Posts

Coronavirus and long term policy [UK focus] 2020-04-05T08:29:08.645Z · score: 51 (22 votes)
Where are you donating this year and why – in 2019? Open thread for discussion. 2019-12-11T00:57:32.808Z · score: 69 (24 votes)
Managing risk in the EA policy space 2019-12-09T13:32:09.702Z · score: 65 (31 votes)
UK policy and politics careers 2019-09-28T16:18:43.776Z · score: 28 (14 votes)
AI & Policy 1/3: On knowing the effect of today’s policies on Transformative AI risks, and the case for institutional improvements. 2019-08-27T11:04:10.439Z · score: 22 (10 votes)
Self-care sessions for EA groups 2018-09-06T15:55:12.835Z · score: 14 (10 votes)
Where I am donating this year and meta projects that need funding 2018-03-02T13:42:18.961Z · score: 11 (11 votes)
General lessons on how to build EA communities. Lessons from a full-time movement builder, part 2 of 4 2017-10-10T18:24:05.400Z · score: 13 (11 votes)
Lessons from a full-time community builder. Part 1 of 4. Impact assessment 2017-10-04T18:14:12.357Z · score: 14 (14 votes)
Understanding Charity Evaluation 2017-05-11T14:55:05.711Z · score: 3 (3 votes)
Cause: Better political systems and policy making. 2016-11-22T12:37:41.752Z · score: 12 (18 votes)
Thinking about how we respond to criticisms of EA 2016-08-19T09:42:07.397Z · score: 3 (3 votes)
Effective Altruism London – a request for funding 2016-02-05T18:37:54.897Z · score: 5 (9 votes)
Tips on talking about effective altruism 2015-02-21T00:43:28.703Z · score: 12 (12 votes)
How I organise a growing effective altruism group in a big city in less than 30 minutes a month. 2015-02-08T22:20:43.455Z · score: 11 (13 votes)
Meetup : Super fun EA London Pub Social Meetup 2015-02-01T23:34:10.912Z · score: 0 (0 votes)
Top Tips on how to Choose an Effective Charity 2014-12-23T02:09:15.289Z · score: 5 (3 votes)
Outreaching Effective Altruism Locally – Resources and Guides 2014-10-28T01:58:14.236Z · score: 10 (10 votes)
Meetup : Under the influence @ the Shakespeare's Head 2014-09-12T07:11:14.138Z · score: 0 (0 votes)

Comments

Comment by weeatquince_duplicate0-37104097316182916 on Objections to Value-Alignment between Effective Altruists · 2020-07-31T17:38:57.139Z · score: 12 (5 votes) · EA · GW

I just want to say that this is one of the best things I have read on this forum. Thank you for such a thoughtful and eloquent piece. I fully agree with you.


To add to the constructive actions I think those working on EA community builidng (CEA and local community builders and 80K etc) should read and take note. Recommended actions for anyone in that position are to:

  • Create the right kind of space so that people can reach their own decision about what causes are most important.
  • Champion cause prioritisation and uncertainty.
  • Learn from the people who do this well. I would call out Amy from CEA for work on EAG in 2018 and David for EA London, who I think manage this well.

(Some notes I made in the past on this are here: https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/awS28gHCM9GBmhcAA/cea-on-community-building-representativeness-and-the-ea?commentId=jPw8xiwxmk23Y5tKx )

Comment by weeatquince_duplicate0-37104097316182916 on Objections to Value-Alignment between Effective Altruists · 2020-07-31T17:30:56.666Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · EA · GW
I think your claim is not that "all value-alignment is bad" but rather "when EAs talk about value-alignment, they're talking about something much more specific and constraining than this tame interpretation".

To attempt an answer on behalf of the author. The author says "an increasingly narrow definition of value-alignment" and I think the idea is that seeking "value-alignment" has got narrower and narrower over term and further from the goal of wanting to do good.

In my time in EA value alignment has, among some folk, gone from the tame meaning you provide of really wanting to figure out how to do good to a narrower meaning such as: you also think human extinction is the most important thing.

Comment by weeatquince_duplicate0-37104097316182916 on Systemic change, global poverty eradication, and a career plan rethink: am I right? · 2020-07-24T07:02:54.454Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Hi, let me try and give some feedback on your career plan:

Your career plan sounds great!

• I think the thing the world is missing right now is a good understanding of how to create sustainable systemic change. I think an econ qualification with the aim of producing really high value research on issues that are pertinent to how to bring countries out of poverty would be a really high value action, and doing this kind of work is near the top of my to do list too.

However I would caution:

• Explore whilst you are young. The path sounds like it would be good for impact but I think it is important to work in the area where your strengths match. And you should think about ways to explore your strengths. This could be by getting a job and doing a Masters course part time or doing internships over the summer or doing something else for a year etc.

• Similarly, many of the academics I think are best at creating really useful research have some experience outside of academia in creating change. Eg: taken time out from academia to run for a political position or work in politics. You can get experience in a field that is pertinent to how change is created then you might be better able to address the problems. Also at some point in the future when you have a clearer idea to solutions you might want to pivot from academia to starting a campaign or a social enterprise etc so other experience is useful.

Hope that helps

Comment by weeatquince_duplicate0-37104097316182916 on Call for feedback and input on longterm policy book proposal · 2020-07-10T15:51:57.222Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

I also want to clarify my statement that this was "low-medium value" was based on the current plan – I think there is valuable stuff here that could be teased out to make this useful to people in policy.

A good book summarising the academic work on how policy is made, how change happens, how external influences work, mapping out the whole space and giving an overview and different perspectives could be really really useful.

I wouldn’t give up on this idea – just maybe develop it further – can talk more if useful.

Comment by weeatquince_duplicate0-37104097316182916 on Call for feedback and input on longterm policy book proposal · 2020-07-10T08:00:17.103Z · score: 18 (6 votes) · EA · GW

Hi Maxime and Konrad,

The target audience consists of policy practitioners, inside and outside of government, and scholars of the policy process.

I am going to give a reply from the point of view of a "policy practitioner", one of the intended groups of audiences for this book. I'm not familiar with "scholars of the policy process" so can't comment on the usefulness for them". I work very much in this space – promoting long-term policy making in the UK parliament.


Let us know your thoughts, questions and feedback in the comments

In short my immediate intuition is that this is medium-low value to policymakers and to me. Although this I would likely read this I doubt I would find it very useful to me.

As others have mentioned chapters 1 & 4-5 and chapters 2-3 seem like a different topics to be read for different reasons.


Chapters 2-3

I think to someone in policy the content of chapters 2-3 seems quite basic. It is stuff that I know (or at least like to think I know). This matches my experience of the EA Geneva research I have read to date: of accurate descriptions of the policy process but quite basic and not very insightful to someone who has worked in policy for a while.

I personally think I would find it interesting to explore an academics' take on policy and see how it compares to my own knowledge. However I wouldn't expect to gain much if anything from reading this. Might be more useful to policy makers more junior in their career as introductory material.


Chapters 1 & 4-5

Chapters 1 & 4-5 seems of mixed usefulness. Chapter 1 and the beginning of chapter 4 seems useful but the rest of chapter 4 and chapter 5 seems to be written very much for academics trying to study the field.

  • Chapter 1. Seems good and interesting and I think policy makers would find this useful. That said this is all content covered elsewhere that I have read already (eg here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Ra42MbUkvIjZPn-MJxVxUdpjK_5VLZ7lxUxBAmp3Ook/edit or https://www.appgfuturegenerations.com/research)
  • Chapter 4. Parts 1 and 2. Good. If done well, an analysis, literature review and exploration of these 4 diverse strategies would be very interesting.
  • Chapter 4. Parts 3 and 4. I understand this would be details of an experiment trying to compare these four strategies. These are not like for like things and decisions between them would be rare and based on many factors. I would be interested in maybe 1-2 pages of a book summarising this work but a detailed description of how someone has tried to compare them in this way seems like an intellectual academic exercise I would not be interested in. Somewhat judging this on your EA global talk.
  • Chapter 5. This looks like suggestions for academic research. This is not at all the research agenda I would take if I was trying to develop policy in this space within the next few years as a policy maker or think tank etc. It is very very theoretical based (computational models, fundamentals of policy making).


I hope that breakdown helps you refine this work. Just some initial thoughts. Happy to chat through and be constructive, especially if August works.



EDIT. Also if for a wider audience worth remembering that there are popular books on this or tangential to this. Like "The Precipice", "The Good Ancestor", "FutureGen", Will's next book, and a few others.

Comment by weeatquince_duplicate0-37104097316182916 on How to Fix Private Prisons and Immigration · 2020-07-07T08:00:02.334Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW
That doesn't seem like a good system. The bidding process and the actualisation of losses (tied to real social interests) keep the prisons in check.

I strongly disagree. Additional checks and balances that prevent serious problems occurring are good. You have already said your system could go wrong (you said "more realistic assumptions might show my proposed system is fundamentally mistaken") and maybe it could go wrong in subtle ways that take years to manifest as companies learn how they can twist the rules.

You should be in favour of checks and balances, and might want to explore what additional systems of checks would work best for your proposal. Options include: A few prisons running on a different system (eg state-run). A regulator for your auction based prisons. Transparency. The prisons being on 10 year loans from the state with contacts the need regular renewing so they would default to state ownership. Human rights laws. Etc. Maybe all of the above are things to have.


As an example, one thing that could go wrong (although it looks like you have touched on this elsewhere in the comments) is prisons may not have a strong incentive to care about the welfare of the prisoners whilst they are in the prison.

Comment by weeatquince_duplicate0-37104097316182916 on How to Fix Private Prisons and Immigration · 2020-07-07T07:50:12.514Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW
I'm interested to hear what you think.

Unfortunately I don’t have much useful to contribute on this. I don’t have experience running trials and pilots. I would think through the various scenarios by which a pilot could get started and then adapt to that. Eg what if you had the senior management of one prison that was keen. What about a single state. What about a few prisons. Also worth recognising that data might take years.

I used to know someone who worked on prison data collection and assessing success of prisons, if I see her at some point I could raise this and message you.

Comment by weeatquince_duplicate0-37104097316182916 on How to Fix Private Prisons and Immigration · 2020-07-06T21:20:08.390Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

MAIN POINTS:

Looks like we are mostly on the same page. We both recognise the need for theoretical data and empirical data to play a role and we both think that you have a good idea for prison reform.

I still get the impression that you undervalue empirical evidence of existent systems compared to theoretical evidence and may under invest in understanding evidence that goes against the theory or could improve the model. (Or may be I am being too harsh and we agree here too, hard to judge from a short exchange like this.) I am not sure I can persuade you to change much on this but I go into detail on a few points below.

Anyway even if you are not persuaded I expect (well hope) that you would need to gather the empirical evidence before any senior policy makers look to implement this so either way that seems like a good next step. Good luck :-)


TO ADDRESS THE POINTS RAISED:

Good theoretical evidence is "actual evidence"

Firstly, apologies. I am not sure I explained things very well. Was late and I minced my words a bit. By "actual evidence" I was trying to just encompass the case of a similar policy already being in place and working. Eg we know tobacco tax works well at achieving the policy aim of reducing smoking because we can see it working. Sorry for any confusion caused.


Can you show me a theoretical model of school building that would convince me that it would work when it would, in fact, fail?

A better example from development is microcredit (mirofinace). Basically everyone was convinced by the theory of small loans to those too poor to receive finance. The guy who came up with the idea got a freking Nobel Prize. Super-skeptics GiveWell used to have a page on the best microcredit charity. But turns out (from multiple meta-analyses) that there was basically no way to make it work in practice (not for the worlds poorest).


Any prison system that does so [works] will look similar to mine, e.g. prisons would need to get paid when convicts pay tax.

Blanket statements like this – suggesting your idea or similar is the ONLY way prisons can work still concerns me and makes me think that you value theoretical data too highly compared to empirical data. I don’t know much about prisons systems but I would be shocked if there was NO other good way to have a well managed prison system.


A pilot prison wouldn't work because it wouldn't have competitive bidding.

I still think it could help the case to think about how a pilot prison could be made to produce useful data. Could the prison bid against the state somehow? Or could it work with two prisons? Or one prison and two price streams?

Comment by weeatquince_duplicate0-37104097316182916 on How to Fix Private Prisons and Immigration · 2020-07-06T05:32:26.056Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I do not have a lot of information on it. Maybe start with: https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/our-work/policy-making/government-outsourcing


I think it mostly comes down to having good contracts in place between the prisons and the state so that the prisons have the correct incentives. I do not have a good knowledge of how the contracts work.

I think the contracts in place are temporary and need regular renewal. If a contract for a private prison is not renewed after x years then the building and management will revert to state ownership.

I believe there are both state-run and private run prisons in the UK. They are compared and in some sense this acts as a check and balance because of one system is working much worse than the other it drives change.

I note that prisons are private but that parole services are state-run (or at least reverting to be state run as they did not work privatised).


Hope that helps

Comment by weeatquince_duplicate0-37104097316182916 on How to Fix Private Prisons and Immigration · 2020-07-06T05:25:47.018Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Hi,


THEORY AND EVIDENCE

Correct me if I am wrong but you seem to be implying that the "theoretical reasons" why a policy idea will work are necessary and more important than empirical evidence that a system has worked in some case (which may be misleading due to confounding factors like good people).

If so I strongly disagree:

  • Based on my 7 years experience working in UK policy would lead me to say the opposite. Theoretical reasons are great but actual evidence that a particular system has worked is super great, and in most cases more important.
  • Of course both can be useful. The world is complicated and policy is complicated and both evidence and theory can lead you down the wrong path. Good theoretical policy ideas can turn out to be wrong and well-evidence policy idea may not replicate as expected.
  • Consider international development. The effective altruism community has been saying for years (and backing up these claims) that in development you cannot just do things that theoretically sound like they will work (like building schools) but you need to do things that have empirical evidence of working well.
  • People are very very good at persuading themselves in what they believe (eg confirmation bias). A risk with policies driven by theoretical reasoning is that its adherents have ideological baggage and motivated reasoning and do not shift in line with new evidence. This is less of a risk for policy driven based on what works.

ON PRISONS

I have not considered all the details but I do think you have a decent policy idea here. I would be interested to see it tried. I would make the following, hopefully constructive, suggestions to you.


1.

Focus on countries where the prison system is actually broken

There is a lot of failings in policy and limited capacity to address them all. I do think "if it is not broke don’t fix it" is often a good maxim in policy and countries with working systems should not be the first to shift to the system you describe.


2.

Be wary of the risk of motivated reasoning

If the UK system currently works well, I suspect that you have good regulators who are manually handling the shortcomings of the underlying system.

Nothing you said substantiates this claim and from what I know about the UK system (which is admittedly minimal) I don’t think this is the case. Now this claim might be true and you might have good evidence for it that you didn’t state, but it did raise a red flag in my mind when I red it.


3.

Don’t under-value evidence, you might miss things. An underplayed strength of your case for fixing private prisons is that the solution you suggest is testable. A single pilot prison could be run and data collected and lessons learned. To some degree this could even be done by an committed entrepreneur with minimal government support.


4.

Look at what can be learned from systems that work elsewhere. Eg a feature of the UK system is that there are both state-run and private prisons. These can and have been compared and can and have acted as a check on each other. If one is clearly failing it motivates change in the other. This learning can make you case for trailing auction based prisons stronger as you can highlight how different systems running in parallel act as a check on each other. Yet at the same time this learning also makes the case for running 100% private auction based prisons weaker as maybe some amount of state-run prisons can provide a useful check on the system.


Hope that helps.

Comment by weeatquince_duplicate0-37104097316182916 on How to Fix Private Prisons and Immigration · 2020-07-03T14:05:03.201Z · score: 8 (4 votes) · EA · GW

A good post with interesting ideas.

I think it is however worth flagging to the readers that this is a presumably a US centric post. My understanding is that in the UK at least our private prisons system performs well (and out-performs the public prisons).

I expect a lot could be learned by looking at countries that do private prisons well.

Comment by weeatquince_duplicate0-37104097316182916 on EAGxVirtual Unconference (Saturday, June 20th 2020) · 2020-06-12T06:05:06.184Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · EA · GW

I would be interested in this.


Hi Rachel, I have been researching this topic for a while – although mostly in the UK context.

Would be up for:

  • Inputting into a session on this. Could talk through with you or talk for a few minutes on my own findings and thoughts.
  • Separate from this having a catch-up to hear about your experiences.

Send me a DM or email to: policy [at] ealondon.com

– Sam

Comment by weeatquince_duplicate0-37104097316182916 on Reducing long-term risks from malevolent actors · 2020-05-06T07:19:38.305Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Thank you for the insight. I really have no strong view on how useful each / any of the ideas I suggested were. They were just ideas.

I would add on this point that narcissistic politicians I have encountered worried about appearance and bad press. I am pretty sure that transparency and fact checking etc discouraged them from making harmful decisions. Not every narcissistic leader is like Trump.

Comment by weeatquince_duplicate0-37104097316182916 on Update from the Happier Lives Institute · 2020-05-03T09:26:32.711Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Amazing job Clare and Michael and everyone else involved. Keep up the good work.

As mentioned previously I would be interested, further down the line, to see a broad cause prioritisation assessments that looked at how SWB metrics might shed insight on how we compare global heath, to global economic growth, to improving decisions, to farmed animals well-being, to existential risk prevention, etc.

Comment by weeatquince_duplicate0-37104097316182916 on Reducing long-term risks from malevolent actors · 2020-05-03T08:50:45.687Z · score: 41 (19 votes) · EA · GW

Hi, interesting article. Thank you for writing.

I felt that this article could have said more about possible policy interventions and that it dismisses policy and political interventions as crowded too quickly. Having thought a bit about this area in the past I thought I would chip in.

MORE ON POLICY INTERVENTIONS

Even within established democracies, we could try to identify measures that avoid excessive polarization and instead reward cross-party cooperation and compromise. ... (For example, effective altruists have discussed electoral reform as a possible lever that could help achieve this.)

There are many things that could be done to prevent malevolent leaders within established democracies. Reducing excessive polarization (or electoral reform) are two minor ones. Other ideas you do not discuss include:

  • Better mechanisms for judging individuals. Eg ensuring 360 feedback mechanisms are used routinely to guide hiring and promotion decisions as people climb political ladders. (I may do work on this in the not too distant future)
  • Less power to individuals. Eg having elections for parties rather than leaders. (The Conservative MPs in the UK could at any time decide that Boris Johnson is no longer fit to be a leader and replace him with someone else, Republicans cannot do this with Trump, Labour MPs in the UK cannot do this with a Labour leader to the same extent).
  • Reduce the extent to which corruption / malevolence is beneficial for success. There are many ways to do this. In particular removing the extent to which individuals raising money is a key factor for their political success (in the UK most political fundraising is for parties not for individuals). Also removing the extent to which dishonesty pays, for example with better fact-checking services.
  • More checks and balances on power. A second house. A constitution. More independent government institutions (central banks, regulators, etc – I may do some work in this space soon too). More transparency of political decision making. Better complaint and whistle-blowing mechanisms. Limits on use of emergency powers. Etc.

ARE POLITICAL INTERVENTIONS CROWDED?

Alternatively, we could influence political background factors that make malevolent leaders more or less likely... interventions to promote democracy and reduce political instability seem valuable—though this area seems rather crowded.

You might be correct, but this feels a bit like saying the AI safety space is crowded because lots of groups are trying to develop AI. However it may not be the case that those groups are focusing as much on safety as you would like. Although there are many groups (especially nation states) that want to promote democracy there may be very specific interventions that prevent malevolent leaders that are significantly under-discussed, such as elections for parties rather than leaders, or other points listed above. It seems plausible that academics and practitioners in this space may be able to make valuable shifts in the way fledgling democracies are developing that are not otherwise being considered.

And as someone in the improving government institutions space in the UK is is not evident to me that there is much focus on the kinds of interventions that would limit malevolent leaders.

Comment by weeatquince_duplicate0-37104097316182916 on What will 80,000 Hours provide (and not provide) within the effective altruism community? · 2020-04-27T17:26:38.213Z · score: 7 (5 votes) · EA · GW

Hi Ben, I think you are correct that the main difference in our views is likely to be the trade-off between breadth/inclusivity verses expected impact in key areas. I think you are also correct that this is not a topic that either of us could do justice in this thread (I am not sure I could truly do it justice in any context without a lot of work, although always happy to try). And ultimately my initial disappointment may just be from this angle.

I do think historically 80K has struggled more in communicating its priorities to the EA community than others (CEA / GiveWell / etc) and it seems like you recognise this has been a challenge. I think perhaps it was overly harsh of me to say that 80K was "clearly doing something wrong". I was focusing only on the communications front. Maybe the problems were unavoidable or the past decisions made were the net best decisions given various trade-offs. For example maybe the issues I pointed to were just artifacts of 80K at the time transitioning its messaging from more of a "general source of EA careers advice" to more of cause focused approach. (It is still unclear to me if this is a messaging shift or a strategy shift). Always getting messaging spot on is super difficult and time consuming.

Unfortunately, I am not sure my thoughts here have lead to much that is concretely useful (but thank you for engaging). I guess if I had to summarise some key points I would say: I am super in favour of transparency about priorities (and in that regard this whole post is great); if you are focusing more on your effect on the effective altruism movement then local community organisers might have useful insights (+CEA ect have useful expertise); if 80k gets broader over time that would be exciting to me; I know I have been critical but I am really impressed by how successful you have made 80k.

Comment by weeatquince_duplicate0-37104097316182916 on Coronavirus and long term policy [UK focus] · 2020-04-26T13:12:04.635Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Hi, Thank you some super useful points here. Will look at some of the BBRSC reports. I know about NC3R and think it is a good approach.

Only point I disagree with:

In terms of having a minister for dual use research this seems quite high cost to ask for, and low worth think Piers Millet suggestion of liaison officer more useful.

To clarify this is not a new Minister but adding this area of responsibility to a Ministerial portfolio so not at all a high cost ask (although ideally would do so in legislation which would be higher cost).

I think this is needed as however capable the civil service is at coordination there needs to be a Minister who is interested and held accountable in order to drive change and maintain momentum.

Comment by weeatquince_duplicate0-37104097316182916 on What will 80,000 Hours provide (and not provide) within the effective altruism community? · 2020-04-26T12:17:02.445Z · score: 36 (16 votes) · EA · GW

Hi Ben, Thank you for the thoughtful reply. Super great to see a greater focus on community culture in your plans for 2020. You are always 2 steps ahead :-)

That said I disagree with most of what you wrote.

Most of your reply talks about communications hurdles. I don’t think these pose the barrier you think they pose. In face the opposite, I think the current approach makes communications and mistrust issues worse.

You talk about the challenge of being open about your prioritisation and also open to giving advice across causes, risks of appearing to bait and switch, transparency Vs demoralising. All of these issues can be overcome, and have been overcome by others in the effective altruism community and elsewhere. Most local community organisers and CEA staff have a view on what cause they care the most about yet still mange an impartial community and impartial events. Most civil servants have political views but still provide impartial advice to Ministers. Solutions involve separating your priotisation from your impartial advice, having a strong internal culture of impartiality, being open about your aims and views, being guided by community interests, etc. This is certainly not always easy (hence why I had so many conversations about how to do this well) but it can be done.

I say the current approach makes these problems worse. Firstly thinking back to my time focused on local community building (see examples above) it appeared to me that 80000 Hours had broken some of the bonds of trust that should exist between 80000 Hours and its readership. It seems clear that 80000 Hours was doing something wrong and that more impartiality would be useful. (Although take this with a pinch of salt as I have been less in this space for a few years now). Secondly it seems surprising to me that you think the best communications approach for the effective altruism community is to have multiple organisations in this space for different causes with 80000 Hours being an odd mix of everything and future focused. A single central organisation with a broader remit would be much clearer. (Maybe something like franchising out the 80000 Hours brand to these other organisations if you trust them could solve this.)

I fully recognise there are some very difficult trade-offs here: there is a huge value to doing one thing really well, costs of growing a team to quickly to delve into more areas, costs of having lower impact on the causes you care about, costs of switching strategy, etc.

Separately to the above I expect that I would place a much stronger emphasis than you on epistemic humility and have more uncertainty than you about the value of different causes and I imagine this pushes me towards a more inclusive approach.

Comment by weeatquince_duplicate0-37104097316182916 on What will 80,000 Hours provide (and not provide) within the effective altruism community? · 2020-04-26T09:56:38.707Z · score: 13 (9 votes) · EA · GW

Hi Michelle, Firstly I want to stress that no one in 80,000 Hours needs to feel bad because I was unimpressed with some coaching a few years ago. I honestly think you are all doing a really difficult job and doing it super well and I am super grateful for all the coaching I (and others) have received. I was not upset, just concerned, and I am sure any concerns would have been dealt with at the time.

(Also worth bearing in mind that this may have been an odd case as I know the 80K staff and in some ways it is often harder to coach people you know as there is a temptation to take shortcuts, and I think people assume I am perhaps more certain about far future stuff than I am.)

--
I have a few potentially constructive thoughts about how to do coaching well. I have included in case helpful, although slightly wary of writing these up because they are a bit basic and you are a more experienced career coach than me so do take this with a pinch of salt:

  • I have found it works well for me best to break the sessions into areas where I am only doing traditional coaching (mostly asking questions) and a section(s), normally at the end, where I step back from the coach role to an adviser role and give an opinion. I clearly demarcate the difference and tend to ask permission before giving my opinion and tend to caveat how they should take my advice.
  • Recording and listening back to sessions has been useful for me.
  • I do coaching for people who have different views from me about which beneficiaries count. I do exercises like asking them how much they care about 1 human or 100 pigs or humans in 100 years, and work up plans from there. (This approach could be useful to you but I expect this is less relevant as I would expect much more ethical alignment of the people you coach).
  • I often feel that personally being highly uncertain about which cause paths are most important is helpful to taking an open mind when coaching. This may be a consideration when hiring new coaches.

Always happy to chat if helpful. :-)

Comment by weeatquince_duplicate0-37104097316182916 on What will 80,000 Hours provide (and not provide) within the effective altruism community? · 2020-04-21T08:44:46.200Z · score: 65 (36 votes) · EA · GW

In many ways this post leaves me feeling disappointed that 80,000 Hours has turned out the way it did and is so focused on long-term future career paths.

- -

Over the last 5 years I have spent a fair amount of time in conversation with staff at CEA and with other community builders about creating communities and events that are cause-impartial.

This approach is needed for making a community that is welcoming to and supportive of people with different backgrounds, interests and priorities; for making a cohesive community where people with varying cause areas feel they can work together; and where each individual is open-minded and willing to switch causes based on new evidence about what has the most impact.

I feel a lot of local community builders and CEA have put a lot of effort into this aspect of community building.

- -
Meanwhile it seems that 80000 Hours has taken a different tack. They have been more willing, as part of trying to do the most good, to focus on the causes that the staff at 80000 Hours think are most valuable.

Don’t get me wrong I love 80000 Hours, I am super impressed by their content glad to see them doing well. And I think there is a good case to be made for the cause-focused approach they have taken.

However, in my time as a community builder (admittedly a few years ago now) I saw the downsides of this. I saw:

  • People drifting from EA. Eg: someone telling me, they were no longer engaging with the EA community because they felt that it was now all long-term future focused and point to 80000 Hours as the evidence.
  • People feeling that they needed to pretend to be long-termism focused to get support from the EA community . Eg: someone telling me they wanted career coaching “read between the lines and pretended to be super interested in AI”.
  • Personally feeling uncomfortable because it seemed to me that my 80000 Hours career coach had a hidden agenda to push me to work on AI rather than anything else (including paths that progressed by career yet kept my options more open to different causes).
  • Concerns that the EA community is doing a bait-and-switch tactic of “come to us for resources on how to do good. Actually, the answer is this thing and we knew all along and were just pretending to be open to your thing.”

- -

“80,000 Hours’ online content is also serving as one of the most common ways that people get introduced to the effective altruism community”

So, Ben, my advice to you would firstly to be to be super proud of what you have achieved. But also to be aware of the challenges that 80000 Hours’ approach makes for building a welcoming and cohesive community. I am really glad that 20% of content on the podcast and the job board goes into broader areas than your priority paths and would encourage you to find ways that 80000 Hours can put more effort into these areas, do some more online content on these areas and to think carefully about how to avoid the risks of damaging the EA brand or the EA community.

And best of luck with the future.

Comment by weeatquince_duplicate0-37104097316182916 on What posts you are planning on writing? · 2020-02-03T10:04:59.828Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Hi, is be interested and have been thinking about similar stuff (meeting the impact of lobbying, etc) from a uk policy perspective.

If helpful happy to chat and share thoughts. Feel free to get in touch to: sam [at] appgfuturegenerations.com

Comment by weeatquince_duplicate0-37104097316182916 on Cotton‐Barratt, Daniel & Sandberg, 'Defence in Depth Against Human Extinction' · 2020-01-29T13:02:13.351Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · EA · GW

This is excellent. Very well done.


It crossed my mind to ponder on whether much can be said about where different categories* of risk prevention are under-resourced. For example it maybe that the globe spends enough resources on preventing natural risks as we have seen them in the past so understand them. It maybe that militarisation of states means that we are prepared for malicious risk. It maybe that we under-prepare for large risks as they have less small scale analogues.

Not sure how useful following that kind of thinking is but it could potentially help with prioritisation. Would be interested to hear if the authors have though through this.


*(The authors break down risks into different categories: Natural Risk / Accident Risk / Malicious Risk / Latent Risk / Commons Risk, and Leverage Risk / Cascading Risk / Large Risk, and capability risk / habitat risk / ubiquity risk / vector risk / agency risk).

Comment by weeatquince_duplicate0-37104097316182916 on What are words, phrases, or topics that you think most EAs don't know about but should? · 2020-01-22T18:34:43.953Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Optimisers curse / Regression to the mean

On how trying to optimise can lead you to make mistakes

Comment by weeatquince_duplicate0-37104097316182916 on What are words, phrases, or topics that you think most EAs don't know about but should? · 2020-01-22T18:30:03.941Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Knightian uncertainty / deep uncertainty

a lack of any quantifiable knowledge about some possible occurrence

This means any situation where uncertainty is so high that it is very hard / impossible / foolish to quantify the outcomes.

To understand this it is useful to note the difference between uncertainty (EG 1: The chance of a nuclear war this century) and risk (EG 2: the chance of a coin coming up heads).

The process for making decisions that rely on uncertainty may be very different form the process for making decision that rely on risk. The optimal tactic for making good decisions on situations about deep uncertainty may not be to just quantify the situation.


Why this matters

This could drastically change the causes EAs care about and the approaches they take.

This could alter how we judge the value of taking action that affects the future.

This could means that "rationalist"/LessWrong approach of "shut up and multiply" for making decisions might not be correct.

For example this could shift decisions away from a naive exacted value based on outcomes and probabilities and towards favoring courses of actions that are robust to failure modes, have good feedback loops, have short chains of affects, etc.

(Or maybe not, I don’t know. I don’t know enough about how to make optimal decisions under deep uncertainty but I think it is a thing I would like to understand better.)


See also

The difference between "risk" and "uncertainty". "Black swan events". Etc

Comment by weeatquince_duplicate0-37104097316182916 on Response to recent criticisms of EA "longtermist" thinking · 2020-01-13T14:04:56.526Z · score: 1 (7 votes) · EA · GW

Section 9.3 here: https://www.nickbostrom.com/existential/risks.html

(Disclaimer: Not my own views/criticism. I am just trying to steelman a Facebook post I read. I have not looked into the wider context of these views or people's current positions on these views.)


Comment by weeatquince_duplicate0-37104097316182916 on Response to recent criticisms of EA "longtermist" thinking · 2020-01-13T09:56:10.497Z · score: 21 (18 votes) · EA · GW

Hi,

I downvoted this but I wanted to explain why and hopefully provide constructive feedback. I felt that, having seen the original post this is referencing, I really do not think this post did a good/fair job of representing (or steelmanning) the original arguments raised.

To try and make this feedback more useful and help the debate here are some very quick attempts to steelman some of the original arguments:

  • Historically arguments that justify horrendous activities have a high frequency of being utopia based (appealing to possible but uncertain future utopias). The long-termist astronomical waste argument has this feature and so we should be wary of it.
  • If an argument leads to some ridiculous / repugnant conclusions that most people would object too then it is worth being wary of that argument. The philosophers who developed the long-termist astronomical waste argument openly use it to promote a range of abhorrent hawkish geopolitical responses (eg premptive nuclear strikes). We should be wary of following and promoting such arguments and philosophers.
  • There are problems with taking a simple expected value approach to decision making under uncertainty. Eg Pascal's mugging problems. [For more on this look up robust decision making under deep uncertainty or knightian uncertainty]
  • The astronomical waste type arguments are not robust to a range of different philosophical and non-utilitarian ethical frameworks and (given ethical uncertainty) this makes them not great arguments
  • Etc
  • The above are not arguments against working on x-risks etc (and the original poster does himself work on x-risk issues) but are against overly relying on, using and promoting the astronomical waste type arguments for long-termism.

Comment by weeatquince_duplicate0-37104097316182916 on 8 things I believe about climate change · 2019-12-29T14:16:50.945Z · score: 8 (5 votes) · EA · GW

Having looked at your sources I am not sure they justify the conclusions.


In particular:

  • Your sources for point 1 seem to ignore the >10% case that the world warms significantly more than expected (they generally look at mortality in the business as usual case).
  • Your sources for point 2 focus on whether climate change is truly existential, but do seem to point to a possibly if it being a global catastrophe. (Point 2 appears to be somewhat crucial, the other points, especially 1, 4, 5, 7 depend on this point.)

    It seems plausible from looking at your sources that there are tail risks of extreme warming that could lead to huge global catastrophe (maybe not quite at your cut-off the 10% chance of 10% mortality level but huge).

    Eg Halstead:
    "On current pledges and promises, we’ll probably end up at around 700ppm by 2100 and increasing well beyond that."
    "at 700ppm, ... there is an 11% chance of an eventual >6 degrees of warming"
    "at 1120ppm, there is between a 10% and 34% chance of >9 degrees of warming"
    "Heat stress ... seems like it would be a serious problem for warming >6 degrees for large portions of the planet ... With 11–12 °C warming, such regions would spread to encompass the majority of the human population as currently distributed"
    "6 degrees would drastically change the face of the globe, with multi-metre sea level rises, massive coastal flooding, and the uninhabitability of the tropics." "10 degrees ... would be extremely bad"

Overall I expect these points 1 and 2 are quite possibly correct, but, having looked through your sources and concluded that they do not justify the points very well, I would have low epistemic status in these points.


Also on points 4 and 7, I think they are dependent on what kind of skills and power you have and are using. Eg: If you are long-term focused and have political influence climate issues might be a better thing to focus on than AI safety risks which is not really on the political agenda much.

Comment by weeatquince_duplicate0-37104097316182916 on Where are you donating this year and why – in 2019? Open thread for discussion. · 2019-12-24T08:42:19.453Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Hi Michael, That all sounds really sensible and well thought out. Good job :-)

Comment by weeatquince_duplicate0-37104097316182916 on Where are you donating this year and why – in 2019? Open thread for discussion. · 2019-12-16T19:03:51.954Z · score: 8 (5 votes) · EA · GW

Hi Michael,

First year donating is super exciting!!

Not an expert but some feedback that jumps to mind is:

  • Overall this looks like a great donation plan.
  • Giving to the Animal Welfare Fund or ACE's top recommended charities seems like a pretty solid surefire bet / way to outsource donations.
  • I am slightly less certain about donating directly to RP or CE unless you have a reason to think the Animal Welfare Fund is not funding these enough (which does happen), but either way you are following the donations of the Animal Welfare Fund so there is really not much in it and it is useful sometimes to donate and see how the orgs are using your money.
  • One extra thing to consider is donating to the charities being created by Charity Entrepreneurship, (for example https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/iMofrSc86iSR7EiAG/introducing-fish-welfare-initiative-1 ). I cant talk for CE but I think CE believe donations to their new charities are a bit more urgent than donations directly to CE. Maybe one of the fish people can say if they are looking for funds.
  • I endorse solving collective action problems that benefit you and other donors. You are probably better placed to evaluate RC Forward than us non-Canadians, and if RC Forward is useful to help you donate more then supporting it with at least some of your donation makes sense.

Hope that helps,

Sam

Comment by weeatquince_duplicate0-37104097316182916 on Managing risk in the EA policy space · 2019-12-16T18:42:59.895Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Hi, ditto what Khorton said. I don’t have a background that has lead me to be able to opine wisely on this.

My initial intuition is: I am unconvinced by this. From a policy perspective you make a reasonable case that more immigration to the US could be very good, but unless you had more certainty about this (more research, evidence, cases studies, etc), I would worry about the cost of actively pushing out a US vs China message.

But I have no expertise in US politics so I would not put much faith in my judgment.

Comment by weeatquince_duplicate0-37104097316182916 on Where are you donating this year and why – in 2019? Open thread for discussion. · 2019-12-11T08:27:33.174Z · score: 10 (7 votes) · EA · GW

Giving What We Can's impact reports (when I last read them) suggested they had raised for effective charities £6 per £ spent using pessimistic assumptions or £60 per £ best guess.

The Life You Can Save raised $11 per $ spent for effective charities

Raising for Effective giving has raised $24 per $ spent, for effective charities.

EA London (which does not do much fundraising) roughly raised £2.5 per £.

Rethink Forward moves £7 per £.

This are all post hoc analyses of money moved to date, not estimates of future impact. The quality of the evidence for these is variable between the different programs and you can look into it. As well as moving money I believe all of cheese ALSO purport to have improved the effectiveness of donations given.

If helpful to provide a baseline / prior against which to judge these successes note that the standard fundraising ratio in the charity sector is that charities raise £4 per £ spent on fundraising.

Comment by weeatquince_duplicate0-37104097316182916 on Where are you donating this year and why – in 2019? Open thread for discussion. · 2019-12-11T01:04:55.087Z · score: 44 (19 votes) · EA · GW

Donation: £5,000

Cause: EA meta (+ global poverty)

Main donation: £3000 to Happier Lives Institute (HLI)

Other donations: £500 to each of EA meta Fund, Let’s Fund, Rethink Priorities, Against Malaria Foundation (AMF)


Why EA Meta
Leverage: It seems empirically evidence to me that meta EA activity is influencing both the amount and the direction of funding at a ratio of at least £10 influenced £1 inputted.
Evidenced: I was skeptical of what EA meta work could achieve but over the last few years this kind of giving has gone from being an idea to having demonstrated impact.
Underfunded: The EA Meta Fund has than other EA Funds and on its last pay-outs it only filled about 15% of the funding gaps of the organisations it was looking to support.
Collective action: If everyone in EA funded meta work rather than pet causes more money would go to good places (or we may learn we were wrong about our pet causes).


Why EA meta research not outreach
I think we are still learning about how to do good and getting that right is more important than getting more money moved. This has had most impact to date and I am very unconvinced that we are getting close to diminishing marginal returns on this.


Why £3000 to HLI
Happier Lives Institute are doing innovative and useful new research on subjective wellbeing data that I believe could significantly change how people in the EA community think about what causes are most important. I expect this donation combined with a donation from a collaborator can fill their funding gap at least until August 2020. I may donate more at a later date.


Why £500 each EA Meta Fund, Let’s Fund and Rethink Priorities
I am not giving everything to HLI partly because I think HLI’s immediate funding gap can be filled and partly I want to influence and keep up with these other projects and partly just poor heuristics on my part. Note that my view that HLI is better than any of these 3 other donation opportunities is very weak (although I expect they have a more pressing funding gap).
These 3 projects are the other EA meta (research) projects that I think it is worth supporting. Splitting between them because not sure it is worth the time / energy to evaluate and compare them all given the amount of money I am giving. I have not included GPI because I have not been as impressed by the immediate usefulness of their research or research agenda.
On Let’s Fund: They are not actually asking for money but they are doing good work and always seem short of funds so will try to offer them funds. If they don’t take it will split the money between other projects.


Why £500 to AMF
I am not giving everything to meta, partly I want to still force myself to think about what is the most important non meta cause and partly because I think if I am give the amount I would likely have given to non-meta causes had I not come across EA / GWWC then I help avoid the meta trap.
Against Malaria Foundation are an excellent charity, continuously top-rated by GiveWell. (Giving to AMF rather than to GiveWell to distribute as not totally convinced that Deworming or GiveDirectly are as good as AMF).
I might alternatively give the EA Animal Fund – need to think about this more.


Key uncertainties
Is it silly to split my donations this much?
Have I done enough due diligence of HLI?
AMF or the EA Animal Fund?

Comment by weeatquince_duplicate0-37104097316182916 on Some personal thoughts on EA and systemic change · 2019-10-05T17:40:18.782Z · score: 46 (30 votes) · EA · GW

In one key way this post very solidly completely misses the point.

The post makes a number of very good points about systemic change. But bases all of the points on financial cost-effective estimates. It is embedded in the language throughout, discussing: options that "outperformed GiveWell style charities", the "cost ... per marginal vote", lessons for "large-scale spending" or for a "small donor", etc.

I think a way the EA community has neglected systemic change in exactly in this manner. Money is not the only thing that can be leveraged in the world to make change (and in some cases money is not a thing people can give).
I think this some part of what people are pointing to when they criticise EA.

To be constructive I think we should rethink cause priotisation, but not from a financial point of view. Eg:
- If you have political power how best to spend it?
- If you have a public voice how best to use it?
- If you can organise activism what should it focus on?

(PS. Happy to support with money or time people doing this kind of research)

I think we could get noticeably different results. I think things like financial stability (hard to donate to but very important) might show up as more of a priority in the EA space if we start looking at things this way.

I think the EA community currently has a limited amount to say to anyone with power. For example:
• I met the civil servant with oversight of UK's £8bn international development spending who seemed interested in EA but did not feel it was relevant to them – I think they were correct, I had nothing to say they didn’t already know.
• Another case is an EA I know who does not have a huge amount to donate but lots of experience in political organising and activism, I doubt the EA community provides them much useful direction.

It is not that the EA community does none of this, just that we are slow. It feels like it took 80000 Hours a while to start recommending policy/politics as a career path and it is still unclear what people should do once in positions of power. (HIPE.org.uk if doing some research on this for Government careers)

--
Overall a very interesting post. Thank you for posting.

I note you mention a "relative gap in long-termist and high-risk global poverty work". I think this is interesting. I would love it if anyone has the time to do some back of the envelope evaluations of international development governance reform organisations (like Transparency International)


Comment by weeatquince_duplicate0-37104097316182916 on [updated] Global development interventions are generally more effective than Climate change interventions · 2019-10-05T16:44:53.316Z · score: 10 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Tl;dr: This assumes pure rate of time discounting. I curious how well your analysis works for anyone who do not think that we should discount harms in the future simply by virtue of being in the future.

--
1.
THIS IS SO GOOD
This is super good research and super detailed and I am hugely impressed and hope many many people donate to Let's Fund and support you with this kind of research!!!

--
2.
LET'S BE MORE EXPLICIT ABOUT THE ETHICAL ASSUMPTIONS MADE

I enjoyed reading Appendix 3
• I agree with Pindyck that models of the social cost of carbon (SCC) require a host of underlying ethical decisions and so can be highly misleading.
• I don’t however agree with Pindyck that there is no alternative so we might as well ignore this problem

At least for the purposes of making decisions within the EA community, I think we can apply models but be explicit about what ethical assumptions have been made and how they affect the models conclusions. Many people on this forum have a decent understanding of their ethical views and how that affects decisions and so being more explicit would support good cause prioritisation decisions of donors and others.

Of course this is holding people on this forum to a higher standard of rigor than professional academic economists reach so should be seen as a nice to have rather than a default, but lets see what we can do...

--
3.
DISCOUNTING THE FUTURE, AND OTHER ASSUMPTIONS

3.1
My (very rough) understanding of climate analysis is that the SCC is very highly dependent on the discount rate.

(Appendix 3 makes this point. Also the paper you link to on SCC per country says "Discounting assumptions have consistently been one of the biggest determinants of differences between estimations of the social cost of carbon").

The paper you draw your evidence from seems to uses a pure rate of time discounting of 1-2%. This basically assumes that future people matter less.
I think many readers of this forum do not believe that future people matter less than people today.

I do not know how much this matters for the analysis. A high social cost of carbon seems, from the numbers in your article, to make climate interventions of the same order of magnitude but slightly less effective than cash transfers.

3.2
I also understand that estimates of the SCC is also dependent on the calculation of the worse case tail-end effects and there is some concern among people in the x-risk research space that small chances of very catastrophic affects are ignored in climate economics. I do not know how much this matters either.

3.3
I could also imagine that many people (especially negative leaning utilitarians) are more concerned by stopping the damage caused from climate change than impressed by the benefits of cash transfers.

SO:
I do not have answers to what effects these things have on the analysis. I would love to get your views on this.

Thank you for you work on this!!!



Comment by weeatquince_duplicate0-37104097316182916 on UK policy and politics careers · 2019-10-03T18:30:32.687Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Hi,

If I had to guess and (and I feel uncomfortable doing so as not really going on anything here but my gut) I would say that at an entry level it is all pretty similar but that an entry level job in the civil service is likely slightly higher impact than an entry level job as an MP's research but the variation between jobs and MPs is likely more important. I think your personal expected value is dominated by the jobs you get in later career rather than at an entry level so this is small on the scale of your career.

Value of information to the broader EA community is good, as is any other low-hanging-fruit benefits gained by being an early EA mover into a space.

Comment by weeatquince_duplicate0-37104097316182916 on UK policy and politics careers · 2019-10-02T09:40:13.278Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Hi, I think the 80K advice is still fairly applicable (also I don’t think it would be a second opinion as my views were taken into account in that 80K article)

Would probably put the diplomatic fast-stream on par with the generalist one (although not very sure about this)

I would say that do not forget you can go in direct entry into a job and if you have a bit of experience (even a year or 2) getting an SEO job (or higher) may well be preferable to the FastStream.

Comment by weeatquince_duplicate0-37104097316182916 on UK policy and politics careers · 2019-10-02T09:39:07.582Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

This image displays for me. I am not sure what I need to do to make it display properly for you or what has gone wrong. Can someone admin-y investigate?

Comment by weeatquince_duplicate0-37104097316182916 on UK policy and politics careers · 2019-10-02T09:32:13.552Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · EA · GW

There are maybe 40 people who are in the EA community currently in the UK civil service and none currently in politics. I think most people I know would agree that it is comparatively more useful and more neglected for EAs to move towards politics.

I also think it is generally more impactful to do well in politics than to do well in the civil service, as ultimately politicians make the decisions. Although I do know EAs would disagree with this and point out that people do not have positions of political power for very long.

I think politics is more challenging: I think it is more competitive to do very well in. Also I think if you want to go into politics you need to really commit to that path and spend your time engaged in party politics whereas I think it is easier to move in and out of the civil service.

Comment by weeatquince_duplicate0-37104097316182916 on Campaign finance reform as an EA priority? · 2019-08-30T12:54:06.983Z · score: 8 (4 votes) · EA · GW

I have been thinking a fair bit about improving institutional decision making practices. I buy the argument that if you fix systems you can make a better world and that making systems that can make good decisions is super important.

There are many things you might want to change to make systems work better. [1]

I am outside the US and really do not understand the US system and certainly do not know of any good analysis on this topic and any comments should be taken with that in mind, but my weak outside view is that campaign financing is the biggest issue with US politics.

As such this seems to me to be plausibly the most important thing for EA folk to be working on in the world today. I am happy to put my money where my mouth is and support (talk to, low level fund, etc) people to do an "EA-style analysis of US campaign finance reform".


[1] https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/cpJRB7thJpESTquBK/introducing-gpi-s-new-research-agenda#Zy8kTJfGrY9z7HRYH

Comment by weeatquince_duplicate0-37104097316182916 on AI & Policy 1/3: On knowing the effect of today’s policies on Transformative AI risks, and the case for institutional improvements. · 2019-08-27T14:23:00.552Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Thank you for the useful feedback: Corrected!

Comment by weeatquince_duplicate0-37104097316182916 on List of ways in which cost-effectiveness estimates can be misleading · 2019-08-20T22:16:32.433Z · score: 20 (11 votes) · EA · GW

DOUBLE COUNTING

Similar to not costing others work, you can end up in situations where the same impact is counted multiple times across all the charities involved, giving an inflated picture of the total impact.

Eg. If Effective Altruism (EA) London runs an event and this leads to an individual signing the Giving What We Can (GWWC) pledge and donating more the charity, both EA London and GWWC and the individual may take 100% of the credit in their impact measurement.

Comment by weeatquince_duplicate0-37104097316182916 on Age-Weighted Voting · 2019-08-01T23:03:35.306Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Also I do plan to write this up as a top level post soon

Comment by weeatquince_duplicate0-37104097316182916 on Age-Weighted Voting · 2019-08-01T22:31:41.005Z · score: 41 (13 votes) · EA · GW

It is an interesting suggestion and I had not come across the idea before and it is great to have people thinking of new innovative policy ideas. I agree that this idea is worth investigating.

I think my main point to add is just to set out the wider context. I think it is worth people who are interested in this being aware that there is already a vast array of tried and tested policy solutions that are known to encourage more long term thinking in governments. I would lean towards the view that almost all of the ideas I list below: have very strong evidence of working well, would be much easier to push for than age-weighted voting, and would have a bigger effect size than age-weighted voting.

Here's the list (example of evidence it helps in brackets)

* Longer election cycles (UK compared to Aus)
* A non-democratic second house (UK House of Lords)
* Having a permanent neutral civil service (as in UK)
* An explicit statement of policy intent setting out a consistent cross-government view that policy makers should think long-term.
* A formal guide to best practice on discounting or on how to make policy that balances the needs of present and future generations. (UK Treasury Green Book, but more long term focused)
* An independent Office for Future Generations, or similar, with a responsibility to ensure that Government is acting in a long term manner. (as in Wales)
* Independent government oversight bodies, (UKs National Audit Office, but more long term focused)
* Various other combinations of technocracy and democracy, where details are left to experts. (UK's Bank of England, Infrastructure Commission, etc, etc)
* A duty on Ministers to consider the long term. (as in Wales)
* Horizon scanning and foresight skills, support, tools and training brought into government (UK Gov Office for Science).
* Risk management skills, support, tools and training brought into government (this must happen somewhere right?).
* Good connections between academia and science and government. (UK Open Innovation Team)
* A government body that can support and facilitate others in government with long term planning. (UK Gov Office for Science, but ideally more long term focused).
* Transparency of long term thinking. Through publication of statistics, impact assessments, etc (Eg. UK Office for National Statistics)
* Additional democratic oversight of long term issues (UK parliamentary committees)
* Legislatively binding long term targets (UKs climate change laws)
* Rules forcing Ministers to stay in position longer (untested to my knowledge)
* Being a dictatorship (China, it does work although I don’t recommend)


I hope to find time to do more work to collate suggestions and the evidence for them and do a thorough literature review
(If anyone wants to volunteer to help then get in touch). Some links here. My notes are at: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1KGLc_6bKhi5ClZPGBeEQIDF1cC4Dy8mo/edit#heading=h.mefn6dbmnz2 See also:
http://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/LLN-2019-0076/LLN-2019-0076.pdf


As an aside I have a personal little bugbear with people focusing on the voting system when they try to think about how to make policy work. It is a tiny tiny part of the system and one where evidence of how to do it better is often minimal and tractability to change is low. I have written about this here:
https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/cpJRB7thJpESTquBK/introducing-gpi-s-new-research-agenda#Zy8kTJfGrY9z7HRYH

Also my top tip for anyone thinking about tractable policy options is to start with asking: do we already know how to make significant steps to solve this problem, from existing policy best practice. (I think in this case we do.)

Comment by weeatquince_duplicate0-37104097316182916 on GCRI Call for Advisees and Collaborators · 2019-06-05T22:09:17.472Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Hi, I'm curious, what are the main aims, expectations and things you hope will come from this call out? Cheers

Comment by weeatquince_duplicate0-37104097316182916 on Jade Leung: Why Companies Should be Leading on AI Governance · 2019-05-17T11:37:19.772Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · EA · GW

Hi Jade. I disagree with you. I think you are making a straw man of "regulation" and ignoring what modern best practice regulation actually looks like, whilst painting a rosy picture of industry led governance practice.

Regulation doesn't need to be a whole bunch of strict rules that limit corporate actors. It can (in theory) be a set of high level ethical principles set by society and by government who then defer to experts with industry and policy backgrounds to set more granular rules.

These granular rules can be strict rules that limit certain actions, or can be 'outcome focused regulation' that allows industry to do what it wants as long is it is able to demonstrate that it has taken suitable safety precautions, or can involve assigning legal responsibility to key senior industry actors to help align the incentives of those actors. (Good UK examples include HEFA and the ONR).

Not to say that industry cannot or should not take a lead in governance issues, but that Governments can play a role of similar importance too.

Comment by weeatquince_duplicate0-37104097316182916 on Latest EA Updates for April 2019 · 2019-05-12T22:15:06.741Z · score: 9 (3 votes) · EA · GW

David. This is great.

Your newsletters also (as well as the updates) also have a short story on what one EA community person is doing to make the world better. Why not include those here too?

Comment by weeatquince_duplicate0-37104097316182916 on How do we check for flaws in Effective Altruism? · 2019-05-06T21:18:06.193Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · EA · GW

I very much like the idea of an independent impact auditor for EA orgs.

I would consider funding or otherwise supporting such a project, anyone working on, get in touch...

One solution that happens already is radical transparency.

GiveWell and 80,000 Hours both publicly write about their mistakes. GiveWell have in the past posted vast amounts of their background working online. This level of transparency is laudable.

Comment by weeatquince_duplicate0-37104097316182916 on Should we consider the sleep loss epidemic an urgent global issue? · 2019-05-06T16:16:46.989Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · EA · GW

There is a very obvious upside to sleeping less: when you are not asleep you are awake and when you are awake you can do stuff.

On a very quick glace the economic analysis referenced above (and the quotes from Why Sleep Matters) seems to ignore this. If, as Khorton says, a person is missing sleep to raise kids or work a second job, then this benefits society.

This omission makes me very sceptical of the analysis on this topic.

Comment by weeatquince_duplicate0-37104097316182916 on Will splashy philanthropy cause the biosecurity field to focus on the wrong risks? · 2019-04-30T19:04:38.398Z · score: 21 (10 votes) · EA · GW

Just to note that there's been some discussion on this on Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/groups/437177563005273?view=permalink&id=2251872561535755

Comment by weeatquince_duplicate0-37104097316182916 on Announcing EA Hub 2.0 · 2019-04-13T13:33:58.579Z · score: 8 (3 votes) · EA · GW

This is amazing. Great work for everyone who inputted. Was thinking that a possible future features (although perhaps not a priority) would be integration to the EA funds donation tracking and maybe LinkedIn profile data.