Posts

Forecasting Newsletter: July 2020. 2020-08-01T16:56:41.600Z · score: 27 (11 votes)
Forecasting Newsletter: June 2020 2020-07-01T09:32:57.248Z · score: 45 (18 votes)
Forecasting Newsletter: May 2020. 2020-05-31T12:35:36.863Z · score: 33 (15 votes)
Forecasting Newsletter: April 2020 2020-04-30T16:41:38.630Z · score: 53 (21 votes)
New Top EA Cause: International Supply Chain Accountability 2020-04-01T07:56:17.225Z · score: 26 (9 votes)
NunoSempere's Shortform 2020-03-22T19:58:54.830Z · score: 4 (1 votes)
Shapley Values Reloaded: Philantropic Coordination Theory & other miscellanea. 2020-03-10T17:36:54.114Z · score: 31 (12 votes)
A review of two books on survey-making 2020-03-01T19:11:13.828Z · score: 30 (16 votes)
A glowing review of two free online MIT Global Poverty courses 2020-01-15T11:40:41.519Z · score: 23 (17 votes)
[Part 1] Amplifying generalist research via forecasting – models of impact and challenges 2019-12-19T18:16:04.299Z · score: 53 (16 votes)
[Part 2] Amplifying generalist research via forecasting – results from a preliminary exploration 2019-12-19T16:36:10.564Z · score: 31 (11 votes)
Shapley values: Better than counterfactuals 2019-10-10T10:26:24.220Z · score: 85 (38 votes)
Why do social movements fail: Two concrete examples. 2019-10-04T19:56:02.028Z · score: 89 (45 votes)
EA Mental Health Survey: Results and Analysis. 2019-06-13T19:55:37.127Z · score: 46 (23 votes)

Comments

Comment by nunosempere on What are some low-information priors that you find practically useful for thinking about the world? · 2020-08-08T09:38:54.798Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Yep, exactly right. 

Comment by nunosempere on What are some low-information priors that you find practically useful for thinking about the world? · 2020-08-07T17:04:08.835Z · score: 10 (5 votes) · EA · GW

With 50% probability, things will last twice as long as they already have.

In 1969, just after graduating from Harvard, Gott was traveling in Europe. While touring Berlin, he wondered how long the Berlin Wall would remain there. He realized that there was nothing special about his being at the Wall at that time. Thus if the time from the construction of the Wall until its removal were divided into four equal parts, there was a 50% chance that he was in one of the middle two parts. If his visit was at the beginning of this middle 50%, then the Wall would be there three times as long as it had so far; if his visit was at the end of the middle 50%, then the Wall would last 1/3 as long as it had so far. Since the Wall was 8 years old when he visited, Gott estimated that there was a 50% chance that it would last between 2.67 and 24 years. As it turned out, it was 20 more years until the Wall came down in 1989. This success of this prediction spurred Gott to write up his method for publication. (It appeared in the journal Nature in 1993.)

Source; see also Gott.

I have used this method with great success to estimate, among other things, the probability that friends will break up with their romantic partners.

I also carried out some experiments a while ago to find out what the prior probability was for me "being really sure about something", or the probability associated to "I would be highly surprised to learn if this were false." That is, for the feeling of being highly sure, how does that pan out?

On another direction, superforecasters have some meta-priors, such as "things will take longer than expected, and longer for larger organizations", or "things will stay mostly as they have."

Comment by nunosempere on What questions would you like to see forecasts on from the Metaculus community? · 2020-08-06T20:33:02.165Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · EA · GW

I'm also interested in questions around approval voting in general, and the Center for Election Science in particular.

Some stuff:

  • Conditional on less than 5 cities with >=50,000 people having implemented approval voting by Dec 31, 2022, what will the funding for the Center for Election Science be during 2023? Context: According to the CES's strategic plan converting 5 cities with >= 50,000 inhabitants is one of their main targets by 2022 (see p. 7). Conditional on them not achieving it, how will their funding look like? This can probably be operationalized with reference to IRS tax reports.
  • How many US cities with more than 50,000 people will have implemented approval voting by [date]?
  • What will CES funding look like in 2021, 2022, etc.
Comment by nunosempere on What questions would you like to see forecasts on from the Metaculus community? · 2020-08-06T20:27:44.951Z · score: 8 (3 votes) · EA · GW

A while ago, Leah Edgerton, of Animal Charity Evaluators, gave an AMA, and one of the questions I asked was What are some questions regarding EAA (effective animal advocacy) which are amenable to being forecasted?.

Her answer is in this video here. In short:

  • Will corporations stick to their animal welfare commitments?
  • When will specific animal free food technologies become cost-competitive with their traditional animal counterparts?
  • Timelines for cultured meat coming to market?
  • When will technology exist which allows the identification of the sex of a chicken before it hatches? When, if ever, will such a technology be adopted
  • When, if ever, will the global production and consumption of farmed animals stop growing? When will stop completely?
  • When will specific countries or states adopt legal protection for animals / farmed animals?
  • When will EAA organizations have a budget of more than $500 million? $1 billion?
  • Questions related to the pandemic.
  • Questions related to the budget of EAA organizations in the immediate future.

Operationalizing these questions, and finding out what the most useful things to forecast are may involve contacting ACE directly. For example, "corporations" is pretty general, so I imagine ACE has some particular ones in mind.

Comment by nunosempere on Will Three Gorges Dam Collapse And Kill Millions? · 2020-07-26T09:21:28.565Z · score: 35 (22 votes) · EA · GW

Good Judgement Open might have you covered here; see: Will China's Three Gorges Dam fail before 1 October 2020?.

Current crowd probability: 3%. (note the timeline).

Some comments I've curated from that question:

https://asiatimes.com/2020/07/three-gorges-dam-deformed-but-safe-say-operators/ Release appears to be controlled. https://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2020/07/23/China-braces-for-impact-after-mass-flooding-at-Three-Gorges-Dam/2221595525864/ Revising today after considering this further. The chance that the country doesn't divert water to prevent the dam from failing, even if upstream dams burst, seems very slim.


There have been heavy rains in the region which continue as of the time of writing. The dam is 181m high and the design maximum water level is 176m. Dams are designed to last hundreds of years, though climate change could mean that the original design assumptions have become outdated. There is a very slight chance of the dam "failing" within the next few months and releasing a sudden rapid uncontrolled flow downstream - just above zero. Some reports say the dam was built to hold 145 meters of water but actually that figure refers to the level at which water is released downstream in order to smooth out flood flows and maintain capacity in the reservoir. Discharge in recent days and weeks has been between 20 and 30 thousand cumecs, but this has gone up to 40k in the past, so there is still some cushion. Probably the greatest risk is of failure of one or more major dams upstream, unleashing a flood surge that could overtop the dam.
(Says a civil engineer)


This is a gravity dam, and it relies upon the construction itself to stand. It was 50 ft Above flood level. I see this as a concern without being a high probability event.


This question talks about the failure of a $ 32 Billion project completed in 2012. We have roughly 9 weeks from today till when the question is resolved. 5% for Yes is a good baseline to start. While the dam is currently holding more water than it is designed for, water can always be released if things get bad. The reason why they would be holding more water is in order to prevent the catchment areas from getting flooded.


This looks unlikely, but how unlikely seems difficult to estimate: on the one hand, quality of construction in China is poor and cutting corners is a way of life. On the other this is a flagship project, which means that there must have been stringent quality controls (in contrast with the standard situation in China). Unfortunately this is inside view. I did not try to make a historic review of dams failing around the world or in China. However the Banqiao dam failure in 1975 readily comes to mind: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banqiao_Dam https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1975_Banqiao_Dam_failure and catastrophic floods have been a common recurrence along Chinese history.


There were 3,523 incidents of dam failure from 1954 to 2013 (He et al. 2008; Zhao 2014) that caused significant loss of life and economic losses in china. This averages out to 67 dam failures, of various sizes per year. There are approx 87,000 dams in total. Given this, the three gorges dam broadly speaking has .08 chance of failing this year. There is significant flooding atm, which could increase probability of failure, but the concrete dam wall is 181 m (594 ft) high above the rock basis and has a max capacity water level of 175 m (wiki) Water level currently seems to be at 145-7 m from the articles I can find, which is well within capacity. The dam has passed quality checks, is a relatively new project (old dams fail more often) and there's a large amount of research done on seismic activity in the area. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1674984715300756; https://journal.probeinternational.org/2014/04/07/three-gorges-dam-triggers-frequent-seismic-activities/ https://www.slu.edu/news/2018/september/earthquake-research.php There are rumors of buckling and deformation and a google earth image going around (https://www.foxnews.com/world/integrity-of-chinas-three-gorges-dam-questioned-despite-china-officials-dismissing-it-as-safe) but I looked myself, and google earth currently shows shows no buckling, nor could I find any inconsistencies, so Ima say probs not, image seems fake. Long story short, is the dam gonna prevent flooding downstream? Maybe not, its effectiveness at doing so seems questionable based off the articles. This, however, isn't the issue at hand. We're asking is the worlds largest dam gonna fail in the next three months after passing safety checks, having research available about seismic activity in the area and currently within capacity? Highly unlikely. If upstream dams start to fail and/or if water levels breach capacity, then it gets more likely. But til then, low low chance.


One of the things I've been thinking of....dam failure means any amount of water that they didn't intend to let through passing the dam. So Im wondering, is there a higher percent chance of something small happening (whups, a couple gallons seeped through, or we lost a couple thousand gallons over the edge, our bad) or is it an all or nothing deal where when she goes, she goes, rip wuhan. Good point on the time it takes for flood level to get there. Also, thinking of ways it could potentially fail, I could conceivably imagine a scenario where the dam is at or slightly over capacity due to flooding, seismic activity happens thats unprecedented and the concrete slips off the bottom rock. There's history of other large concrete dams doing so (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4997708/) but seems to be only at filling? There's also this article: https://asiatimes.com/2020/07/three-gorges-dam-deformed-but-safe-say-operators/ which is recent and does mention some deformation to 'non structural parts of the dam' I don't exactly know what that means lol. And then finally, there was one scientist dude who has been talking about failure for a while, but stating cracks in the concrete during early stages of the building process and instances of substandard concrete, not buckling as the internet seems intent on portraying lol. https://www.rfa.org/english/news/china/threegorges-safety-07082019085631.html Ah, one more thing: https://damsafety.org/dam-failures#:~:text=Dam failures are most likely,the top of a dam.&text=National statistics show that overtopping,of all U.S. dam failures. The way dams are most likely to fail (this is US based, but i read a scientific study about chinese dams that was saying the same things) overtopping number one reason of failure, within the very low percentage chance of a dam failing. Slipping second most likely. So if the dam does fail, it's most likely gonna either overfill or slip. Will be good to pay attention to water levels upstream, precipitation, and how much output their letting through in anticipation.


This is a topic I have some subject-knowledge on, and I think the question requires clarification: The Forestry reference to "sudden, rapid, and uncontrolled release of impounded water" is included in their definition of “Dam failure” and the key element of the failure is the release of the impounded water. The dam is designed to manage a 1:100 year flood, derived statistically, by having the impoundment reserve capacity and controlled discharge of this amount of water. Floods greater than the 1:100 year value are managed by the sluice gates, turbine channel flow and, ultimately, by the dam’s spillway. The spillway is the lowest part of the dam crest and is designed to permit much larger flows (beyond the “Probable Maximum Flood”) As defined, I think the question asks whether there will be a failure of the dam which releases the water impounded below the spillway level, e.g., structural/geotechnical failure, undermining or uncontrolled bypass, which is highly unlikely. However, the question may be interpreted to ask whether the dam will be ‘overtopped’, with uncontrolled, rapid release over the spillway – which is quite probable this year. BTW the dam was built to reduce the frequency of flooding downstream, where millions have died from flooding of the Yangtze River. From a flood risk management perspective the dam is small at 1:100 year capacity. Negative press in competing or developed countries focussed on displacing 1.3M people in the interest of power production, not on flood risk management. Also, “The Interpreter” article is accurate in describing older dams in China (and around the world) as being potential ‘black swans’: these dams were often not designed to spill “probable maximum floods” and their failures may well jeopardize life downstream.


The dam is already controversial, so any story on it will be far reaching and potentially exaggerated. The Chinese have admitted to some movement to the dam but say it's within normal parameters. While under scrutiny for COVID and struggling with it's international image I'd like to think that evacuations would be in place if the risk was high. Because this may be a naive thought and catastrophic accidents have occurred in the past due to bureaucratic failings in similar regimes (think Chernobyl), I have input 2%.


The 3GD is a gravity dam, but the blocks are resting on the riverbed, not dug in. This is causing deformation throughout the structure. Construction is likely shoddy and the quality team that inspected the dam were from the same company that built it - not independently done. The CCP came out yesterday(?) to say that there is some deformation in the dam, but nothing to worry about. This alone from the CCP is unusual. In my estimation, the CCP would rather flood Wuhan downstream than see their flagship fall. That said, they may not have a choice. As the heavy rains in the region continue, water is making its way back into the Yangtze and thus the reservoir. Not all of the rain we've seen in the past has yet entered the reservoir. The water level is already at 164m, 175m is the warning of collapse, 185m and it's gone. The final and most likely catastrophic failure is the spillways being damaged - we're seeing this on at least two of the spillways on the livestream. A large chunk appears to be broken off spillway #6 and there is evidence of cavitation in spillway #2. If the damage to the spillways continues, the dam will fail, and badly.

(This last comment is from a new and unexperienced forecaster, with a Brier score worse than the aggregate. He still only gives 15%)


My own impression is that the aggregate seems correct, i.e., a 1:30 bet seems roughly fair.

I also somewhat disagree with "It is worth examining even if the risk is small;" it seems to me that decisions will be taken by the CCP, and that there is probably no leverage to be found here.

Comment by nunosempere on Forecasting Newsletter: June 2020 · 2020-07-01T13:51:42.514Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Fixed.

Comment by nunosempere on I'm Linch Zhang, an amateur COVID-19 forecaster and generalist EA. AMA · 2020-06-30T20:54:42.966Z · score: 18 (12 votes) · EA · GW
  • If you look at your forecasting mistakes, do they have a common thread?
  • How is your experience acquiring expertise at forecasting similar/different to acquiring expertise in other domains, e.g. obscure board-games? How so?
  • Any forecasting ressources you recommend?
  • Who do you look up to?
  • How does the distribution skill / hours of effort look for forecasting for you?
  • Do you want to wax poetically or ramble disorganizedly about any aspects of forecasting?
  • Any secrets of reality you've discovered & which you'd like to share?
Comment by nunosempere on I'm Linch Zhang, an amateur COVID-19 forecaster and generalist EA. AMA · 2020-06-30T20:33:22.118Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · EA · GW

Hi Linch! So what's up with the Utilitarian Memes page? Can you tell more about it? Any deep lessons from utilitarian memes?

Comment by nunosempere on Problem areas beyond 80,000 Hours' current priorities · 2020-06-24T17:35:16.724Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

India v. China conflict is perhaps more immediately worrying than US v. China.

Comment by nunosempere on effektiv-spenden.org: 2019 - Year in Review · 2020-06-08T23:21:46.907Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Have you considered moving into Austria as well?

Comment by nunosempere on Forecasting Newsletter: May 2020. · 2020-06-05T21:26:26.048Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks. Cool username!

Comment by nunosempere on Forum update: Tags are live! Go use them! · 2020-06-02T16:29:16.390Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

I, too, would be curious about how to create a sequence.

Comment by nunosempere on Call notes with Johns Hopkins CHS · 2020-05-21T08:15:34.477Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks, this is useful.

Comment by nunosempere on Food Crisis - Cascading Events from COVID-19 & Locusts · 2020-05-16T09:08:02.119Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · EA · GW

A post by the Brookings Institution on this topic.

Comment by nunosempere on A glowing review of two free online MIT Global Poverty courses · 2020-05-15T11:48:19.729Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

On the clarifications: The tests are automatically graded. Also, I think I meant two courses simultaneously.

Comment by nunosempere on A glowing review of two free online MIT Global Poverty courses · 2020-05-06T21:17:01.979Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW
  1. Yes. You could also try to go through an archived course, like this one, but I don't know whether you'll be able to access it.
  2. Yes.
  3. One could do 12-14h/week for 2 courses over a semester, but one could also do 12-14h for a single course. I would highly surprise me if one were able to take 5 courses at the same time with only 14h per week. This in general depends on how much you are willing, able and glad to do? Like, anchor on work similar to a university course?
  4. Usually two; yes.
Comment by nunosempere on Food Crisis - Cascading Events from COVID-19 & Locusts · 2020-05-03T06:59:58.468Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Would you mind sharing why you thought this way back then...

Because the question asks about a very specifical technical definition of famine, and I think that the crowd forecasters were anchoring on "things will get bad", rather than on "this specific technical definition will be met". I'd appreciate it having more bins. I also looked into the FEWS reports, and none of them forecasted the highest level. Looking into the Our World in Data page on famines, the base rate isn't high.

Comment by nunosempere on Forecasting Newsletter: April 2020 · 2020-05-01T19:00:46.479Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Edited again. If you want, throw me a bone: what's the last explicit probabilistic prediction you've made? Also, I liked your review on How to Measure Anything, which feels relevant to the topic at hand. NNTR.

Comment by nunosempere on Forecasting Newsletter: April 2020 · 2020-05-01T10:58:30.776Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for the correction; edited.

Comment by nunosempere on Forecasting Newsletter: April 2020 · 2020-05-01T10:31:59.558Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Oh hey, I've seen you around on GJOPen. Thanks for the correction; edited.

Comment by nunosempere on Food Crisis - Cascading Events from COVID-19 & Locusts · 2020-04-30T10:24:45.063Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · EA · GW

I've also looked into this, see here for some quick thoughts, and I broadly agree with your situation report.

Two useful links:

Comment by nunosempere on COVID Project idea: Transcription, translation, content reformatting, and summarization · 2020-04-27T11:37:43.765Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

For a concrete example of this, the Heinsberg study Wikipedia page is only available in German (and the English translation is a stub), even though it would be of broad interest to English audiences as well.

Comment by nunosempere on What will 80,000 Hours provide (and not provide) within the effective altruism community? · 2020-04-25T08:30:24.773Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Yep. You can also see some other hashes here: twitter.com/NunoSempere (but they're just SHA-512/SHA-3 hashes)

Comment by nunosempere on What will 80,000 Hours provide (and not provide) within the effective altruism community? · 2020-04-24T18:40:53.083Z · score: 21 (16 votes) · EA · GW

You could consider changing the name of your organization. See also: EA Foundation/Foundational Research Institute are now the Center on Long-Term Risk (CLR).

c9b0d1485a27e37b942040ebdf86927804f899d808523d22535851269a85cf74ac160315553faf8218764de7483fe7a4361be3b582a63735097cde55ae01dc7e

Comment by nunosempere on Why I'm Not Vegan · 2020-04-09T18:10:56.922Z · score: 1 (8 votes) · EA · GW

So I think that once you accept a particular framing or ontology, or cluster of beliefs, vegetarianism starts to begin souding pretty obvious. One such cluster might be:

  • Moral realism: There is an objective and scientific answer to how much a pig's life is worth compared to a human. Ethics is at its best an investigation into the nature of reality, from which moral obligations follow.
  • Kant is cool. The answer to "why should I do good?" is "because I must".
  • Peter Singer ideas: Pain and suffering are extremely important. Negative utilitarianism. Sentience over sapience. Speciesim as being wrong.
  • Realizing that, deep down, care about animals a great amount.
  • ...

And you seem to be arguing from a framing similar to the above. However, that framing is not obvious, and one could adopt some other cluster of beliefs, such as:

  • Moral relativism: There isn't an objective and scientific answer to many moral questions. Many ethical questions or concepts are not well defined, and are best resolved by introspecting on your preferences. Morality is at its best is a coordination game played in good faith.
  • Gendlin is cool. The answer to "why do I strive to do good?" is "because I want", or "because I choose to".
  • Enlightenment humanism: Human flourishing. Sapience over sentience. Preference utilitarianism among humans.
  • Realizing that, deep down, you care about animals a small amount.
  • ...

And when arguing with someone which has beliefs near the second cluster, I don't think that assuming that beliefs in the first cluster are obviously right is a great tactical move (I'm ignoring audience effects). In fact, when I used to not be vegetarian, I found that kind of move to be extremely annoying, and to some extent I still do ("that guy is saying that things which took me years to understand and/or come to share, and which in some cases are still not clear to me, are obviously true?").

Instead, may I suggest a moral trade as a tactical move? (see: Morality at its best is a coordination game played in good faith)

  • You (@abrahamrowe) donate $4.3 (a factor of x10 because of your deep magnanimity) to @Jeff_Kaufman's best human existential risk reduction charity (easily another factor of x10 according to long-termist assumptions)
  • Jeff_Kaufman tries being vegetarian for a year (or changes his numbers above).

Considering this type of moral trade is possible because the original poster quantified his preferences to the best of his ability. This should be highly lauded, and gets a strong upvote from me.

Comment by nunosempere on NunoSempere's Shortform · 2020-04-09T11:45:56.822Z · score: 18 (6 votes) · EA · GW

What happened in forecasting in March 2020

Epistemic status: Experiment. Somewhat parochial.

Prediction platforms.

  • Foretold has two communities on Active Coronavirus Infections and general questions on COVID.
  • Metaculus brings us the The Li Wenliang prize series for forecasting the COVID-19 outbreak, as well as the Lockdown series and many other pandemic questions
  • PredictIt: The odds of Trump winning the 2020 elections remain at a pretty constant 50%, oscillating between 45% and 57%.
  • The Good Judgment Project has a selection of interesting questions, which aren't available unless one is a participant. A sample below (crowd forecast in parenthesis):
    • Will the UN declare that a famine exists in any part of Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Tanzania, or Uganda in 2020? (60%)
    • In its January 2021 World Economic Outlook report, by how much will the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimate the global economy grew in 2020? (Less than 1.5%: 94%, Between 1.5% and 2.0%, inclusive: 4%)
    • Before 1 July 2020, will SpaceX launch its first crewed mission into orbit? (22%)
    • Before 1 January 2021, will the Council of the European Union request the consent of the European Parliament to conclude a European Union-United Kingdom trade agreement? (25%)
    • Will Benjamin Netanyahu cease to be the prime minister of Israel before 1 January 2021? (50%)
    • Before 1 January 2021, will there be a lethal confrontation between the national military or law enforcement forces of Iran and Saudi Arabia either in Iran or at sea? (20%)
    • Before 1 January 2021, will a United States Supreme Court seat be vacated? (No: 55%, Yes, and a replacement Justice will be confirmed by the Senate before 1 January 2021: 25%, Yes, but no replacement Justice will be confirmed by the Senate before 1 January 2021: 20%)
    • Will the United States experience at least one quarter of negative real GDP growth in 2020? (75%)
    • Who will win the 2020 United States presidential election? (The Republican Party nominee: 50%, The Democratic Party nominee: 50%, Another candidate: 0%)
    • Before 1 January 2021, will there be a lethal confrontation between the national military forces of Iran and the United States either in Iran or at sea? (20%)
    • Will Nicolas Maduro cease to be president of Venezuela before 1 June 2020? (10%)
    • When will the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) next screen two million or more travelers in a single day? (Not before 1 September 2020: 66%, Between 1 August 2020 and 31 August 2020: 17%, Between 1 July 2020 and 31 July 2020: 11%, Between 1 June 2020 and 30 June 2020: 4%, Before 1 June 2020: 2%)

Misc.

  • The Brookings institution, on Forecasting energy futures amid the coronavirus outbreak
  • The European Statistical Service is "a partnership between Eurostat and national statistical institutes or other national authorities in each European Union (EU) Member State responsible for developing, producing and disseminating European statistics". In this time of need, the ESS brings us inane information, like "consumer prices increased by 0.1% in March in Switzerland".
  • Famine: The famine early warning system gives emergency and crisis warnings for East Africa.
  • COVID: Everyone and their mother have been trying to predict the future of COVID. One such initiative is Epidemic forecasting, which uses inputs from the above mentioned prediction platforms.
  • On LessWrong, Assessing Kurzweil's 1999 predictions for 2019; I expect an accuracy of between 30% and 40%, based on my own investigations but find the idea of crowdsourcing the assessment rather interesting.
Comment by nunosempere on (How) Could an AI become an independent economic agent? · 2020-04-05T15:27:09.394Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

An example of money which nobody owns might be a bounty which nobody has claimed yet. A good example of that might be the SHA-1 collision bitcoin bounty, which could be (anonymously) claimed by anyone who could produce a SHA-1 collision.

On a larger scale, solving the Millenium Prize Problems would also give you access to a $1 million prize.

Comment by nunosempere on New Top EA Causes for 2020? · 2020-04-01T18:06:53.176Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA · GW

That is evil, I like it.

Comment by nunosempere on EA Survey 2019 Series: Donation Data · 2020-04-01T11:14:50.523Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

The SlateStarCodex survey data is useful to answer a limited form of that question (a comparison with other SSC-survey answerers).

Code here, in R, may be useful.

Comment by nunosempere on New Top EA Causes for 2020? · 2020-04-01T08:22:50.602Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · EA · GW

International Supply Chain Accountability.

Comment by nunosempere on NunoSempere's Shortform · 2020-03-30T11:35:47.091Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · EA · GW

CoronaVirus and Famine

The Good Judgement Open forecasting tournament gives a 66% chance for the answer to "Will the UN declare that a famine exists in any part of Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Tanzania, or Uganda in 2020?"

I think that the 66% is a slight overestimate. But nonetheless, if a famine does hit, it would be terrible, as other countries might not be able to spare enough attention due to the current pandemic.

  1. https://ourworldindata.org/what-does-a-famine-declaration-declare
  2. https://fews.net/
  3. https://www.gjopen.com/questions/1559-will-the-un-declare-that-a-famine-exists-in-any-part-of-ethiopia-kenya-somalia-tanzania-or-uganda-in-2020 (registration needed to see)

It is not clear to me what an altruist who realizes that can do, as an individual:

  • A famine is likely to hit this region (but hasn't hit yet)
  • It is likely to be particularly bad.

Donating to the World Food Programme, which is already doing work on the matter, might be a promising answer, but I haven't evaluated the programe, nor compared it to other potentially promising options (see here: https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/wpaZRoLFJy8DynwQN/the-best-places-to-donate-for-covid-19, or https://www.againstmalaria.com/)

Comment by nunosempere on Effective Altruism and Free Riding · 2020-03-27T22:28:24.587Z · score: 9 (6 votes) · EA · GW

Interesting. Reminds me of this post by Paul Christiano on moral public goods

Comment by nunosempere on Are selection forces selecting for or against altruism? Will people in the future be more, as, or less altruistic? · 2020-03-27T17:55:45.198Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA · GW

The classical answer to this is that altruism towards strangers is not evolutionarily adaptative. This is because the altruistic give ressources benefit their own and others' descendants equally, while the nonaltruistic also get those benefits for their descendants without having to pay the cost. See also the tragic story of George R. Price.

Comment by nunosempere on AMA: Leah Edgerton, Executive Director of Animal Charity Evaluators · 2020-03-26T11:55:07.435Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Either / Both

Comment by nunosempere on NunoSempere's Shortform · 2020-03-22T19:58:55.058Z · score: 2 (5 votes) · EA · GW

Testing shortform

Comment by nunosempere on AMA: "The Oxford Handbook of Social Movements" · 2020-03-22T12:13:22.819Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Whatever happened to the Technology Assessment movement?

... In the early 70s, there was an academic Technology Assessment movement. They wanted to do detailed analysis of incoming technologies, and figure out how technological development could be planned, developed in a better order, and at a better rate. This is relevant not only to EAs who care about tech risks, but also to anyone who cares about tech and its impacts in general... (source)

Comment by nunosempere on AMA: Leah Edgerton, Executive Director of Animal Charity Evaluators · 2020-03-19T15:53:47.407Z · score: 2 (3 votes) · EA · GW

How useful is reducing animal farming for reducing pandemic risk?

Question taken from: here

Comment by nunosempere on AMA: Elie Hassenfeld, co-founder and CEO of GiveWell · 2020-03-19T15:51:36.889Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Is there a point at which "maximizing total impact" and "doing the most cost-effective things" start being subtly different? How does it look like when that happens?

Comment by nunosempere on AMA: "The Oxford Handbook of Social Movements" · 2020-03-18T09:23:54.307Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

From this list of project ideas

What creates effective social movements?
Kerry Vaughan
"Social movements like effective altruism have the potential to unlock the abilities of large numbers of people by making it easier for them to coordinate and by providing social infrastructure to support altruistic activities. Yet, our understanding of what makes social movements effective or how to improve them is poor. Of particular interest is research into what makes social movements collapse and how to prevent the collapse of valuable movements. Conducting solid research and figuring out how to use its findings could be a multiplier of the EA movements as a whole."

Comment by nunosempere on AMA: "The Oxford Handbook of Social Movements" · 2020-03-18T07:14:04.678Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

What are the longest lasting social movements, and do they have any shared characteristics? Similarly. what is the half-time of a social movement, or the average duration of one?

Comment by nunosempere on AMA: "The Oxford Handbook of Social Movements" · 2020-03-18T07:13:08.401Z · score: 8 (6 votes) · EA · GW

What are the top 10 social movements nearest in think-space to EA, and did they succeed?

Comment by nunosempere on AMA: "The Oxford Handbook of Social Movements" · 2020-03-18T07:12:31.828Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Is there an example of a movement which doesn't give its members things to do, yet succeeds? / What do these movements do with people?

Comment by nunosempere on AMA: Leah Edgerton, Executive Director of Animal Charity Evaluators · 2020-03-17T21:34:02.090Z · score: 11 (4 votes) · EA · GW

What are some questions regarding EAA which are amenable to being forecasted?

Comment by nunosempere on AMA: Leah Edgerton, Executive Director of Animal Charity Evaluators · 2020-03-17T21:32:10.533Z · score: 11 (6 votes) · EA · GW

Is there a piece of technology which would make your work significantly easier, but which doesn't exist yet?

Comment by nunosempere on AMA: Leah Edgerton, Executive Director of Animal Charity Evaluators · 2020-03-17T21:30:21.637Z · score: 2 (3 votes) · EA · GW

In which ways, if any, are the ethical stances which you take counterintuitive to you? Are there ways in which you expect your ethical stances to be counterintuitive to others, and any ways you adjust for that?

Comment by nunosempere on AMA: Toby Ord, author of "The Precipice" and co-founder of the EA movement · 2020-03-17T21:21:31.982Z · score: 7 (2 votes) · EA · GW

What's up with Pascal's Mugging? Why hasn't this pesky problem just been authoritatively solved? (and if it has, what's the solution?) What is your preferred answer? / Which bullets do you bite (e.g., bounded utility function, assigning probability 0 to events, a decision-theoretical approach cop-out, etc.)?

Comment by nunosempere on AMA: Toby Ord, author of "The Precipice" and co-founder of the EA movement · 2020-03-17T21:21:04.888Z · score: 8 (6 votes) · EA · GW

This is a genuine question. The framing is that if Toby Ord wants to get in touch with a high ranking member of government, get an article published in a prominent newspaper, direct a large number of man hours to a project he finds worthy, etc. he probably can; just the association to Oxford will open doors in many cases.

This is in opposition to a box in a basement which produces the same research he would, and some of these differences stem from him being endorsed by some prestigious organizations, and there being some social common knowledge around his person. The words "public intellectual" come to mind.

I'm wondering how the powers-of-being-different-from-a-box-which-produces-research will pan out.

Comment by nunosempere on AMA: Toby Ord, author of "The Precipice" and co-founder of the EA movement · 2020-03-17T21:00:50.467Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · EA · GW

I like how you operationalized the second question.

Comment by nunosempere on AMA: Toby Ord, author of "The Precipice" and co-founder of the EA movement · 2020-03-17T16:04:57.702Z · score: 6 (5 votes) · EA · GW

Suppose your life's work ended up having negative impact. What is the most likely scenario under which this could happen?

Comment by nunosempere on AMA: Toby Ord, author of "The Precipice" and co-founder of the EA movement · 2020-03-17T08:27:59.098Z · score: 6 (5 votes) · EA · GW

As a sharp mind, respected scholar, or prominent member in the EA community, you have a certain degree of agency, an ability to start new projects and make things happen, a no small amount of oomph and mojo. How are you planning to use this agency in the coming decades?