Comment author: MichaelPlant 09 September 2018 09:23:12AM *  6 points [-]

On prizes 1) when would you plan to start them from (i.e. what are posts eligible for this) 2) have you thought much about extrinsic motivation crowding out intrinsic motivation? My worry is that by offering financial rewards, it changes how people will think about this e.g. "well, I'm probably not going to win anything, so I won't bother posting" or "there was some really good content this month, I'm going to hold onto mine"

Comment author: John_Maxwell_IV 09 September 2018 11:31:29PM *  0 points [-]

Another risk is demoralizing anyone who is encouraged to make a post based on the presence of the awards but doesn't actually end up winning.

Comment author: John_Maxwell_IV 03 September 2018 07:36:28PM 1 point [-]

A friend of mine also wrote a good post with this theme:

In response to Open Thread #41
Comment author: John_Maxwell_IV 03 September 2018 02:49:46AM *  9 points [-]

[Intercultural online communication]

The EA Hotel recently hosted EA London's weeklong retreat, and I got a chance to meet lots of EAs in Europe, which was great! One of the many interesting discussions I had was about intercultural communication differences in online discussion. Apparently my habit of spending a few minutes thinking about someone's post and writing the first thing that comes into my head as a comment is "very American". It seems that some EAs in the UK like to be fairly certain about their ideas before sharing them online, and when they do share their ideas, they put more effort into hedging their statements to communicate the correct level of confidence. I thought this was important for forum readers to know; I would hate for people to think that the thoughts I have off the top of my head are carefully considered, and similarly, it seems worth knowing that some forum users comment infrequently because they want the thoughts they do share to carry more weight. This is plausibly more of a UK vs US cultural difference than a cultural difference between the UK & US EA communities specifically, but it still seems worth knowing.


Open Thread #41

Use this thread to post things that are awesome, but not awesome enough to be full posts. This is also a great place to post if you don't have enough karma to post on the main forum. Consider giving your post a brief title to improve readability.
Comment author: Jeff_Kaufman 24 August 2018 06:14:25PM *  1 point [-]

These chores don't go away if you live in an expensive housing market or make a high income.

If you have a high income, though, you can pay other people to do them: for example, instead of cooking you could buy frozen food, buy restaurant food, or hire a cook.

I expect that these economies of scale effects will become even more valuable as the number of people in the hotel grows.

My experience with cooking is that above about 6-10 people the economies of scale drop off a lot. I really like living in a house with enough adults that I can cook about once a week, but as the number of people (and combinations of dietary restrictions) grows you get beyond what one person can cook easily.

Overall, though, it sounds like you're more arguing for "group houses are great" (which I agree on) and not "taking the hotel manager job has high counterfactual impact" (which I think is much more important?)

Comment author: John_Maxwell_IV 27 August 2018 12:29:34AM *  2 points [-]

(I'm assuming that the counterfactual here is someone who wants to do unpaid direct work full time, has some funds available that could be used to either support themselves or could be donated to something high impact, and could either live in SF or Blackpool.)

If you have a high income, though, you can pay other people to do them: for example, instead of cooking you could buy frozen food, buy restaurant food, or hire a cook.

These options don't go away if you move to Blackpool. But your rent does get a lot cheaper.

It seems like maybe there are two questions here which are more or less orthogonal: the value of hiring a very talented full-time manager for your group house (someone who is passing up a job that pays $75K+ in order to be manager), and the value of moving to Blackpool. I think the value of having a very talented full-time manager for your group house is not about reducing expenses, it's about creating a house culture that serves to multiply the impact of all the residents. If that's not possible then it probably makes less sense to hire a manager whose opportunity cost is high.

Comment author: EricHerboso  (EA Profile) 23 August 2018 06:28:20PM 0 points [-]

I believe there is a threshold difference between passionate and self-disciplined EAs. As excited EAs become more dedicated, they tend to hit a wall where their frugality starts to affect them personally much more than it previously have. This wall takes effort to overcome, if it is overcome at all.

Meanwhile, when an obligatory EA becomes more dedicated, that wall doesn't exist (or at least it has less force). So it's easier for self-disciplined EAs to get to more extreme levels than for passionate EAs.

Comment author: John_Maxwell_IV 27 August 2018 12:20:11AM 0 points [-]

Well if we believe 80K that talent gaps matter more than funding gaps, maybe it's good for excited EAs to worry less about donating and more about direct impact?

Comment author: Jeff_Kaufman 15 June 2018 06:58:46PM 1 point [-]

Thinking about the hotel manager role, it's useful to use earning to give as a baseline for comparing impact. Maybe someone who could do a good job at this role could otherwise earn to give at $75-$150k/year if they were only to keep $20k/year for themself? [1] At full capacity there would be 16 bedrooms, but maybe you average 80% full, so this is an effective subsidy of $6k to $12k per resident per year. This on its own is in the same range as just giving people money to rent housing, even in an expensive market like London or the Bay Area. Then add in the other costs (real estate, upkeep, tasks that are contracted out) and this doesn't actually seem cheaper.

Might still be worth it, for the value of crystalizing a new EA hub in a generally cheaper area, but I'm not sold on it.

[1] Long term my expectation is that working a high paying job is probably building a lot more career capital than working as a hotel manager, but let's ignore that for now.

Comment author: John_Maxwell_IV 21 August 2018 09:30:15PM 2 points [-]

Whether you live in a hotel or not, there are certain chores that need to be done for your life to run smoothly: grocery shopping, cooking, laundry, etc. These chores don't go away if you live in an expensive housing market or make a high income. But if you live with roommates, it's possible to coordinate with your roommates to achieve economies of scale in these tasks. Right now at the EA hotel, we are trading off so we each take turns cooking for the entire hotel (currently ~6 people) one night per week. This creates economies of scale because cooking for 6 people is much less than 6 times as hard as cooking for one person. I expect that these economies of scale effects will become even more valuable as the number of people in the hotel grows.

Comment author: Farhan 08 August 2018 05:32:48PM 0 points [-]

Hi John,

I'll definitely look into all that you've suggested. You're absolutely right in trying to acquire perspective about these events in order to understand better how to react if these things happen again in the future, which it very well might. I value your input and hope to give you some feedback on it one day. I'd like to message you and maybe have a chat about the contents of the material you've advised.

Comment author: John_Maxwell_IV 09 August 2018 12:04:16AM *  0 points [-]

You're welcome to message me, but I don't feel like I have much to offer beyond what I wrote in my comment. Maybe try emailing some researchers in this field asking for advice?

Comment author: John_Maxwell_IV 07 August 2018 05:43:48PM *  1 point [-]

Man, sounds like a tough situation, I'm so sorry you are going through this.

In addition to all the other stuff in this thread, it might be valuable to read some history in order to try & acquire perspective. I don't know very much history myself, but perhaps a good analogy would be the recent Arab Spring protests. My vague understanding is that a lot of the Arab Spring countries ended up worse off than they were to start with, despite the good intentions of the people protesting. "Color revolutions" in the former Soviet Union could be another analogy--here is an article I found on Google. Perhaps you could gather examples of countries which did/did not succeed in peacefully reforming their government, and try to understand which separates the successful countries from the unsuccessful ones. (Or see if some academic has already attempted this.)

This is a really fascinating video which attempts to show that the bad behavior of autocratic governments is simply a matter of all the individuals involved following their incentives. Maybe the book that inspired the video has some solutions to the problem? This post might have ideas? Chapter 14 of this book? Paying higher salaries is another interesting idea for tackling corruption. If getting books is hard, you might try this free online course created by some prominent economists. The sections on corruption & democracy could be relevant, and maybe the "people" section?

Comment author: John_Maxwell_IV 04 August 2018 02:30:39PM 23 points [-]

Maybe this is off topic, but can any near future EAs recommend something I can read to understand why they think the near future should be prioritized?

As someone focused on the far future, I'm glad to have near future EAs: I don't expect the general public to appreciate the value of the far future any time soon, and I like how the near future work makes us look good as a movement. In line with the idea of moral trade, I wish there was something that the far future EAs could do for the near future EAs in return, so that we would all gain through cooperation.

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