Posts

What music do you find most inspires you to use your resources (effectively) to help others? 2020-11-21T13:54:35.910Z
So-Low Growth's Shortform 2020-08-03T11:39:11.119Z

Comments

Comment by So-Low Growth on Why you should give to a donor lottery this Giving Season · 2020-12-07T20:17:54.586Z · EA · GW

Does this help (from the FAQs? "The lottery is administered by the Centre for Effective Altruism (CEA). The Centre for Effective Altruism is a registered charity in England and Wales (Charity Number 1149828) and a registered 501(c)(3) Exempt Organization in the USA (EIN 47-1988398). An entry to the lottery is a donation to CEA; CEA will regrant the lottery money, based on the recommendation of the lottery winner.

All grants made are at CEA’s sole discretion. This is a condition of CEA’s status as a tax-deductible non-profit (both in the UK and the US). Of course, CEA will make a good faith effort to act on the recommendation of the winning donor, but it is important to understand that this does not constitute a binding contract, and the final decision rests with CEA.

There are cases where it may not be possible to follow the winner’s recommendation. In particular, CEA is limited to making grants within its charitable objects (and in the US, within the scope of what the IRS would deem an 'appropriate organization' to regrant to). Judgements about whether a potential grantee is within this scope will be made on a case-by-case basis by CEA. If CEA determines that it cannot follow a recommendation, the donor will be contacted to discuss and be given the opportunity to provide a revised recommendation.

Broadly speaking, CEA should be able to regrant to any fund or organization on listed on Effective Altruism Funds, as well as nearly all other registered non-profit organizations in the US, the UK, Australia, Canada, Europe, and possibly other jurisdictions (assuming their organizational purposes don’t contravene CEA’s charitable objects, and we can verify their non-profit status).

CEA may also be able to make grants to organizations that are not registered non-profits, or projects that are run by unincorporated individuals. These requests will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

If you are unsure about whether a potential grantee would be eligible, please get in touch before entering the lottery to discuss (contact details below)."

Comment by So-Low Growth on Careers Questions Open Thread · 2020-12-06T20:29:30.789Z · EA · GW

I had an offer to do LSE's MSc Econometrics and Mathematical Economics, which is well known to place into top PhD programmes, and is incredibly competitive). However, I can't afford the £40k fees + living, coming from more humble financial background than most EAs. I've tried to submit grant applications (i.e. LTTF: rationale being that if LSE and my letter writers thought I could make it in academia, LTTF may concur) but have been rejected. The poor UK post-grad loan system means that it's not enough to cover the fees. I'm also unable to get private loans.
 

My options are now to do a PhD at a lower ranked school. However, EA often says that if you're going to do a PhD, it's best to do it at the best possible school due to the hierarchical nature of academia. Can you recommend grants/individuals that may consider giving me a grant (I would even get a loan if I could...)? Is it still worthwhile to pursue a PhD at a lower ranked school in Econ, given that I theoretically could have gone to an elite school if I had access to better finance?

Comment by So-Low Growth on AMA: Jason Crawford, The Roots of Progress · 2020-12-06T16:11:30.702Z · EA · GW

Quick thought here Jack and Jason (caveat - haven't thought about this much at all!). 

Yes, the creation of new fields is important. However, even if there are diminishing returns to new fields (sidenote - I've been thinking about ways to try and measure this empirically), what's more important is the applicability of the new field to existing fields. 

For example, even if we only create one new field but that field could be incredibly powerful. For example, APM (atomically precise manufacturing), or an AGI of some sorts, then it will have major ramifications on progress across all fields. 

However, if we created a lot of new  insignificant fields, then even if we create hundreds of them, progress won't be substantially improved across other domains.

I guess what I'm trying to say is the emphasis is not just on new fields per se. 

Comment by So-Low Growth on [deleted post] 2020-12-06T00:11:12.981Z

Will MacAskill has appeared on JRE before and probably talked about GiveWell. But yes, good news :).

Comment by So-Low Growth on AMA: Jason Crawford, The Roots of Progress · 2020-12-04T14:08:08.156Z · EA · GW

Aaron, I'm really ignorant about this issue but didn't Peter Singer have a course on EA a while back that if I recall correctly was fairly accessible and could be marketed towards high school students?

Comment by So-Low Growth on AMA: Jason Crawford, The Roots of Progress · 2020-12-04T14:03:39.871Z · EA · GW

Alexey, I'm also skeptical of the findings but haven't had time to dig deeper yet, so it's just hunches at the moment. I have already asked you for the draft :). Honestly, can't wait to read it since you announced it last week! 

Comment by So-Low Growth on AMA: Jason Crawford, The Roots of Progress · 2020-12-04T13:44:20.184Z · EA · GW

What a great question Benjamin! "Why should a longtermist EA work on boosting economic growth? " Is something I have been thinking about myself (my username gives it away...). 

One quick comment on this "I agree Progress Studies itself is far more neglected than general work to boost economic growth"

This spurs a question for me. How is Progress Studies different from people working on Economic Growth? 

Comment by So-Low Growth on AMA: Jason Crawford, The Roots of Progress · 2020-12-03T23:39:01.477Z · EA · GW

What do you think EA could learn from the 'Progress Studies' movement ?

Comment by So-Low Growth on AMA: Jason Crawford, The Roots of Progress · 2020-12-03T23:28:58.576Z · EA · GW

Thanks for doing this Jason. I agree with your  response here. Seems natural to think that there are diminishing marginal returns to ideas within a sector. 

You mention APM, which would spur progress in other sectors.  Are there ways to identify which sectors open up progress in other domains, i.e. identifying the ideas that could remove the constraining factors of progress (small and big)?

Comment by So-Low Growth on Long-Term Future Fund: November 2020 grant recommendations · 2020-12-03T14:06:33.534Z · EA · GW

Quick question regarding Richard Ngo's grant. I'm a big fan of his work/twitter. However, I'm somewhat surprised to see that funding is needed in this scenario, and I'm assuming that the grant is being given because funding is not provided by the university department. Or is the grant in addition to the normal stipend being received from being a PhD student with TA/RA duties?

Comment by So-Low Growth on What music do you find most inspires you to use your resources (effectively) to help others? · 2020-11-22T13:50:31.120Z · EA · GW

Haha - 15 hours of end of the world music sounds up my street! Here's one I like, Charles Bradley, "The World is Going Up in Flames." 

Comment by So-Low Growth on What music do you find most inspires you to use your resources (effectively) to help others? · 2020-11-21T22:35:44.744Z · EA · GW

Haha - wow!

Comment by So-Low Growth on So-Low Growth's Shortform · 2020-10-24T12:32:03.850Z · EA · GW

Thank you Aaron. That's exactly what I was looking for, and additionally I can dig deeper!

Comment by So-Low Growth on So-Low Growth's Shortform · 2020-10-13T20:32:42.663Z · EA · GW

Question: Imagine we could quantify the amount of suffering the average person does by eating meat and the amount of environmental damage that comes from eating this meat. How much would they need to donate to the most effective charities (climate change and animal suffering) in order to off-set their meat-eating habit?

Comment by So-Low Growth on Long-Term Future Fund: September 2020 grants · 2020-09-18T19:40:15.178Z · EA · GW

This makes a lot of sense to me Pablo. You highlighted what I was trying to explain when I was making the comment, that: 1) I was uncertain 2) I didn't want to attack someone. I must admit, my choice of words was rather poor and could come across as "bravery talk", although that was not what I intended.

Comment by So-Low Growth on Long-Term Future Fund: September 2020 grants · 2020-09-18T19:14:41.740Z · EA · GW

All good points Jonas, Ben W, Ben P, and Stefan. Was uncertain at the beginning but am pretty convinced now. Also, side-note, very happy about the nature of all of the comments, in that they understood my POV and engaged with them in a polite manner.

Comment by So-Low Growth on Long-Term Future Fund: September 2020 grants · 2020-09-18T13:36:08.062Z · EA · GW

Thanks for the understanding responses Jonas and Linch. Again, I should clarify, I don't know where I stand here but I'm still not entirely convinced.

So, we have four videos in the last year on his channel, plus three videos on Computerphile, giving seven videos. If I remember correctly, The Alignment Newsletter podcast is just reading Shah's newsletter, which may be useful but I don't think that requires a lot of effort.

I should reiterate that I think what Miles does is not easy. I may also be severely underestimating the time it takes to make a YouTube video!

Comment by So-Low Growth on Long-Term Future Fund: September 2020 grants · 2020-09-18T13:29:54.899Z · EA · GW

Thanks for pointing that out. Will refrain from doing so in the future. What I was trying to make clear was that I didn't want my comment to be seen as a personal attack on an individual. I was uneasy about making the comment on a public platform when I don't know all the details nor know much about the subject matter.

Comment by So-Low Growth on Long-Term Future Fund: September 2020 grants · 2020-09-18T10:47:49.929Z · EA · GW

This is going to sound controversial here (people are probably going to dislike this but I'm genuinely raising this as a concern) but is the Robert Miles $60,000 grant attached to any requirements? I like his content but it seems to me you could find someone with a similar talent level (explaining fairly basic concepts) who could produce many more videos. I'm not well versed in YouTube but four/five videos in the last year doesn't seem substantial. If the $60,000 was instead offered as a one-year job, I think you could find many talented individuals who could produce much more content.

I understand that he's doing other non-directly YouTube related things but if you include support in other forms (Patreon), the output seems pretty low relative to the investment.

Again I should emphasise I'm uncertain about my criticism here and personally have enjoyed watching his videos on occasion.

Comment by So-Low Growth on So-Low Growth's Shortform · 2020-08-03T11:39:20.523Z · EA · GW

I'd like feedback on an idea if possible. I have a longer document with more detail that I'm working on but here's a short summary that sketches out the core idea/motivation:

Potential idea: hosting a competition/experiment to find the most convincing argument for donating to long-termist organisations

Brief summary

Recently, Professor Eric Shwitzgebel and Dr Fiery Cushman conducted a study to find the most convincing philosophical/logical argument for short-term causes. By ‘philosophical/logical argument’ I mean an argument that attempts to persuade readers to donate to short-term causes through reasoning by logic, which often involves basing the arguments on certain philosophical underpinnings, rather than relying on evoking emotion (i.e. pictures of starving children etc.). The authors were motivated by the hypothesis that arguments that appealed to people through logical/philosophical reasoning would not be an effective tool at persuading people to donate, compared to a control condition (reading a passage from a Physics textbook). Shwitzgebel and Cushman ran a competition for submissions from the public. The winners were awarded $1000 ($500 to the author and $500 to the author’s choice of charity).

The authors measured the ‘persuasiveness’ of an argument by the highest average donation given by participants in an experiment to six selected short-termist charities (all of which had a global development/public health focus). Participants in the experiment read different passages of text depending on the experimental condition they were in. They were then informed that they had a 10% chance of receiving a $10 bonus, and that they would be given an opportunity to donate a portion of that bonus to one of the six charities. The winning argument was submitted by Peter Singer and Matthew Lindauer, which had the highest average mean donation amount, beating all the other arguments and the control group.

I found this experiment very intriguing. I suggest here that something similar should be done but for long-termist causes. To my knowledge, something along the lines of this has not been conducted previously. Extending the framework of the Shwitzgebel and Cushman study, I would find the most convincing argument by hosting a competition to elicit submissions for persuasive arguments on long-termism. After narrowing these down, I’d then proceed to run an experiment on participants to see which of the remaining arguments results in the highest average contribution.

Comment by So-Low Growth on Study results: The most convincing argument for effective donations · 2020-07-17T16:42:26.810Z · EA · GW

I wonder if something similar could also be done but with donations to long-term issues instead? I.e. the same set-up but searching for the most convincing long-term arguments. Would this be of interest? (I've been thinking about setting something up along the lines of this).