This is certainly a useful resource for those who live in areas without the effective altruism groups around them! Thank you for sharing :-)
Could you please share more details on which parts of the curriculum would be inaccessible to recent graduates? From the outline of the book alone, it's hard to estimate the level of technical depth needed.
I'd look forward to seeing you post the results of the in-depth survey on the forum :-)
I'm not sure this is a good idea.
- It seems possible that the individual interventions you're linking to research on are not representative of every possible intervention about skill development.
- Also, it seems possible that future interventions may integrate both building human and economic capital to enable recipients to make changes in their lives. Ie. Skill-building + direct cash transfers.
- Also, it's generally uncertain whether GiveDirectly will continue to be the most effective or endorsed donation recommendation. I say this given changes in how we measure wellbeing (admittedly, a topic with frequent updates to opinions and mistake corrections being made).
Why potentially reduce the effectiveness of those future interventions by launching this campaign?
I'm surprised to see how the book giveaway is more expensive than the costs of actually placing the ads to get eyes on the sites! Why did you decide to give away a physical book? What do you think the cost-effectiveness of that is compared to ebooks or not having a giveaway?
If you're interested in supporting education, scholarships to next generation education companies might be worth supporting (example - disclaimer, I've gone through the program of this particular company).
Regarding investments in environmental causes, more neglected causes are more valuable to invest in. For instance, supporting NOVEL carbon capture companies (ie. not tree planting).
Given the high-tech industry in Canada, it might be relatively advantageous to support neglected research priorities.
- For instance, you might be able to fund organisations like iGEM or the National Research Council to support biosecurity work on broad-spectrum antivirals, germicidal UV lights, shotgun genetic sequencing at airports, etc. Feel free to search the forum for simple explanations about these concepts.
- Similarly, you might be able to fund research grants to work on AI safety topics including interpretability, robustness, and anomaly detection research at the Vector Institute.
If you're donating to humanitarian causes, you'd have the greatest impact on the dollar directing resources to Indigenous communities. Interventions related to eCBT (mental health apps) for indigenous youth might be especially promising to fund.
It would be helpful to hear more details (including sources) about the problem you've found:
- What has the NSA publicly announced in its position on AGI?
- What has the external academic community or relevant nonprofits assessed their likely plans to be?
- Which decision-makers are involved in determining the NSA's policies on AGI development and/or safety?
Also, please add a more specific call to action describing:
- The action you want to be taken
- Which kinds of people are best suited to do this
"I'm not sure I buy the fourth point - while there will be some competition between plant-based and cell-based meat, they also both compete with the currently much larger traditional meat market, and I think there are some consumers who would eat plant-based but not cell-based and vice versa."
- How confident are you in your reasoning here?
- What kind of empirical evidence do you think would disprove/prove this argument?
The evidence I've seen (Source) suggests that consumers are largely confused about the difference between cell-based and lab-based meats, which doesn't help sales of either. Also, cell-based meats are currently HORRIBLE for animal rights given the amount of suffering they cause to cow fetuses (Source). If consumers started conflating the issues with cell-based meats and plant-based meats, it would be a large setback to the industry. And given how largely the traditional dairy market has been lobbying against plant-based milks (Source), I don't think it's unreasonable to expect that they might intentionally blur the lines between cell-based and plant-based meats to find whatever arguments they can against alternative meats.
@Brad West Would you know any Canadian colleagues?
I'm curious, how do you think about the relative importance of promoting cell-based (cultivated) vs. plant-based meat?
- From an animal suffering perspective, they both displace animals that might suffer.
- From an environmental perspective, plant-based meat is currently much better. (Source)
- Economically, one could argue that more competition will lead to more product choice, winning over more consumers.
- But one could also argue that the competition between plant-based and animal-based meats will keep traditional meats being consumed for longer and the product diversity won't be tangibly perceptible to consumers (taste, smell, look, feel, cost will have negligible differences over time).
I appreciate you formatting the post summary with brevity in mind :-) Makes it easy to quickly understand the main points and I can see you put in deliberate thought into formatting as a table.
I'd be interested in hearing someone from Anthropic discuss the upsides or downsides of this arrangement. From an entirely personal standpoint, it seems odd that Anthropic gave up equity AND had restrictions in how the investment could be used. That said, I imagine there are MANY other details about I'm not aware of since I wasn't involved in the decision.
For anyone seeking more information on this, feel free to search up the key terms 'data poisoning' and 'Trojans.' The Centre for AI Safety has somewhat accessible content and notes on this under lecture 13 here.
Key takeaway: "He preferred to be good, rather than to seem so."
Where can we get more information on projects done
in the past fellowship?
Confirming this issue
Appreciate you summarising these resources! Still helping people years later :-)
Update: lesson learned - read the fine print effectively
- My donation wasn't matched. I didn't do enough due diligence to read a final clause on their website that said we had to email our donation receipt somewhere.
- One 'little' mistake on my part is the difference between 50 people not stuck in poverty vs. 18 people not stuck in poverty.
- Doing good effectively = reading the fine print effectively.
I'm interested in building a career around technological risks. Sometimes, I think about all the problems we're facing. From biosecurity risks to AI safety risks to cybersecurity risks to ... And it all feels so big and pressing and hopeless and whatnot.
Clearly, me being existential about these issues wasn't helping anyone. So I've had to accept that I have to pick a smaller, very specific problem that my skillset could be useful in. Even if it's not solving everything, I won't solve anything if I don't specialise in that way.
Maybe some spirit of that could also apply to the altruistic actions I take in general? Ie. I have to start by going vegan OR setting up regular donations OR working towards a more flexible career OR thinking about whether I want kids OR ... I can't take on all those things at once.
I suppose the simple way I might remind myself of that is "Altruism requires one step at a time and not every altruistic person needs to generalise in all methods of being altruistic."
Thank you for clarifying :-) I wasn't trying to be pedantic, I was just choosing between donating to StrongMinds with a 100% match or here.
Update: the Double Up Drive donation matching is no longer available.
Donations to Animal Charity Evalutators, Hellen Keller International, and StrongMinds are still being matched.
For Canadian donors, donations to GiveDirectly are being matched to at least 50%.
Sorry, does the 1.5x match mean we donate $X and 50% of that will be matched? Or 150% of our donation will be added to the amount we donated?
Thank you for arranging this list!
@Tessa - thank you for introducing me to Dr. Millet's course in your reading list on biosecurity!
Good on you for taking on more work and trying to figure out how you can best contribute to the world :-) It might be easier for us to share opportunities with you if we know what cause areas are important to you and which skills/prior experience you have. Feel free to let us know!
Tell us more :-) There's lots of people on the forum that can help triage through them to find the most effective ones to work on :-)
Ex: @Tessa might have thoughts
Brief comment, but it is GREAT to see Kurzgesagt making more EA-aligned videos! I just watched their videos. on how helping others lead prosperous lives is good for your own interest.
- It's great to see EA content in other languages. When I watched the videos, they weren't yet released in English though I'll comment a link to the English video later.
- The simple explanations and cute visuals are quite a relief compared to complex/endless posts on the forum. I'd never heard of this line of reasoning on the forum and I'm pretty glad I got to learn it like this first :-)
- My father's blaring state-sponsored war-filled news in the background and I really appreciated a more positive vision of the future from Kurzgesagt's videos for once :D
To elaborate on the point that I think Arjun is making, the general tip seems self-evidently good. It's not very valuable to state it, relative to the value of precise tips on HOW to get a mentor or how good this is relative to other good things (to figure out how much it should be prioritised compared to something else).
Useful context: I'm 19. I stopped reading after the "Use your brainspace wisely."
Overall impression: boring as stated :D
More specific feedback:
- The tips seem very diverse (tips on relationships, mental health, physical environment, and learning skills were all under the "Use your brainspace wisely". It's unclear how they relate together. Thus it's confusing to read / figure out where you can find what tip.
- This could be addressed by having very clear headings. Ex: "Tips on Where You Live." Ex: "Tips on the Relationships You Develop." Ex: "Tips on Skills to Learn."
- Tips don't seem valuable without stories/examples. This is most true for a young person who doesn't know of an experience about each tip. Ex: If you say "Get a mentor" - that goes in one ear and out the other. A more helpful way to say that might be: "Get a mentor. When I was working on a startup to do X, my mentor Y helped me figure out that doing Z was better. I was down to my last thousand dollars and changing course helped me save the company."
- I like when there were links to specific actionables. Ex: You can read this post if you're having mental health troubles, that post if you're looking for friend advice, etc. I'd love to see these links wherever you're aware of resources :-)
- I don't know why you're telling me these things. That is to say, the intention seems unclear. It's worth putting some kind of statement about the purpose of each category of tips under the headings. Ex: Before a heading on "Mental Health Tips," you might say "Young people are the most vulnerable to mental health problems. If we learn to work on these problems early, it makes them a lot less severe later in life. Here are some helpful actions you could take if you're experiencing mental health issues:"
I hope this feedback is constructive enough to give practical ideas on how to improve this post. Please feel free to let me know if something seems unclear. I'll do my best to give a timely response :-)
I appreciate you taking the time to read and encourage :-)
My aim in this article wasn't to be technically precise. Instead, I was trying to be as simple as possible.
If you'd like to let me know the technical errors, I can try to edit the post if:
- The correction seems useful for a beginner trying to understand AI Safety.
- I can find feasible ways to explain the technical issues simply.
Again, I agree with you regarding the reality that every civilisation has eventually collapsed. I personally also agree that it doesn't currently seem likely that our 'modern globalised' civilisation won't collapse, though I'm no expert on the matter.
I have no particular insight about how comparable the collapse of the Roman Empire is to the coming decades of human existence.
I agree that amidst all the existential threats to humankind, the content of this article is quite narrow.
I agree with what you've said about how AI safety principles could give us a false sense of security. Risk compensation theory has shown how we reduce our cautiousness with several technologies when we think we've created more safety mechanisms.
I also agree with what you've said about how it's likely that we'll continue to develop more and more technological capabilities, even if this is dangerous. That seems pretty reasonable given the complex economic system that funds these technologies.
That said, I don't agree with the dystopian/doomsday connotation of some of your words: "Given that we've proven incapable of understanding this in the seventy years since Hiroshima, it's not likely we will learn it" or "Human beings are not capable of successfully managing ever more power at an ever accelerating rate without limit forever. Here's why. We are not gods."
In particular, I don't believe that communicating with such tones has very useful implications. Compared to more specific analysis (for example) of the safety benefits vs. risk compensation cost of particular AI safety techniques.
I don't understand the incentives of the "oracular funder." What are some examples of organisations/individuals that would be oracular funders? Where would they have gotten their money? What would make them want to participate in this idea? What are their alternatives (in how they spend their money)? Would it be fair to say that if they decided not to take part in this, then the idea wouldn't work?
I appreciate your clarification!
Useful perspectives! If you were inclined to write a followup post with some of the data you've seen thus far at BOAS, I think it'd help with establishing credibility for CPI :-)
RE: "I am inclined to think that few, or even one, charitable profit destination would be appealing to consumers."
I can see how both of you reached your conclusions. Empirical data would be the best solution :-)
RE: Making a Dropshipping site
I have web development experience. If you have clear goals/a 'why' behind making the site, I can get it done for you for free. Feel free to message when you get to that stage :-)
RE: Inelastic Products + general customer exposure
Good point, I hadn't thought of this :-)
RE: "One of the functions of the Consumer Power Initiative is to create a mass social movement questioning why..."
I'd be eager to hear your marketing plans when you have more specific information.
Maybe Development Media International would know EA-aligned marketers who'd be willing to help out?
RE: "Guided Consumption seems to be unique in that popular shareholder identity does not have an attendant cost (vis a vis other investors)."
Lots of social justice charities have tried to market black owned businesses / businesses started by former felons. Ex: Inmates to Entrepreneurs.
Have you looked into how scalable / effective their 'P-value' is? Do you think it'd help to talk to them to learn what has/hasn't worked well for them?
RE: "The value proposition that CPI and Guiding Producers offer consumers and other economic participants is pretty singular and clear: significantly further worthy causes by going through me. "
This may be true when customers choose you from a directory with exactly the right information. It's less true on a Google Search page. Less true still on an industrial product datasheet. Less true still on a supermarket aisle.
What I'm saying is that the context (channel) by which consumers buy the products of guiding companies will influence the value proposition(s) they see for those products vs. competitors' products. And given how much information is sometimes thrown at consumers, the decisions they make on average might be surpising to you or me.
I'll continue adding on here, just in case the public discussion helps anyone else too :-)
Glad to see the milestone on the 501(c)(3)! I could imagine that it's easy to just stick to academia, so good on you for bringing the ideas to more practical/uncertain grounds.
RE: "We can construct experiments and otherwise come to determinations about what industries profit destination is likeliest to provide the greatest potential for charitable profit."
- Agreed on your points here. Which metrics do you think are useful to decide which industries guiding companies make sense for?
- One idea is that we could research willingness-to-pay-premium on organic or fairtrade products. As a proxy for how much consumers are willing to switch their buying choices based on non-price determinants. Though there are differences (ex: a guiding company's product may/may not have a premium relative to competitors).
- Another idea is price elasticity of demand. My hypothesis is that inelastic products could be seen as a proxy of staples that people won't go without. Ex: "If I'm going to buy baby formula anyways, I might as well buy it from the option that does more good?"
- Curious to hear your ideas :-)
RE: "The tendency of large companies to have complexity and disadvantages is one shared by traditional firms that work for the benefit of rich shareholders."
- Agreed. I was more so comparing guiding companies' complexity to nonprofits investing in smaller companies (like with the VC fund).
RE: "One of the most important functions of the Consumer Power Initiative will be to maximize the value of P, in [value(charity_funded) = value(investor_funded) + P]"
- What are your ideas on how to maximise the value of P?
- So far, we've already seen lots of 'certifications' for various products (ex: fairtrade, non-GMO, organic, etc.). They've had various challenges in 'doing good.' Though if we focus on just their ability to increase the value of their product compared to traditional profit-making products, what do you think are some lessons to learn from how well fairtrade/organic certifications increase the brand value of their products?
- In real life, I've heard a lot of entrepreneurs talk about how 'mixed value propositions' actually lead to fewer customers deciding to buy a product than a single, clear value proposition. How have you thought so far about ensuring that product marketing leads to one deciding factor separating a guiding company from competitors, not unclear value propositions that repel customers.
RE: "The reason that charities (or charitable investors working to benefit charities) should invest in the creation of Guiding Companies over other forms of investment is because this is a form of investment in which they can enjoy a structural advantage"
- If I were managing money at a charity that's tight on donations, my priority would be ensuring reliable returns starting in a year or less. Ie. Index funds would seem like a pretty good option :D
- How are you thinking about meeting these needs for nonprofits investing in guiding companies?
- From my interpretation of what you mean by "structural advantage" - it's what comes about in a guiding company funded by charities after all else is equal with competitors. Given what we talked about unlocking economies of scale while balancing diseconomies of scale, it would seem reasonable to me that a guiding company wouldn't achieve significant market share for at least 2-3 years.
- That said, I can see that some charities (especially in EA) are willing to place funds with longer time horizons on social/investment returns. Maybe choosing which nonprofits invest in guiding companies is very key in the short run? And once the guiding companies' market share (and thus returns) are established, it would be a nice move for these larger nonprofits to sell some stakes to smaller nonprofits so they can also get returns.
- Curious to hear your thoughts on getting around the initial high investments / low returns :-)
RE: "If we had a skilled set of EA venture capitalists and angel investors. Perhaps P in this context would increase the likelihood of the incidence of unicorns, increase the profitability of unicorns even more , increase the profitability of non-unicorns, and decrease the incidence of total duds."
I don't have any evidence to suggest this is/isn't possible.
Maybe @--alex-- or someone else at EA Angels might have more relevant comments?
I appreciate your detailed followup!
"I am positing, and believe strongly that research will substantiate this, that consumers will value profit destination at a nonzero level."
- I intuitively can see why you say this.
"In the commodity space, this advantage should be decisive. In sectors with more differentiation, it is less likely to be decisive."
- That said, could it be possible that the higher margins in sectors with more differentiation are worth gaining only a fraction of customer purchases instead of (nearly) all of them? Ie. Do we want to maximise volume sold x profit per unit or volume sold only?
- On an individual organisation level, I've seen plenty of case studies of nonprofits using cross-subsidisation to reduce reliance on donations/grants. One notable example that comes to mind is Me to We's model of selling Rafiki bracelets (bracelets being a product with lots of differentiation and very high margins)
"Your commodities of scale point definitely makes sense. It will be difficult to compete without hundreds of millions or billions of dollars. This is why research and working on educating the public is critical to satisfy charitable investors that the targeted creation/acquisition of companies that serve effective charities is best use of their resources."
- Large companies tend to be very complex to manage and have their own disadvantages to scale.
- How would investing in large guiding companies compare to, say, charities investing in a VC fund of startups? Or investing in institutional options like a bond and getting steady returns?
- Ie. Some charities already invest in profitable companies via various means. What leads you to conclude that investing in guiding companies is a better alternative to these existing investments?
A few questions:
- "creating the “no-brainer” for the consumer. This could make it sensible to introduce Guiding Companies to sectors where there is not much difference between products." - if there is low brand differentiation, wouldn't that lead to commoditised products and lower margins? Which makes the guiding company less incentive for nonprofits/philanthropists to invest in as a way of making returns that they can use for their priorities?
- Similarly, more commoditised products tend to create more conglomeration to take advantage of economies of scale. What are potential strategies to get around industry incumbents which use monopoly powers (or state support) to block the path for guiding companies? I'm thinking of sectors like telecom, steel, finance, etc.
- Even well-funded nonprofits are 'strapped for cash' in the short run. Whereas businesses often require large lump-sum investments for capital expenditures and research and development. What are your thoughts on how to acquire that money?
- It seems to me that a likely outcome is that more than one nonprofit/philanthropist would invest in a guiding company? What happens if their cause areas especially misalign with some of the guiding company's practices? Ex: an especially strong-willed animal advocacy nonprofit might not want to invest in a company in the food sector that uses animal ingredients - even if this is fairly common. What happens if the nonprofits would like to have some decision-making power to avoid these kinds of cases? What about their PR concerns? Several private investment companies and even public pension hedge funds are coming under increasing scrutiny about exactly where they invest.
I also find the screenshotted post in #7 problematic: "Once AGI is so close to being developed that there's no longer sufficient time for movement building or public education to help with AI safety, I guess I can go on holiday and just enoy the final few months of my life."
I'd be doubtful that official AI safety organisations or their representatives would communicate similarly. But a good takeaway in general is to not promote content on global priorities that insinuates a sense of powerlessness.
Where can we find the Zoom link for this event? :-)
Happy to hear you're interested in the issue :-) Regarding the skepticism on whether alternative meats can move the needle on biodiversity loss - I understand, I was there too :D
On the problem side of things, it's clear we need to reduce meat consumption to slow down biodiversity loss. I interviewed the author of this paper that talks about it. If you don't have access but would like to read it, DM me and I can share my notes :-)
On the solution side of things, there is uncertainty. Alternative meats aren't the only proposed solution. Another major one is behavioural 'nudges' that can reduce animal product consumption. Though they seem to have low effect size - when used individually, at least. (Source) Also, scientists have theoretically also proposed changed diets that don't try to mimic meat - just cut it out entirely. (Source)
I don't have any quantitative proof to say one approach is better. Though there are lots of opinions out there if you want to ask people ;-) If you're aware of any quantitative data or other proposed solutions, feel free to share them!
I really liked this list of technical solutions you listed! It's ominous reading their warnings about ventilators and seeing them come true :O
Would you happen to know if any of the 15 technologies have gotten more attention between 2018 and now? :-)
Also, when I was looking at the list, I couldn't help but thinking: "What don't I see?" And I thought of these areas:
- Solutions to deal with misinformation. Ex: Proof of Identity
- Solutions to reduce risks of natural outbreaks (especially regarding wildlife encroachment, livestock production practices)
- Solutions to improve biosafety / biosecurity in healthcare facilities
- Passive technologies (ex: materials chemistry to reduce pathogen transmission)
- Solutions to minimise economic damages of social distancing. Ex: Better online work options.
- Proactive solutions to increase immune system health in general populations. Ex: Correcting vitamin deficiencies (especially vitamin D) and increasing regular exercise.
- Solutions for cyberbiosecurity. I don't even know what'd move the needle here :D
Would you happen to know of any resources on the bolded areas? :-)
As @Devansh Pandey said, it depends on the person. Instead of trying to find people at the right age, find people with the right pursuits. Ex: If you look at high school students, then some will be trying to volunteer at nonprofits, some will try to take part in STEM competitions / hackathons to solve global issues, some will be applying to entrepreneurship bootcamps, etc. You're more likely to find people for whom the EA message will stick in those subgroups.
Personally, I'm 18 and I'm part of this program where youth are trained in entrepreneurial and technical skills to solve global programs. I discovered EA 2 years ago and have since been trying to spread it to others in this program, since I know the people there will be very interested in its principles. Regardless of whether they're 14 or 18.
Which actions can which stakeholders take to act on this?
Regarding bottleneck skills of the future - I think one skill here is understanding network science. (In progress notes here :D)
A lot of people are decentralising _________ these days :D But network scientists have clear ways to measure the 'degree' of decentralisation and the pros/cons of that degree. Ex: Resiliency to shocks, speed of decision-making, stability of connections.
I think that'll be more useful in scaling/maintaining decentralised _______ instead of starting decentralised _______.
Could you please explain the "moments of progress" in your life? I didn't quite understand :/
"Moments of progress - notice where progress happens in your life and find a career path that integrates those"
Edit: my best guess is that you're referring to doing actions that turn out to help you in moments of your life where you have a high 'activation potential'. Ex: When you're in university and have a lot of talented people to work with. Ex: When you're going to be at a conference and have a lot of experts in one field to learn from.
This is a very comprehensive answer! I especially appreciate your summary up top and you linking to sources. Thank you :-)
Let's compare the existing initiatives against different catastrophic risks (especially AI, nuclear weapons, asteroid impacts, extreme climate change, and biosecurity).
Which of these areas do you think are most conducive to market oriented solutions? Which do you think are most conducive to government oriented solutions? And which do you think are most conducive to philanthropic solutions?
If that's too broad, feel free to focus on the most common type of initiative in each area instead of the areas as a whole :D
Let's compare the existing initiatives against different catastrophic risks (especially AI, nuclear weapons, asteroid impacts, extreme climate change, and biosecurity).
Which of these areas do you think <10 individuals could make the most impact in? Those 10 individuals could be the most powerful lawmakers, the most brilliant researchers, the greatest startup founders, whatever.