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MathiasKirkBonde's Shortform 2020-06-08T20:32:37.534Z
The career coordination problem 2019-03-16T19:28:28.384Z

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Comment by mathiaskirkbonde on AMA: Markus Anderljung (PM at GovAI, FHI) · 2020-09-24T19:19:27.939Z · EA · GW

Your paragraph on the Brussels effect was remarkably similar to the main research proposal in my FHI research scholar application that I hastily wrote, but didn't finish before the deadline.

The Brussels effect it strikes me as one of the best levers available to Europeans looking to influence global AI governance. It seems to me that better understanding how international law such as the Geneva conventions came to be, will shed light on the importance of diplomatic third parties in negotiations between super powers.

I have been pursuing this project on my own time, figuring that if I didn't, nobody would. How can I make my output the most useful to someone at FHI wanting to know about this?

Comment by mathiaskirkbonde on [Linkpost] Some Thoughts on Effective Altruism · 2020-09-18T16:52:29.564Z · EA · GW

It's very refreshing to read a criticism of EA that isn't chock-full of straw men.
Kudos to the authors for doing their best to represent EA fairly.
That's not usually the case for articles that accuse EA of neglecting 'systemic change'.

That said, their worldview feels incredibly alien to me.
It's difficult for me to state any point where I think they make clear errors.
Rather, it seems I just have entirely different priors than the authors.
What they take for granted, I find completely unintuitive.

Writing in length about where our priors seem to differ, would more or less be a rehash of prior debates on EA and systemic change.

I would love to have the authors of this come on an EA podcast, and hear their views expressed in more detail. Usually when I think something is clearly wrong I can explain why, here I can't.

It would be a shame if I were wrong longer than necessary.

Comment by mathiaskirkbonde on It's Not Hard to Be Morally Excellent; You Just Choose Not To Be · 2020-08-27T15:28:29.558Z · EA · GW

I'm not completely certain if I had the right takeaway from your post, so feel free to tell me "that's not at all what I'm saying", but it seems to me you're pushing a sentiment that changing ones behavior is easy.

This is a sentiment I strongly disagree with. I think it's an incredibly unhealthy mindset that does few people any good.

Eating healthy and regular exercise is clearly good for me and within my long term interests and 'easy' to do, yet they are a constant source of struggle within my life. But it is not easy for me to do, if it was I'd be doing it without a second thought.

On the other hand, I never once worried about my weight, whereas my father spent ten years agonizing over 20 kilos. Why didn't my father just snap his fingers and start eating the right number of calories?

Curing cancer by snapping my finger is impossible, so is snapping my finger and changing my brains neurons to find regular exercise and healthy diet easy. We all agree it would be crazy to feel guilt over the former, so why feel guilt about the latter?

Scott Alexander made this point wonderfully in his essay 'Parable of the talents'.

We are all wired differently. What is easy for those you look up to, might be impossibly hard for you. What is easy for you, is be impossibly hard to someone else.

Be better than you were yesterday, that's all anyone can ever ask of you.

Comment by mathiaskirkbonde on Some history topics it might be very valuable to investigate · 2020-07-11T01:54:44.376Z · EA · GW

Great write up, though I feel slight regret reading it as there are now a further 10 things in my life to be annoyed I don't know more about!


Maybe it would be valuable to try crowdsourcing research such as this?

Start a shared g-suite document where we can coordinate and collaborate. I would find it fairly fun to research one of these topics in my free time, but doubt I commit the full energy it requires to produce a thorough analysis.

I could write myself up publicly somewhere others can see, that I'm willing to work 7 hours a week, on eg. studying societal collapse. Then someone else looking to do the same, can coordinate and collaborate with me, and we could potentially produce a much better output.

Even if collaboration turns out to be unfruitful, coordination might at least prevent double work.

Comment by mathiaskirkbonde on MathiasKirkBonde's Shortform · 2020-06-22T09:31:22.367Z · EA · GW

At what point do feel with ~90% certainty you would have done more good by donating to animal charities than you've harmed by consuming a regular meat-filled diet?

It would be nice to know the numbers I have in my head somewhat conform to what smart people think.

Comment by mathiaskirkbonde on Longtermism ⋂ Twitter · 2020-06-16T10:43:26.095Z · EA · GW

Thanks for this post, it's something that has been bothering as of late.

I like that these important topics become more discoverable, but worry about the lock-in that occurs when we move discussion to social media. For those who choose not to participate in Twitter or Facebook, it becomes harder to keep up with much of the movement.

Let me be transparent here, I'm worried about this particularly for my own sake!

I can't control my time usage on these websites at all. I have to keep twitter, facebook, etc. blocked completely from my devices or I won't get anything done.

It feels awful that I can't keep up with potentially great discussions by wonderful people on twitter (and Rob Wiblins fantastic hot takes on facebook), without participating in media that leaves me anxious and stressed.

Maybe it's just me who has this issue, but I want to voice it in case I'm not the only one.

Comment by mathiaskirkbonde on MathiasKirkBonde's Shortform · 2020-06-12T21:08:45.505Z · EA · GW

I wrote down a list of all the things I could spend one hour every day doing. Among high scorers was teaching myself Mandarin.

Has anyone looked into the value of learning Mandarin, for the average person disinterested in China?

Comment by mathiaskirkbonde on MathiasKirkBonde's Shortform · 2020-06-08T20:32:37.835Z · EA · GW

Triplebyte is a company that interviews and vets software developers, identifying their strengths and weaknesses. Triplebyte can cut down the time spent on draining interviews significantly. More importantly it makes it easy for firms to find candidates and vice-versa.

Would it be useful to have similar service for EA organisations?

It seems to me the skills EA organisations look for, seem harder to generalize than software development skills. This means centralized interviews are much less valuable.

What does seem useful is reducing the friction that arises from matching companies with candidates.

Less well known orgs could more easily find the labor they need and persons interested in direct work at EA orgs can devote their full focus on their current occupation knowing they will be visible to potential employers.

It seems the 80k job-board is already accomplishing much of this, does anyone reckon there would be demand for an expanded version of this?

Comment by mathiaskirkbonde on Dominic Cummings - An 'Odyssean' Education [review] · 2020-05-30T12:15:31.774Z · EA · GW

I have read the entirety of "An 'Odyssean' Education" as well as another ~300 pages of blogposts from him, fascinated by how someone with someone who seemingly has formed his beliefs from much of the same literature I have, comes to such vastly different conclusions than me.

I mostly agree with your book review, your summary hit the nail on its head.

An 'Odyssean' Education, reads like a rough first draft at its best and like a stream of thoughts at its worst. But that's alright. Its purpose is to be a rough sketch of Dominic Cummings' worldview. It gives us insight to why he holds his beliefs and push for certain policies but not others.

I wish I could read a similar document for other prominent political figures, and get a similar understanding of their worldview as well.

Comment by mathiaskirkbonde on I Want To Do Good - an EA puppet mini-musical! · 2020-05-22T17:28:26.028Z · EA · GW

I'm not crying you're crying!

Comment by mathiaskirkbonde on New Top EA Causes for 2020? · 2020-04-01T18:37:30.696Z · EA · GW

putting things on the blockchain

Comment by mathiaskirkbonde on AMA Patrick Stadler, Director of Communications, Charity Entrepreneurship: Starting Charities from Scratch · 2020-03-31T10:50:02.670Z · EA · GW

My prior, as well as conventional wisdom, would be that charities run by people with local and cultural understanding of the areas in which they operate would have the largest impact.

This seems not to be the case, judging by givewells recommendations.

What would be your best guess to why western founders can expect to do well on eg. regional problems in India?

Comment by mathiaskirkbonde on AI policy careers in the EU · 2019-11-12T04:00:18.087Z · EA · GW

Great post. Definitely an area I'd love to see further explored!

However, there don't seem to be good opportunities for further career advancement in Parliament after reaching an advisor position.

A common next step is running for election yourself, since you have the connections and know the landscape well enough to excel in debates.

As for running for office: the expected value here depends on regional (member state) and personal factors, so I can’t really say anything about it except that it seems we should keep it in mind as an option.

I think this is too quick a dismissal. Before any regional modifiers come into play, a lot can be said base value of becoming an MEP. How much power and influence can an MEP attain with regard to a single area of policy?

My intution is that an MEPs can have overwhelming influence on uncontested areas of policy, by becoming well known for their expertise within it. The first MEP that is well read and concerned with AI safety will be able to significantly influence the policies simply by being the person in power most engaged with the topic. As long as adopting your views won't generate controversy, other MEPs are more than inclined to follow your lead.

It seems to me the expected influence on AI policy disproportionally favours the first MEP to become well known within the parliament for it.

Comment by mathiaskirkbonde on Niel Bowerman on goal-setting, hacking motivation, and 80,000 Hours' bout system · 2019-11-04T16:41:42.713Z · EA · GW

Great interview! It seems I'm not allowing enough frogs into my diet!

For those not aware, Lynette does productivity coaching specifically for EA's, I can highly recommend it!

Comment by mathiaskirkbonde on Effective Altruism and International Trade · 2019-10-17T04:17:15.648Z · EA · GW

Thanks for writing this! I'm surprised EA's haven't been more interested in this topic considering The Copenhagen Consensus Center (CCC) has long been advocating reforms for open trade as an exceptional way to aid global development, giving significantly better returns than most commonly considered effective interventions alleviating global poverty.

Comment by mathiaskirkbonde on Linch's Shortform · 2019-09-19T22:41:31.709Z · EA · GW

If a problem is very famous and unsolved, doesn't those who tried solving it include many of the much more competent philosophers alive today? The fact that the problem has not been solved by any of them either would suggest to me it's a hard problem.

Comment by mathiaskirkbonde on Movement Collapse Scenarios · 2019-08-29T20:53:01.377Z · EA · GW

As I was reading this I began to feel deeply sad. The thought of it being no more, made me realize just how much EA has come to mean to me. It's is the reason I wake up excited every morning, ready to face the new day. It has given me purpose and a drive I never knew I had in me. I can recall few happier days than those spent at globals. It is difficult for me to express how thankful I am for that.

Interestingly I think you'd find somebody uttering the same sentiment for any religious community, political party or social movement. With similar appeals, we are subject to similar pitfalls. It's worth studying the collapse of other movements to learn about what ours would look like.

Comment by mathiaskirkbonde on Benefits of EA engaging with mainstream (addressed) cause areas · 2019-05-21T09:10:34.334Z · EA · GW

Great post! I've had many thoughts in the same space for a while now.

With how hard a time many EA's have had finding direct EA work your post is particularly relevant. Direct EA work is the only place I've ever encountered where an (made up example) Oxford graduate who worked at Goldman Sachs is not met with immediate lucrative offers. It should be abundantly clear that looking elsewhere is a solid option. A charity like red cross moves around an obscene amount of money. I don't think it's unreasonable to suggest someone could have an extremely large impact by attaining influence and power in such an organisation, applying EA principles to make the organisation more effective. Exposing effective charities to the masses through heavy patos advertising is another way to increase total impact.

There are many great ways to have a large impact in places that aren't directly related to EA. Take advantage of the unique opportunities you are presented, and evaluate the options you haven't heard others discuss. With this much talent fighting so hard for the same few roles, the total increase in impact by having one more person spending their time applying, compared to going from zero to one EA aligned person in an important role elsewhere doesn't seem great to me.

Comment by mathiaskirkbonde on $100 Prize to Best Argument Against Donating to the EA Hotel · 2019-03-27T20:53:05.996Z · EA · GW

Now I have both the intelligence and attention span of a doorhinge, so forgive me if I'm missing something obvious, but I'm not at all convinced that the counterfactual would be working on their problems in solitude.

What exactly does a hotel in Blackburn provide, that couldn't be provided much cheaper in other ways?

I assume most EA's would be living in larger cities if not at the EA hotel. Whichever city they would be living in, would gain a lot of value from having their presence. Why couldn't they move in together with a other EA's from the same city and achieve a social situation roughly as good?

All the problems the EA hotel sets out to solve, I don't understand why we couldn't solve without the need for a large expensive hotel in blackburn of all places.

Comment by mathiaskirkbonde on Severe Depression and Effective Altruism · 2019-03-26T08:07:11.256Z · EA · GW

One thing you said really stood out to me

At this point my scrupulosity and perfectionism kicks in and I beat myself up to a large amount

This is a state of mind I used to often find myself in. Then a good friend of mine said to me something I found very profound.

You don't feel currently feel guilt for being unable to cure cancer by snapping your fingers, why do you feel guilt about all the other ways in which you're not perfect?

I then read through the replacing guilt series written by MIRI's Executive Director Nate Soares. It helped me a great deal, maybe it will help you too :)

Comment by mathiaskirkbonde on Effective Altruism Is Exploring Climate Change Action, and You Can Be Part of It · 2019-03-25T08:07:08.347Z · EA · GW

Nice writeup, I learned a worrying amount of stuff. The fact that you were able to find all of this information, yet I needed a writeup before hearing about any of this indicates an inferiority in my ability to find information.

Did you think "I wonder about EA and climate" and then looked specifically for that information, or it rather "I am seeing this new pattern of climate interest, I should make a collection of this information"?

If it's the latter, then I'm very dissatisfied with the fact I was aware of none of these things in advance. I'd love to hear a bit about your reading habits, as I'm clearly not as well informed as you.

also, none of the ggwc links worked for me. If I remove the 'preview.' part, I get a 404.

Comment by mathiaskirkbonde on Effective Altruism and Meaning in Life · 2019-03-19T20:17:21.782Z · EA · GW

Your post really struck a chord with me. Your style of writing so perfectly captures the problematic mindset many EA's (sorta including myself) have adopted. The way of treating EA writing as holy truths made by people so unbelievably smart that they must have taken into consideration every conceivable thing annoys me greatly. These gospel truths are not written by prophets but by people about as smart as yourselves! 80,000 hours is a good guideline for how to think of your career, nothing more. They cannot possibly know what is the best career for you. You are your own person, think for yourself!

Just because (insert EA authority) wrote it, doesn't make it so. And more importantly, just because (insert EA authority) didn't write about it, doesn't make it not so. There's so many great opportunities around where the only reason nobody is talking about it is because nobody but you has thought about it.

Don't get me wrong I'm not criticizing 80k, nor any other EA authority. The reason we got here in the first place is exactly because they did such a great job. I'm criticizing us for making it out to be more than it is. For the love of god lets end this herd mentality of flocking around whatever (insert EA authority) last decided most valuable and start making our own choices!

You don't need anyone's acknowledgement to start working on what you think is important. MIRI was founded by someone with no high school diploma! Want to help with AI research? Start another MIRI, now there's room for twice as many MIRI-style researchers.

An organization like red-cross may not be hip with the tribe we hope to impress, but that doesn't mean there isn't room for a large impact. Explore the opportunities unique to you, even if they don't show up high on the 80k ladder of 'generally impactful'.

Carpe diem!