Posts

EARadio Interview: Could treating depression be a top intervention? 2022-09-01T22:31:48.680Z
EARadio Returns - Suggest Episodes and Shoutouts 2022-06-03T01:09:28.998Z
Carrick Flynn Results and Additional Ideas for Passing Pandemic Prevention Policy 2022-05-18T07:33:58.403Z

Comments

Comment by Peter (Peter Gebauer) on Let's advertise infrastructure projects · 2022-09-24T00:08:00.318Z · EA · GW

It doesn't have to be that long but I think there are a couple more things we could discuss: what groups are using these platforms, what connections are being made, what events have been done or are in the works, what do people like about the platforms, how do they differ from other ones, what features are being added or are people considering adding, what projects or impacts have resulted. 

Comment by Peter (Peter Gebauer) on Let's advertise infrastructure projects · 2022-09-23T18:32:01.320Z · EA · GW

This is a great list. Always happy to have people on EA Radio to talk about their projects if they want! 

Comment by Peter (Peter Gebauer) on Should EA influence governments to enact more effective interventions? · 2022-09-17T00:47:13.175Z · EA · GW

I'm kind of confused by what you mean by non-democratic? Lobbyists talk to democratically elected representatives who vote on issues. Unless you're talking about trying to change policy by influencing executive orders? Or only using ballot initiatives? 

Legal challenges that go through the courts are also "non-democratic" in that they aren't decided by majority vote, right? But they're part of the system of checks and balances, and sometimes that's an important route to make progress. 

Comment by Peter (Peter Gebauer) on Can you recommend associations that deal with reducing suffering? · 2022-09-12T23:45:18.831Z · EA · GW

Center for Reducing Suffering researches ways to best reduce suffering. 

StrongMinds focuses on providing mental health services to women in Africa - particularly treating depression. 

I'm sure there are many others. I'll add them if I think of them. Might be good to have a master list of suffering and/or s-risk focused groups. 

Comment by Peter (Peter Gebauer) on The Base Rate of Longtermism Is Bad · 2022-09-05T18:22:15.630Z · EA · GW

Let me rephrase: is focus on improving the long-term future enough to equate movements with vastly different ideas about how to improve the world, such that if one of those ideas turns out poorly, all ideas that similarly focus on the long-term future are just as risky or tainted by association?

Comment by Peter (Peter Gebauer) on The Base Rate of Longtermism Is Bad · 2022-09-05T18:00:49.578Z · EA · GW

You don't think the Russian revolution was like "Tsar Nicholas bad"?

I mean, "liberty and justice for all" sounds like a pretty strong vision of the future to me. 

I guess I'd like to see more evidence that 1) there were significant differences in caring about the future between movements and 2) how these differences contributed to movement failures concretely. 

If I had to guess, I'd hypothesize that there's something else that is the main factor(s), like social dominance orientation of leaders and the presence or absence of group mechanisms to resist that or channel it in less destructive ways. 

Comment by Peter (Peter Gebauer) on The Base Rate of Longtermism Is Bad · 2022-09-05T17:29:41.755Z · EA · GW
  1. It seems like if the issue is Benjamin Franklin's endowment wasn't used well enough, maybe he should have thought more about setting conditions on how it would be used most helpfully. That seems like a useful data point that can be used to do better the next time someone tries to improve the future rather than that it's too difficult to even try. 
  2. If you are going to say communist revolution is an example of a longtermist movement because some people involved cared about the future, don't you have to say the same for democratic revolutions? Or any revolution?
  3. Also, is caring about the future really enough to meaningfully equate movements with vastly different ideas about how to improve the world? 
  4. If it does, then does focus on the present connect all movements meaningfully? I think communists and democrats and basically every movement that failed or succeeded to some extent was concerned with the effects of problems like the distribution of power on the world today, but I'm not sure that means focusing on today is bad and it didn't seem to lock them into the same outcomes as each other.  
Comment by Peter (Peter Gebauer) on Red Team: Write More. · 2022-09-01T02:00:03.065Z · EA · GW

Yeah! Stories have had a huge impact on me personally, so I definitely think they have a lot of potential. It's cool that you have a publishing house! 

I think I finally came up with an interesting EA-ish story idea the other day so I'm excited to start working on it and see how it turns out. 

Comment by Peter (Peter Gebauer) on Proposed tweak to the longtermism pitch · 2022-08-08T17:05:32.398Z · EA · GW

I like the example in the original about the glass bottle, since it's something concrete that people can envision and have likely seen before, so they can relate to. 

I also think it's a good idea to connect caring about the future to existing worldviews since many of them do emphasize it and this could make it seem even more relevant and worth acting on to people. 

Comment by Peter (Peter Gebauer) on What reason is there NOT to accept Pascal's Wager? · 2022-08-04T18:19:47.470Z · EA · GW

I included the wager below for reference since it doesn't seem to be in the original question. 

I think one problem is that belief in the existence of God is probably not sufficient for an infinite payoff (and it's not 100% clear to everyone what is sufficient). My understanding is that most major religions are meant to teach something more complex than that. Usually something to do with helping others and attaining peace by letting go of selfish desires in favor of loving and kind ones. 

But honestly, I think the reason people reject the wager is because they don't like it. Maybe because infinity is already incomprehensible and uncertainty around infinities just makes it even more difficult to deal with. We generally like certainty or at least ways to be somewhat certain about how uncertain we are and how to become more certain. 

So, it's often easier to just avoid something that doesn't clearly guarantee a payoff. And switching to either for or against God existing doesn't seem like it has a clear payoff for most people. Like many things, you can just forget about the question and then it won't seem to have much impact on your life. Same way most of the time most people just forget about the meaning of life or the possibility of nuclear war and other complex topics that seem to not have clear solutions to most people. 

Pascal’s Wager (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

The argument:

"Either God exists or God does not exist, and you can either wager for God or wager against God. The utilities of the relevant possible outcomes are as follows, where f1, f2, and f3 are numbers whose values are not specified beyond the requirement that they be finite:

 God existsGod does not exist
Wager for Godf1
Wager against Godf2f3
  1. Rationality requires the probability that you assign to God existing to be positive, and not infinitesimal.
  2. Rationality requires you to perform the act of maximum expected utility (when there is one).
  3. Conclusion 1. Rationality requires you to wager for God.
  4. Conclusion 2. You should wager for God."
Comment by Peter (Peter Gebauer) on Meditation course claims 65% enlightenment rate: my review · 2022-08-02T00:14:53.580Z · EA · GW

That's a great point - I've definitely also noticed a huge difference between a few minutes and an hour. The happiest I was all year was when I was meditating an hour a day. Though for me even 1 minute is also a huge difference compared to 0 minutes.

Comment by Peter (Peter Gebauer) on EA Shouldn't Try to Exercise Direct Political Power · 2022-07-26T06:10:48.035Z · EA · GW

I see what you mean but I wouldn't say it was a total failure. Yes, the ACA overall held on by a single vote from the late John McCain switching sides at the last minute, but Trump did get rid of its main coverage enforcement mechanism - the individual mandate and financial penalty. 

And in terms of its anti-abortion goals, while they certainly weren't the only group working on that, it definitely seems like they've been rather successful with the overturn of Roe vs. Wade due to Republican appointed judges. 

In terms of the size of government, this one is difficult to say but there are certainly a number of agencies that have had their powers limited in the past few years, like the EPA. So perhaps even if the official Tea Party seems to have fizzled out, it seems to have had an impact, or at least significant progress has been made on some of their goals. 

Comment by Peter (Peter Gebauer) on Why are people so hostile to the idea that sweatshops are a net positive? · 2022-07-23T21:14:12.245Z · EA · GW

Probably because those who say sweatshops are great tend to not work at sweatshops. 

So it seems obvious to others that there are better ways for people to live, yet not everyone has access to those options. And arguments in favor of sweatshops are seen as missing the point or even keeping it that way. 

Comment by Peter (Peter Gebauer) on EA Shouldn't Try to Exercise Direct Political Power · 2022-07-21T19:50:12.063Z · EA · GW

I think there are examples of topics that aren't as polarized and receive bipartisan support at least in part because of the relentless efforts of a small group of policy makers, like the recent bill dealing with sexual assault in the US military, so the "if elected..." case doesn't seem totally hopeless to me.  Of course, that's no guarantee, and what ends up in the bill is likely to change based on who is in power and what they want in it.

Even if you assume a democratic trifecta is necessary, that will probably happen again within the next ~20 years (the previous ones were 2008 and 1992, though the geography of the Senate and House districts does favor the Republican Party more strongly now than back then) and pandemic prevention will likely be just as important if not more so. It sort of depends on how long you are thinking about. If you think immediate change through one party is the most likely route, then one election probably won't cut it. I think it's certainly possible that there might be other more cost-effective ways of advancing pandemic prevention policy, like potentially finding a champion who is already an influential member of congress. 

I may be under the wrong impression, but it definitely seems like an area that where we have a lot of effective, concrete proposals that just need government funding and coordination, but few representatives are truly focused on it. 

What goals did the Tea Party fail on? 

Comment by Peter (Peter Gebauer) on (Even) More Early-Career EAs Should Try AI Safety Technical Research · 2022-07-01T21:04:26.660Z · EA · GW

This post surprised me because I remember seeing a few comments on the forum recently that expressed sentiments along the lines of "EA is maybe getting too focused on AI" and "too many people are going into AI Safety and we might end up shortstaffed on other useful skills." I don't really remember what they were. I think one mentioned a recent podcast from 80,000 hours. 

But I heard that Redwood's second Alignment focused Machine Learning Bootcamp got over 800 applicants for 40 spots. So I'm wondering if a surge of technical researchers is imminent? Or would make it less valuable for someone like me who has 0 coding or machine learning experience to consider this path?

Comment by Peter (Peter Gebauer) on Leftism virtue cafe's Shortform · 2022-06-29T15:00:17.973Z · EA · GW

This seems interesting. What methods do you think might be promising to identify former EAs to talk to?

Comment by Peter (Peter Gebauer) on Buddhism and Utilitarianism; EA vs EB · 2022-06-23T19:22:59.330Z · EA · GW

One point I would like to add: whether you take the lay path of incorporating some Buddhist practices into your ordinary daily life, or the monastic path of dedicating yourself full time to Buddhist practice, it can help build the emotional resources necessary to do good for the world and live a life in service of others.  

Considering how difficult it can be to do good - let alone trying to do the most good - and to make sacrifices on behalf of others, and how common burnout and other challenges are, such tools for building emotional resilience, clarity, and compassion can be extremely helpful. 

Comment by Peter (Peter Gebauer) on EARadio Returns - Suggest Episodes and Shoutouts · 2022-06-09T21:02:09.068Z · EA · GW

Oh cool thank you. I think some audio explaining the podcast could be a good idea. I also post a summary of esch episode in the episode description. Not sure if it would be worth the time to record something for every episode. DM'd you.

Comment by Peter (Peter Gebauer) on EARadio Returns - Suggest Episodes and Shoutouts · 2022-06-09T20:57:30.654Z · EA · GW

Hey thanks for your reply Ben. I hadn't even considered this. I think someone was doing this for key posts on a podcast called the Effective Altruism Forum Podcast but it hasn't been updated since January.

I have helped do readings for some of the creative writing contest entries. I'm not sure where they will be shared yet but do you think that would fit well on EAradio or be better off on something separate?

I've thought about reading certain newsletters out, like ChinAI, but wasn't sure if it would be a good use of time compared to other possibilities like maybe community building, since these could just be added to the NonLinear Audio Library.

Comment by Peter (Peter Gebauer) on An Estimated $4 – $7 Billion in Matching Gift Funds Goes Unclaimed Per Year · 2022-06-05T16:15:54.924Z · EA · GW

Oh that's good news. Yes, that sounds like a good plan I think. There are probably a number companies that use that platform so if some EA charities are added it could result in quite a few new donors over time. 

Comment by Peter (Peter Gebauer) on An Estimated $4 – $7 Billion in Matching Gift Funds Goes Unclaimed Per Year · 2022-06-05T13:20:18.966Z · EA · GW

I did some digging and found this website which seems to focus on this exact problem for institutional donors with $25,000 or more. (Though I don't believe they give people money to donate). The main obstacle they report is that people simply don't know about the donation matching programs at their companies and what charities they can apply them toward. I wonder how many companies will actually match donations to EA charities?

It might be worth either 

  • Reaching out to organizations about accepting matches for EA orgs
  • Reaching out to organizations that try to increase donation matching to help include EA charities
  • Setting up a donation matching promotion project focused on this for EA


This also reminds me of an EA donation swapping project where people donate to each other's favorite charities so they can each get tax deductions they wouldn't otherwise. 

Overall, taking advantage of unused corporate donation matches seems like a good idea and I'd be happy to help if there's anything I can do. 

Comment by Peter (Peter Gebauer) on Just Say No to Utilitarianism · 2022-06-03T17:28:00.213Z · EA · GW

I don't think you can easily dismiss the argument that acting virtuously and honestly produces more utility in the long run. If everyone abandons this, then society falls apart and becomes a lot more miserable. 

It seems like a tax system helps solve the problems in all of these hypotheticals by balancing people's needs and desires instead of going to one extreme or the other. Of course, people have different ideas about what the exact numbers should be, and we can have an open and democratic debate about that. And maybe different adjustments make more sense at different times. 

We shouldn't force people to starve because one person owns all the food, and we shouldn't take all of someone's money just because other people are in need. But it's still good to help others and it's even better to help more. 

Comment by Peter (Peter Gebauer) on EARadio Returns - Suggest Episodes and Shoutouts · 2022-06-03T14:33:51.351Z · EA · GW

Yay, I'm glad to hear it'll be helpful to you! Let me know if you ever have any feedback or suggestions. 

Comment by Peter (Peter Gebauer) on EARadio Returns - Suggest Episodes and Shoutouts · 2022-06-03T14:28:41.650Z · EA · GW

Thanks for the suggestion Hauke. I hadn't even thought about trying to add content with no existing audio to EARadio. I'll definitely have to look into that. It would take significantly  more time but it might be worth doing. 

Comment by Peter (Peter Gebauer) on Who wants to be hired? (May-September 2022) · 2022-05-28T06:32:03.803Z · EA · GW

Location: Southeast USA

Remote: Yes

Willing to relocate: Yes

Skills: I'm kind of a jack of many trades 

  • Communications
    • Ran Press advisory, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, MailChimp, and Wordpress for a winning statewide primary campaign
    • Ranked website #1 on Google and Bing for target keywords
    • Donor outreach & grant writing
  • Organizing & Community Building
    • I've planned and hosted a number of local political events such as door knocking, phone banking, and friend outreach training
    • I'm currently working on organizing some phonebanks for Maxwell Frost, a candidate in an open seat who has pandemic prevention as a policy priority
  • Writing
    • Editing/wordsmithing
    • I've started writing some fiction and nonfiction stuff and I plan to share it soon. Message if you want to see samples before then.
  • Audio Production
    • Recording, editing, basic engineering
    • Audacity, Reaper, iZotope RX 8
    • I've been practicing and taking a few classes. I clean up audio a bit when I port videos to EARadio
  • Graphic Design
    • GIMP, Inkscape
  • Video editing
    • ShotCut, Adobe Premiere
  • Narration, voice acting
    • Still learning, but I've been helping create audio versions for the EA creative writing contest winners.

LinkedIn/Resume

Email

Comment by Peter (Peter Gebauer) on Most students who would agree with EA ideas haven't heard of EA yet (results of a large-scale survey) · 2022-05-19T20:28:42.103Z · EA · GW

Do you think part of the reason is that they may find it difficult to get into high impact careers, that they lose interest, or that there are other different factors affecting their decisions like pay, where they can live, etc?

Comment by Peter (Peter Gebauer) on Carrick Flynn Results and Additional Ideas for Passing Pandemic Prevention Policy · 2022-05-18T22:14:21.868Z · EA · GW

Ah I keep mixing it up. Thanks, edited the post. 

Comment by Peter (Peter Gebauer) on Carrick Flynn Results and Additional Ideas for Passing Pandemic Prevention Policy · 2022-05-18T15:07:42.905Z · EA · GW

Yeah overall sounds right to me. Maybe be careful about using phrases like "pay for a house seat." I think something like "$50 million to raise awareness of Biden's Pandemic Prevention Plan until it becomes a top priority for a representative" gets the same point across more clearly, whether it's done by convincing voters to elect a champion of it or winning over existing reps.

Also I think 30% is probably too high for new candidates in races with party backed state reps who already represent most of the voters in the race.

Comment by Peter (Peter Gebauer) on [$20K In Prizes] AI Safety Arguments Competition · 2022-04-26T18:09:33.417Z · EA · GW

Investing in AI Safety today is like investing in mRNA vaccines before 2019, antibiotics before the plague, and peace treaties before WW3. 

Comment by Peter (Peter Gebauer) on [$20K In Prizes] AI Safety Arguments Competition · 2022-04-26T17:38:47.155Z · EA · GW

It took millions of years to create a species as smart as humans. It has only been 50 years and we already have AIs that can create art and solve scientific problems better than most people. What do you think will happen in the next 50 years?

Comment by Peter (Peter Gebauer) on Go Republican, Young EA! · 2022-04-13T20:48:52.681Z · EA · GW

Isn't saying to support a worse party in hopes that it becomes better like saying you should support a worse business in hopes that it becomes better? If they already have your vote/money/support why would they change? 

Repeatedly losing elections seems like it would be more likely to cause the Republican party to change. 

Comment by Peter (Peter Gebauer) on Critique of OpenPhil's macroeconomic policy advocacy · 2022-04-11T19:36:16.206Z · EA · GW

I think if Dems had done more spending to keep stuff like keep the Expanded Child Tax Credit going and maintained their huge advantage among parents/recipients then maybe they would have a chance, but their 12-point lead among this group evaporated as soon as they allowed the monthly support to expire. 

When you say spread out, what exactly do you mean? Do you mean something akin to four stimulus checks of $350 every three months instead of one check for $1400? Or that they should have been smaller - say $700 - even if more people would have lost their homes? Or both smaller and spread out?

Oh, I didn't mean to suggest that stopping climate change is the best way to reduce biorisk; I meant that the value of stopping climate change is even higher because it also contributes to additional cause areas. And I just don't see anything stopping us from strongly funding pandemic prevention/biorisk reduction and minimizing damage from climate change by aiming for 1.5C or less heating. 

That post reminds me of some research suggesting that narrow piecemeal reforms tended to be more successful in US State Ballot Initiatives that people directly vote on, compared to more comprehensive Ballot Initiatives. Thus multiple narrow initiatives over the years could add up to more change over time than fewer big ones, though there are still challenges because sometimes it's very difficult to change things one part at a time. 

Hmm I just think of growing research on how poverty wipes out the potential of people much of the time and it seems like a pretty serious problem for innovation. Even if one ignored the moral side, it's a drain on IQ and fosters scarcity mindsets with poorer decisions

Comment by Peter (Peter Gebauer) on Critique of OpenPhil's macroeconomic policy advocacy · 2022-04-08T20:14:13.664Z · EA · GW

Hey thanks for your response. 

I guess then I'm wondering "if dems will probably lose anyway does it really matter if they lose more because of inflation?" Which I suppose if it leads to Republican supermajorities then it would be significantly worse than the "populist" blowout in 2010 and 2014 by the Tea Party and others taking hundreds of seats in local, state, and federal elections. 

It also seems like even though it's often ideal to introduce changes gradually, they kind of have to cram through a bunch of short-term spending or else nothing gets done or things that get planned have a high chance of repeal. The Affordable Care Act only held on by a single vote, for example, and became more popular over time as people saw the benefits like better protecting friends and family with preexisting conditions. 

I would consider sustainability to include climate change as well as other problems like overfishing. We are currently on track for 2.7C of heating which is still pretty terrible especially for many island peoples, though very unlikely to reach worse extinction level scenarios people were more concerned about a few years ago. And the latest 2022 IPCC report is calling for "immediate and steep reductions in emissions across all sectors to limit warming to 1.5C" which don't seem to be happening or close to happening. Maybe we'll keep getting lucky with renewable and other innovations outpacing expectations but we're already seeing irreversible damage. 

Sure, I agree we should also be putting a lot more resources into pandemic prevention/biorisk, AI Safety, and peacebuilding as well. Though if I understand correctly, climate change does exacerbate all of them by releasing new pathogens and increasing the habitat of tropical diseases, creating food and water shortages that can lead to and inflame conflicts, and reducing resources to put toward causes like AI Safety by reducing GDP (the post you linked is good but it doesn't seem to really address second order effects much. Maybe the evidence for their seriousness does not appear strong yet to them?) 

That's an interesting paper but I'm not sure it provides strong evidence of social spending inevitably reducing innovation.  I would have to look into it more but it seems like their conclusion isn't exactly settled

Comment by Peter (Peter Gebauer) on Critique of OpenPhil's macroeconomic policy advocacy · 2022-04-08T18:09:08.310Z · EA · GW
  1. I think you're going to have a hard time making the case for inflation causing Democrats to lose when the incumbent party almost always loses seats in the midterms anyway, seemingly regardless of inflation if I recall correctly.
  2. Wasn't the 2008 stimulus too small, which ended up prolonging the recession recovery time? It seems like Democrats were trying to avoid making the same mistake twice.
  3. I'm probably biased but these kinds of arguments against spending on social needs always rub me the wrong way. It doesn't seem like we're spending enough or efficiently to ensure people have basic living standards now or before the pandemic. Most people live paycheck to paycheck and couldn't afford a $500 emergency. Another example is that the consensus seems to be that we need to spend way more on solving climate change or we will face far worse costs in the future. And in principle I don't see why we can't just do these things. Is the root argument that we just don't have enough resources in the world to take care of everyone, so spending to try and achieve them will inevitably cause inflation and eventually hyperinflation? Is current spending capable of establishing basic living standards and sustainability, but just used too inefficiently?  Or is this just something that's accepted?
Comment by Peter (Peter Gebauer) on AI Risk is like Terminator; Stop Saying it's Not · 2022-03-08T23:43:17.701Z · EA · GW

Spoilers for the Matrix


In Matrix the AI is also acting instrumentally: humans started a war (the Animatrix confirms this) so AIs fought back to defend themselves. 

There is a rogue program who hates humans, though it's an abnormality that even other AIs end up becoming threatened by. It keeps replicating itself and starts taking over humans and other AIs. 

Comment by Peter (Peter Gebauer) on PSA: if you are in Russia, probably move out ASAP · 2022-03-03T23:25:59.277Z · EA · GW

Border could be closed as soon as Friday when the Federation Council hosts a special meeting. 
 

Comment by Peter Gebauer on [deleted post] 2022-03-01T17:56:41.857Z

It's important to distinguish between concessions. Removing missiles that can strike a country in exchange for removing missiles that can strike another country is VERY different than helping a dictator to take over parts of a country when they threaten violence. Once you start, where are you going to stop? The problem also isn't just Putin, the problem is every tyrant watching the response here. Most of the world is not part of NATO. If Russia succeeds, China's government may be emboldened to go after Taiwan, for example. 

Comment by Peter Gebauer on [deleted post] 2022-02-27T19:24:10.709Z

I'm not sure I would call giving weapons to Ukraine, sanctioning Russia, and hunting down war supporting Oligarchs' assets as appeasement. It's not the maximum response but it is an escalation of response to Putin's attack. It might be enough to scare elites who support Putin without causing further escalation, which is dangerous since we are dealing with a country that has nuclear weapons, which wasn't the case with the Nazi regime in WW2. 

Comment by Peter Gebauer on [deleted post] 2022-02-26T22:17:49.703Z

I don't think ceding territory would be a viable solution, as this would be the exact same strategy as appeasement of Nazi Germany (though some have recently suggested Chamberlain's appeasement may have been a strategic choice to buy time for British rearmament). It failed to stop tyrants before, and importantly - it's not something you can take back. It's an extreme version of giving a bully your lunch money before they beat you up - you become a repeat target for life. 

With NATO neutrality, you can at least take it back (in theory) if Putin misbehaves. Russia has stated that Ukraine NATO membership is a red line for them, so an agreement regarding it seems like something that should have been discussed. I don't know if it was or if there are certain reasons it wasn't - I'm not privy to any diplomatic discussions or strategy. 

Comment by Peter (Peter Gebauer) on Some thoughts on vegetarianism and veganism · 2022-02-14T05:38:59.484Z · EA · GW

I've thought about a lot of this stuff too, so I understand how the value can seem uncertain. These are some reasons I became [more] vegan. 
1. I don't participate in factory farming suffering - any good impact is good to me, a penny saved is a penny earned. Even a small impact matters to me. 
2. I avoid taking lives 
3. I feel better - probably because of eating healthier and maybe also more in control of my decisions. A mostly or entirely vegan diet might also just be healthier for some reason. Chimps and Bonobos are our closest relatives and their diets are 95% vegan or more, so maybe that means something? I digress. 
4. I eat healthier - most unhealthy food I am exposed to is nonvegan. If it's disqualified by being nonvegan it eliminates a lot of unhealthy food and a lot of wasted thinking about eating it or not. I don't feel like I'm missing out because it's not an option and not in alignment with how I want to live and feel. 
5. I build up discipline, a great transferable habit. Resisting convenience is a good skill because many convenient or easy things are bad. 
6. I show other people being vegan is simple, beneficial, and enjoyable. People I know are more curious about becoming vegan now than when they didn't know anyone. 
7. I shrink my carbon footprint. 

I think personal decisions matter and calculations claiming they are low impact generally miss some of the social nature of our decisions. When millions of people do something, it has a big effect. Even one person doing something has an effect. But if we only look at one person isolated from any social context, we would never think about the spillover effects and multipliers. For example, leaving a couple pieces of trash in a park makes other people more likely to do the same. We have to start somewhere because change doesn't usually pop into existence all across society suddenly. Big shifts are often gradual until they reach tipping points. We need demand for a market to grow and mature. 

It seems like a pretty low cost thing to do for those benefits. It's hard for me to see how becoming vegan would prevent most people from doing other things. A few hours of research on what to eat to get a balanced diet was all it took for me. But maybe I am an outlier. Though I think we're often far more flexible in our behavior than we realize. Habits are very powerful. Novel becomes normal very quickly. So it seems to me like becoming more vegan would be either neutral or beneficial for most people.  

Comment by Peter (Peter Gebauer) on Bounty for your best 2 minute answer to an EA 'frequently asked question' · 2022-02-11T16:51:35.655Z · EA · GW

Looks like I missed this, but I wanted to try it out anyway. Maybe it'll be useful to someone. 

That's a great question. Prioritizing is important. There are many problems and we want to fix what affects us. But let's imagine this question differently. 

It's pretty nice having fresh, clean water to drink, right? That's going to be true for you today, tomorrow, and next week. It'll be true in 10 days or 10 years. You wouldn't consider yourself as having less of a right to clean water today than you did 10 years ago, right? And you wouldn't want people to make decisions today that take away your water tomorrow. Or decisions 10 years ago that ruined your water today.

You'll probably also want your kids to have clean water - and their kids too. You won't want anyone to take that away. Because no matter how far you go into the future, they will still need clean water as much as you do today.  There's always going to be someone around who needs clean water just like us. They'll feel the same pain, joy, and thirst. And they will be just as real and valuable as our own future self. Just as we are as real and valuable as people 10 years ago. Future people have value the same way our future self does. And just as past people ensured we would have clean water, we should ensure that future people can enjoy clean water too.

If something won't affect anyone for a long time, then we might spend less effort and prioritize more immediate problems that are causing suffering. Here it makes sense to discount future people's needs somewhat - not because they are worth less, but because we have more time. An asteroid 100,000 years away doesn't mean ignore starvation today. Nor does starvation today mean we should forget those who will feel hungry tomorrow. 

Comment by Peter (Peter Gebauer) on The Case for Rare Chinese Tofus · 2022-02-08T18:45:23.062Z · EA · GW

"A solar panel for the palette" I love it. I think this is a great idea. Creating tasty new cuisines with unique flavors would likely get more people to eat more tofu since some would now have plant based options that meet their taste preferences.  I like the idea of not just trying to replace meat but trying to create something new or even surpass it. Plant based meat projects  are important of course - but I think there's room for other approaches too.  The most successful renewable energy technologies (solar and wind) are ones that do something different than fossil fuels instead of trying to just replicate fuel based technology. Solar and wind combined can give you energy almost anywhere and without the need for combustion. Biofuels are good, but we probably wouldn't have as many renewables if that was our only approach. I'm not aware of any evidence that solar and wind held biofuels back, so I don't think rare tofus would hold plant meats back either.

Personally, I would love to have more kinds of tofu to try. I agree with Jeremy that getting these exotic tofus in front of some food industry experts to get their feedback would probably be a good idea.  

Even better if these rare tofus are healthy and can be marketed as part of a healthy lifestyle that will make you feel great and strong. I wonder if there is some lesser known American history about tofu once being popular or enjoyed by the founding fathers or something too. I think Ben Franklin tried it. Would be great marketing material for getting people to at least give it a chance. 

Comment by Peter (Peter Gebauer) on The best $5,800 I’ve ever donated (to pandemic prevention). · 2022-02-03T20:30:41.317Z · EA · GW

Based on what people have said here, I think Carrick sounds like a great candidate who would make a wonderful representative. However, my impression from loosely following primaries from time to time is that local reputation matters a lot. Self funders tend not to do well because they tend not to have real local support. Does Carrick have a strong base of support or message to compete against the likes of a popular progressive state rep like Salinas (I don't believe we have fundraising numbers from her yet)?  If anyone knows of a race where a similar candidate won in similar circumstances, I'd love to hear about it. 

The first similar race that comes to mind for me is when Cenk Uygur ran in California in 2020. Cenk moved to the district to run for an open seat and had large financial support from his fanbase built running a progressive independent media outlet known as The Young Turks. But he only got around 6% of the vote with $1.7 million spent. Granted, there are a couple of differences here:  California has Top Two/jungle primaries which means all candidates are on the same primary ballot; it was a special election which tends to have lower turnout; Cenk tends to be pretty abrasive; he never lived in the district before; the election was in a swing district; and Cenk had controversial misogynistic past blog posts from years ago when he identified as a conservative Republican and was hit hard in the media over it.  He was running against a woman state rep with local party support who ultimately won the primary (although she ultimately lost the general election by a few hundred votes).  I wasn't able to find numbers for what she spent in the special election primary but she got over $5 million in all of 2020 so maybe less than half of that?

Comment by Peter (Peter Gebauer) on The best $5,800 I’ve ever donated (to pandemic prevention). · 2022-02-03T17:53:54.020Z · EA · GW

It's not legal to receive donations directly or indirectly from foreign nationals for any US race, but volunteering and asking people to donate is okay.  

Comment by Peter (Peter Gebauer) on The best $5,800 I’ve ever donated (to pandemic prevention). · 2022-02-03T17:31:47.238Z · EA · GW

Here is a synopsis from Primary School, a newsletter focused on democratic primaries. It's kind of annoying to dig through their posts for the hard to see "see full post" button so I'm copy and pasting them. 

EDIT FEC Update 2/5/2022

Carrick Flynn says he raised $430,000 in the first 10 days. Salinas only raised $174,000 in two months. Money isn't everything in campaigns but that is kind of low for Salinas. 

--
Tl;dr: Salinas seems like a strong candidate and solid progressive who is supported by the local party. I'd be interested in seeing her first fundraising numbers when they are out.

1/27/2022

OR-06
"Oregon Medical Board member Kathleen Harder raised $129,000 in the two months since she announced her campaign, which means she’s going to be a real part of this ever-widening field of candidates. In addition to her, state Rep. Andrea Salinas, former Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith, and dueling pro-cryptocurrency self-funders Matt West and Cody Reynolds, a new candidate has entered: State Rep. Teresa Alonso Leon. Leon, who is in her second term in the state house, was mentioned as a potential candidate for this seat when it was first drawn, but stayed quiet about any plans until people just assumed she wasn’t interested. That likely includes the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, who endorsed Salinas last month. Leon, an immigrant herself, has been fantastic on immigrant rights issues, and has fought to include the undocumented in Oregon’s Medicaid program. But her launch and campaign website have so far been light on the policy details, and she hasn’t taken any stances in inter-party fights that would make her allegiances more clear.

Leon may not even be the only candidate entering—AI researcher Carrick Flynn has filed to run. While assorted professors and researchers run for Congress all the time without anyone noticing, Flynn spent years as a relatively public-facing part of a well endowed AI-related public policy program, so he probably knows more than a few rich people."

Originally I read this last sentence as him being more knowledgeable than rich people about AI, but now I've realized they probably meant he likely knows a bunch of deep pocketed individuals. 

1/18/2022
"...FEC records that say that Matt West’s the one who self-funded $437,000 and raised $182,000, while Reynolds self-funded $2,000,000 and only raised $10 elsewhere."

10/13/2021
"State Rep. Andrea Salinas is considering running for the new OR-06, a safely Democratic district containing the cities of Salem and Corvallis, as well as a significant chunk of the Portland suburbs. Salinas, first appointed to her suburban house seat in 2017, made it to House leadership just a couple years later, and has spent her time in office functioning as a solid progressive: She’s supported efforts to create a public option for Oregon (because “getting to some kind of single payer system is the best thing we could do..for all people in the US”), allow prisoners to vote, and give agricultural workers overtime pay. The local Democratic establishment clearly likes her if they appointed her to office, and to leadership not long after, so she’ll be a considerable force in the primary should she run. She also helped draw the new district, so the odds of it being at least somewhat optimized for her are pretty high."

Comment by Peter (Peter Gebauer) on Aaron_Scher's Shortform · 2022-01-29T00:05:29.474Z · EA · GW

Yeah when I was reading it I was  thinking "these are high bars to reach" but I think they cover all the concerns I've heard. Oh glad you liked it! I probably could have said that from the start, now that I think about it. 

Comment by Peter (Peter Gebauer) on Aaron_Scher's Shortform · 2022-01-28T18:34:44.527Z · EA · GW

Hey I applied too! Hopefully at least one of us gets it. I think they probably got more than 50 applications, so it almost starts to become a lottery at that point if they only have a few spots and everyone seems like they could do it well. Or maybe that's just easier for me to think haha. 

Comment by Peter (Peter Gebauer) on Aaron_Scher's Shortform · 2022-01-28T17:44:40.828Z · EA · GW

I think many progressives and others on the left value mutual aid because they see it as more sustainable and genuine and with fewer negative strings attached. I think they are generally fine with aid and helping others as long as they can be shown good evidence that 1) the aid is not going to be used to prevent other positive changes (basically things like exchanging humanitarian aid for continued resource extraction from a region that's worth more than the total aid contributed, or pressuring/requiring a housing justice org to stop organizing tenants to stand up for their rights in exchange for more funding for their shelter initiatives) and 2) Aid is done in a competent manner so that it doesn't get stolen by governments, wasted, or taken by other corrupt actors and 3) respects local wisdom and empowers people to have more of a say over decisions that most affect them. Another example would be conservation efforts that kick indigenous people off their land vs ones that center their practical experience and respect their rights. 

There's a big difference between donating to a food bank and creating the infrastructure for people to organize their own food bank and/or grow their own food of their choosing. The first one is more narrowly focused on food security whereas the latter fits with a broader food justice or food sovereignty approach. I think both are important. Many people believe the latter kind of empowerment initiatives are more sustainable in the long run and less dependent on shifts in funding, even if they're harder to set up initially.  The reason being that they redistribute power, not just resources. To sum it up, something like "Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day; teach a community to fish, and give them a place to do so, and they will eat for generations."

Comment by Peter (Peter Gebauer) on Ways of improving one's empathy and emotional intelligence? · 2022-01-19T16:54:46.170Z · EA · GW

I liked Cognitively-Based Compassion Training. They do global live sessions with trained instructors 5 times a week over zoom. Let me know what you think if you try it. 

Comment by Peter (Peter Gebauer) on What self-help topics would you like better research/ resources on? · 2022-01-19T16:45:42.484Z · EA · GW

I imagine many of us spend a lot of time sitting and staring at screens. What would make this less bad? What are some alternatives we could do sometimes? What are the health and other costs and benefits compared to possible alternatives? 

For example, doing a phone call and walking vs a zoom meeting. For one on one meetings that seems like it would often be a good idea. For small groups, maybe you need an agenda and do a rotation on everyone's thoughts/updates as you go down each item, to cut down on awkwardness/time wasted not knowing who is about to speak, and make sure everyone gets a chance to contribute what they know. I used to do meetings like this years ago but I completely forgot since now it seems like we default to video conferencing automatically.