What makes you say it's low on neglectedness?
What best practices exist for responding to situations like COVID-19 (global, dynamic, hard to gather information around, etc) and how might they be applied?
How are decision makers and leaders deciding today? Based on what, what things could be built that would give them better inputs to their decisions in a way that they'd actually be likely to use and listen to?
Will this http://paulbuchheit.blogspot.com/2020/04/a-third-solution.html work?
Who/which type of people most need help right now related to the COVID response that most people are generally unaware of?
Based on human psychological biases, are there certain things that will almost always be handled irrationally in short-term urgent situations? If so, what potentially impactful project ideas does that imply?
Does the COVID pandemic present an opportunity for citizens to pressure leaders into using more effective decision making processes to decide what to do? And could some of those more effective decision making processes persist post-COVID, such that we end up with a lasting improvement in decision making at various levels of government?
Does the COVID pandemic present an opportunity to get around bureaucratic processes and make better software solutions for interfacing with government things - like PPP loans, unemployment, etc?
Who should be connected and collaborating where both parties would mutually want to, but they aren't?
From a subjective well being and psychological perspective, are there "free" things we can do that reduce the quality adjusted life years lost for people, without actually changing the literal response? For example, changes in ways things are framed, messaged, etc?
How can we most effectively collect, organize, summarize, and generally manage all of the real time information so that people can benefit from the best available information rather than just the information that they've otherwise seen? e.g. I believe some Chinese pre-print papers extolled the benefits of proning patients a month before I started hearing about it on US-centric Twitter circles
How can we connect individuals that are solving the same problems separately so that they can learn from each other and find camaraderie? e.g. factory owners, small business owners, etc
Is Sweden's approach working well and will it be working well in 1 month, and in 3 months?
Does COVID cause serious damage to people that recover?
- Crisis leadership experts with mayors, governors, and other leaders
- Psychologists/marketers with mayors, governors, and other leaders
- Open Phil with mayors, governors and other leaders
- Struggling business owners with each other
- Doctors from different countries with each other (with translators to mediate perhaps)
- Bill Gates with the prime minister of Israel
- The heads of all major hospitals with each other, and with the President of the US
- Factory owners with each other
It seems that if COVID causes long term fatigue (has been speculated but no strong evidence that I'm aware of) this could be negative for the EA community - i.e. if leaders of EA related orgs or key employees or other key EA contributors had fatigue issues and lower personal output, that seems bad.
A rough summary:
- COVID response benefits from good information - and lots of the needed information is spread over many institutions, people, etc. It is beneficial to have up to date, accurate, and local data - this is hard.
- COVID responses often involve/benefit from coordination across many different institutions/people/domains. This is hard.
- COVID responses may benefit from extreme measures long after "corona fatigue" has set in and people and decision makers are sick of hearing about it, and just want things to "go back to normal"
- Many people will need to make decisions about what to do as a result of / to respond to COVID. "Can you imagine conducting planning for an urban school district? A company with offices in multiple time zones? A company with a supply chain? A person responsible for industrial safety of a facility whose physical footprint includes one or more enclosed pockets of air?"
- Many/most of these people don't have training or experience in making decisions like this.
- There will be lots of contexts where decisions are made related to COVID where the expected value delta between a great decision and a bad one will be big, which gives big opportunity for positive impact in helping all the people who will be making COVID related/influenced decisions and response plans make *better* decisions/response plans
See also: Bungalow, HubHaus, Common.
I wish someone would do shared living for people who want private living units (not just bedrooms) + shared common spaces, e.g. multiple houses on one block and a shared common space on that block. Makes co-living work for families or people who want a bit more privacy.
is anonymous_ea one person's username, or is it a catch all username for some kind of anonymity feature on this forum? I've long wondered if anonymous_ea is a regular username or not
Please do link it!
The book "Loonshots" also has useful lessons for anyone running/starting a research team or research lab.
Gotcha. I wonder whether it could create substantially more impact from doing over the long term yourself, or setting it up well for someone else to run long term. Obviously I have no context and your goals on the project but I've seen things where people do a short term project aiming for impact creation and where in the end they feel that they could've created much more impact by doing the thing in a more ongoing manner. So this note may or may not be relevant depending on the project and your goals :)
I'd offer that whatever you can do to make it possible to iterate on your grantmaking loop quickly will be useful. Perhaps starting with smaller grants on a month or even week cycle, running a few rounds there, and then scaling up. Don't try and make it near-perfect from the start, instead try and make it something that can become near-perfect because of iterations and improvements.
This fiscal sponsor org would get to learn a lot about what different EA aligned donors do and don't like donating to, so you could imagine it providing a helpful service to donors (and EA orgs) of suggesting them orgs that they may be interested in checking out, based on their donation patterns. I could imagine this being appreciated by the donors given that it could have enough data points to make genuinely useful recommendations when those opportunities arise.
Oops - thanks!
A comment to add to my OP: It seems like a really useful concept and I can imagine that having a central place that defines what disentanglement research is may be useful, and the concept generally becoming more known may also be useful, so that then people can easily reference that, and others will understand what someone means when they say a field needs disentanglement research or they're doing disentanglement research, people can share advice or host events focused on disentanglement research, funders can self-identify as funders interested in supporting disentanglement research in specific or various fields, etc.
Another possible answer (and an example of where the term is being used!): "What is needed in an early stage is disentanglement- structuring the research field, identifying the central questions, and clarifying concepts." https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/oovy5XXdCL3TPwgLE/a-case-for-strategy-research-what-it-is-and-why-we-need-more
Answer from Helen Toner: "structuring concrete agendas out of an amorphous blob of worries" https://twitter.com/Effect_Altruism/status/927219486201085957
Answer from carrickflynn who originally used the term: "This is a squishy made-up term I am using only for this post that is sort of trying to gesture at a type of research that involves disentangling ideas and questions in a “pre-paradigmatic” area where the core concepts, questions, and methodologies are under-defined. (Nick Bostrom is a fantastic example of someone who is excellent at this type of research.)" https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/RCvetzfDnBNFX7pLH/personal-thoughts-on-careers-in-ai-policy-and-strategy#rxAi3ssD8DtSHJtMG
Possible answer: It's taking a space and answering questions like – what's possible, what could & what should our goals be, main hypotheses and things that would inform what the best directions are, etc.
Benefit of people writing public posts on their topics of interest is that it forces thoughts to be clarified and to "come face to face with reality"
Downside of public writing is that it could lead to consistency bias / ossification of opinions
Another upside of public writing on things is that it builds momentum, provides positive feedback and rewards. Which is probably very beneficial and may seem small but the power of positive feedback loops seems important to not underestimate.
I'm really glad to see this post – it's what I was thinking of when I asked this question on the forum: https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/icTEffSCdtLSoSrqi/might-the-ea-community-be-undervaluing-meta-research-on-how
This is a very unstructured thought that came into my head this morning. Normally I might avoid posting it until it's more polished, but comments on this forum have given me the sense that it can actually be good to err on the side of sharing even if unpolished, contributing to the community zeitgeist where someone else may then be able to polish or remix or make use of the thought.
And I'm also very interested in the direct impact, too.
Thanks for that question! Weakly held. Some sense that we're under-invested in "improving coordination" (see: http://www.existential-risk.org/concept.pdf).
But it's a good point that it would be hard! And I agree that tightly knit groups may be a better approach for this.
e.g. trauma reduction for a group of AI safety researchers to help them better coordinate, or something like that.
I mean EA impact of reducing trauma, not impact of MDMA therapy on trauma (which I agree seems large).
Similar to how 80000hours gives a ranking of the 'impact' of different causes, I wonder how "reducing trauma" would compare on their impact assessment.
Yes, agreed. In particular though I'm wondering about the "impact" piece and separate of possible interventions/tractability, how trauma might rate on the "impact" and "neglectedness" pieces.
more than as something which "improves coordination"
What makes you say that? I have the sense that the less trauma people have, the easier they'll find it, and the more desire they'll have, to co-operate and coordinate.
Related but separate: https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/C5diBK7sJmoYWdrCs/is-preventing-child-abuse-a-plausible-cause-x
This is an excellent post. I agree that status is a ridiculously powerful driver of human behavior. Based on your section of how EA can help increase status, what do you think is the single most promising strategy that EA could implement to make joining EA higher status? (Also a side note I'd add is that status *from who* is important. People outside EA don't care about within-EA status currency, yet, they care about status currency from their existing peers and people they respect. So they'd need to believe that joining EA makes them higher status outside of EA.)
Also, has anyone looked at whether EA is at the right time for scaling? In startups there's the framework that you want to solve your value hypothesis first, and then once you've done that, and only then, you should focus on your growth hypothesis. Basically get it working just how you like it with a small number of customers/users and then focus on scaling up. Is EA at the point where people want to focus on scaling? I think it probably is, but I still wanted to ask the obvious question.
What makes you conclude that there's a lot of money to be made in it? My prior is the opposite. MDMA and psilocybin themselves aren't patentable at this point. Yes, delivery mechanisms could be and new or related unpatented compounds could be. But any for profit company will likely be competing against at least a non profit or two. And my research on pricing is that having a single competitor massively reduces margins and profitability. Also dosing will be highly infrequent which should also reduce the profits for any psychedelic pharma companies.
Given the risk in pharma r&d, potential profits presumably need to be very large to justify investment. My sense is that the expected rate of return may be lower than other similarly risky projects and therefore it won't be particularly suited to for profits. But maybe it'll be somewhat profitable and the reward of positive impact will make up the difference. Or maybe thanks to many years of use, these compounds have much lower risk and therefore make sense from a risk reward perspective to be pursued by pharma investors/companies.
But I'm skeptical of that and I expect that we'll need altruistically motivated people to make progress, and if it's left to for profits the industry would stagnate. (One piece of evidence is that the for profit pharma world has seemingly made no progress in the psychedelic field since about the 1970s with the exception of compass pathways a few years ago)
For anyone worried their comment won't get attention vs the existing ones, I'm enjoying this thread and am watching for and voting where relevant on new ones, FYI.
Tangentially related and perhaps of interest to some readers of this thread, though not a prize submission comment:
My nomination for the "three books" for psychedelic therapy would be
The "Why" Book: Pollan's How to Change Your Mind
The "What" Book: MAPS's A Manual for MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy in the Treatment of PTSD (alternatives would be this treatment protocol from Phase 2 MDMA trials and Grof's LSD Psychotherapy)
The "How" Book: R. Coleman's Psychedelic Psychotherapy: A User-friendly Guide for Psychedelic Drug-assisted Psychotherapy (the runner up would be Fadiman's The Psychedelic Explorer's Guide)
Thanks, and I'll look forward to reading your upcoming post!
Ok, the project is now on indefinite hiatus. I'll seek to deeply understand all the critiques of it first if I come back with another attempt in the future.
I hope other groups will try and address the problem that this concept was designed to address, in a way that is highly net +EV.
Jan or others, what ideas might you suggest for addressing the challenge of an EA without a strong donor network to get a super early stage grant, in a way that avoids significant potential downsides?
My understanding is that EA grants and this are both working towards addressing roughly the same problem: the difficulty of getting seed or "pre-seed" grants for new EA organizations, especially for people who are not well connected.
When someone is seeking grants, the more possible grantors the better – the startup analogy would be that EA grants is an individual angel investor (and, it seems, one that isn't currently accepting pitches), and this concept is analogous a list of active angel investors – they are complementary.
So EA grants would be listed on this site as one of the sources of grants.
Thank you Brendon, I've sent you a PM now!
One thought, some funders may be uncomfortable with being publicly listed (perhaps due to concerns about lots of people contacting them), but a certain subset of funders could be pretty on board with the idea.
Agreed. One thought I've had is that donors that have concerns like this but that are still interested could set up an anonymous email address that forwards to their main inbox, and list themselves as that. This way if it ever becomes too much for them, they can be removed from the site and it's somewhat more separate/compartmentalized from their real name. I'm open to additional community input on other ways to allow donors to be listed in a way that is semi-anonymous and preserves much of the upside for donors and potential grantees, while reducing concerns from donors like that.
Yes. This makes me think of investor Keith Rabois' notion of "barrels" vs "ammunition":
If you think about people, there are two categories of high-quality people: there is the ammunition, and then there are the barrels. You can add all the ammunition you want, but if you have only five barrels in your company, you can literally do only five things simultaneously. If you add one more barrel, you can now do six things simultaneously. If you add another one, you can do seven, and so on. Finding those barrels that you can shoot through — someone who can take an idea from conception to live and it’s almost perfect — are incredibly difficult to find. This kind of person can pull people with them. They can charge up the hill. They can motivate their team, and they can edit themselves autonomously. Whenever you find a barrel, you should hire them instantly, regardless of whether you have money for them or whether you have a role for them. Just close them.
The attitude you're describing reminds me of the attitude that Keith Rabois refers to as a "barrel."
Got it, thanks for passing it along and understood!