Comment author: Michelle_Hutchinson 13 September 2018 03:56:06PM 14 points [-]

There do seem to be some strong arguments in favour of having a cause prioritisation journal. I think there are some reasons against too though, which you don't mention:

  • For work people are happy to do in sufficient detail and depth to publish, there are significant downsides to publishing in a new and unknown journal. It will get much less readership and engagement, as well as generally less prestige. That means if this journal is pulling in pieces which could have been published elsewhere, it will be decreasing the engagement the ideas get from other academics who might have had lots of useful comments, and will be decreasing the extent to which people in general know about and take the ideas seriously.

  • For early stage work, getting an article to the point of being publishable in a journal is a large amount of work. Simply from how people understand journal publishing to work, there's a much higher bar for publishing than there is on a blog. So the benefits of having things looking more professional are actually quite expensive.

  • The actual work it is to set up and run a journal, and do so well enough to make sure that cause prioritisation as a field gains rather than loses credibility from it.

Comment author: Dunja 13 September 2018 08:31:44PM 5 points [-]

These are good points, and unless the area is well established so that initial publications come from bigger names (who will that way help to establish the journal), it'll be hard to realize the idea.

What could be done at this point though is have an online page that collects/reports on all the publications relevant for cause prioritization, which may help with the growth of the field.

Comment author: Dunja 13 September 2018 08:48:00AM 2 points [-]

I agree that journal publications certainly allow for a raise in quality due to the peer-review system. In principle, there could even be a mixed platform with an (online) journal + a blog which (re)posts stuff relevant for the topic (e.g. posts made on this forum that are relevant for the topic of cause prioritization).

My main question is: is there anyone on here who's actually actively doing research on this topic and who could comment on the absence of an adequate journal, as argued by kbog? I don't have any experience with this domain, but if more people could support this thesis, then it makes sense to actually go for it.

If others agree, I suppose that for further steps, you'd need an academic with expertise in the area, who'd get in touch with one of the publishing houses with a concrete proposal (including the editorial board, the condition that articles be open access, etc.), which would host the journal.

Comment author: Benito 10 September 2018 10:33:54PM 3 points [-]

I don't have the time to join the debate, but I'm pretty sure Dunja's point isn't "I know that OpenPhil's strategy is bad" but "Why does everyone around here act as though it is knowable that their strategy is good, given their lack of transparency?" It seems like people act OpenPhil's strategy is good and aren't massively confused / explicitly clear that they don't have the info that is required to assess the strategy.

Dunja, is that accurate?

(Small note: I'd been meaning to try to read the two papers you linked me to above a couple months ago about continental drift and whatnot, but I couldn't get non-paywalled versions. If you have them, or could send them to me at gmail.com preceeded by 'benitopace', I'd appreciate that.)

Comment author: Dunja 10 September 2018 10:39:47PM 1 point [-]

Thanks, Benito, that sums it up nicely!

It's really about the transparency of the criteria, and that's all I'm arguing for. I am also open for changing my views on the standard criteria etc. - I just care we start the discussion with some rigor concerning how best to assess effective research.

As for my papers - crap, that's embarrassing that I've linked paywall versions, I have them on academia page too, but guess those can be accessed also only within that website... have to think of some proper free solution here. But in any case: please don't feel obliged to read my papers, there's for sure lots of other more interesting stuff out there! If you are interested in the topic it's enough the scan to check the criteria I use in these assessments :) I'll email them in any case.

Comment author: kbog  (EA Profile) 10 September 2018 10:13:03PM -1 points [-]

Oh no, this is not just a matter of opinion.

Part of being in an intellectual community is being able to accept that you will think that other people are very wrong about things. It's not a matter of opinion, but it is a matter of debate.

There are numerous articles written in the field of philosophy of science aimed precisely to determine which criteria help us to evaluate promising scientific research

Oh, there have been numerous articles, in your field, claimed by you. That's all well and good, but it should be clear why people will have reasons for doubts on the topic.

Comment author: Dunja 10 September 2018 10:16:31PM 1 point [-]

Part of being in an intellectual community is being able to accept that you will think that other people are very wrong about things. It's not a matter of opinion, but it is a matter of debate.

Sure! Which is why I've been exchanging arguments with you.

Oh, there have been numerous articles, in your field, claimed by you.

Now what on earth is that supposed to mean? What are you trying to say with this? You want references, is that it? I have no idea what this claim is supposed to stand for :-/

That's all well and good, but it should be clear why people will have reasons for doubts on the topic.

Sure, and so far you haven't given me a single good reason. The only thing you've done is reiterate the lack of transparency on the side of OpenPhil.

Comment author: kbog  (EA Profile) 10 September 2018 10:05:27PM *  0 points [-]

are their funding strategies rooted in the standards that are conducive to effective and efficient scientific research?

As I stated already, "We can presume that formal, traditional institutional funding policies would do better, but it is difficult to argue that point to the level of certainty that tells us that the situation is "disturbing". Those policies are costly - they take more time and people to implement." It is, in short, your conceptual argument about how to do EA. So, people disagree. Welcome to EA.

Subjective, unverifiable, etc. has nothing to do with such standards

It has something to do with the difficulty of showing that a group is not conforming to the standards of EA.

Comment author: Dunja 10 September 2018 10:08:04PM 1 point [-]

Oh no, this is not just a matter of opinion. There are numerous articles written in the field of philosophy of science aimed precisely to determine which criteria help us to evaluate promising scientific research. So there is actually quite some scholarly work on this (and it is a topic of my research, as a matter of fact).

So yes, I'd argue that the situation is disturbing since immense amount of money is going into research for which there is no good reason to suppose that it is effective or efficient.

Comment author: kbog  (EA Profile) 10 September 2018 09:25:25PM 0 points [-]

Open Phil has a more subjective approach, others have talked about their philosophy here. That means it's not easily verifiable to outsiders, but that's of no concern to Open Phil, because it is their own money.

Comment author: Dunja 10 September 2018 09:30:05PM *  2 points [-]

Again: you are missing my point :) I don't care if it's their money or not, that's beside my point.

What I care about is: are their funding strategies rooted in the standards that are conducive to effective and efficient scientific research?

Otherwise, makes no sense to label them as an organization that's conforming to the standards of EA, at least in the case of such practices.

Subjective, unverifiable, etc. has nothing to do with such standards (= conducive to effective & efficient scientific research).

Comment author: kbog  (EA Profile) 10 September 2018 08:21:00PM *  0 points [-]

Open Phil gave $5.6MM to Berkeley for AI, even though Russell's group is new and its staff/faculty are still fewer than the staff of MIRI. They gave $30MM to OpenAI. And $1-2MM for many other groups. Of course EAs can give more to a particular groups, that's because we're EAs, we're willing to give a lot of money to wherever it will do the most good in expectation.

Comment author: Dunja 10 September 2018 08:26:50PM *  2 points [-]

Again, you are missing the point: my argument concerns the criteria in view which projects are assessed as worthy of funding. These criteria exist and are employed by various funding institutions across academia. I haven't seen any such criteria (and the justification thereof, such that they are conducive to effective and efficient research) in this case, which is why I've raised the issue.

we're willing to give a lot of money to wherever it will do the most good in expectation.

And my focus is on: which criteria are used/should be used in order to decide which research projects will do the most good in expectation. Currently such criteria are lacking, including their justification in terms of effectiveness and efficiency.

8

How effective and efficient is the funding policy of Open Philanthropy concerning projects on AI risks?

This was originally posted as a  comment  on an old thread. However, I think the topic is important enough to deserve a discussion of its own. I would be very interested in hearing your opinion on this matter. I am an academic working in the field of philosophy of science,... Read More
Comment author: Peter_Hurford  (EA Profile) 25 February 2018 01:41:48AM 0 points [-]

Thanks. We have not considered publishing as a journal article. I'm unsure of how that could be done, especially without formal academic credentials, and what the relevant costs and benefits would be. My initial guess is that it would be pretty time consuming without much benefit.

There are going to be a few more posts in this series on the path to creating some cost-effectiveness estimates, so stay tuned! :D

Comment author: Dunja 25 February 2018 11:02:44AM *  1 point [-]

I don't think you necessarily need academic credentials: submissions to most relevant journals are fully blind, so nobody would actually know whether you have the credentials or not (and if the article is accepted, you can simply be independent scholars with no affiliation, that's really unimportant (as it should be)).

As for the costs: I think you wouldn't need too much time for this. Best would be to combine both essays into one article, make an intro into the topic, check again your sources and other relevant literature and send to a journal somewhere in the field of sociology of science/philosophy of science/science policy. Now, I am not a sociologist of science, so I am not familiar with other relevant literature on this topic (e.g. whether there already are similar estimations, which apply more rigorous standards, which suggest that you'd have to do the same - you could do some research and check this out, unless you've already done so). Just checking randomly online, I see there are studies such as this one, which employ a more rigorous methodology, but I'm not sure if there is something similar concerning time estimates.

Concerning your current sources, while Wikipedia is usually not an academic standard, if you have good reasons why it is for this kind of research (or at least in some of the cases), you could just explicitly state so in the text. Alternatively, if Wiki articles have their own (academic) sources, just cite those.

As for the benefits: I think there'd be a lot of benefits!

First, your results would be peer-reviewed, and even if the article is rejected you'd have a feedback from experts in the field, which would help you to revise your results and make them more accurate. In case someone in academia has already done a similar work, which you haven't been aware of, at least you'll learn this and integrate it with your results.

Second, your results could become a more reliable basis for discussions on science policy: a peer-reviewed source for other scholars and policy makers. (I'd also have a personal interest here: as a philosopher of science, I'd be extremely interested in using your results in my research, and they would be more reliable if they passed a peer-review procedure).

Third, your personal gain would be having a publication in an academic journal :)

Comment author: Dunja 24 February 2018 11:12:40AM *  0 points [-]

Great stuff, thanks a lot for posting this! I've just left a comment below your previous article, related to this one too.

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