Posts

Just Say No to Utilitarianism 2022-06-03T16:58:00.911Z
Big EA and Its Infinite Money Printer 2022-04-29T17:57:26.296Z

Comments

Comment by Arjun Panickssery (ModusTrollens) on Passing Up Pay · 2022-07-16T18:49:22.767Z · EA · GW

Tax evasion is a crime. Tax avoidance—legally reducing your taxable income—is good and more people should learn about it. You shouldn't unnecessarily "compensate the state" for things you don't want it to do.

there's some amount - your donations - which is allocated according to your flavor of expected impact; and another one - taxes - that's allocated by democratically chosen representatives in your country

This is right, and you should just minimize the amount you allocate to the state, whose effectiveness is very low.

Comment by Arjun Panickssery (ModusTrollens) on Jobs at EA-organizations are overpaid, here is why · 2022-06-08T18:06:33.615Z · EA · GW

However, this almost inevitably leads to all organizations in a sector competing on this metric leading them to pay far higher wages for each staff member than they would have had had they corporated and not paid above market rate.

This reads like "It would be more efficient to have a cartel."

Also there is a messy distinction made between "impact" and "market" value with regard to competing for talent.

Comment by Arjun Panickssery (ModusTrollens) on Just Say No to Utilitarianism · 2022-06-04T12:38:01.804Z · EA · GW

When your intuitions conflict you can think of your relative credence and then maximize the expected quality of your choice.

Comment by Arjun Panickssery (ModusTrollens) on Just Say No to Utilitarianism · 2022-06-03T18:06:18.510Z · EA · GW

intuitions shouldn't be seen as data that give us direct access to moral truth,

I think that our initial moral intuitions about particular situations are—along with immediate occurrences like "Courage is better than cowardice"—the lowest-level moral information, and these intuitions provide reasons for believing that the moral facts are the way they appear.

I'll read the Singer paper.

Comment by Arjun Panickssery (ModusTrollens) on Just Say No to Utilitarianism · 2022-06-03T17:56:44.196Z · EA · GW

Your chosen method - refuting a rule with a counterexample - throws out all moral rules, since every moral theory has counterexamples.

I'm not sure what exactly you mean by a moral rule, e.g. "Courage is better than cowardice, all else equal" doesn't have any counterexamples. But for certain definitions of moral rule you should reject all moral rules as incorrect.

You're free to deny one of the assumptions, but there ends the conversation.

Looking at the post, I'll deny "My choices shouldn't be focused on ... how to pay down imagined debts I have to particular people, to society." You have real debts to particular people. I don't see how this makes ethics inappropriately "about my own self-actualization or self-image."

Comment by Arjun Panickssery (ModusTrollens) on Just Say No to Utilitarianism · 2022-06-03T17:54:50.110Z · EA · GW

What do you think is the source of ethical knowledge if not intuitions

Comment by Arjun Panickssery (ModusTrollens) on Fiction Writing Retreat: Ink in the Abbey · 2022-05-28T07:39:19.438Z · EA · GW

I agree with you that the prose is passable, readable and fairly solid

I didn't say the prose was "fairly solid." I would have to go back (and maybe it improves after the first several chapters) but I remember it being bad.

Comment by Arjun Panickssery (ModusTrollens) on There are no people to be effectively altruistic for on a dead planet: EA funding of projects without conducting Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs), Health and Safety Assessments (HSAs) and Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) = catastrophe · 2022-05-27T03:54:24.178Z · EA · GW

I have been told that there are a lot of Effective Altruists who would accept some degree of environmental harm, at least if the payoff in terms of human lives saved was great enough. (And I’ve also seen this tendency in some of the members of the EA courses I have been attending.)

Yes.

This attitude is rooted in a mindset, however, that is the cause of many of our problems in the first place: the idea that we humans are somehow separate from nature, and can do with it what we will. Many of us, even if we do not consciously espouse a religion, are still conditioned by monotheistic ideas of humans as the pinnacle of Creation, set above it and in dominion over it.

Depending on what you mean by this, yes. There is no intrinsically "pure" quality about things that aren't man-made. It is up to us to subdue the earth (and outer space) for the benefit of ourselves and our descendants. 

There is no ultimately no distinction between us and nature (https://theconversation.com/humanity-and-nature-are-not-separate-we-must-see-them-as-one-to-fix-the-climate-crisis-122110). 

What do you mean by this? Your linked post lists a bunch of views like Zen Buddhism and European paganism.

Comment by Arjun Panickssery (ModusTrollens) on Fiction Writing Retreat: Ink in the Abbey · 2022-05-25T10:48:38.823Z · EA · GW

It is a common misconception that because a piece of fiction was bad for the particular individual writing, or is low status, or is missing some desired marker of 'goodness', that it therefore is not 'good'. 

I should clarify that my potshot was mocking the prose. There are other ways that HPMOR was good (or so I suspect—I only got through the first 5 or 10 chapters). I also failed to get through the first chapter of Atlas Shrugged even though I would probably find its aesthetic more agreeable than most people and even though it was much more influential than HPMOR. 

EDIT: Actually, I think my comment had more value than just a potshot. I know a bunch of wannabe writers, my past self included, who were overly concerned with prose quality.

Comment by Arjun Panickssery (ModusTrollens) on Fiction Writing Retreat: Ink in the Abbey · 2022-05-25T02:35:46.674Z · EA · GW

This is huge.

Fiction like Atlas Shrugged and Uncle Tom's Cabin and The Jungle have been massively influential.

A surprising number of people have told me they got into the EA/LessWrong sphere through HPMOR, which at least tells us that the writing doesn't even have to be good to make a difference.

Comment by Arjun Panickssery (ModusTrollens) on Guided by the Beauty of One’s Philosophies: Why Aesthetics Matter · 2022-05-20T13:14:39.347Z · EA · GW

My comment referred to "America," not liberal university students at top schools. I was making an explicit contrast to "online progressives."

Comment by Arjun Panickssery (ModusTrollens) on Guided by the Beauty of One’s Philosophies: Why Aesthetics Matter · 2022-05-18T23:29:21.935Z · EA · GW

This is very much an online progressives thing, no? In America, the classics are our cultural heritage and carry a lot of respect.

Comment by Arjun Panickssery (ModusTrollens) on Guided by the Beauty of One’s Philosophies: Why Aesthetics Matter · 2022-05-18T19:42:04.766Z · EA · GW

I don't associate the Enlightenment with racism.

I'm curious what example you're thinking of in Descartes's writings related to your listed complaints. I guess Kant and Smith made racist remarks but not in any characteristically "Enlightenment" way.

Comment by Arjun Panickssery (ModusTrollens) on Guided by the Beauty of One’s Philosophies: Why Aesthetics Matter · 2022-05-15T18:34:02.673Z · EA · GW

Sick post

What do you think of adopting Enlightment liberal aesthetics more directly (and their classical influences indirectly)

Comment by Arjun Panickssery (ModusTrollens) on Big EA and Its Infinite Money Printer · 2022-05-09T19:28:17.471Z · EA · GW

I suspect what you stated is true for many "median engaged EA's" but not true for highly engaged EA's.

Not sure if my visualization of a median-engaged EA is the same as yours but what percentage of Boston conference attendees do you estimate you would call "highly-engaged"?

Comment by Arjun Panickssery (ModusTrollens) on The Mystery of the Cuban missile crisis · 2022-05-09T19:27:04.969Z · EA · GW

I think three really good books are One minute to Midnight, Nuclear folly, and Gambling with Armageddon. Lots of other ones have shortish sections but these three focus more almost completely on the crisis. 

What conclusions do they come to?

Comment by Arjun Panickssery (ModusTrollens) on Did Peter Thiel give "the keynote address at an EA conference"? · 2022-05-09T19:25:05.888Z · EA · GW

He seems to have gotten his money's worth on Trump now that Trump's endorsement of Mithril Capital principal J.D. Vance is about to propel him into the Senate. Thiel Foundation president Blake Masters might end up in the same spot in Arizona.

Comment by Arjun Panickssery (ModusTrollens) on Why do you care? · 2022-05-08T14:18:56.033Z · EA · GW

The link doesn't work for me

Comment by Arjun Panickssery (ModusTrollens) on Did Peter Thiel give "the keynote address at an EA conference"? · 2022-05-07T17:33:16.229Z · EA · GW

If so, this is cool, not embarrassing.

Comment by Arjun Panickssery (ModusTrollens) on The Mystery of the Cuban missile crisis · 2022-05-05T23:15:35.888Z · EA · GW

I think this gives the most likely reason why JFK and the rest of excom couldn’t allow the missiles to stay in Cuba. It was simply unconscionable that the USSR could have missiles in America's backyard - in Cuba of all places! - after Khrushchev had committed that he wouldn’t put any missiles in Cuba.

. . .

I think the key takeaway here is that there is a pretty high probability - it seems to me hard to argue that it’s below 25% or so, and very hard below 10% - that probably the most dangerous episode in human history was caused by not by the chess moves of great powers in a great game but by the fog and thunder of pride and fear.

Do you have any sources pointing toward an academic consensus on Kennedy and Khrushyev's thinking during the CMC?  

Comment by Arjun Panickssery (ModusTrollens) on Big EA and Its Infinite Money Printer · 2022-04-30T17:27:59.812Z · EA · GW

Update: I think he actually said "very good" AI safety researcher or something and I misremembered. The conversation was in January and before I knew anything much about the EAverse.

Comment by Arjun Panickssery (ModusTrollens) on Big EA and Its Infinite Money Printer · 2022-04-30T04:40:35.848Z · EA · GW

This is what I remember Devansh (whom I pinged about your comment; I'll update when he replies) telling me when I first called him. I might have misremembered.

Comment by Arjun Panickssery (ModusTrollens) on Go Republican, Young EA! · 2022-04-13T07:12:16.286Z · EA · GW

But I think if you’re a movement that reaches the point where it contemplates maybe trying to include Group X, or at least the ones who aren’t truly awful and are semi-thoughtful, it’s maybe a sign that your movement is actually super-unwelcoming to Group X.

I think this is bad. Effective altruists, or a lot of them, are pretty sympathetic to George Mason economists, some of them with fringe views about education, social status games, open borders, and artificial intelligence. Or open to claims that our moral theories need to account for maybe living in a multiverse. This seems good! But it seems bad that people with wholly conventional views about US politics would feel excluded! And it also seems obviously bad that people who could have a big, positive impact on the world by joining the Republican Party are repelled by cold uggies, when they should be attracted by them.

For what it's worth, my experience at EAGx Boston two weeks ago was in line with this comment I remember from How Effective Altruists Can Be Welcoming To Conservatives:

Of all the academic, activist, and Silicon Valley-type communities I belong to, EA is the most inclusive to (US) conservative ideas.

I remarked to some friends while leaving that I had never met so many people so left-wing whose eyes lit up with enthusiasm when I mentioned that I was interested in Republican party politics. Cause areas related to X-risk, foreign aid, etc. are relatively bipartisan.