Posts

Ramiro's Shortform 2019-10-17T13:16:14.822Z · score: 2 (1 votes)
Merging with AI would be suicide for the human mind - Susan Schneider 2019-10-03T17:55:07.789Z · score: 2 (1 votes)

Comments

Comment by ramiro on Ramiro's Shortform · 2019-10-23T18:42:10.834Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Assessing the impact of Brazilian donors and EA community

We’re thinking about testing if our actions for promoting EA in this year (translations, meetings, networking...) have led to an observable increase in donations from Brazil - particularly outside the group of more "engaged" members. Even if we haven't observed an increase in high-quality engagement (such as GWWC pledges), we do see an increase in some "cheaper signals", such as the number of Facebook group members and the amount of donations to AMF (which, curiously, are concentrated in basically two metropolitan areas - Sao Paulo and Porto Alegre; I know there are some EAs living in Minas and in the North, but currently I'm not aware of any donation coming from Rio and Brasilia, despite them being high-income metropolitan area). We'd like to test if that's a coincidence.

I would appreciate any suggestion/help on that. I think it would demand more than EA survey data. First, we thought about requesting to EA charities data about the amount of donations:

1.1 from Brazil between Oct 23th, 2018 and Oct 23th, 2019 (controlling for month) with the amount of donations from the previous year;

1.2 from similar countries (I’m not sure which countries we should pick: Argentina, Chile, Mexico, S. Africa, Portugal?...China?), in the same periods – to check if any of them presented a similar increase/decrease.

Second, I wonder if we could get in touch with at least some identified donors and ask them how they came to the decision of donating. Possibly, tracking people using the names they provided to those websites might be considered too invasive, but I wonder if the organization itself could send an e-mail inviting them to get in touch with us.

Comment by ramiro on Making Donating Fun · 2019-10-18T11:45:30.282Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

That's great.

Even so, I'd really like to see an EA app where the cost of a donation is supported by a sponsor, instead of the user.

Comment by ramiro on Ramiro's Shortform · 2019-10-17T13:16:14.927Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Why don't we have an "Effective App"?

See, e.g., Ribon - an app that gives you points (“ribons”) for reading positive news (e.g. “handicapped walks again thanks to exoskeleton”) sponsored by corporations; then you choose one of the TLYCS charities, and your points are converted into a donation.

Ribon is a Brazilian for-profit; they claim to donate 70% of what they receive from sponsors, but I haven’t found precise stats. It has skyrocketed this year: from their informed impact, I estimate they have donated about U$ 33k to TLYCS – which is a lot for Brazilian standards. They intend to expand (they gathered more than R$ 1 mi – roughly U$250k - from investors this year) and will soon launch an ICO. Perhaps an EA non-profit could do even more good?

Comment by ramiro on Making Donating Fun · 2019-10-17T13:14:04.894Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Great idea. Something with a similar inspiration and already successful is Ribon, an app that gives you points (“ribons”) for reading positive news (e.g. “handicapped walks again thanks to exoskeleton”) sponsored by corporations; then you choose one of the TLYCS charities, and your points are converted into a donation.

Ribon is a Brazilian for-profit, they claim to donate 70% of what they receive from sponsors, but I haven’t found precise stats. It has skyrocketed this year: from their informed impact, I estimate they have donated about U$ 33k to TLYCS – which is a lot for Brazilian standards. They intend to expand (they gathered more than R$ 1 mi – roughly U$250k - from investors this year) and will soon launch an ICO. Perhaps a non-profit could do even more good?

Comment by ramiro on Merging with AI would be suicide for the human mind - Susan Schneider · 2019-10-03T19:59:36.310Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

She pictures it as an existential risk related to AI. But I'm ok with the "personal blog" category.

Comment by ramiro on English as a dominant language in the movement: challenges and solutions · 2019-09-09T18:25:24.901Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · EA · GW

True, some common abreviations are standard. But my remarks, and probably Dobroslawa's, concern mostly oral conversations - that's the context where non-native speakers are in a huge disadvantage, even if they are proficient.

I kind of enjoy reading unusual expressions or slang, because it gives me new data and time enough to update on - so if someone uses it in a conversation later on, I may have a better chance of understanding it. Perhaps that's precisely the problem for skilled non-native speakers: we're usually much better "trained" in the written language than in the spoken one, so that we're often ignorant about some of their differences. Thus, writing "slang, abbreviations, unusual collocations" may actually have a net positive effect.

Comment by ramiro on How do most utilitarians feel about "replacement" thought experiments? · 2019-09-06T19:16:52.144Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA · GW

It looks like a strawman to me. It conflates (A) a question about evaluation (is Suboptimal Earth axiologically better than current Earth?) with (B) a question about decision/action (would it be right to kill everyone for the sake of Suboptimal Earth), and it omits:

(A) a utilitarian doesn't classify scenarios categorically ("this is good, that is bad"), but through an ordering over possible worlds, such as: (1) current population + everyone alive in Suboptimal Earth is better than (2) Suboptimal Earth scenario minus current population is better than (3) current Earth...

(B) a utilitarian decides according to ex ante expected utility, so it'd have to ask "what's the odds that Suboptimal Earth will occur given my decision?"

Of course, there are huge problems for such reasoning - a more realistic Suboptimal Earth would get close to a Pascal Muggering: imagine that a Super AGI asked you to press this red button, freeing it to turn the whole galaxy into an eternal utopian hedonist simulation, for example.

As someone who has been "fighting" utilitarianism for a long time, I can say that the best objections against it have been produced by utilitarians themselves.

Comment by ramiro on Are we living at the most influential time in history? · 2019-09-06T18:48:10.790Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for this post. However, HoH still seems ambiguous to me, particularly when we take uncertainty seriously. For example, what kind of comparison is happening in “T is the most influential time ever” - and, consequently, what kind of probability function does one use to model credence in it?

1) Weak-HoH: “the sentence ‘t is hingey’ is more likely to be true for now (or for the next n years) than for any other similar set t in the future”

If you interpret hingey events as produced by stochastic processes modeled by an exponential distribution, then weak-HoH has a trivial explanation.

If the risk of rain is p= .03 per day, then today is most likely to be the next rainy day - because the risk of it being tomorrow is (.97 * .03) – i.e., the probability of not raining today multiplied by the probability of raining tomorrow, and so on.

So, even though it's very unlikely that we'll go extinct in the next year, if I had to bet on an exact year, 2020 is a priori more likely to be it than 2021 - we can only die once. Something similar for AGI: though I don't think it's gonna happen in the next decade, this century is more likely to be The One than the next - but not more likely than the next 900 years, for example.

2) The strongest version of HoH is (A): “Now is THE most important time ever”, which is so unlikely that it looks like a strawman. But (B): “Now is more important than the median / average” is very tempting: first, the prior is high – you need evidence 99 times weaker (1:99 against 1:1 odds) to ascertain (B) instead of (C): “Now is in the first percentile of the importance distribution”. Second, it fits the historical record better – it looks like most of the last 200 kyr were boring in comparison with now (of course, I agree there are some huge biases affecting this assessment). Also, the HoH defender may limit the considered time-span: "the next decade will be the most important in the century / the next 100 years"

3) In (1) and (2), I supposed HoH refers only to the future, but some of the arguments against HoH refer any time, even the past. What’s the relevance (and meaning) of comparing the influence of now to important times in the past – besides assessing the odds of existing more hingey times in the future?

Influence is asymmetric: the past influences both the present and the future. Also, It seems plausible that hingeness is not a “timeless property” or absolute property: 3 different rational individuals, X, Y and Z, each located in different times Tx, Ty and Tz, would have different impartial assessments of the set (Tx, Ty, Tz) – mostly because of uncertainty, or the path-dependency of their actions, or value differences. And since “hingeness” is an ordering, not a cardinal relation, it might be hard (if not impossible) to aggregate X-Y-Z assessments.

Comment by ramiro on Are we living at the most influential time in history? · 2019-09-06T18:13:41.110Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

I agree with your reasoning concerning uncertainty.

In the arguments against HoH, there’s an appeal to the uncertainty of our evaluations of "Influence". However, the definition of most influential time depends on an evaluation of the opportunity costs of investing in one time vs. another (such as the short-term vs. the long-term).

Uncertainty is a double-edged sword: I get confused when someone argues for “give later” mostly on the ground of our current uncertainty about impact (actually, uncertainty often induces risk-aversion and presentist bias). Suppose that I currently have a credence 0.7 over the statement “AMF saves at least a life (30 QALY) for every U$3,000”; if I wait ten years, I can hope my confidence on such statements will increase to something like 0.8. However, my confidence in such an increase is just 0.9 – so, when I aggregate all of this uncertainty, it’s almost a draw – 0.72.

(Sorry about using point estimates, but I’m no statistician, and I guess we better keep it simple)

Something similar applies to “start a movement”, and I didn’t even mention cluelessness and value shift.

So, if I donate to a Fund that promises me to invest in the best actions in the long term future, instead of the short-term, I have to trust: a) that the world is not going to end first (so, I have to discount extinction rates); b) the Fund and the underlying financial structure will not end first (or significantly lose its value); c) the Fund will correctly identify a more influential moment, and d) its investment will be aligned with my impartial preferences (as I would decide if I had the same info).

Comment by ramiro on What is the reasoning behind the "anthropic shadow" effect? · 2019-09-05T19:10:13.209Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I'm no expert in the field, but this problem really bothers me, too - so perhaps you should read my remarks as additional questions.

So the first part of my question is:

"Anthropic shadow" is an observation bias / selection effect concerning the data-generating process. I don't see such bias in your red/blue example, where (CMIW) you have both perfect info on Q, N and the final state of the marker. For this to be analogous to anthropic bias regarding x-risks, you should add a new feature - like someone erasing your memory and records with probability P* whenever Coin#1 lands heads.

(My "personal" toy model of anthropic shadow problems is someone trying to estimate the probability of heads for the next coin toss, after a sequence TTTT... knowing that, whenever the coin lands heads, the memory of previous tosses is erased. It's tempting to just apply Laplace's Rule of Succession here - but it'd mean knowing the amnesia possibility gives you no information.

I don't think that's an exact representation of our anthropic bias over x-risks, but it does highlight a problem easy to underestimate)

And the second part is: How can the anthropic shadow argument be phrased in a fully bayesian way?

I guess that's the jackpot, right? idk. But one the best attacks on this problem I've seen so far is Snyder-Beattie, Ord & Bonsall Nature paper.



Comment by ramiro on English as a dominant language in the movement: challenges and solutions · 2019-09-04T22:35:07.209Z · score: 7 (6 votes) · EA · GW

Thank you, and congrats for writing this.


Avoid slang, abbreviations, unusual collocations. Speak clearly and slowly.

This has to be constantly remarked. I think a good antidote for that is to learn a second language and talk to its native-speakers (besides, reasoning in a foreign language may reduce some biases).

BTW, I'm not sure if that's just me, but one of the things that sometimes prevents me from engaging in a conversation with other person in her native language (not only English) is that, if I am too successful (e.g., if I mimic her accent or style), she often assumes I'm almost as proficient as her and ends up speaking twice as fast, with slangs only a professional rapper would know. So: even if a non-native speaker doesn't seem to have an accent (= she speaks with your accent), don't assume you can drop the "avoid slang..." advice.

Comment by ramiro on Ask Me Anything! · 2019-08-16T18:44:17.276Z · score: 9 (5 votes) · EA · GW

Maybe one could argue in favor of an article in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy or in the IEP, too.

Comment by ramiro on Progress book recommendations · 2019-08-10T14:12:57.344Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for this post. I added some of these books to my reading list. Have you considered literary novels or essays?

There's a post on books someone would recommend to a gifted teenager with some tips on this

Comment by ramiro on What book(s) would you want a gifted teenager to come across? · 2019-08-10T14:01:26.475Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

In this line, I'd recommend "The Mind's I", a collection Dennett has edited in collaboration with Hofstadter.

Comment by ramiro on What book(s) would you want a gifted teenager to come across? · 2019-08-06T14:00:02.568Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Terry Pratchett, particularly The Amazing Maurice... DFW, Infinite Jest; J. S. Foer, On eating animals; Jonathan Franzen, Freedom; Cixin Liu, Remembrance of earth's past.

My point is that by "gifted teenager" you probably mean someone intelectually gifted, but not necessarily morally aligned; moreover, teenagers (everyone, actually, but teens more than anyone else) may rebel and resist if it's too obvious that you're trying to lead them to a specific mindset. So, if that might be the case, perhaps you should consider what kind of literature would nudge this teenager into EA-thinking first, and then what kind of books could shape their thought.

Comment by ramiro on Corporate Global Catastrophic Risks (C-GCRs) · 2019-07-04T03:36:52.738Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

I agree with most of the text, though with the same epistemic status. Nevertheless, I fear sovereign funds and government investment might affect free trade and create an incentive for big companies to corrupt political power, competing for its support, and for corrupt politicians to use this power for their own benefit. This may seem easy to avoid through good institutional design, but since we cannot even avoid regulatory capture, nor tax avoidance...

Comment by ramiro on [Question] 20,000/40,000 Hours- MidCareer Options · 2019-05-30T21:14:21.972Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Me too. Perhaps we should create a mutual support group ourselves? The "mid-career You can Save"?

However, I'm not so sure about what you guys mean by "harder" in this context. Yes, it might be easier to spot some really promising 22-year-old Ivy League graduates and advise them, and, since they have so many options left, general advice might be good enough. But it doesn't seem so hard to nudge some mid-career professionals towards optimal options, precisely because there are less alternatives. And wouldn't it be more scalable? E.g. what's more likely, that we can advice the right young graduate to get a job in the government, or that we could talk to many potential candidates and convert at least one of them into EA goals?

Comment by ramiro on Cash prizes for the best arguments against psychedelics being an EA cause area · 2019-05-27T00:48:41.636Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

True, but people are already competing to invest in THC providers. Why wouldn't they do it for psychedelics?

Comment by ramiro on Cash prizes for the best arguments against psychedelics being an EA cause area · 2019-05-27T00:37:55.655Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Agree. I kind of regret mentioning QALY in my argument, but do notice that I was trying to be healthy skeptical when I mentioned "I still don't think that donating for this cause would result, in the margin, in more QALY than donating to GD, in general". I never said I was confident that GD would result in more QALYs than supporting psychedelics.

Comment by ramiro on Cash prizes for the best arguments against psychedelics being an EA cause area · 2019-05-25T04:42:21.659Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

First, I'm not referring GD as our best charity, but just as a minimal standard for EA causes. Second, last time I checked (please, update if I'm wrong):

  • GD was considered to be saving 1 life per U$7000 on nov 2016 by GW: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1KiWfiAGX_QZhRbC9xkzf3I8IqsXC5kkr-nwY_feVlcM/edit#gid=1034883018
  • GW considered 1 life = 35 QALY. So, I estimate GD results in U$200/QALY (Actually, there are huge uncertainties over this estimate, and GW is not conclusive about GDs effectiveness in terms of lives and QALY. But one could pick AMF or SCI instead as a standard)
  • I'm assuming DALY = 1 - QALY
  • Enthea's estimate of psychedelics liberalization is of $472/DALY.

I do agree that QALY is biased towards some interventions, and that mental health is usually underestimated by healthy people (I suspect they are unduly led by the lack of physical and apparent symptoms). I do think we should find out how to treat depression properly (maybe some neglected, cheap and scalable solution end up becoming an EA-like charity). However, I don't believe Enthea poll is free of biases, either; particularly, it seems to me that people in developed countries consistently underestimate the burden of disease and poverty in the 3o world, screwing the comparison in the opposite way. Notwithstanding, my main point is not so much about impact, but about neglectedness; 32 million people had experimented with psychedelics only in US by 2010 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3917651/). If each of them donated an average of U$ 1 for this cause, they would match all of GDs transfers in 2017. I do believe we should liberalize psychedelics - and probably we will, eventually,since many people with considerable purchase power are interested in it.

Comment by ramiro on Cash prizes for the best arguments against psychedelics being an EA cause area · 2019-05-22T22:05:03.409Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

You have a good point: if a big pharma can't have IP over a psychedelic product, at least in our current system, it has no incentives to invest on risky R&D. However, we do observe increasing private funding for psychedelic research and a lot of recent exposure; and the war on drugs explains enough of the halt in psychedelics research in the 70's. So, despite updating my priors, I still don't think that donating for this cause would result, in the margin, in more QALY than donating to GD, in general.

Comment by ramiro on Cash prizes for the best arguments against psychedelics being an EA cause area · 2019-05-16T20:01:34.996Z · score: 9 (6 votes) · EA · GW

If psychedelics are a low hanging fruit, for-profits are gonna take the first step and grab it

Epistemic status: >50%

(I hope SSC is wrong and Griffe is right, and I'd like to see more research , too - but I think it's way more likely that psychedelics end up being provided by big companies than by startups or non-profits)

I feel tempted to invoke epistemic (and financial) modesty: depression (and mental health) is not a very neglected disease which only affects a small or poor population; there's a lot of money to be made in this area by pharmaceutical research, and I see no coordination problem or similar obstacle. If big companies such as Bayer or Pfizer (more capable of providing adequate funding, research and lobby) are not willing to bet on that, why should we?

P.S.: I didn't read every other comment, but I searched a little bit and concluded that only GnomeGnostic mentioned big pharma. His argument is sound.

Comment by ramiro on Stefan Schubert: Psychology of Existential Risk and Long-Termism · 2019-05-02T15:01:19.643Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I wonder if the results of this salience manipulation can be explained as some kind of framing effect of loss-gain asymmetry.

Comment by ramiro on Reasons to eat meat · 2019-04-24T14:48:57.248Z · score: 3 (6 votes) · EA · GW

I think you should warn your reader, in the first or second paragraph, that your intent is not so straightforward. Do not assume everyone will read it up to the end otherwise.

Comment by ramiro on Who is working on finding "Cause X"? · 2019-04-15T22:19:44.501Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · EA · GW

This is not a solution/answer, but someone should design a clever way for us to be constantly searching for cause x. I think a general contest could help, such as an "Effective Thesis Prize", to reward good works aligned with EA goals; perhaps cause x could be the aim of a contest of its own.

Comment by ramiro on Terrorism, Tylenol, and dangerous information · 2019-04-06T21:47:05.152Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

If it was feasible (and I'm a little bit skeptical), a 'social safety bugs' program rewarding people for sharing destructive ideas could be useful even if the 'bugs' were hard fix, by identifying them beforehand, by raising awareness of this problem of dangerous information, and perhaps even by using the frequency of repetitions of an idea as a proxy to measure how spread it is among the population. Couldn't it misfire? I mean, do dangerous people know they could be more effective if they researched a little bit more on new ways to do harm? Wouldn't they start crowdsourcing it or something, if they knew it? If they don't, the problem of dangerous info is a dangerous info, and we should be careful with raising awareness of it, too.

Comment by ramiro on Terrorism, Tylenol, and dangerous information · 2019-04-06T21:11:21.513Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

If a romance gives an idea easy to prevent, they might be overall helpful by raising awareness about this problem, so making it common knowledge.

Comment by ramiro on Terrorism, Tylenol, and dangerous information · 2019-04-05T01:45:21.171Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Does this include 9/11? I mean, hijacking planes to use them as bombers was an available strategy way before 9/11. Nassim Taleb begins a book (Black Swan?) imagining what would have happened if a legislator had passed a bill that would avoid it before 2001... We would never realize how many lives it'd have spared. And that's the most tragic to me: a wrongdoer needs only to get a new idea for an effective way of spreading destruction, but we would have a hard time to convince people that Tylenol poisoning is an eminent threat before many people died. Perhaps we could mitigate this risk if there were an institution to gather those destructive ideas, analyze them, and recommend strategies to authorities for mitigating those risks. Also, I think it's implicit, but maybe it should be openly stated: internet has made this problem worse, since it's made it easy to spread widely this type of idea.

Comment by ramiro on Effective Thesis project review · 2019-04-04T15:02:24.038Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

And prizes wouldn't have to be super expensive. I mean, graduate students don't need too much additional incentives to write a good thesis; the main one is to be acknowledged as "Effective Thesis of the year"

Comment by ramiro on The Case for the EA Hotel · 2019-04-04T14:24:28.794Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

I think it'd still need a previous filter, and a good one would use many opinions of others. Maybe something lik crowdsource decision-making, as in your Metis project.

Comment by ramiro on Effective Thesis project review · 2019-04-04T14:15:35.076Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

I'd contribute to that, especially if the theses were open for reading or download.

(Maybe we could for the right of voting on a thesis in a pre-selection phase. E.g., I'd be willing to pay U$50 to get access to them and vote on my favorite ones. But I haven't really thought a lot about it)

Comment by ramiro on The Case for the EA Hotel · 2019-04-03T13:26:31.755Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I do agree with the premise/problem description (your first claim), but not with the solution/EA hotel - mostly because there might be more efficient ways to reduce the gap (e.g., the project evaluation platform). My main point is that, even if the EA hotel is the best way of supporting/incenting productive EAs in the beginning of their careers, it doesn't solve the problem of selecting the best projects - the main cause of the Chasm; and even if someone has a great idea, they might not be the most capable of implementing them. More than the EA hotel, we need a platform to elicit project ideas and information, spread them among a community of people interested in evaluating them, and then support EA hotel guests interested in giving some of these ideas a try, or assign them to the best fit for implementation. Possible ways to fill this part of the chasm: hiring/training superforecasters, using prediction markets, contests, or maybe even just creating something like a voting system kind of incentive compatible (or just a particular forum) only for that.

Comment by ramiro on Open Thread #44 · 2019-03-15T14:44:05.386Z · score: 9 (5 votes) · EA · GW

Is there any charity/project/company/research trying to effectively improve people's mental health by encouraging them to frequent green spaces?

Please, don't misunderstand me, I'm no green activist, but I've seen so many mentions to increasing anxiety and depression (I'm not sure if it's true), and so many diagnoses (it's the internet, the economy, the culture...), and its rebuttals ("actually, everything is getting better, according to this graph..."), and Michael Plant has written many convincing pieces about the importance and neglectedness of mental health... but almost no one mentions that we're the first (maybe the second) generation to spend most of our lives indoors. I could provide some anecdotal evidence, but I guess the link between green spaces and happiness is very plausible and generally not contested by literature.

(I wouldn't say it could cure depression, but it might improve welfare. Our bodies and brains were designed by evolution to run on savannah and hunt big game... I mean, even people i know that went through stressful situations in the wild actually use to treasure these memories with joy; I mean, I know I was tired and and wet and trying not to freeze to death... but it seems like I was having fun. I don't think anyone needs to get into the middle of the jungle to get the benefits of green spaces; we should probably observe some positive effect if we could just get young people from cold climates to go to a park a little bit during winter, instead of closing themselves at home for four months)

Comment by ramiro on Cause profile: mental health · 2019-03-15T14:39:52.308Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Is there any charity/project/company trying to effectively improve people's mental health by encouraging them to frequent green spaces?

Please, don't misunderstand me, I'm no green activist, but I've seen so many mentions to increasing anxiety and depression (I'm not sure if it's true), and so many diagnoses (it's the internet, the economy, the culture...)... but almost no one mentions that we're the first (maybe the second) generation to spend most of our lives indoors. I could provide some anecdotal evidence, but I guess the link between green spaces and happiness is very plausible and generally not contested by literature.

(I wouldn't say it could cure depression, but it might improve welfare. Our bodies and brains were designed by evolution to run on savannah and hunt big game... I mean, even people i know that went through stressful situations in the wild actually use to treasure these memories with joy; I mean, I know I was tired and and wet and trying not to freeze to death... but it seems like I was having fun. I don't think anyone needs to get into the middle of the jungle to get the benefits of green spaces; we should probably observe some positive effect if we could just get young people from cold climates to go to a park a little bit during winter, instead of closing themselves at home for four months)

Comment by ramiro on Open Thread #43 · 2019-03-13T14:08:18.053Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Actually, Forethought launched this one week ago: https://www.forethought.org/undergraduate-thesis-prize

Comment by ramiro on Effective Thesis project review · 2019-03-06T15:36:56.940Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for this summary. Just on comment: wouldn't it be useful to have a kind of Effective Thesis prize? It might be convenient for advancing the idea among professors.

(This is the third - 1st in Open Thread #43, 2nd in a facebook comment - and last time I make this suggestion. Sorry if it's getting boring)

Comment by ramiro on Open Thread #43 · 2019-02-11T02:24:00.670Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for your comment and your insights, that’s precisely what I wanted. I do agree we lack evidence about the effectiveness of prizes as a way to incent studies on specific subjects – but that’s not unsurmontable (if I don't find a paper about it, I'll try to compare keywords frequency in academic databases before and after the establishment of a similar prize to check if there's a correlation). Also, I hadn’t considered a prize could result in a reputational risk – even if it’s unlikely, but it might necessary to hedge against it; one possibility is to grant the commitee the right to abstain from declaring a winner, if no one is found worthy.

Concerning the other mentioned obstacles, I don’t think they would hinder the main goals of such a prize – to foment the ideas of EA and to incent the study of EA causes. Assuming these causes are worth of my time (even more than saving a toddler's life), so it'd not be a waste of time.

As risk mitigation, we could start by requiring that applicants provide a brief essay summarizing their research and arguing in their favor; then a crowd of blind-reviewers would use such essay (and other « cheap signals », such as abstracts, conclusions, etc.) to reduce the number of candidates to a small set, to be scrutinized by a comitee of proeminent scholars; maybe we could put the theses online and ask everyone for feedback (people could vote on the best thesis in this first phase). Also, we could mitigate reputational risks and problems of scale if, instead of a global institution such as the CEA, we had such a competition in a more restricted environment– maybe some institution in a small country, such as the Czech Republic (well, they created the Effective Thesis project, right ?). So, if something went wrong, it wouldn’t hit the whole EA movement.

Comment by ramiro on Open Thread #43 · 2019-02-10T23:56:54.727Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Sorry, I'm new here. You mean making a thread in this forum? I still don't know how.

Comment by ramiro on Cause: Better political systems and policy making. · 2019-02-10T23:00:52.642Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

I think the main problem is that it's hard to implement any substancial change in political systems of great powers, such as US and UK - precisely the kind of target one should have in order to have a huge impact.

If we want to change political systems, we would have to start from below: small countries (maybe Estonia - they're so pro-inovation) and private associations. Has anyone ever heard of a legal statute on private orgs voting systems?

Comment by ramiro on Open Thread #43 · 2019-02-08T17:18:32.248Z · score: 8 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Why don't we have an entry on EA (and on X-Risk) on Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (or IEP, by the way)?

The best we have is a mention en passant of Singer's "Most good you can do..." inside the "Altruism" entry. Really, it's just: "If friendships and other loving relationships have a proper place in our lives even if they do not maximize the good, then sentiment is an appropriate basis for altruism. (For an opposing view, see Singer 2015.)" <https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/altruism/>

I mean, there's even a whole new article on the Philosophy of Chemistry! It might not seem important, but SEP is one of the major preliminary sources for researches in Philosophy. It'd be an effective way "spreading the word" among philosophers outside Oxford & Berkeley communities.

(Funny thought: many EA philosophers are cited as major sources in SEP articles about Ethics, decision theory, AI... - but NOT EA)

I see that SEP's editorial board has the responsibility of defining what's being published and who's gonna do it - but there must be something to do about (maybe coordinated mass requests of an EA article? or someone sending a complete article, according to item 3 in the Editorial Policies: " ualified potential contributors may send to the Principal Editor or an appropriate member of the Editorial Board a preliminary proposal to write on an Encyclopedia topic, along with a curriculum vitae." <https://plato.stanford.edu/info.html>

I guess all I've said so far applies to the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosphy, too.

(P.S.: If I'm getting boring with my frequent posts, please let me know)

Comment by ramiro on Open Thread #43 · 2019-02-08T12:15:23.775Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Why don't we have a kind of "Effective Thesis Prize"?

I know there have been prizes on particular subjects, such as the philosophy quarterly essay prize in 2016 (who won it?). But has anyone tried an open general prize, accepting applicants from any area, anywhere? Would it be too expensive? (I don't think so: the $$ could be little, since phd candidates don't need additional incentives to improve their thesis)

Would it it hard to organize? (Maybe a little bit, but there would be time...)

Pros: it'd be a simple way to propagate EA ideas and the Effective thesis tool. It'd be useful to elicit information, and maybe to find significative new contributions...

Actually, I think there are many more pros, and I'm considering to try something like that in Brazil (where EA movement is just beginning). So I'd really appreciate some tips about possible CONS.

Comment by ramiro on Heuristics from Running Harvard and Oxford EA Groups · 2019-01-30T12:01:42.532Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Nice and useful post. I'm trying to find its sequel, on 'projects compatible with these heuristics'. Is it ready? where do I find it?

Comment by ramiro on Open Thread #43 · 2019-01-25T19:27:09.250Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Perhaps I should warn: ambiguity-aversion sensitivity to framing effects is contested by Voorhoeve et al. (philarchive.org/archive/VOOAAF); however, the authors recognize their conclusion goes against most of the literature.

Comment by ramiro on Open Thread #43 · 2019-01-25T17:49:04.299Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

in the last 30min, I found out ACE includes considerations about demand elasticity for animal products in its evaluations. It's not the same as a RCT, but I believe it's a good enough estimate. I'll keep the post, though, in case anyone have similar doubts.

Comment by ramiro on Open Thread #43 · 2019-01-25T15:52:21.185Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Does vegan advocacy really work in reducing global meat consumption? Has anyone tested it?

My point: despite the increasing number of vegans & reducitarians, global meat production & consumption has increased (important exceptions: US & EU). That's a problem, since effective altruists defend vegetarianism etc. in order to reduce animal slaughter. Economic development aside (and the corresponding new demand for animal protein), I wonder if, in the long-term, markets adjust prices: thus, for each individual reducing meat consumption, there are many others who increase their consumption (because of falling prices due to decreasing demand), so leading the market to a new equilibrium.

So, my question: is there a way to test it? I imagine it could be done by a RCT: we could ask parts of a populations to stop eating meat for some time and measure if there is an observable effect.

Comment by ramiro on Open Thread #43 · 2019-01-23T17:22:56.940Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Has anyone reframed priorities choices (such as x-risk vs. poverty) as losses to check if they’re really biased?

I’ve read a little bit about the possibility that preferences for poverty reduction/global health/animal welfare causes over x-risk reduction may be due to some kind of ambiguity-aversion bias. Between donating U$3,000 for (A) saving a life (high certainty, presently) or (B) potentially saving 10^20 future lives (I know this may be a conservative guess, but it's the reasoning that is important here, not the numbers), by making something like a marginal 10^-5 contribution to reducing in 10^-5 some extinction risk, people would prefer the first "safe" option A, despite the large pay-off of the second one. However, such bias is sensitive to framing effects: people usually prefer sure gains (like A) and uncertain losses (like B'). So, I was trying to find out, without success, if anyone had reframed this decision as matter of losses, to see if one prefers, e.g., (A’) reducing deaths by malaria from 478,001 to 478,000 or (B’) reducing the odds of extinction (minus 10^20 lives) in 10^-10.

Perhaps there’s a better way to reframe this choice, but I’m not interested in discussing one particular example (however, I’m concerned with the possibility that there’s no bias-free way of framing it). My point is that, if one chooses something like A-B’, then we have a strong case for the existence of a bias.

(I’m well aware of other objections against x-risk causes, such as Pascal’s mugging and discount rates arguments – but I think they’ve received due attention, and should be discussed separately. Also, I’m mostly thinking about donation choices, not about policy or career decisions, which is a completely different matter; however, IF this experiment confirmed the existence of such a bias, it could influence the latter, too.

I’m new here. Since I suspect someone has probably already made a similar question somewhere else - but I couldn’t find it, so sorry bothering you - I’m mostly trying to satisfy my curiosity; however, there’s a small probability that it touches an important unsolved dilemma about global priorities - the x-risk vs. safe causes. I'm not looking for karma - though you can't have too much of it, right?)

Comment by ramiro on Open Thread #41 · 2019-01-23T17:21:05.723Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Has anyone reframed priorities choices (such as x-risk vs. poverty) as losses to check if they’re really biased?

I’ve read a little bit about the possibility that preferences for poverty reduction/global health/animal welfare causes over x-risk reduction may be due to some kind of ambiguity-aversion bias. Between donating U$3,000 for (A) saving a life (high certainty, presently) or (B) potentially saving 10^20 future lives (I know this may be a conservative guess, but it's the reasoning that is important here, not the numbers), by making something like a marginal 10^-5 contribution to reducing in 10^-5 some extinction risk, people would prefer the first "safe" option A, despite the large pay-off of the second one. However, such bias is sensitive to framing effects: people usually prefer sure gains (like A) and uncertain losses (like B'). So, I was trying to find out, without success, if anyone had reframed this decision as matter of losses, to see if one prefers, e.g., (A’) reducing deaths by malaria from 478,001 to 478,000 or (B’) reducing the odds of extinction (minus 10^20 lives) in 10^-10.

Perhaps there’s a better way to reframe this choice, but I’m not interested in discussing one particular example (however, I’m concerned with the possibility that there’s no bias-free way of framing it). My point is that, if one chooses something like A-B’, then we have a strong case for the existence of a bias.

(I’m well aware of other objections against x-risk causes, such as Pascal’s mugging and discount rates arguments – but I think they’ve received due attention, and should be discussed separately. Also, I’m mostly thinking about donation choices, not about policy or career decisions, which is a completely different matter; however, IF this experiment confirmed the existence of such a bias, it could influence the latter, too.

I’m new here. Since I suspect someone has probably already made a similar question somewhere else - but I couldn’t find it, so sorry bothering you - I’m mostly trying to satisfy my curiosity; however, there’s a small probability that it touches an important unsolved dilemma about global priorities - the x-risk vs. safe causes. I'm not looking for karma - though you can't have too much of it, right?)

Comment by ramiro on Open Thread #40 · 2019-01-23T14:10:57.658Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Has anyone reframed priorities choices (such as x-risk vs. poverty) as losses to check if they’re really biased?

I’m new here. Since I suspect someone has probably already made a similar question somewhere (but I couldn’t find it, sorry), I’m mostly trying to satisfy my curiosity; however, there’s a small probability that it touches an important unsolved dilemma about global priorities and the x-risk vs. safe causes.

I’ve read a little bit about the possibility that preferences for poverty reduction/global health/animal welfare causes over x-risk reduction may be due to some kind of ambiguity-aversion bias. Between donating U$3,000 for (A) saving a life (high certainty, presently) or (B) potentially saving 10^20 future lives (I know, this may be a conservative guess), by making something like a marginal 10^-5 contribution to reducing in 10^-5 some extinction risk, people would prefer the first safe option, despite the large pay-off of the second one. However, such bias is sensitive to framing effects: people usually prefer sure gains and uncertain losses. So, I was trying to find out, without success, if anyone had reframed this decision as matter of losses, to see if one prefers, e.g., (A’) reducing deaths by malaria from 478,001 to 478,000 or (B’) reducing the odds of extinction (minus 10^20 lives) in 10^-10.

Perhaps there’s a better way to reframe this choice, but I’m not interested in discussing one particular example (however, I’m concerned with the possibility that there’s no bias-free way of framing it). My point is that, if one chooses something like A-B’, then we have a strong case for the existence of a bias.

(I’m aware of other objections against x-risk causes, such as Pascal’s mugging and discount rates arguments – but I think they’ve received due attention, and should be discussed separately. Also, I’m mostly thinking about donation choices, not about policy or career decisions, which is a completely different decision; however, IF this experiment confirmed the existence of a bias, it could influence the latter, too.)