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: Larks 15 August 2018 03:25:55AM 2 points [-]

What is it about a Viagra company that makes them more responsible for solving global health issues than e.g. IKEA?

Yes, for some reason the proposal combines a carbon-trading-style-scheme with a decision to make pharmaceutical companies pay for it all. The latter seems to be totally separable - just distribute the credits in proportion (at a slightly lower ratio than the target) to revenues! This would also significantly help address the problem I outlined in the other comment, by reducing the incentive just to shift revenue ex-US.

Comment author: Larks 15 August 2018 03:15:13AM 2 points [-]

The authors fail to consider what seems to me to be the obvious response firms would make.

Their policy is basically a tax on global sales for pharmaceutical companies, imposed by the US, which they would pay because of the threat of being excluded from the US market (roughly half of sales). The rational response is to sell off the rights to sell the international marketing rights to your drugs, either to a new international company or to an existing one. These sales are then protected from the US scheme, and the fall in the denominator of the ratio (by ~50%) should ensure the industry is compliant, without any need to alter their behaviour in other ways.

As a simple example, instead of Amgen selling Enbrel in the US and internationally, you would have AmgenUS, with the right to sell Enbrel in the US and paying the tax, and AmgenInternational, with the right to sell Enbrel internationally and does not pay the tax. These sorts of geographic splitting of marketing rights are moderately common in the industry anyway, and don't seem to significantly increase overhead.

There are of course ways around this problem, but I think this shows the general problem with all such regulations - that the designers never consider all the unintended consequences, and so mis-estimate the effects of their policies.

Comment author: Dunja 20 July 2018 08:38:38PM *  1 point [-]

The problem with down-voting is that it allows for views to be dismissed without any argument provided. It's kind of bizarre to give a detailed explanation why you think X is Y, only to see someone has down-voted this without explaining a tad bit why they disagree (or why they "don't find it useful"). I just can't reconcile that approach with the idea of rational deliberation.

One solution would be to demand that every down-vote comes with a reason, to which the original poster can reply.

Comment author: Larks 22 July 2018 06:32:25PM 2 points [-]

Many of these concerns seem to be symmetric, and would also imply we should make it harder to upvote.

Comment author: Larks 19 July 2018 09:29:24PM 3 points [-]

Hey, first of all, thanks for what I'm sure what must have been a lot of work behind this. Many of these ideas seem very sensible.

Am I right in assuming that the scale for the upvotes was intended to be roughly-but-not-exactly logarithmic? And do downvotes scale the same way?

Comment author: Larks 11 July 2018 10:55:08PM 4 points [-]

(quoting from the open thread)

The timber is sold after 10 years, conservative return to the investor is $20k

This kind of investment would be considered high risk - this company only started this program three years ago, and the first trees haven't yet produced profit.

This sounds extremely suspect. Conservative investments do not generate 23% CAGRs, and there are plenty of investors willing to fund credible 10 year projects. Timber was a particularly fashionable asset class for a while, and 'enviromental' investments are extremely fashionable right now.

[This is an opinion and is for information purposes only. It is not intended to be investment advice. You should consult a licensed financial advisor for investment advice. This is not the opinion of my firm. My firm may have positions in the discussed securities. This is not an invitation to buy or sell securities].

Comment author: [deleted] 25 April 2018 12:32:04PM 2 points [-]

From your link:

Some members leave Giving What We Can, and therefore can be assumed not to actually donate the money they pledged. Others we lose contact with, so that we don’t know whether they donate the money they pledged. The rate of people leaving has so far been 1.7% of members per year.[9]

Other people lose contact with Giving What We Can. The rate of people going silent has been 4.7% per year (we have counted people as silent if we haven’t had any contact with them for over 2 years) . It seems likely that members who go silent still donate some amount, but it is likely to be less than the amount they pledged. We have assumed that this will be around one-third of their original pledge (for example, if a person pledging the standard 10% of their income has gone silent, we’ve only counted 3.33% of their pledge in this calculation).

Given these numbers, the total of those ceasing donations per year is4.8%.[10] We’ve assumed that this percentage will remain constant over time. This means that after, say, 30 years, each member has a 23% chance of still donating, which we believe is a plausible estimate.

It might be useful to know "no contact for 2 years" means exactly. Not because I'm trying to nitpick. But the way we operationalise these metrics sometimes makes a big difference.

In response to comment by [deleted] on Empirical data on value drift
Comment author: Larks 29 April 2018 05:57:46PM 6 points [-]

I think if people promise you that they'll do something, and then they don't answer when you ask if they did it, it's quite probably they did not do the thing.

Comment author: Larks 21 February 2018 02:52:20AM 12 points [-]

Thanks for writing this, I thought it was a good article. And thanks to Greg for funding it.

My pushback would be on the cooperation and coordination point. It seems that a lot of other people, with other moral values, could make a very similar argument: that they need to promote their values now, as the stakes as very high with possible upcoming value lock-in. To people with those values, these arguments should seem roughly as important as the above argument is to you.

  • Christians could argue that, if the singularity is approaching, it is vitally important that we ensure the universe won't be filled with sinners who will go to hell.
  • Egalitarians could argue that, if the singularity is approaching, it is vitally important that we ensure the universe won't be filled with wider and wider diversities of wealth.
  • Libertarians could argue that, if the singularity is approaching, it is vitally important that we ensure the universe won't be filled with property rights violations.
  • Naturalists could argue that, if the singularity is approaching, it is vitally important that we ensure the beauty of nature won't be bespoiled all over the universe.
  • Nationalists could argue that, if the singularity is approaching, it is vitally important that we ensure the universe will be filled with people who respect the flag.

But it seems that it would be very bad if everyone took this advice literally. We would all end up spending a lot of time and effort on propaganda, which would probably be great for advertising companies but not much else, as so much of it is zero sum. Even though it might make sense, by their values, for expanding-moral-circle people and pro-abortion people to have a big propaganda war over whether foetuses deserve moral consideration, it seems plausible we'd be better off if they both decided to spend the money on anti-malaria bednets.

In contrast, preventing the extinction of humanity seems to occupy a privileged position - not exactly comparable with the above agendas, though I can't exactly cache out why it seems this way to me. Perhaps to devout Confucians a pre-occupation with preventing extinction seems to be just another distraction from the important task of expressing filial piety – though I doubt this.

(Moral Realists, of course, could argue that the situation is not really symmetric, because promoting the true values is distinctly different from promoting any other values.)

Comment author: Larks 19 February 2018 09:47:39PM 0 points [-]

a standard sheet of paper is about 7 square feet.

Do you mean 0.7 square feet?

Comment author: Liam_Donovan 14 January 2018 10:34:58AM 3 points [-]

Hopefully...since it's a zero-sum game though, I'm not necessarily convinced that we can improve efficiency and learn from our mistakes more than other groups. In fact, I'd expect the %matched to go down next year, as the % of the matching funds directed by the EA community was far larger than the % of total annual donations made by EAs (and so we're likely to revert to the mean)

Comment author: Larks 19 January 2018 03:47:55AM 0 points [-]

I think we are much more organised than most, and hence more able to learn from our mistakes.

Comment author: Larks 04 January 2018 02:32:39AM 0 points [-]

Not only is it not necessarily true that actual willingness to pay determines consumer preference, it is not even usually true. Differences in willingness to pay are to a significant extent and in a huge range of cases driven by differences in personal wealth rather than by differences in consumer preference. Rich people tend to holiday in exotic and sunny places at much higher rates than poor people. This is entirely a product of the fact that rich people have more money, not that poor people prefer to holiday in Blackpool. I think the same holds for the vast majority of differences in market demand across different income groups.

This is probably empirically true between income groups, but I don't think it's true between individuals, even of different income levels. Most people have zero demand for most goods, due to a combination of geographic location, lack of interest and diminishing marginal utility, and this is the main determinant of differences in demand between individuals.

For example, I have 0 demand for sandwiches right now - hence why sandwiches can be bought all over the world by people with incomes <1% of mine. This sort of case, where markets do correctly allocate sandwiches, strikes me as being the norm in markets, rather than the exception.

(I realise this does not directly contradict your point but wanted to ensure readers did not draw an unnecessarily strong conclusion from it)

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