In response to Open Thread #39
Comment author: LivBoeree 23 April 2018 12:41:10PM 6 points [-]

Hi all, Liv here (REG co-founder). I've just joined the forum for the first time and don't have enough karma to post in the main thread yet, but hopefully someone very well-versed in climate change intervention rankings will see this:

I'm looking for feedback on the following prioritisation list http://www.drawdown.org/solutions-summary-by-rank

This list is being referenced by a potentially very high impact and well-intentioned individual I'm in conversation with, but it IMO it contains a number of surprises and omissions. Does anyone have a more EA-vetted ranking of interventions they could direct me to? Feel free to PM me, thanks.

In response to comment by LivBoeree on Open Thread #39
Comment author: Roxanne_Heston  (EA Profile) 12 July 2018 01:18:49AM 0 points [-]
In response to Open Thread #39
Comment author: hollymorgan 27 October 2017 09:12:18PM *  21 points [-]

I made a list of what I call "life gems" - those rare and precious things in my life that were easily introduced and have enabled me to "level up" in the amount of positive impact I create. It's obviously not exhaustive, but I started it ~3 months ago and have been adding to it since as things occur to me.

On motivation:

  • The System 1 / System 2 framework

  • Audiobooks - I otherwise struggle to get through books (h/t Sarah Morgan?)

  • Token payments to an EA friend every time I continue a bad habit or fail to sustain a regular, good habit (h/t Niel Bowerman and Sam Hilton)

  • Planning when exactly I will work on tasks so that my current to-do list is always short, otherwise I am tempted to do the quick - and usually less important - tasks in order to shorten the list as quickly as possible (h/t Sam Hilton)

On rationality:

  • The 'regression to the mean' phenomenon (h/t Toby Ord)

On practical ethics:

  • The idea of astronomical waste (h/t Ben Hoskin and Nick Bostrom)

  • The idea that if you're not sure where your meat comes from, the harm of factory farming is so great that you should hardly ever take the chance - this is what first made me a vegetarian (h/t a conversation with Marc Crosby although it may be significant that it was still me who came up with the argument)

  • Figures comparing direct suffering caused by various animal foods (h/t Brian Tomasik)

  • The implication of the prevalence of r-selected species for wild animal suffering (h/t probably Oscar Horta, David Pearce or Brian Tomasik)

  • "A quick test of the assertion that enjoyment outweighs pain in this world, or that they are at any rate balanced, would be to compare the feelings of an animal engaged in eating another with those of the animal being eaten." (h/t Brian Tomasik and Schopenhauer)

  • Graphs comparing what we'd be prepared to pay for an extra QALY for ourselves, vs what we actually pay for ourselves, vs what the NHS would pay for others, vs what various HIV treatments/prevention methods cost, vs what deworming costs (h/t Toby Ord)

  • The idea that contributing to collective action has value because of the small chance that you tip the balance (h/t Toby Ord)

  • The idea that you should choose a cause to focus your career on before thinking about your comparative advantage, because the scale of the differences between causes dwarfs the scale of the differences in your future talents (h/t 80,000 Hours)

  • The idea that doing good now through donating and direct work at the expense of investing in yourself long-term implies a surprisingly low confidence in the altruism of your future self (h/t Robin Hanson)

  • The idea that the way you evaluate a startup is different from the way you evaluate an established organisation (h/t Rochelle Harris and CEA)

On normative ethics:

  • The realisation that deontology and virtue ethics collapse into consequentialism much more easily than one of the other ways around

On metaethics:

  • The argument that "If nihilism is true, it doesn't matter what I do, so I might as well assume it's false." (h/t DanielLC)

On teamwork:

  • The notion of having a 'blaming mindset' - giving it a bad name helps me to recognise and stop it (h/t Adam Freeman)

  • The notion that everyone is just fighting a hard battle (h/t Will Jefferson and Ian Maclaren)

On my social life:

  • The notion of permanent singlehood as a lifestyle choice

On money:

  • An awareness of the risks of developing expensive new habits / increased standards of living i.e. huge future expense for temporary boost in happiness thanks to the hedonic treadmill

On everything:

  • Committing to weekly reviews with someone else that include the question "How can we improve this process?" (h/t Niel Bowerman and Sam Hilton)

It's a good exercise. It helps you have more realistic expectations of how much future self-improvement you can expect, or how often you will be able to really help someone else improve. The content is interesting too, as indications of what efforts you and others could make to help someone else become more impactful.

Comment author: Roxanne_Heston  (EA Profile) 07 July 2018 12:08:23AM 0 points [-]

Have you seen this?: https://conceptually.org/about/

Comment author: Roxanne_Heston  (EA Profile) 07 July 2018 12:03:35AM 1 point [-]

For people looking to get into CBT, Spencer Greenberg and co. are developing an app to walk people through it: https://www.uplift.us/

Comment author: Roxanne_Heston  (EA Profile) 16 April 2018 01:01:09AM 2 points [-]

We can do the same for trading talent. People thinking about working in another cause area can ask around whether there’s someone considering switching to a cause area preferred by them. However, trading places in this scenario brings major practical challenges, so it is likely not viable in most cases.

One difficulty with this is that it's hard to go back on the trade if the other person decides to stop cooperating. If you're doing a moral trade of say, being vegetarian in order to get someone to donate more to a poverty charity, you can just stop being vegetarian if the person stops donating. (You should want to do this so that the trades actually maintain validity as trades, rather than means of hijacking people into doing things that fulfill the other person's values.) However, if Allison focuses on biorisk to get Bettina to do animal welfare work, either one is likely to end up with only weakly fungible career capital and therefore be unable to pivot back to their own priorities if the other pulls out. This is particularly bad if fungibility is asymmetrical -- say, if one person cultivated operations experience that can be used many places, while the other built up deep domain knowledge in an area they don't prioritize. It therefore seems important that people considering doing this kind of thing aim not only for having tradable priorities but also similar costs to withdrawing from the trade.

Comment author: Ben_Todd 27 March 2018 04:35:31AM 2 points [-]

Surely rent is much higher than Oxford on average? It's possible to get a great place in Oxford for under £700 per month, while comparable in SF would be $1300+. Food also seems about 30% more expensive, and in Oxford you don't have to pay for a commute. My overall guess is that $80k p.a. in SF is equivalent to about £40k p.a. in Oxford.

Comment author: Roxanne_Heston  (EA Profile) 27 March 2018 05:58:46PM 0 points [-]
Comment author: ClaireZabel 03 October 2017 05:49:37AM 1 point [-]

An Open Phil staff member made a rough guess that it takes them 13-75 hours per grant distributed. Their average grant size is quite a bit larger, so it seems reasonable to assume it would take them about 25 hours to distribute a pot the size of EA Grants.

My experience making grants at Open Phil suggests it would take us substantially more than 25 hours to evaluate the number of grant applications you received, decide which ones to fund, and disburse the money (counting grant investigator, logistics, and communications staff time). I haven't found that time spent scales completely linearly with grant size, though it generally scales up somewhat. So while it seems about right that most grants take 13-75 hours, I don't think it's true that grants that are only a small fraction of the size of most OP grants would take an equally small fraction of that amount of time.

Comment author: Roxanne_Heston  (EA Profile) 03 October 2017 11:34:54AM *  0 points [-]

Right, neither do I. My 25-hour estimate was how long it would take you to make one grant of ~£500,000, not a bunch of grants adding up to that amount. I assumed that if Open Phil had been distributing these funds it would have done so by giving greater amounts to far fewer recipients.

Comment author: [deleted] 30 September 2017 09:00:14PM *  4 points [-]

Internally we value the average CEA staff hour at ~$75

This is $75 roughly in "EA money" (i.e. OpenPhil's last dollar), yes? It's significantly lower than I thought. However, I suspect that this intuition was biased (upward), because I more often think in terms of "non-EA money". In non-EA money, CEA time would have a much higher nominal value. But if you think EA money can be used to buy good outcomes very cost-effectively (even at the margin) then $75 could make sense.

Comment author: Roxanne_Heston  (EA Profile) 02 October 2017 11:34:15AM 2 points [-]

For what it's worth, Owen thinks I should use at least double $75/hour, given the experience of the staff working on the project and the nature of the work.

Comment author: MichaelPlant 01 October 2017 12:50:13AM 3 points [-]

All this was hard to follow.

Comment author: Roxanne_Heston  (EA Profile) 02 October 2017 10:15:34AM 0 points [-]

Something we can do to clarify?

Comment author: RomeoStevens 02 October 2017 02:46:20AM 2 points [-]

Is cea considering awarding prizes to papers that advance core areas after the fact?

Comment author: Roxanne_Heston  (EA Profile) 02 October 2017 10:14:51AM 0 points [-]

Hm, we haven't considered this in particular, although we are considering alternative funding models. If you think we should prioritize setting something like this up, can you make the case for this over our current scheme or more general certificates of impact?

Comment author: vipulnaik 01 October 2017 12:51:16AM 1 point [-]

Thanks for the detailed post, Roxanne! I am a little confused by the status of the recipients and the way these grants are treated by recipients from an accounting/tax perspective.

First off, are all the grants made to individuals only, or are some of them made to corporations (such as nonprofits)? Your spreadsheet lists all the recipients as individuals, but the descriptions of the grants suggest that in at least some cases, the money is actually going to an organization that is (probably) incorporated. Three examples: Oliver Habryka for LessWrong 2.0 (which he has reported at http://lesswrong.com/r/discussion/lw/pes/lw_20_strategic_overview/ is a project under CFAR), Katja Grace for AI Impacts (which is a separate organization, that used to be classified as a project of MIRI), and Kelly Witwicki (whose work is under the Sentience Institute). If the grant money for some grants is going to corporations rather than individuals, is there a way to see in which cases the grant is going to a corporation, and what the corporation is?

Secondly, I was wondering about the tax and reporting implications of the grants that are made to individuals. Do the receiving individuals have to treat the grants as personal income? What if somebody is coordinating a project involving multiple people and splitting the money across different people? Do you directly pay each of the individuals involved, or does the person doing the coordination receive the totality of the money as personal income and then distribute parts to the other people and expense those?

Comment author: Roxanne_Heston  (EA Profile) 02 October 2017 10:08:15AM 1 point [-]

are all the grants made to individuals only, or are some of them made to corporations (such as nonprofits)?

Some of them are going to nonprofits and other institutions, yes.

is there a way to see in which cases the grant is going to a corporation, and what the corporation is?

This wasn't something we'd considered publishing, and I'm not sure what if any privacy concerns this could raise. If there's a good case for doing so I'm happy to consider adding that information.

Do the receiving individuals have to treat the grants as personal income?

Unfortunately, in cases where we paid individuals directly they do have to treat them as personal income. We might have been able to avoid this in some cases by giving the money as scholarships, although as far as I'm aware this would have been a big hassle to set up. It's on the table for future rounds if it seems worth the setup cost.

What if somebody is coordinating a project involving multiple people and splitting the money across different people? Do you directly pay each of the individuals involved, or does the person doing the coordination receive the totality of the money as personal income and then distribute parts to the other people and expense those?

In four of five cases the money went to an institution with whom the recipient will coordinate multi-person distribution. In the fifth case the money went directly to an individual who had yet to designate the other recipient, so we gave them the totality to distribute themselves.

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