Comment author: Henry_Stanley 25 August 2018 01:12:46PM 0 points [-]

I'm also interested in any slightly unorthodox resources - like, someone coming to the movement for the first time might also want to see criticisms, unusual points of view within the movement (e.g. negative utilitarianism), etc.

Comment author: Denkenberger 25 August 2018 05:54:15AM 1 point [-]

Other long term EA-aligned organizations include Future of Life Institute, Global Catastrophic Risk Institute, Alliance to Feed the Earth in Disasters, AI Impacts, Berkeley Existential Risk Institute, etc.

Comment author: Henry_Stanley 25 August 2018 01:11:06PM 0 points [-]

Thanks, have added 'em.

Comment author: cscanlon 25 August 2018 12:17:50AM 6 points [-]

Great idea! For the section on existential risk, my suggestion would be https://www.fhi.ox.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/Existential-Risks-2017-01-23.pdf It has a government and diplomacy point of view, but I found it much more readable than other material I have encountered on the topic. I'm not an expert in this area though, so if someone has a better suggestion for an accessible introduction, go for it.

Comment author: Henry_Stanley 25 August 2018 12:25:44PM 0 points [-]

Thanks, that's been added.

Comment author: Henry_Stanley 15 July 2018 11:17:53PM 6 points [-]

I like this a lot.

Random plug: I know a lot of EAs (including myself) use goal-and-task-tracking tool Complice; you can assign an accountability partner who sees your progress (and you see theirs). You can also share a link like this that lets anyone get updates on your public goals, which could potentially be quite motivating.

Comment author: Henry_Stanley 14 July 2018 05:18:13PM *  6 points [-]

I do want to share a cautionary tale about such investing: in the UK, there are tax-efficient investment vehicles called EISes and VCTs, which are designed to encourage investors to put money into somewhat risky early-stage UK businesses (and give big tax breaks as a result).

At one point, there were renewable energy EIS/VCT funds which seemed to give excellent returns – but only because the companies involved were claiming substantial, risk-free government subsidies for renewables schemes ("feed-in tariffs"). Eventually these schemes were scrapped, as were feed-in tariffs.

So an unwise impact investor might have put money into such a scheme, made a nice profit, and thought they were doing social good. In reality, the profits were just money taken from taxpayers (FITs were funded by making energy more expensive for all households), and impact (building inefficient, small-scale solar in a country where solar energy doesn't make much sense[1]) probably pretty minimal.

[1] - Peak energy demand in the UK is in the winter when it's coldest and darkest, so solar is basically useless here. Compare that to California, where peak demand is when people switch on their A/C during the sunniest part of the day.

Comment author: John_Maxwell_IV 13 July 2018 08:52:21AM *  6 points [-]

Here is a previous post on EA crowdfunding. Not sure if anyone is working on it actively, but maybe it'd be possible to rope the author into a project. Here are some other vaguely related posts:

As Henry says, it seems like a lot of EA projects get started and then abandoned. It was just over a year ago that Peter Hurford wrote "I guess another important next step would be learning from why similar things like EA Ventures, Impact Certificates, and the Pareto Fellowship didn't get more traction and were shut down." (source). So if we zoom out a bit and view this "small scale EA funding" category broadly, it appears to be littered with abandoned projects.

The same appears to be true for various EA wikis that people have created. The EA community seems to have a very short collective attention span and/or a very high appetite for novelty; people rarely seem to realize that the thing they are trying to do was already proposed or implemented in prototype form by 6 other people before them. I wonder if the lowest-hanging fruit would be to try to write a history of either attempts to provide small-scale EA funding or attempts to create a wiki, interview people who were involved in every failed project, try to discern patterns and debug the problems. In any case, ironically this causes me to update away from funding small-scale stuff a bit, and towards funding any EA organization that's proven it has some institutional staying power!

A lens which might explain why both EA wikis and EA peer funding are so hard: In both cases, the challenge is to establish a Schelling point. A wiki will have a hard time getting writers if it doesn't have readers, and it will have a hard time getting readers if it doesn't have writers. A funding platform will have a hard time getting projects if it doesn't have funders, and it will have a hard time getting funders if it doesn't have projects. So in addition to looking at failed attempts to establish Schelling points, it might also be useful to examine successful attempts. Here are some that come to mind:

  • This forum. I believe this forum evolved out of a group blog which was invite-only, Ryan Carey might know more.

  • EA Global. EA Global was originally called the EA Summit, and Geoff Anders told me that the first summit nearly did not happen because EA organizations were having trouble coordinating.

  • Less Wrong 2.0. There was a period of several years where LW was in a state of decline, and every few months someone would write a post about how LW was in decline and how maybe it could get fixed and how someone should really do something about it. Nothing happened until a few people (Matt Graves, Oliver Habryka, Ben Pace, Ray Arnold, others?) got together and got really serious about it, went around talking to lots of different people about why they weren't writing for Less Wrong, got some funding from EA Grants, etc.

In the last two cases it seems like the Schelling point was established through intensive networking and finding a compromise that achieved everyone's interests simultaneously. If I had an MBA I would probably call it "building consensus among stakeholders". People who spend a lot of time thinking things through independently or building infrastructure without getting anyone's input don't seem to be as successful. If you want to create a city off in rural Utah, the first step is not to go off and build the city, the first step is to found a religion and wait until it has a bunch of members. (Though I could believe that thinking things through independently and writing up your thoughts might be useful to a networking expert who comes along later to spearhead your project. Same for creating Facebook groups which can later be used as coordination points, e.g. the "New EA hub search and planning" FB group, which gave me an opportunity to promote the EA Hotel. However, I think a failed shot at establishing a Schelling point can actually be harmful if it creates a self-fulfilling prophecy that creating a Schelling point is not feasible.)

Another point is that if someone is already working on something kinda similar to what you are working on, it might be best to glom onto their thing instead of starting your own thing. For example, with LessWrong 2.0, Matt Graves was the person officially in charge of revitalizing LessWrong, but I think he got a big boost when Oliver Habryka and others glommed on to that project. It's always nice to be the leader so you get to do things your way and make all the important decisions yourself, but the entire challenge with establishing a Schelling point is to coordinate disparate interests. (And by extension, in the same way you yourself are going to be more motivated to work on a project that you feel you have a leadership role in, giving other people leadership roles in your project is maybe a way to get them feeling invested.) So if you're unable to coordinate with a person who is already working on a similar project, due to networking ability that's insufficient to discover them or compromise ability that's insufficient to work with them, you are probably doomed anyway. In general, I think having multiple projects competing for resources is bad, e.g. I think LW 2.0 took off around the time Arbital finally threw in the towel.

(It may be that the most important thing is just to be persistent--in the same way startups are said to be an emotional roller coaster, I'll bet nonprofit projects are the same way, and the planning fallacy means everything takes longer than expected. Hopefully this comment wasn't too discouraging!)

Comment author: Henry_Stanley 13 July 2018 06:00:15PM 1 point [-]

Just a note on the EA Wiki (and on project abandonment in general): lots of projects seem to be really badly run. The EA Wiki was offline for months because of server issues, and until recently you couldn't even register as a new user.

I'm not sure EAs have a shorter attention span than anyone else – I imagine most would maybe try a couple of times to get onto the wiki and then just give up. That's part of the reason I'm not worried about project duplication: so many efforts are half-baked that we shouldn't allow one party to have a monopoly on a particular idea.

Comment author: John_Maxwell_IV 13 July 2018 08:52:21AM *  6 points [-]

Here is a previous post on EA crowdfunding. Not sure if anyone is working on it actively, but maybe it'd be possible to rope the author into a project. Here are some other vaguely related posts:

As Henry says, it seems like a lot of EA projects get started and then abandoned. It was just over a year ago that Peter Hurford wrote "I guess another important next step would be learning from why similar things like EA Ventures, Impact Certificates, and the Pareto Fellowship didn't get more traction and were shut down." (source). So if we zoom out a bit and view this "small scale EA funding" category broadly, it appears to be littered with abandoned projects.

The same appears to be true for various EA wikis that people have created. The EA community seems to have a very short collective attention span and/or a very high appetite for novelty; people rarely seem to realize that the thing they are trying to do was already proposed or implemented in prototype form by 6 other people before them. I wonder if the lowest-hanging fruit would be to try to write a history of either attempts to provide small-scale EA funding or attempts to create a wiki, interview people who were involved in every failed project, try to discern patterns and debug the problems. In any case, ironically this causes me to update away from funding small-scale stuff a bit, and towards funding any EA organization that's proven it has some institutional staying power!

A lens which might explain why both EA wikis and EA peer funding are so hard: In both cases, the challenge is to establish a Schelling point. A wiki will have a hard time getting writers if it doesn't have readers, and it will have a hard time getting readers if it doesn't have writers. A funding platform will have a hard time getting projects if it doesn't have funders, and it will have a hard time getting funders if it doesn't have projects. So in addition to looking at failed attempts to establish Schelling points, it might also be useful to examine successful attempts. Here are some that come to mind:

  • This forum. I believe this forum evolved out of a group blog which was invite-only, Ryan Carey might know more.

  • EA Global. EA Global was originally called the EA Summit, and Geoff Anders told me that the first summit nearly did not happen because EA organizations were having trouble coordinating.

  • Less Wrong 2.0. There was a period of several years where LW was in a state of decline, and every few months someone would write a post about how LW was in decline and how maybe it could get fixed and how someone should really do something about it. Nothing happened until a few people (Matt Graves, Oliver Habryka, Ben Pace, Ray Arnold, others?) got together and got really serious about it, went around talking to lots of different people about why they weren't writing for Less Wrong, got some funding from EA Grants, etc.

In the last two cases it seems like the Schelling point was established through intensive networking and finding a compromise that achieved everyone's interests simultaneously. If I had an MBA I would probably call it "building consensus among stakeholders". People who spend a lot of time thinking things through independently or building infrastructure without getting anyone's input don't seem to be as successful. If you want to create a city off in rural Utah, the first step is not to go off and build the city, the first step is to found a religion and wait until it has a bunch of members. (Though I could believe that thinking things through independently and writing up your thoughts might be useful to a networking expert who comes along later to spearhead your project. Same for creating Facebook groups which can later be used as coordination points, e.g. the "New EA hub search and planning" FB group, which gave me an opportunity to promote the EA Hotel. However, I think a failed shot at establishing a Schelling point can actually be harmful if it creates a self-fulfilling prophecy that creating a Schelling point is not feasible.)

Another point is that if someone is already working on something kinda similar to what you are working on, it might be best to glom onto their thing instead of starting your own thing. For example, with LessWrong 2.0, Matt Graves was the person officially in charge of revitalizing LessWrong, but I think he got a big boost when Oliver Habryka and others glommed on to that project. It's always nice to be the leader so you get to do things your way and make all the important decisions yourself, but the entire challenge with establishing a Schelling point is to coordinate disparate interests. (And by extension, in the same way you yourself are going to be more motivated to work on a project that you feel you have a leadership role in, giving other people leadership roles in your project is maybe a way to get them feeling invested.) So if you're unable to coordinate with a person who is already working on a similar project, due to networking ability that's insufficient to discover them or compromise ability that's insufficient to work with them, you are probably doomed anyway. In general, I think having multiple projects competing for resources is bad, e.g. I think LW 2.0 took off around the time Arbital finally threw in the towel.

(It may be that the most important thing is just to be persistent--in the same way startups are said to be an emotional roller coaster, I'll bet nonprofit projects are the same way, and the planning fallacy means everything takes longer than expected. Hopefully this comment wasn't too discouraging!)

Comment author: Henry_Stanley 13 July 2018 05:57:21PM 1 point [-]

EA Hotel (writing this comment from the hotel dining room)

Exciting stuff!

Comment author: Denise_Melchin 10 July 2018 10:26:43AM 4 points [-]

All of your ideas listed are already being worked on by some people. I talked just yesterday to someone who is intending to implement #1 soon, #3 will likely be achieved by handling EA Grants differently in the future, and there are already a couple of people working on #2, though there is further room for improvement.

Comment author: Henry_Stanley 12 July 2018 01:50:51AM 5 points [-]

Would be good to know who these people are to better co-ordinate the community's efforts (and indeed to see if they're serious endeavours -- I get the feeling a lot of EA projects end up being started and then abandoned, so the fact that someone is already working on it shouldn't necessarily stop others from doing so).

Comment author: michaelchen 16 June 2018 01:14:53PM *  0 points [-]

I'm getting "Error: Unexpected call to method or property access." for the first two code snippets.

Comment author: Henry_Stanley 16 June 2018 10:54:07PM 0 points [-]

That's strange; what are you using to view the page?

Comment author: MichaelPlant 25 May 2018 12:31:48PM 1 point [-]

Can you explain how I might do that? You can just provide a link if it's easier. The source code for the current app is held by David, my co-founder, who seems to have dropped off the face of the Earth (at least with regards to my emails to him). The list of happiness-suggestions is just in a spreadsheet.

Comment author: Henry_Stanley 06 June 2018 09:46:43PM 0 points [-]

You'd make a repository on e.g. GitHub and upload the code there. Then other people can see it and suggest changes, or can fork (make a copy of) the repository and start their own thing based off it.

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