What should I ask Alan Hájek, philosopher of probability, Bayesianism, expected value and counterfatuals? 2022-07-01T13:23:57.227Z
Questions to ask Will MacAskill about 'What We Owe The Future' for 80,000 Hours Podcast (possible new audio intro to longtermism) 2022-06-21T19:21:49.377Z
I'm interviewing Oxford philosopher, global priorities researcher and early thinker in EA, Andreas Mogensen. What should I ask him? 2022-06-10T14:24:05.777Z
I'm interviewing Max Tegmark about AI safety and more. What shouId I ask him? 2022-05-13T15:32:20.010Z
What should I ask Lewis Dartnell (author of 'The Knowledge' and 'Origins')? 2022-04-29T17:14:35.058Z
Next week I'm interviewing Will MacAskill — what should I ask? 2022-04-08T14:20:22.114Z
I'm interviewing political scientist Chris Blattman about his new book 'Why We Fight'. What should I ask him? 2022-04-01T20:14:37.255Z
I'm interviewing Nova Das Sarma about AI safety and information security. What shouId I ask her? 2022-03-25T15:38:04.361Z
How much does a vote matter? 2020-10-29T17:21:08.065Z
When you shouldn't use EA jargon and how to avoid it 2020-10-26T12:48:29.850Z
'Ugh Fields', or why you can't even bear to think about that task 2020-09-14T16:39:48.330Z
Consider a wider range of jobs, paths and problems if you want to improve the long-term future 2020-06-29T14:48:55.111Z
Eleven recent 80,000 Hours articles on how to stop COVID-19 & other pandemics 2020-04-08T21:40:11.355Z
Podcast with Ben Todd covering the key ideas of 80,000 Hours (2h 57m) 2020-03-09T18:48:27.200Z
Attempted summary of the 2019-nCoV situation — 80,000 Hours 2020-02-03T22:37:44.413Z
Upcoming interviews on the 80,000 Hours Podcast 2019-07-01T14:08:39.735Z
My positive experience taking the antidepressant Wellbutrin / Bupropion, & why maybe you should try it too 2019-02-01T18:56:46.671Z
Giving What We Can is still growing at a surprisingly good pace 2018-09-14T02:34:11.214Z
Do Prof Eva Vivalt's results show 'evidence-based' development isn't all it's cut out to be? 2018-05-21T16:28:27.239Z
Rob Wiblin's top EconTalk episode recommendations 2017-10-19T00:08:06.199Z
How accurately does anyone know the global distribution of income? 2017-04-06T04:49:45.335Z
In some cases, if a problem is harder humanity should invest more in it, but you should be less inclined to work on it 2017-02-21T10:29:01.945Z
Philosophical Critiques of Effective Altruism by Prof Jeff McMahan 2016-05-03T21:05:28.852Z
Why don't many effective altruists work on natural resource scarcity? 2016-02-20T12:32:14.584Z
Let's conduct a survey on the quality of MIRI's implementation 2016-02-19T07:18:55.158Z
The most persuasive writing neutrally surveys both sides of an argument 2016-02-18T08:42:38.857Z
How you can contribute to the broader EA research project 2016-02-17T09:23:26.227Z
If tech progress might be bad, what should we tell people about it? 2016-02-16T10:26:05.764Z
Should effective altruists work on taxation of the very rich? 2016-02-15T12:42:41.292Z
The Important/Neglected/Tractable framework needs to be applied with care 2016-01-24T15:10:55.665Z
Notice what arguments aren't made (but don't necessarily go and make them) 2016-01-24T13:52:45.111Z
If you don't have good evidence one thing is better than another, don't pretend you do 2015-12-21T19:19:54.464Z
What if you want to have a big social impact and live in a poorer country? 2015-12-20T16:58:33.276Z
How big a deal could GWWC be? Pretty big. 2015-12-20T00:46:45.843Z
An under-appreciated observation about giving now vs later 2015-12-19T22:26:19.482Z
What is a 'broad intervention' and what is a 'narrow intervention'? Are we confusing ourselves? 2015-12-19T16:12:49.618Z
The most read 80,000 Hours posts from the last 3 months 2015-12-18T18:16:13.552Z
No, CS majors didn't delude themselves that the best way to save the world is to do CS research 2015-12-15T17:13:38.977Z
Two observations about 'skeptical vs speculative' effective altruism 2015-12-15T14:06:03.863Z
Saying 'AI safety research is a Pascal's Mugging' isn't a strong response 2015-12-15T13:48:27.186Z
Disagreeing about what's effective isn't disagreeing with effective altruism 2015-07-16T07:00:00.000Z
Effective altruists love systemic change 2015-07-08T07:00:00.000Z
Six Ways To Get Along With People Who Are Totally Wrong* 2015-02-24T12:41:43.096Z
Help a Canadian give with a tax-deduction by swapping donations with them! 2014-12-16T00:05:45.810Z
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Ideas for new experimental EA projects you could fund! 2014-12-02T02:47:04.545Z
Should we launch a podcast about high-impact projects and people? 2014-12-01T16:52:41.206Z
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Comment by Robert_Wiblin on AI Risk is like Terminator; Stop Saying it's Not · 2022-05-18T14:56:25.441Z · EA · GW

I interpreted them not as saying that Terminator underplays the issue but rather that it misrepresents what a real AI would be able to do (in a way that probably makes the problem seem far easier to solve). But that may be me suffering from the curse of knowledge.

Comment by Robert_Wiblin on AI Risk is like Terminator; Stop Saying it's Not · 2022-05-16T14:45:04.314Z · EA · GW

Isn't a key difference that in Terminator the AI seems incredibly incompetent at wiping us out? Surely we'd be destroyed in no time — to start with it could just manufacture a poison like dioxin and coat the world (or something much smarter). Going around with tanks and guns as depicted in the film is entirely unnecessary.

Comment by Robert_Wiblin on Some clarifications on the Future Fund's approach to grantmaking · 2022-05-13T15:28:45.372Z · EA · GW

If it's just a form where the main reason for rejection is chosen from a list then that's probably fine/good.

I've seen people try to do written feedback before and find it a nightmare so I guess people's mileage varies a fair bit.

Comment by Robert_Wiblin on Some clarifications on the Future Fund's approach to grantmaking · 2022-05-12T15:22:04.221Z · EA · GW

"However, banking on this as handling the concerns that were raised doesn't account for all the things that come with unqualified rejection and people deciding to do other things, leave EA, incur critical stakeholder instability etc. as a result. "

I mean I think people are radically underestimating the opportunity cost of doing feedback properly at the moment. If I'm right then getting feedback might reduce people's chances of getting funded by say, 30%, or 50%, because the throughput for grants will be much reduced.

I would probably rather have a 20% chance of getting funding for my project without feedback than a 10% chance with feedback, though people's preferences may vary.

(Alternatively all the time spent explaining and writing and corresponding will mean worse projects get funded as there's not much time left to actually think through which projects are most impactful.)

Comment by Robert_Wiblin on Some clarifications on the Future Fund's approach to grantmaking · 2022-05-11T17:19:07.152Z · EA · GW

It would be very surprising if there weren't an opportunity cost to providing feedback. Those might include:

  1. Senior management time to oversee the project, bottlenecking other plans
  2. PR firefighting and morale counselling when 1 in ~100 people get angry at what you say and cause you grief (this will absolutely happen)
  3. Any hires capable of thinking up and communicating helpful feedback (this is difficult!) could otherwise use that time to read and make decisions on more grant proposals in more areas — or just improve the decision-making among the same pool of applicants.

That there's an opportunity cost doesn't show it's not worth it but my guess is right now it would be huge mistake for Future Fund to provide substantial feedback except in rare cases.

That could change in future if their other streams of successful applicants dry up and improving the projects of people who were previously rejected becomes the best way to find new things they want to fund.

Comment by Robert_Wiblin on Tentative Reasons You Might Be Underrating Having Kids · 2022-05-11T14:23:29.983Z · EA · GW

I find these arguments intellectually interesting to a degree.

But like you, my aesthetic preference is just that people who personally feel like having kids should have kids, and those who personally don't feel like having kids shouldn't.

If we followed that dollar-store rule of thumb I expect things would go roughly as well as they can, all things considered.

Comment by Robert_Wiblin on FTX/CEA - show us your numbers! · 2022-04-20T21:41:06.400Z · EA · GW

My guess is this would reduce grant output a lot relative to how much I think anyone would learn (maybe it would grantmaking in half?) so personally I'd rather see them just push ahead and make a lot of grants then review or write about just a handful of them from time to time.

Comment by Robert_Wiblin on Introducing 80k After Hours · 2022-03-04T00:26:24.920Z · EA · GW

Here you go:

(Seems like Stitcher is having technical problems, I've contacted their technical support about it.)

Comment by Robert_Wiblin on Why is Operations no longer an 80K Priority Path? · 2022-01-17T15:49:29.535Z · EA · GW

For the 10/10 criteria do you mean a $50k hiring bonus, or a $50k annual salary?

Comment by Robert_Wiblin on Think about EA alignment like skill mastery, not cult indoctrination · 2022-01-12T12:54:13.605Z · EA · GW

"creating closed social circles"

Just on this my impression is that more senior people in the EA community actively recommend not closing your social circle because, among other reasons, it's more robust to have a range of social supports from separate groups of people, and it's better epistemically not to exclusively hang out with people who already share your views on things.

Inasmuch as people's social circles shrink I don't think it's due to guidance from leaders (as in a typical cult, I would think) but rather because people naturally find it more fun to socialise with people who share their beliefs and values, even if they think that's not in their long-term best interest.

Comment by Robert_Wiblin on The Bioethicists are (Mostly) Alright · 2022-01-11T11:35:07.586Z · EA · GW

Cool yeah. I just want to provide another more boring reason a lot of us have piled on to bioethics that doesn't even require ingroup-outgroup dynamics.

Basically all of the people you're citing (like me) have an amateur interest in bioethics as it affects legal policy or medical practice or pandemic control (the thing we actually follow closely).

You and I agree that harmful decisions are regularly being made by IRBs (and politicians), often on the basis of supposed 'bioethics'. We also both agree there are at least a handful of poor thinkers in the field who do offer up low quality moral philosophy to support these bad decisions. It's only natural then for me and my fellow travelers to see these bad decisions, and these writings classified as bioethics justifying them, and suppose that the latter are an important cause of the former.

And these decisions come week after week for years, progressively infuriating me more and more.

I could see I'm making a mistake to judge bioethics as a field by sampling a representative bunch of papers (weighted by citations maybe), reading them, and deciding how reasonable they typically seem. Unfortunately that's an involved process that few people with an amateur interest are going to have time for. Each person can only go down a few rabbit holes like that each year in between our normal work, personal commitments, staying healthy, and so on.

So I appreciate you and other people doing that heavy lifting and then sharing the results — it's the only way it's practical for our mistake to be corrected!

Comment by Robert_Wiblin on The Bioethicists are (Mostly) Alright · 2022-01-10T22:27:27.148Z · EA · GW

Fair enough, I'm happy to talk less about bioethicists and talk more about institutional review of research ethics.

For what it's worth I and other critics do regularly/constantly refer people to the classic dissection of the problem caused by IRBs (The Censor's Hand).

We also talk about the misaligned incentives faced by bureaucrats about as ad nauseam as we talk about bioethics.

And when I've seen IRBs in action they have worked to keep their decisions and the reasons for them secret and intimidate researchers into not speaking out, while philosophers publish their ideas in journals you can read (and their arguments can then be used as cover for IRB decisions). So as a practical matter it has been easier for folks to scrutinise bad thinking from philosophers than IRBs even if the average quality of the latter is much worse.

Comment by Robert_Wiblin on On Mike Berkowitz's 80k Podcast · 2021-04-21T13:09:06.964Z · EA · GW

Exciting to see a post about this episode 5 hours after we put it out (!).

A few quick thoughts:

"Berkowitz never mentions that the median voter in most Republican primaries is currently "pro-Trump" so he leaves out the single sentence explanation."

No but I say that. IIRC one of his responses also takes this background explanation as a given.

"Japan and New Zealand have shown that sovereign parliamentary democracies do not manifest even nascent electoral movements."

In general I'm with you on thinking some systems of government are less conducive to populist movements, but I'm not sure one can show that by choosing two cases without checking for counterexamples.

"Berkowitz argues that Trump drives turnout. But 2016, Trump's first term, had moderate turnout. 2020 was Trump's second election, so why is he driving turnout in turn two."

I mean there's multiple factors but I'm with Berkowitz here.

In 2020 polls more people had very strong views about Trump (strong approve or strong disapprove) than is typical of a president, while I don't think that was true in 2016. So I don't think there's anything strange about the idea that he raised turnout in 2020 but not 2016.

The other big factor I would think is easier postal voting.

"No it is not. People do not take on high personal costs for collective gains without a facilitating organization."

But that just raises the question, why weren't there better facilitating organizations? Folks expected them to be present but it seems they didn't organize effectively.

Comment by Robert_Wiblin on PhD student mutual line-manager invitation · 2021-03-09T22:39:46.408Z · EA · GW

Great to see someone giving this a crack! Let me know how it works out. :)

Comment by Robert_Wiblin on How You Can Counterfactually Send Millions of Dollars to EA Charities · 2020-12-29T16:25:03.522Z · EA · GW

"The 2.16% U.S. federal funds rate in 2019 is one of the most conservative interest rates possible."

The U.S. Federal Funds rate has been effectively 0% since April 2020 and was roughly 0% for six years from 2009 to 2015. The same is roughly true of the UK. Central banks in both countries are saying they'll keep rates low for years to come.

I can't immediately find a reputable business savings accounts in the UK/US that currently offers more than 1%.

Those that offer the highest rates (something approaching 1%) on comparison sites tend to have conditions (e.g. you lock the money up for a period, or have to keep depositing regularly), and usually have a maximum amount on which you can earn interest, a maximum which is low enough to be binding for these organisations.

These accounts usually offer a high rate to attract customers for a while, then dramatically reduce the interest rate and trust you won't be bothered moving your money. I think that's their basic business model.

Opening bank accounts for non-profits, at least in the UK, is a pain — something that will take a few weeks, and some time/attention from the operations team, management and trustees (who are needed for e.g. security checks). It looks like you usually won't be able to put in more than a million dollars/pounds in any given account, often less.

So you'd need to open many accounts, keep track of them, secure the chequebooks, have them audited annually, integrate them into your bookkeeping system, change the signatures when staff turn over, figure out the idiosyncratic requirements to pull out money when you need to, and so on.

This may sound simple but if you've worked in operations you'll know it's actually a big hassle.

In return, for each account opened you make <£10k a year, and probably need to keep closing accounts and moving your money into new ones every few years, as the teaser rate used to draw you in is removed.

This may all be worth it, but it's far from a no-brainer, as these organisation have other fruitful projects they could be using staff to pursue.

Comment by Robert_Wiblin on If Causes Differ Astronomically in Cost-Effectiveness, Then Personal Fit In Career Choice Is Unimportant · 2020-11-25T16:06:15.357Z · EA · GW

In addition to the issues raised by other commentators I would worry that someone trying to work on something they're a bad fit for can easily be harmful.

That especially goes for things related to existential risk.

And in addition to the obvious mechanisms, having most of the people in a field be ill-suited to what they're doing but persisting for 'astronomical waste' reasons will mean most participants struggle to make progress, get demoralized, and repel others from joining them.

Comment by Robert_Wiblin on How much does a vote matter? · 2020-11-02T18:24:01.043Z · EA · GW

He says he's going to write a response. If I recall Jason isn't a consequentialist so he may have a different take on what kinds of things we can have a duty to do.

Comment by Robert_Wiblin on How much does a vote matter? · 2020-10-31T17:27:14.225Z · EA · GW

Want to write a TLDR summary? I could find somewhere to stick it.

Comment by Robert_Wiblin on How much does a vote matter? · 2020-10-31T17:26:38.670Z · EA · GW

It seems like to figure out whether it's a good use of time for 300 people like you to vote, you still need to figure out if it's worth it for any single of them.

Comment by Robert_Wiblin on When you shouldn't use EA jargon and how to avoid it · 2020-10-30T12:35:25.949Z · EA · GW

I'm actually more favourable to a smaller EA community, but I still think jargon is bad. Using jargon doesn't disproportionately appeal to the people we want.

The most capable folks are busy with other stuff and don't have time to waste trying to understanding us. They're also more secure and uninterested in any silly in-group signalling games.

Comment by Robert_Wiblin on When you shouldn't use EA jargon and how to avoid it · 2020-10-27T12:10:14.492Z · EA · GW

Yes but grok also lacks that connotation to the ~97% of the population who don't know what it means or where it came from.

Comment by Robert_Wiblin on [Link] "Where are all the successful rationalists?" · 2020-10-19T15:04:47.905Z · EA · GW

The EA community seems to have a lot of very successful people by normal social standards, pursuing earning to give, research, politics and more. They are often doing better by their own lights as a result of having learned things from other people interested in EA-ish topics. Typically they aren't yet at the top of their fields but that's unsurprising as most are 25-35.

The rationality community, inasmuch as it doesn't overlap with the EA community, also has plenty of people who are successful by their own lights, but their goals tend to be becoming thinkers and writers who offer the world fresh ideas and a unique perspective on things. That does seems to be the comparative advantage of that group. So then it's not so surprising that we don't see lots of people e.g. getting rich. They mostly aren't trying to. 🤷‍♂️

Comment by Robert_Wiblin on Avoiding Munich's Mistakes: Advice for CEA and Local Groups · 2020-10-15T20:47:27.982Z · EA · GW

To better understand your view, what are some cases where you think it would be right to either

  1. not invite someone to speak, or
  2. cancel a talk you've already started organising,

but only just?

That is, cases where it's just slightly over the line of being justified.

Comment by Robert_Wiblin on Can my self-worth compare to my instrumental value? · 2020-10-13T10:58:10.722Z · EA · GW

For whatever reason people who place substantial intrinsic value on themselves seem to be more successful and have a larger social impact in the long term. It appears to be better for mental health, risk-taking, and confidence among other things.

You're also almost always better placed than anyone else to provide the things you need — e.g. sleep, recreation, fun, friends, healthy behaviours — so it's each person's comparative advantage to put extra effort into looking out for themselves. I don't know why, but doing that is more motivating if it feels like it has intrinsic and not just instrumental value.

Even the most self-effacing among us have a part of their mind that is selfish and cares about their welfare more than the welfare of strangers.

Folks who currently neglect their wellbeing and intrinsic value to a dangerous extent can start by fostering ways of thinking that build up that endorse and build up that selfishness.

Comment by Robert_Wiblin on Keynesian Altruism · 2020-09-17T11:52:52.969Z · EA · GW

Yep that sounds good, non-profits should aim to have fairly stable expenditure over the business cycle.

I think I was thrown off your true motivation by the name 'Keynesian altruism'. It might be wise to rename it 'countercyclical' so it doesn't carry the implication that you're looking for an economic multiplier.

Comment by Robert_Wiblin on Keynesian Altruism · 2020-09-15T14:50:59.885Z · EA · GW

The idea that charities should focus on spending money during recessions because of the extra benefit that provides seems wrong to me.

Using standard estimates of the fiscal multiplier during recessions — and ignoring any offsetting effects your actions have on fiscal or monetary policy — if a US charity spends an extra $1 during a recession it might raise US GDP by between $0 and $3.

If you're a charity spending $1, and just generally raising US GDP by $3 is a significant fraction of your total social impact, you must be a very ineffective organisation. I could not recommend giving to such a project.

I'd think such a gain would be swamped like other issues like investment returns, us learning about better charities in future, or the worst problems getting solved leaving us worse giving opportunities, and so on.

An exception might be if you independently thought something like GiveDirectly was the best option and wasn't going to be beaten by another option in future. Then giving money for dispersal during a recession in the recipient country might be, say, twice as good as giving it outside of recession.

There's a bunch of discussion of these issues in my interview with Phil Trammell.

Comment by Robert_Wiblin on More empirical data on 'value drift' · 2020-09-01T20:53:17.036Z · EA · GW

Is there even 1 exclusively about people working at EA organisations?

If someone had taken a different job with the goal of having a big social impact, and we didn't think what they were doing was horribly misguided, I don't think we would count them as having 'dropped out of EA' in any of the 6 data sets.

Comment by Robert_Wiblin on The case of the missing cause prioritisation research · 2020-08-17T15:52:35.148Z · EA · GW

"For example 80000 Hours have stopped cause prioritisation work to focus on their priority paths"

Hey Sam — being a small organisation 80,000 Hours has only ever had fairly limited staff time for cause priorities research.

But I wouldn't say we're doing less of it than before, and we haven't decided to cut it. For instance see Arden Koehler's recent posts about Ideas for high impact careers beyond our priority paths and Global issues beyond 80,000 Hours’ current priorities.

We aim to put ~10% of team time into underlying research, where one topic is trying to figure out which problems and paths go into each priority level. We also have podcast episodes on newer problems from time to time.

All that said, I am sympathetic to the idea that as a community we are underinvesting in cause priorities research.

Comment by Robert_Wiblin on Intellectual Diversity in AI Safety · 2020-07-23T11:14:21.474Z · EA · GW

It seems like lots of active AI safety researchers, even a majority, are aware of Yudkowsky and Bostrom's views but only agree with parts of what they have to say (e.g. Russell, Amodei, Christiano, the teams at DeepMind, OpenAI, etc).

There may still not be enough intellectual diversity, but having the same perspective as Bostrom or Yudkowsky isn't a filter to involvement.

Comment by Robert_Wiblin on AMA or discuss my 80K podcast episode: Ben Garfinkel, FHI researcher · 2020-07-22T11:14:36.794Z · EA · GW

As Michael says, common sense would indicate I must have been referring to the initial peak, or the peak in interest/panic/policy response, or the peak in the UK/Europe, or peak where our readers are located, or — this being a brief comment on an unrelated topic — just speaking loosely and not putting much thought into my wording.

FWIW it looks like globally the rate of new cases hasn't peaked yet. I don't expect the UK or Europe will return to a situation as bad as the one they went through in late March and early April. Unfortunately the US and Latin America are already doing worse than it was then.

Comment by Robert_Wiblin on AMA or discuss my 80K podcast episode: Ben Garfinkel, FHI researcher · 2020-07-21T11:27:28.195Z · EA · GW

I think you know what I mean — the initial peak in the UK, the country where we are located, in late March/April.

Comment by Robert_Wiblin on AMA or discuss my 80K podcast episode: Ben Garfinkel, FHI researcher · 2020-07-14T15:27:50.858Z · EA · GW

There's often a few months between recording and release and we've had a handful of episodes that took a frustratingly long time to get out the door, but never a year.

The time between the first recording and release for this one was actually 9 months. The main reason was Howie and Ben wanted to go back and re-record a number of parts they didn't think they got right the first time around, and it took them a while to both be free and in the same place so they could do that.

A few episodes were also pushed back so we could get out COVID-19 interviews during the peak of the epidemic.

Comment by Robert_Wiblin on Study results: The most convincing argument for effective donations · 2020-07-01T11:25:49.177Z · EA · GW

Thanks for doing this research, nice work.

Could you make your figure a little larger, it's hard to read on a desktop. It might also be easier for the reader if each of the five arguments had a one-word name to keep track of the gist of their actual content.

"As you can see, the winner in Phase 2 was Argument 9 by a nose. Argument 9 was also the winner by a nose in Phase 1, and thus the winner overall."

I don't think this is quite right. Arguments 5 and 12 are very much within the confidence interval for Argument 9. Eyeballing it I would guess we can only be about 60% confident that argument 9 would do better again if you repeated the experiment.

I would summarise the results as follow:

  • All five arguments substantially outperformed the control, on average increasing giving by around 45%.
  • We also had some evidence that Arguments 5, 9 and 12 all outperformed Arguments 3 and 14, perhaps having about 30% more impact.
Comment by Robert_Wiblin on Problem areas beyond 80,000 Hours' current priorities · 2020-06-22T21:20:30.211Z · EA · GW

Hi Tobias — thanks for the ideas!

Invertebrate welfare is wrapped into 'Wild animal welfare', and reducing long-term risks from malevolent actors is partially captured under 'S-risks'. We'll discuss the other two.

Comment by Robert_Wiblin on Should EA Buy Distribution Rights for Foundational Books? · 2020-06-17T14:37:38.354Z · EA · GW

For future reference, next time you need to look up the page number for a citation, Library Genesis can quickly let you access a digital copy of almost any book:

Comment by Robert_Wiblin on Will protests lead to thousands of coronavirus deaths? · 2020-06-04T14:15:09.774Z · EA · GW

I didn't mean to imply that the protests would fix the whole problem, obviously they won't.

As you say you'd need to multiply through by a distribution for 'likelihood of success' and 'how much of the problems solved'.

Comment by Robert_Wiblin on Will protests lead to thousands of coronavirus deaths? · 2020-06-04T11:01:53.448Z · EA · GW

I think a crux for some protesters will be how much total damage they think bad policing is doing in the USA.

While police killings or murders draw the most attention, much more damage is probably done in other ways, such as through over-incarceration, petty harassment, framing innocent people, bankrupting folks through unnecessary fines, enforcing bad laws such a drug prohibition, assaults, and so on. And that total damage accumulates year after year.

On top of this we could add the burden of crime itself that results from poor policing practices, including a lack of community trust in police due to their oppressive behaviour and lack of accountability.

Regardless of where a consequentialist analysis would come down, it is a tragedy that people feel they need to choose between missing an opportunity to fix a horrible system of state violence, and not spreading a dangerous pandemic.

Comment by Robert_Wiblin on How can I apply person-affecting views to Effective Altruism? · 2020-05-06T12:47:58.632Z · EA · GW

If I weren't interested in creating more new beings with positive lives I'd place greater priority on:

  • Ending the suffering and injustice suffered by animals in factory farming
  • Ending the suffering of animals in the wilderness
  • Slowing ageing, or cryonics (so the present generation can enjoy many times more positive value over the course of their lives)
  • Radical new ways to dramatically raise the welfare of the present generation (e.g. direct brain stimulation as described here)

I haven't thought much about what would look good from a conservative Christian worldview.

Comment by Robert_Wiblin on Eleven recent 80,000 Hours articles on how to stop COVID-19 & other pandemics · 2020-04-12T23:07:30.598Z · EA · GW

Hi PBS, I understand where you're coming from and expect many policy folks may well be having a bigger impact than front-line doctors, because in this case prevention is probably better than treatment.

At the same time I can see why we don't clap for them in that way, because they're not taking on a particularly high risk of death and injury in the same way the hospital staff are right now. I appreciate both, but on a personal level I'm more impressed by people who continue to accept a high risk of contracting COVID-19 in order to treat patients.

Comment by Robert_Wiblin on Toby Ord’s ‘The Precipice’ is published! · 2020-03-09T18:32:05.830Z · EA · GW

I've compiled 16 fun or important points from the book for the write-up of my interview with Toby, which might well be of interest people here. :)

Comment by Robert_Wiblin on Who should give sperm/eggs? · 2020-02-13T11:20:38.883Z · EA · GW

Hi Khorton — yes as I responded to Denise, it appears the one year thing must have been specific to the (for-profit) bank I spoke with. They pay so many up-front costs for each new donor I think they want to ensure they get a lot of samples out of each one to be able to cover them.

And perhaps they were highballing the 30+ number, so they couldn't say they didn't tell you should the most extreme thing happen, even if it's improbable.

Comment by Robert_Wiblin on Who should give sperm/eggs? · 2020-02-12T23:00:00.385Z · EA · GW

Hmmmm, this is all what I was told at one place. Maybe some of these rules — 30 kids max, donating for a year at a minimum, or the 99% figure — are specific to that company, rather than being UK-wide norms/regulations.

Or perhaps they were rounding up to 99% to just mean 'the vast majority'.

I'd forgotten about the ten family limit, thanks for the reminder.

Like you I have the impression that they're much less selective on eggs.

Comment by Robert_Wiblin on Who should give sperm/eggs? · 2020-02-12T21:24:09.348Z · EA · GW

In some ways the UK sperm donation process is an even more serious commitment than egg donation.

From what I was told, the rejection rate is extremely high — close to 99% of applicants are filtered out for one reason or another. If you get through that process they'll want you to go in and donate once a week or more, for at least a year. Each time you want to donate, you can't ejaculate for 48 hours beforehand.

And the place I spoke to said they'd aim to sell enough sperm to create 30 kids in the UK, and even more overseas.

The ones born in the UK can find out who you are and contact you once they turn 18. With so many children potentially resulting, there's a good chance that a number will do so. It would be worth thinking ahead of time how you'd respond, and whether that's something you'll want in your life in ~20 years' time.

Comment by Robert_Wiblin on Attempted summary of the 2019-nCoV situation — 80,000 Hours · 2020-02-08T18:51:37.931Z · EA · GW

I know 2 working in normal pandemic preparedness and 2-3 in EA GCBR stuff.

I can offer introductions though they are probably worked off their feet just now. DM me somewhere?

Comment by Robert_Wiblin on Attempted summary of the 2019-nCoV situation — 80,000 Hours · 2020-02-06T14:28:19.755Z · EA · GW

Thanks for the detailed feedback Adam. :)

Comment by Robert_Wiblin on Should Longtermists Mostly Think About Animals? · 2020-02-06T14:27:59.009Z · EA · GW

Part of the issue might be the subheading "Space colonization will probably include animals".

If the heading had been 'might', then people would be less likely to object. Many things 'might' happen!

Comment by Robert_Wiblin on Should Longtermists Mostly Think About Animals? · 2020-02-05T19:39:51.382Z · EA · GW

80% seems reasonable. It's hard to be confident about many things that far out, but:

i) We might be able to judge what things seem consistent with others. For example, it might be easier to say whether we'll bring pigs to Alpha Centauri if we go, than whether we'll ever go to Alpha Centauri.

ii) That we'll terraform other planets is itself fairly speculative, so it seems fair to meet speculation with other speculation. There's not much alternative.

iii) Inasmuch as we're focussing in on (what's in my opinion) a narrow part of the whole probability space — like flesh and blood humans going to colonise other stars and bringing animals with them — we can develop approaches that seem most likely to work in that particular scenario, rather than finding something that would hypothetically works across the whole space.

Comment by Robert_Wiblin on Should Longtermists Mostly Think About Animals? · 2020-02-04T00:07:02.352Z · EA · GW

I apologise if I'm missing something as I went over this very quickly.

I think a key objection for me is to the idea that wild animals will be included in space settlement in any significant numbers.

If we do settle space, I expect most of that, outside of this solar system, to be done by autonomous machines rather than human beings. Most easily habitable locations in the universe are not on planets, but rather freestanding in space, using resources from asteroids, and solar energy.

Autonomous intelligent machines will be at a great advantage over animals from Earth, who are horribly adapted to survive a long journey through interstellar space or to thrive on other planets.

In a wave of settlement machines should vastly outpace actual humans and animals as they can travel faster between stars and populate those start systems more rapidly.

If settlement is done by 'humans' it seems more likely to be performed by emulated human minds running on computer systems.

In addition to these difficulties, there is no practical reason to bring animals. By that stage of technological development we will surely be eating meat produced without a whole animal, if we eat meat at all. And if we want to enjoy the experience of natural environments on Earth we will be able to do it in virtual reality vastly more cheaply than terraforming the planets we arrive at.

If I did believe animals were going to be brought on space settlement, I would think the best wild-animal-focussed project would be to prevent that from happening, by figuring out what could motivate people to do so, and pointing out the strong arguments against it.

Comment by Robert_Wiblin on Concerning the Recent 2019-Novel Coronavirus Outbreak · 2020-02-03T19:34:13.663Z · EA · GW

Howie and I just recorded a 1h15m conversation going through what we do and don't know about nCoV for the 80,000 Hours Podcast.

We've also compiled a bunch of links to the best resources on the topic that we're aware of which you can get on this page.

Comment by Robert_Wiblin on Growth and the case against randomista development · 2020-01-20T15:20:27.201Z · EA · GW

I've guessed this is the case on 'back of the envelope' grounds for a while, so nice to see someone put more time into evaluating it.

It's not true to say EAs have been blindly on board with RCTs — I've been saying economic policy is probably the top priority for years and plenty of people have agreed that's likely the case. But I don't work on poverty so unfortunately wasn't able to take it further than that.