Comment author: Kerry_Vaughan 11 February 2018 05:27:33PM 2 points [-]

Currently planning to open EA Grants applications by the end of the month. I plan for the application to remain open so that I can accept applications on a rolling basis.

Comment author: Mirco_Vogelgesang 11 February 2018 12:28:26PM *  0 points [-]

Geoengineering and thermodynamics are outside my field of expertise, so I am not really qualified to make a judgement about this Chimney concept - to me it seems questionable whether such a system could actually facilitate that kind of energetic heat exchange without the air reaching a state of equilibrium inside.

Yes, renewables are a lot more competitive now, but the transition towards them remains too slow to feather off peak-oil. In addition, they can´t compete in every sector (such as transportation, which contributes considerably to both fossil fuel consumption and CO2 emissions).

Anyhow, hoarding oil sounds like an interesting way to drive up its price and hence create economic incentive to speed up this transition but at the same time demands a very close look at how the global energy system works. It is designed to cover demand with supply very closely, hence there is little infrastructure for long-time storage and reserves. Consequently, it would need to be created. It also means getting into the social systems and control regimes of the global energy sector. It seems like an interesting idea which will demand quite a bit of research to assess its feasibility but is designed for the scope of civil-society and pre-existing neoliberal order and hence not set too high of a hurdle to get behind.

Also, advocacy to increase carbon emission taxes and oil tax may be cause areas here.

Comment author: DanielHendrycks 10 February 2018 11:41:29PM *  0 points [-]

Try to get Kyunghyun Cho to do work on AI safety research.

I spoke with Kyunghyun Cho a year ago, and he was extremely dismissive of safety. I have no idea why you listed him.

Comment author: RandomEA 10 February 2018 09:57:07PM 0 points [-]

I mention them briefly in point 1 under Methodology, but they are not included in my calculation.

Comment author: RomeoStevens 10 February 2018 04:11:34PM 2 points [-]

Is 80k trying to figure out how to interview the very best recruiters and do some judgmental bootstrapping?

Comment author: nobody 10 February 2018 03:38:46PM -1 points [-]

I think this climate cause should be the top climate priority.

Comment author: SebastianSchmidt 10 February 2018 01:07:51PM 3 points [-]

Thanks for the post! I’ve two questions:

  1. Have you been concerned with how having one paid member of your Org could affect the volunteerism of the rest of the members? E.g. that there will arise a hierarchy which will keep “regular” members from taking on certain type of projects or feel as if they have less of a say in various decisions.

  2. Could you elaborate on the metrics you intend to use? E.g. by “the funnel of 80k” do you then mean their significant plan changes or how many of your members receive personal coaching from them? Also, how do you track the donations made to GWWC/EA Funds?

Comment author: Ben_Todd 10 February 2018 08:29:16AM 2 points [-]

The obvious counter is to spend money learning how to convert money into talent. I haven't heard of anyone focusing on this problem as a core area, but if it's an ongoing bottleneck then it 'should' be scoring high on effective actions.

This is what many of the core organisations are focused on :) You could see it as 80k's whole purpose. It's also why CEA is doing things like EA Grants, and Open Phil is doing the AI Fellowship.

It's also a central internal challenge for any org that has funding and is trying to scale. But it's not easy to solve: https://blog.givewell.org/2013/08/29/we-cant-simply-buy-capacity/

Comment author: John_Maxwell_IV 10 February 2018 07:34:12AM *  1 point [-]

In blackjack, a competent player wins against the house ~49.5% of the time, and the house wins ~50.5% of the time. If I was to record a string of 0s and 1s, where a 1 represents a win by a competent player and a 0 represents a win for the house, my string would look almost exactly like noise. If I sit and record 20 games, that's 2^20 = 1048576 possible strings I could record. So you might naively think that there's no opportunity for useful predictions here. But in fact, the house edge means that on expectation, the house is going to win money and a competent player (absent card counting) is going to lose it.

In the same way, it's not the stochasticity of the system that matters so much as whether we can make forecasts. Blackjack has loads of stochasticity, but the ultimate financial outcome can still be usefully forecasted. Weather is also very stochastic and may exhibit chaotic properties (see butterfly example), but weather forecasts are still pretty useful. Etc. The issue for EA is that we are trying to make forecasts in domains where there isn't necessarily a history of successful forecasting like there is for the weather. This is a hard problem to deal with, but I don't think it's completely intractable. I suspect the set of skills needed is similar to the ones you need to be a successful investor or run a successful hedge fund.

Comment author: John_Maxwell_IV 10 February 2018 07:16:21AM *  2 points [-]

This seems like a good point. OpenPhil has previously drawn analogies between the work it does and the work venture capitalists/angel investors do. One big part of the job of an angel investor is to spend lots of time networking so as to become aware of new funding opportunities. The fact that some fund managers are apparently not even socially engaged enough to explain why they aren't granting the money they've been given seems a little discouraging on this front.

This view also suggests that a good person to add to the EA Funds team might be someone who is already known as a super-networker within the EA community. (Somewhat disappointingly, I'm having a hard time thinking of anyone like this off the top of my head. Proposal: A few people should make it their business to go to every EA event they can possibly go to, monitor and contribute to all online EA discussion spaces, and get to know loads of people in order to introduce people who should know each other etc.)

Comment author: John_Maxwell_IV 10 February 2018 06:59:01AM *  0 points [-]

Yeah, my hunch is that in developed countries, it's higher-leverage to help people quit than spread awareness of smoking harms. For example, there's a supplement called NAC that might help. (I assume that no large trials have been done because no pharmaceutical company can patent it.) Making e-cigarettes easier to get could also be a good idea.

Comment author: John_Maxwell_IV 10 February 2018 06:52:09AM *  1 point [-]

Re: desertification, do you have thoughts on http://www.superchimney.org/ ? (Discussion)

Re: peak oil, my understanding is that sustainable sources of energy are now price-competitive with fossil fuels.

If you are concerned with peak oil, the solution is simple: buy & hoard oil now. This accomplishes a few things. First, it increases the price of oil near-term, which creates a financial incentive to move our infrastructure off oil. Second, if you like, you can personally prevent anyone from burning the oil (since you own it) and it won't release any carbon into the atmosphere. Third, if you choose, you can sell the oil later on (after oil prices have risen) in order to smooth the transition to a post-oil society. Fourth, if your projections are accurate, you will make a tidy profit doing this (which can then be applied to EA causes). To add leverage to this strategy, convince rich speculators that they will make money by buying & hoarding oil.

Comment author: Ben_Todd 10 February 2018 03:48:09AM 1 point [-]

Nice! Just note that I don't think you mention medium-term indirect effects. Arguably this should cause a convergence between resources directed at the global poor e.g. because making the US richer will spillover (a little bit) to other countries.

Read more: http://reflectivedisequilibrium.blogspot.ae/2014/01/what-portion-of-boost-to-global-gdp.html

There may also be other general reasons for convergence between interventions (e.g. regression to the mean): http://reducing-suffering.org/why-charities-dont-differ-astronomically-in-cost-effectiveness/

For these reasons, I think it's better to deflate a "direct only" effects estimate by 3-10x, so arguably your dollar only goes 3-50x further overseas.

If you also try to factor in the long-term effects on existential risk etc. then the comparison becomes even less clear. It's plausible that many US-directed interventions do more to reduce existential risk than global poverty focused ones. See more here: https://80000hours.org/articles/extinction-risk/#2-broad-efforts-to-reduce-risks

Comment author: Ben_Todd 10 February 2018 03:37:47AM 0 points [-]

I generally agree it's a mistake to force people to size up the entire cause - as 80k do

We don't - see my comment above.

Comment author: Ben_Todd 10 February 2018 03:37:19AM 1 point [-]

Perhaps scale could be thought as the inverse of the diminishing returns rate (e.g., more scale = less diminishing returns = more ability to take funding). This seems useful to think about to me.

Yes, this is why you need to consider the ratio of scale and neglectedness (for a fixed definition of the problem).

Comment author: Ben_Todd 10 February 2018 03:36:15AM 1 point [-]

Quick comment: note that you can apply INT to any fraction of the problem (1% / 10% / 100%). The key is just that you use the same fraction for N and T as well. That's why we define the framework using "% of problem solved" rather than "solve the whole problem". https://80000hours.org/articles/problem-framework/

If you run into heavily diminishing returns at the 10% mark, then applying INT to 10% of the problem should yield better results.

This can mean that very narrowly defined problems will often be more effective than broad ones, so it's important to compare problems of roughly the same scale. Also note that narrowly defined problem areas are less useful - the whole point of having relatively broad areas is to build career capital that's relevant to more than just one project.

Finally, our overall process is (i) problems (ii) methods (iii) personal fit. Within methods you should think about the key bottlenecks within the problem area, so it partly gets captured there. Expected impact is roughly the multiple of the three. So, I agree people shouldn't use problem selection as an absolute filter, since it could be better to work on a medium-ranked problem with a great method and personal fit.

Comment author: BenMillwood  (EA Profile) 09 February 2018 05:48:26PM *  0 points [-]

Not that it's obviously terribly important to the historical chaos discussion, but I think siblings aren't a great natural model. Siblings differ by at least (usually more than) nine months, which you can imagine affecting them biologically, via the physiology of the mother during pregnancy, or via the medical / material conditions of their early life. They also differ in social context -- after all, one of them has one more older sibling, while the other has one more younger one. Two agents interacting may exaggerate their differences over time, or perhaps they sequentially fill particular roles in the eyes of the parents, which leads to differences in treatment. So I think there are lots of sources of sibling difference that aren't present in hypothetical genetic reshuffles.

(That said, the coinflip on sex seems pretty compelling.)

Comment author: BenMillwood  (EA Profile) 09 February 2018 04:40:45PM 5 points [-]

I would be interested in funding this.

Comment author: Milan_Griffes 09 February 2018 01:27:23AM 0 points [-]

When is the next round of EA grants opening?

Are you considering accepting applications on a rolling basis?

Comment author: Denise_Melchin 09 February 2018 12:55:44AM 0 points [-]

Thank you for your comment. I agree our model is only a very basic version and it would be interesting to see it developed further. (Though there are currently no further plans for development that I know of.)

This model was created in about 14 wks of FTEs. I expect a project like you're proposing to take much longer.

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