Comment author: TruePath 12 January 2017 12:00:29PM 0 points [-]

That is good to know and I understand the motivation to keep the analysis simple.

As far as the definition go that is a reasonable definition of the term (our notion of catastrophe doesn't include an accumulation of many small utility losses) so is a good criteria for classifying the charity objective. I only meant to comment on QALYs as a means to measure effectiveness.


WTF is with the votedown. I nicely and briefly suggested that another metric might be more compelling (though the author's point about mass appeal is a convincing rebuttal). Did the comment come off as simply bitching rather than a suggestion/observation?

Comment author: Denkenberger 17 January 2017 10:16:26PM 1 point [-]

I did not do the vote down, but I did think that calling lives saved a mostly useless metric was a little harsh. :-)

Comment author: Denkenberger 17 January 2017 01:34:08PM *  0 points [-]

Note that the proposed norm within EA of following laws at least in the US is very demanding-see this article. A 14th very common violation I would add is not fully reporting income to the government like babysitting: "under the table" or "shadow economy." A 15th would be pirated software/music. Interestingly, lying is not illegal in the US, though lying under oath is. So perhaps what we mean is be as law-abiding as would be socially acceptable to most people? And then for areas that are more directly related to running organizations (not e.g. speeding or jaywalking or urinating outside), we should have a significantly higher standard than the law to preserve our reputation?

Comment author: Brian_Tomasik 02 January 2017 10:21:25AM 0 points [-]

Interesting. :) Do you have further reading on this point?

It seems that increased phytoplankton in lakes and rivers generally leads to more zooplankton. Do you think the dynamics are different in the oceans? I have a hard time believing that herbivorous fish could not only eat all the extra phytoplankton from fertilization but even some of the phytoplankton that was present pre-fertilization (which is what's necessary to reduce zooplankton populations relative to pre-fertilization levels), but I could be wrong!

Comment author: Denkenberger 03 January 2017 02:58:29AM 0 points [-]

Thanks for the information on freshwater systems. I believe the quote about saltwater systems was in this book.

Comment author: John_Maxwell_IV 31 December 2016 01:02:40PM *  1 point [-]

Interesting paper! I'm intuitively skeptical, though--with 7 billion people, it just seems really hard to kill off every last person.

Where was this paper posted?

Comment author: Denkenberger 02 January 2017 08:02:43PM 0 points [-]

Sorry-I guess the review period for the paper on academia.edu expired. But contact Alexey: https://fromhumantogod.wordpress.com/contacts/ if you want to see the paper.

Comment author: Linch 26 December 2016 07:12:38PM 0 points [-]

I wish I had a better idea of what an impact factor of 1.242 actually cashes out to, in terms of academic influence/prestige. (Though maybe me not knowing that is a good indication that I'm not the right target audience for this post!)

Comment author: Denkenberger 30 December 2016 04:09:29PM 0 points [-]

It means in the first five years, the average paper gets 1.242*5 ~6 citations. The citation rate generally increases in the first decade, and then falls off. So the average paper might get a few dozen citations. This is decent for a peer-reviewed journal. As I say in a comment here, the number of reads is likely much greater than the number of citations.

Comment author: John_Maxwell_IV 27 December 2016 01:17:52PM *  1 point [-]

I'd be curious to know your probability that non-humans would re-establish civilization if humans went extinct.

Uninformed speculation follows.

On the face of things it seems pretty likely. "...if the dinosaurs hadn't been killed by an asteroid, plausibly they would still rule the Earth, without any advanced civilization." I got the impression that the dinosaurs experienced several mass extinctions, and mammals displaced them when there was a mass extinction associated with climate change? Periodic mass extinctions are evidence against Earth getting "clogged" this way.

I don't feel like I have a good sense of likely causes of human extinction. Destruction of human civilization seems likely; most civilizations that have existed have eventually ended. But when I look at Wikipedia's page on human extinction, scenarios where every last human dies while other life persists on Earth don't seem super numerous. For example, it seems tricky to engineer a virus with a 100% kill rate that is also infectious enough to infect all 7 billion of us. (Do we have recorded instances of entire species being wiped out due to illness this way?) And if nanobots or some physics experiment eats the planet, that will destroy all the other life too. The most likely scenario seems like destruction of current human civilization alongside destruction of viable ecological niches for technologically unsophisticated human bands--runaway global warming or nuclear winter?

If that's the scenario that comes about, I would guess that lots of animals will survive, analogous to extinction events that killed off dinosaurs. I don't think that a big fraction of the great filter is between development of animals and civilization, although it seems plausible that there is some filter here. A naive way to estimate: divide the number of times civilization has arisen (once) by the number of times Earth has been "wiped" by mass extinctions. Then figure out how frequently mass extinctions occur and how many more "wipes" we can expect before Earth is uninhabitable.

On balance it's plausible our hypothetical replacements would be less compassionate, because compassion is something humans value a lot, while a random other species probably values something else more. The reason I'm asking this question in the first place is because humans are outliers in their degree of compassion.

Why do you believe that humans are outliers in their degree of compassion relative to other social species?

Almost by definition, a species that creates a civilization is capable of large-scale cooperation. But this large-scale cooperation could look much different than human cooperation looks like. (I'm guessing it would be relatively easy for a eusocial species to control its reproduction, so if it achieved sufficient intelligence to understand the basics of breeding, it might be able to "bootstrap" itself to higher levels of intelligence from there.)

(I can imagine exotic scenarios where large-scale cooperation is less necessary for starfaring: consider a species that lived much longer than humans, meaning individuals had longer lifetimes over which to accumulate knowledge, which makes knowledge-sharing through culture less necessary. But I believe that species tend to be longer-lived in highly stable environments, and a highly stable environment is less likely to stumble across a configuration that creates an ecological niche for a highly intelligent tool-using species.)

It occurs to me that we might want to focus on how cohesively a species cooperates over how compassionate it seems to be. If you look at human actions like factory farming, these seem to be less a product of some human prediliction for cruelty, and more a result of incentive structures. In a post-scarcity society, we'd expect this to be less of a consideration. But a post-scarcity society requires more than just technology. Incentive structures also seem less contingent on biological factors and more contingent on societal factors.

Comment author: Denkenberger 30 December 2016 02:52:45PM 1 point [-]

Multipandemic could cause human extinction. Even a single virus has had 100% kill rate.

In response to comment by ESRogs on Lunar Colony
Comment author: kbog  (EA Profile) 23 December 2016 01:46:11AM *  3 points [-]

There are no known Earth-crossing minor planets large enough that a shelter on the other side of the world would be destroyed. All of them are approximately the size of the dinosaur-killer asteroid or smaller. We've surveyed of the large ones and there are no foreseeable impact risks from them.

Large asteroids are easier to detect from a long distance. A very large asteroid would have to come in from some previously unknown, unexpected orbit for it to be previously undetected. So probably a comet-like orbit, which for a large asteroid is probably ridiculously unusual.

I really don't know how big it would have to be to destroy a solid underground or underwater structure. Maybe around the size of the Vredefort asteroid if not larger. But we haven't had such an impact since the end of the late heavy bombardment period, three billion years ago, when these objects were cleared from Earth's orbit.

In response to comment by kbog  (EA Profile) on Lunar Colony
Comment author: Denkenberger 27 December 2016 12:28:21AM 2 points [-]

The big threat is from comets, because we have not tracked the vast majority of them. There is evidence in periodicity of bombardment that would correlate with the perturbation of the Oort Cloud of comets (see the book Global Catastrophic Risks). Burned-out comets can be very dark, and we would have little warning.

In response to comment by ESRogs on Lunar Colony
Comment author: Robert_Wiblin 23 December 2016 12:22:08AM *  2 points [-]

If it's so big no bunkers work, how long would we have to wait on Mars before coming back?

In response to comment by Robert_Wiblin on Lunar Colony
Comment author: Denkenberger 27 December 2016 12:25:47AM 1 point [-]

Around 100 km diameter would boil the oceans. It is possible that a bunker in Antarctica that can handle hundreds of atmospheres of pressure (due to the oceans being above us in vapor form) could work. But it would have to last for something like 1000 years. Or we would have to stay on Mars for 1000 years.

Comment author: ClaireZabel 19 December 2016 06:10:41AM 6 points [-]

For EAs that don't know, if might be helpful to provide some information about the journal, such as the size and general characteristics of the readership, as well as information about writing for it, such as what sort of background is likely helpful and how long the papers would probably be. Also hopes and expectations for the special issue, if you have any.

Comment author: Denkenberger 19 December 2016 01:03:05PM 1 point [-]

Thanks for the feedback-I have put some more description in.

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Futures of altruism special issue?

There is interest in having a special issue in the journal Futures on the futures of altruism. From reading this forum, I have identified a few possibilities: the endgame for animal product consumption offsetting next steps in Singer’s expanding circle the endgame of most people becoming EAs Of course there... Read More

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