Comment author: MHarris 10 October 2017 04:10:56PM 0 points [-]

One issue to consider is whether catastrophic risk is a sufficiently popular issue for an agency to use it to sustain itself. Independent organisations can be vulnerable to cuts. This probably varies a lot by country.

Comment author: Larks 10 October 2017 11:14:04PM *  0 points [-]

Independent organisations can be vulnerable to cuts.

Do you know of any quantitative evidence on the subject? My impression was there is a fair bit of truth to the maxim "There's nothing as permanent as a temporary government program."

Comment author: Larks 07 October 2017 03:01:36PM 0 points [-]

Thanks for writing this up! While it's hard to evaluate externally without seeing the eventually outcomes of the projects, and the counterfactuals of who you rejected, it seems like you did a good job!

Comment author: MichaelPlant 01 October 2017 12:50:13AM 1 point [-]

All this was hard to follow.

Comment author: Larks 07 October 2017 02:49:31PM 1 point [-]

EA money is money in the hands of EAs. It is argued that this is more valuable than non-EA money, because EAs are better at turning money into EAs. As such, a policy that cost $100 of non-EA money might be more expensive than one which cost $75 of EA money.

Comment author: concerned_ 12 September 2017 04:39:51PM 2 points [-]

Isn't Ayn Rand the antithesis of EA?

Comment author: Larks 06 October 2017 12:37:03AM *  0 points [-]

I don't think so. My guess is you think so because she discussed selfishness as a virtue and altruism as a vice, but she is using these words in a somewhat different sense than we do. My impression is she would not have been opposed to someone who realised that the best way to promote their values was to help others. See for example the quote below.

Where I think she is well aligned is in the sense that it is possible to understand the world through reason, and for individuals to act to realise their goals. This sort of heroic attitude is clearly part of EA.

Do you consider wealthy businessmen like the Fords and the Rockefellers immoral because they use their wealth to support charity? No. That is their privilege, if they want to. My views on charity are very simple. I do not consider it a major virtue and, above all, I do not consider it a moral duty. There is nothing wrong in helping other people, if and when they are worthy of the help and you can afford to help them. I regard charity as a marginal issue. What I am fighting is the idea that charity is a moral duty and a primary virtue.

source: a surprisingly good interview, given that it is in Playboy!

Comment author: Larks 07 September 2017 02:08:17AM 1 point [-]

Thinking of books that had a big impact on me, and that I think I would endorse:

  • Godel Escher Bach, Douglas Hofstadter
  • The Sequences, Eliezer Yudkowsky
  • Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand
  • The Extended Phenotype, Richard Dawkins
  • Diaspora, Greg Egan

I also think the Culture novels, and the 80,000 Hours book, could be good.

Comment author: Alex_Barry 28 July 2017 10:42:09AM 1 point [-]

I cannot see the inconsistency there either, the whole section seems a bit strange as his "no death" example starts also containing death again about half way through.

(Note your first line seems to be missing some *'s)

Comment author: Larks 29 July 2017 04:13:24PM 1 point [-]

(Note your first line seems to be missing some *'s)

Fixed, thanks.

Comment author: Larks 27 July 2017 11:27:31PM 7 points [-]

It might be objected that the problem is imagining how the benefits of sparing few days of malaria to 1 billion people are aggregated, and that our feeling or repugnance derives from our failure to see that this aggregated benefit is immensely larger than the benefit of increased educational opportunities for few people. But this begs the question. The problem with ARC is exactly that to many of us the benefit of giving better education to 100 people seems worthy of giving up the tiny aggregated benefit of sparing few days of non-fatal malaria to 1 billion people.

I think he fails to do justice to this objection. It not mere question-begging to suggest that people's intuitions fail to deal with the large numbers correctly; it is a well-known fact that people's intuitions struggle to deal with such cases! This is commonly referred to as Scope Insensitivity - it occurs even in cases where the outcome 'should' be obvious.

Comment author: Larks 27 July 2017 11:19:51PM *  3 points [-]
  1. C^^ is better than C^, which is better than C;
  2. C^^ is better than B;
  3. B is better than C and C^.

But these three rankings are inconsistent, and one of them should go. To endorse all of them means to breach transitivity. Is EA committed to rejecting transitivity? This view is very controversial, and if EA required it, this would need serious inquiry and defence.

These rankings do not seem inconsistent to me? C^^ > B > C^ > C

edit: substituted with '^' due to formatting issues.

Comment author: Larks 17 June 2017 06:13:36AM 1 point [-]

One issue is that the party demanding the concessions usually attemtos to frame the issue in such a way as to obscure the fact that they are concessions.

In response to Red teaming GiveWell
Comment author: Peter_Hurford  (EA Profile) 30 May 2017 02:06:53AM 3 points [-]

“GiveDirectly households reported a ... increase … on an index measuring psychological well-being. This improvement was largely driven by increases in happiness and life satisfaction, and reductions in stress and depression.”

However, "increases in neighbours' wealth strongly decrease life satisfaction and moderately decrease consumption and asset holdings''. Giving What We can also describe how neighbors of cash transfers recipients are less happy after their neighbors enrichment. This should come as no surprise: Participants in many foreign aid programs are better off but at the cost of those who aren't involved in the program.

The evidence for this is minor, but it has been enough that GiveDirectly now gives on the village and not the individual level. So this should no longer be a large concern. This is also an area of active RCT study and GiveDirectly also experiments with different targeting techniques.

Comment author: Larks 30 May 2017 11:14:03PM 1 point [-]

GiveDirectly now gives on the village and not the individual level.

Do you have a source for that? The linked webpage suggests otherwise:

In Kenya, we incorporate a range of factors into our eligibility criteria, including housing (e.g. house size), assets (e.g. presence of a latrine), vulnerable recipient status (e.g. homelessness), and other criteria.

In Uganda, we enroll families in homes that have thatched roofs and those who are homeless. People who live in homes with thatched roofs have been shown to be substantially poorer than their neighbors.

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