Comment by toonalfrink on Bottlenecks and Solutions for the X-Risk Ecosystem · 2019-01-14T15:25:44.168Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

How about this: you, as someone already grappling with these problems, present some existing problems to a recrutee, and ask them to come up with some one-paragraph descriptions of original solutions. You read these, and introspect whether they give you a sense of traction/quality, or match solutions that have been proposed by experts you trust (that they haven't heard of).

I'm looking to do a pilot for this. If anyone would like to join, message me.

Comment by toonalfrink on EA Hotel Fundraiser 1: the story · 2018-12-31T21:16:27.704Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · EA · GW

You might precommit to only spending some amount of your money on expansion if this amount has already been matched by donations from others. I'd personally be happy to refrain from expansion until we got the green light from external parties. It would be a good incentive to document our work.

Comment by toonalfrink on EA Hotel Fundraiser 1: the story · 2018-12-27T13:03:22.410Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · EA · GW

I think the best way to think of them are as types that are derived from the data. For each of them there are a few guests that closely resemble it, and together they're meant to cover most of the cases.

EA Hotel Fundraiser 1: the story

2018-12-27T12:15:55.157Z · score: 57 (28 votes)
Comment by toonalfrink on Burnout: What is it and how to Treat it. · 2018-11-07T18:11:07.782Z · score: 8 (7 votes) · EA · GW

I have a hypothesis about burnout that feels true, but I can't validate it because it's purely based on introspection and things other people said. Still it might inspire a fix that works:

Most fatigue is emotional fatigue, and most emotional fatigue (or all?) comes from what I call cognitive dissonance, or subagents that disagree. These subagents are relatively independent agents in you that represent and try to achieve needs that you have. For example the reason that it's hard to concentrate if you have to the toilet is because the subagent that wants you to go to the toilet is interfering with your otherwise aligned coalition of agents that are aiming at something else.

If you repeatedly do something that increases cognitive dissonance, by not meeting a specific need that you have, or acting against something you want, you build up a debt. Your subagents become increasingly "distrustful" of one another, until they just stop playing along at all and stage a "coup", so to speak. This is when parts of you become so much at odds with your usual motivations that they completely block you. We call that burnout.

Most of the time, we're barely aware that we're doing this. We put on tight clothes, sit in noisy places, deprive ourselves of sleep, tolerate scary people, skip lunch. We think that we get used to it, but we just forcefully ignore it. We take stimulants to dull the senses just so that we can keep our focus. That's how we unwittingly build up the dissonance. It's putting on emotional debt one escape at the time.

Suggestions for putting this model to use:

  • Identify the things you secretly need that you're hiding from yourself. For example I might find that I'm really not happy with my insecure financial situation.
  • Strive to be altruistic, but only under the condition that those needs are already mostly met. For example I might reduce my hours from 60 to 40 so that I have enough time for rejuvenation.
  • Routinely check in with yourself, to make sure you're not unknowingly damaging yourself. "Am I hungry/thirsty? Am I cold/warm? Can I handle what this person just said? Do I feel safe?"
  • Notice the failure mode of trying to please someone else just so that they will give you something you need. Be self-sufficient. See social anxiety as an indication that you're not. For example I might put some more attention on optimizing my self-care and housekeeping skills, and get a side job, so that failing in my EA efforts will not damage me
  • Recognize that stimulants are an excellent tool to ignore your needs. Coffee has wrecked me more than once.
  • Schedule downtime (like meditation or just staring at a wall) so that it becomes impossible to ignore your feelings, forcing you to deal with them

Comment by toonalfrink on Burnout: What is it and how to Treat it. · 2018-11-07T17:39:14.280Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW
a good start would be to simply recognize management as what you are doing and a skill that needs to be learned.

I would like to second this, and add that it seems very hard to switch from management to direct work. As a result I would often do neither as I tried to focus on deep work but didn't quite get into it. Gotta schedule specific time for deep work, or just barely do it at all. I opted for the latter, which I find more efficient.

Comment by toonalfrink on Burnout: What is it and how to Treat it. · 2018-11-07T17:36:01.478Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA · GW

I used to be out of balance all the time, but grokking the phase response curve seems to have given me full control of my circadian rhythm. Taking term release melatonin at 16:00 and again at 20:00 can make me go to sleep a good 3 hours earlier.

However there doesn't seem to be a thing in the world that cures sleeplessness that was caused by an overload of stress. If I'm sufficiently overwhelmed, I'm going to lie awake until 04:00 no matter what I do. There is no substitute for opening up to and fixing the underlying issues.

Comment by toonalfrink on The Values-to-Actions Decision Chain: a lens for improving coordination · 2018-06-30T18:44:46.755Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I appreciate this model and feel like it has the potential to be foundational in a rigorous account of group rationality.

This especially because I find that the higher levels lack a proper feedback mechanism. A common pattern seems to be that we often discuss high-level moral philosophy without making any hard decisions on which philosophy to employ. I even use “so have we fixed morality yet?” As a joke. People laugh, not because I pretend that it’s easy, but because I pretend that making a decision is the point. I suspect that this lack of pressure leads to impoverished thinking.

Imagine a world where an institution strived to deliver solutions to moral problems as an input to another institution that further carried it out. I’d expect the sense of responsibility to lead to much better thinking. No more belief as attire.

But then maybe this is already happening in places I haven’t been. Still, I’d love to see more people take responsibility for providing workable answers to philosophy. Even when they’re just chatting at social events.

Comment by toonalfrink on EA Hotel with free accommodation and board for two years · 2018-06-18T13:53:40.470Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Hi Vollmer, appreciate your criticism. Upvoted for that.

While it's really impressive how low the rent at the hotel will be, rent cost is rarely a major reason for a project's funding constraints

Do you realise that the figure cited (3-4k a year) isn't rent cost? It's total living cost. At least in my case that's 4 times as little as what I'm running on, and I'm pretty cheap. For others the difference might be much larger.

For example a project might have an actually high-impact idea that doesn't depend on location. Instead of receiving $150k from CEA to run half a year in the bay with 3 people, they could receive $50k and run for 3 years in Blackpool with 6 people instead. CEA could then fund 3 times as many projects, and it's impact would effectively stretch 623=36 times further. Coming from that perspective, staying in the world's most expensive cities is just non-negotiable. At least for projects (coding, research, etc) that wouldn't benefit an even stronger multiplier from being on-location. And this isn't just projection. I know at least one project that is most likely moving their team to the EA hotel.

Instead, the hotel could become a hub for everyone who doesn't study at a university or work on a project that EA donors find worth funding, i.e. the hotel would mainly support work that the EA community as a whole would view as lower-quality.

I'm pretty sure EA projects find many projects net-positive even if they don't find them worth funding. For the same reason that I'd buy a car if I could afford one. Does that mean I find cars lower-quality than my bicycle? Nope.

Imo it's a very simple equation. EA's need money to live. So they trade (waste) a major slice of their resources to ineffective endeavors for money. We can take away those needs for <10% the cost, effectively making a large amount of people go from part-time to full-time EA. Assuming that the distribution of EA effectiveness isn't too steeply inequal (ie there are still effective EA's out there), this intervention is the most effective I've seen thus far.

Comment by toonalfrink on Remote Volunteering Opportunities in Effective Altruism · 2018-06-08T13:34:38.961Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Thank you for the mention!