but in no sense a difficult one. (But praise Pelor am I glad to have finally made it out that utter slog of a game tutorial--whoever designed it has no idea how pacing even works.)

Comment by Lumpyproletariat on New member--essential reading and unwritten rules? · 2020-07-14T02:09:32.277Z · EA · GW

Many thanks for the reading list!

Comment by Lumpyproletariat on New member--essential reading and unwritten rules? · 2020-07-14T02:09:15.652Z · EA · GW

Thank you for the warm welcome and the advice--I just made an account on Coursera's website and am enrolled in the course you recommended. (On the presumption that the certificate isn't worth the ink I'd have to print it with, I opted not to pay for the course--if I exist mortal error plz do tell.)

I've already read what 80,000 Hours had to say about being successful--applying it, now that will be the truer test.

Comment by Lumpyproletariat on New member--essential reading and unwritten rules? · 2020-07-14T02:08:54.522Z · EA · GW

That's good news for the old self esteem--now I'm smiling too!

Comment by Lumpyproletariat on New member--essential reading and unwritten rules? · 2020-07-14T02:08:37.680Z · EA · GW

Thank you for the kind words and actionable advice.

I already had the vague idea to organize a student group when the current pandemic plaguing us is resolved--following advice I found on 80,000 Hours for students while in school--but I didn't know where to even begin doing it, and so I had no real plans. Now that I've read a case study or so, I want to have the student group up and running when the fall semester starts.

So, again, thank you.