Comment author: Robert_Wiblin 22 September 2018 12:24:35AM *  5 points [-]

"Most people selected the “Other (please specify)” option (14%)." --> "The single most common answer was “Other (please specify)” (14%)." :)

Comment author: Daniel_Eth 22 September 2018 09:30:56AM 4 points [-]

Similarly, the word "majority" is used in a couple places where it should have instead said "plurality." (Sorry to be nitpicky)

Comment author: MvdSteeg 13 August 2018 07:14:29AM 2 points [-]

It seems strange to me that only pharmaceutical companies would have to achieve said index. What is it about a Viagra company that makes them more responsible for solving global health issues than e.g. IKEA?

The only thing I can come up with on the fly is that they take up resources from the same pool of researchers. I'm not sure that's a satisfactory reason for disadvantaging one company over another, though.

What if nation-wide company taxes were raised by a tiny margin and pharmaceutical companies could compete for DALY-subsidies?

(I realize the chance of me having a better idea than the writers of the book is rather miniscule. Just looking for holes in my view)

Comment author: Daniel_Eth 14 August 2018 02:19:48AM 0 points [-]

I think you're understating the importance of taking up the resources. There aren't THAT many super high quality medical researchers who can credibly signal their high quality.

Comment author: Daniel_Eth 11 August 2018 05:45:02AM 6 points [-]

Are women more likely to return for a second event if the gender ratio of the first event they attended was more balanced? This could tell you whether the difference is simply a result of the community being mostly male right now, or if it's due to some other reason(s).

Comment author: Daniel_Eth 03 August 2018 08:14:46PM 4 points [-]

One easy way you could get a sample that's both broadly representative and also weights more involved EAs more is to make the survey available to everyone on the forum, but to weight all responses by the square root of the respondent's karma. Karma is obviously an imperfect proxy, but it seems much easier to get than people's donation histories, and it doesn't seem biased in any particular direction. The square root is so that the few people with the absolute highest karma don't completely dominate the survey.

Comment author: Daniel_Eth 24 May 2018 06:42:07PM 4 points [-]

"I’d compiled a list of 40-odd evidence-based activities and re-thinking exercises, i.e. behavioural and cognitive interventions, that I’d come across during my research"

Have you made this list public anywhere? I'd be interested in seeing the list (and I assume others would be too).

Comment author: Daniel_Eth 19 May 2018 04:09:22PM 0 points [-]

So let's assume that teams of superforecasters with extremized predictions can do significantly better than any other mechanism of prediction that we've thought of, including prediction markets as they've existed so far. If so, then with prediction markets of sufficiently high volume and liquidity (just for the sake of argument, imagine prediction markets on the scale of the NYSE today), we would expect firms to crop up that would identify superforecasters, train them, and optimize for exactly how much to extremize their predictions (as well as iterating on this basic formula). These superforecaster firms would come to dominate the prediction markets (we'd eventually wind up with companies that were like the equivalent of goldman sachs but for prediction markets), and the prediction markets would be better than any other method of prediction. Of course, we're a LONG way away from having prediction markets like that, but I think this at least shows the theoretical potential of large scale prediction markets.

Comment author: Daniel_Eth 21 February 2018 12:23:26AM *  9 points [-]

I thought this piece was good. I agree that MCE work is likely quite high impact - perhaps around the same level as X-risk work - and that it has been generally ignored by EAs. I also agree that it would be good for there to be more MCE work going forward. Here's my 2 cents:

You seem to be saying that AIA is a technical problem and MCE is a social problem. While I think there is something to this, I think there are very important technical and social sides to both of these. Much of the work related to AIA so far has been about raising awareness about the problem (eg the book Superintelligence), and this is more a social solution than a technical one. Also, avoiding a technological race for AGI seems important for AIA, and this also is more a social problem than a technical one.

For MCE, the 2 best things I can imagine (that I think are plausible) are both technical in nature. First, I expect clean meat will lead to the moral circle expanding more to animals. I really don't see any vegan social movement succeeding in ending factory farming anywhere near as much as I expect clean meat to. Second, I'd imagine that a mature science of consciousness would increase MCE significantly. Many people don't think animals are conscious, and almost no one thinks anything besides animals can be conscious. How would we even know if an AI was conscious, and if so, if it was experiencing joy or suffering? The only way would be if we develop theories of consciousness that we have high confidence in. But right now we're very limited in studying consciousness, because our tools at interfacing with the brain are crude. Advanced neurotechnologies could change that - they could allow us to potentially test hypotheses about consciousness. Again, developing these technologies would be a technical problem.

Of course, these are just the first ideas that come into my mind, and there very well may be social solutions that could do more than the technical solutions I mentioned, but I don't think we should rule out the potential role of technical solutions, either.

Comment author: Daniel_Eth 17 February 2018 02:55:32AM 0 points [-]

As long as we're talking about medical research from an EA perspective, I think we should consider funding therapies for reversing aging itself. In terms of scale, aging undoubtedly is by far the largest (100,000 people die from age-related diseases every single day, not to mention the psychological toll that aging causes). Aging is also quite neglected - very few researchers focus on trying to reverse it. Tractability is of course a concern here, but I think this point is a bit nuanced. Achieving a full and total cure for aging would clearly be quite hard. But what about a partial cure? What about a therapy that made 70 year olds feel and act like they were 50, and with an additional 20 years of life expectancy? Such a treatment may be much more tractable. At least a large part of aging seems to be due to several common mechanisms (such as DNA damage, accumulation of senescent cells, etc), and reversing some of these mechanisms (such as by restoring DNA, clearing the body of senescent cells, etc) might allow for such a treatment. Even the journal Nature (one of the 2 most prestigious science journals in the world) had a recent piece saying as much:

If anyone is interesting in funding research toward curing aging, the SENS Foundation ( is arguably your best bet.

Comment author: Ben_Todd 24 January 2018 04:04:05PM 12 points [-]

Quick comment - I broadly agree. I think if you want to maximise impact within global poverty, then you should first look for potential large-scale solutions, such as policy change, even if they have weak evidence behind them. We might not find any, but we should try hard first. It's basically hits based giving.

In practice, however, the community members who agree with this reasoning, have moved on to other problem areas. This leaves an odd gap for "high risk global poverty" interventions. Though GiveWell has looked into some options here, and I hope they'll do more.

Comment author: Daniel_Eth 25 January 2018 12:01:01AM 6 points [-]

"the community members who agree with this reasoning, have moved on to other problem areas"

I've seen this problem come up with other areas as well. For instance, funding research to combat aging (eg the SENS foundation) gets little support, because basically anyone who will "shut up and multiply" - coming to the conclusion that SENS is higher EV than GiveWell charities, will use the same logic to conclude that AI safety is higher EV than GiveWell charities or SENS.

Comment author: Daniel_Eth 24 January 2018 09:02:25AM *  1 point [-]

I really like this type of reasoning - I think it allows for easier comparisons than the standard expected value assessments people have occasionally tried to do for systemic changes. A couple points, though.

1) I think very few systemic changes will affect 1B people. Typically I assume a campaign will be focussed on a particular country, and likely only a portion of the population of that country would be positively affected by change - meaning 10M or 100M people is probably much more typical. This shifts the cutoff cost to closer to around $1B to $10B, which seem plausibly in the same ballpark as GD.

2) Instead of asking "how much would this campaign cost to definitely succeed", you could ask "how much would it cost to run a campaign that had at least a 50% chance of succeeding" and then divide the HALYS by 2. I'd imagine this is a much easier question to answer, as you'd never be certain that an effort at systemic change would be successful, but you could become confident that the chances were high.

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