Comment author: Telofy  (EA Profile) 18 October 2018 07:24:19PM 2 points [-]

I'd love to subscribe to a blog where you publish what grants you've recommended. Are you planning to run something like that?

Comment author: jaksim 28 August 2018 11:58:20AM *  0 points [-]

I am still not finished with the article, just want to share a novel approach to prioritization using network theory that I found today, shared by World Bank, and got quite excited about it.

It is an application of network theory in prioritization of Sustainable Development Goals with counter-intuitive conclusions for people used to reasoning along the lines of cost-benefit estimates, like the ones by Copenhagen Consensus. In short, goals like affordable clean energy and sanitation are central to many of the SDGs and can thus increase probabilities of their achievement.

"The authors note that the extent to which capacities can be used between SDGs is dependent on their proximity to one another. They define “SDG proximity” as the conditional probability of two indicators being “successful” together, a function of the commonalities shared. For example, the indicator “number of physicians per 1,000 people” is likely to have more commonalities with—and be closer in proximity to—an indicator to measure malnutrition than it would with one on marine protected areas.

If a country performs well on a Goal or indicator with many “proximities,” the country is likely to also achieve progress in others.

The sum of a Goal’s proximities provides its measure of “SDG centrality,” the paper explains. If a country performs well on a Goal or indicator with high centrality, the country is likely to also achieve progress in others. SDGs 7 (affordable and clean energy) and 6 (clean water and sanitation) are calculated to be the most “central,” while Goals 1 (no poverty) and 13 (climate action) are calculated to be the least central.

The highest-ranked indicators in terms of centrality relate to access to electricity, and populations using improved drinking water sources. The least central indicators address varied themes, including gender parity, disaster risk reduction strategies, education, time spent on unpaid domestic work, employment in agriculture, malaria incidence rates, and the number of breeds classified as being not-at-risk of extinction, among others. However, the authors caution against “writing off” an SDG or indicator as irrelevant simply because it features limited connections.

To prioritize actions, the authors cite the importance of an SDG’s “density” in a country. This is defined on the basis of the Goal’s proximities to others in which the country is successful. It will be easier to make progress on a high-density SDG than a low-density SDG. The paper suggests that governments can use the concepts of SDG proximity, centrality and density to redeploy SDG delivery mechanisms or other capacities, in order to maximize impact."

I quickly summarized "four modes of thinking" about prioritization here: Sequence Thinking vs Cluster Thinking (both "horizontal") and Analytic Thinking vs. Synthetic/Systemic Thinking (both vertical) and used the above example

Comment author: Telofy  (EA Profile) 02 September 2018 04:27:50PM 0 points [-]

Oh, cool! I'm reading that study at the moment. I'll be able to say more once I'm though. Then I'll turn to your article. Sounds interesting!

Comment author: Telofy  (EA Profile) 02 August 2018 06:05:37AM *  7 points [-]

Thank you for starting that discussion. Some resources that come to mind that should be relevant here are:

  • Lukas Gloor’s concept of Tranquilism,
  • different types of happiness (a talk by Michael Plant where I think I heard them explained), and
  • the case for the relatively greater moral urgency and robustness of suffering minimization over happiness maximization, i.e., a bit of a focus on suffering.
Comment author: riceissa  (EA Profile) 20 June 2018 06:22:12AM *  5 points [-]

(Context: I host the Cause Prioritization Wiki.)

I think there might be a misunderstanding here, so I would like to clarify a couple of things.

I also don't want the fact that one person has done the project at one point to mean that no one can ever do the project again.

I assume this is referring to me, and that Peter is saying the Cause Prioritization Wiki is dead. It's true that the wiki was inactive for about two years, but more recently I've been adding more content to it; there is an edit history graph showing activity for the past year.

But even assuming the wiki is dead, I'm not sure starting essentially from scratch is better than reviving the existing project.

We mainly chose to go with a different wiki software to improve the editing experience (especially editing without creating an account) to remove barriers to contribution.

The choices of wiki software and of allowing anonymous edits are not unchangeable. For the former, I've actually been pondering for a while whether switching to MediaWiki would be a good idea (I haven't looked into Wiki.js, which is what PriorityWiki uses), as I've gotten more experience with editing on MediaWiki wikis since the time when I started the Cause Prioritization Wiki. For the latter, my thinking has been that I don't want to spend a lot of time moderating the wiki, which is why I chose to restrict account creation and disable anonymous edits. But if there is enough energy to moderate the wiki, I would be fine with allowing more open editing.

Some thoughts I had about competition while thinking about this situation (I haven't spent a lot of time thinking about this topic):

  • In general I think competition benefits end users.
  • There are four existing wikis about bitcoin that I know of, which might be an interesting case study:
  • With free software, forking is often difficult (existing codebase too complicated to understand, written for a different OS, written in a language that one is unfamiliar with) so there's a proliferation of similar applications. This seems to be less of a problem for prose.
  • Again with free software, different software projects focus on different (sometimes incompatible) things, like speed, feature-richness, memory use, portability. With a wiki, there is still some of that (one can trade off along formal vs informal language, background knowledge assumed, audience's goals) but I think it's less strong.
  • Again for software, there is also the issue of getting stuck in local optima (think how horrible LaTeX is but people are forced to use it). I think Wikipedia is similarly a local optimum for a generic encyclopedia, but this seems mostly problematic because of its deletionism.
  • For products that are sold there is also competition along price.
  • For textbooks, I think it's good that there are a bunch of them for each (topic, level) combination, because exposition style/difficulty can vary significantly. I think for general reference works there is a lot less of that, and even less for inclusionist electronic wikis.
Comment author: Telofy  (EA Profile) 20 June 2018 11:02:22AM 2 points [-]

I’m against it. ;-)

Just kidding. I think monopolies and competition are bundles of advantages and disadvantages that we can also combine differently. Competition comes with duplication of effort, sometimes sabotaging the other rather than improving oneself, and some other problems. A monopoly would come with the local optima problem you mentioned. But we can also acknowledge (as we do in many other fields) that we don’t know how to run the best wiki, and have different projects that try out different plausible strategies while not being self-interested by being interested in the value of information from the experiment. So they can work together, automatically synchronize any content that can be synchronized, etc. We’ll first need meaningful differences between the projects that it’ll be worthwhile to test out, e.g., restrictive access vs. open access.

Comment author: John_Maxwell_IV 20 June 2018 07:51:42AM *  12 points [-]

It looks like there is another abandoned wiki here, which was moved to here (but the latter link appears to be overrun with spam). Less than 2 years ago, angelinahli started what looks like a really solid attempt to do something kinda similar to what Marcus & Peter appear to be doing here.

I wish there was some way to solve the meta-level problem of projects like this getting forgotten. If you zoom out a bit, this category appears quite crowded. It seems that attempts to prevent things from getting lost in the sands of time may also get lost in the sands of time!

Maybe it's not an issue of fragmentation so much as lack of discoverability. Perhaps what's needed is to persuade people running the EA forum/EA Facebook Group to link to the directory resource from the forum intro/FB group description. If it's known that a wiki has readers, maybe it will be easier to attract writers. Article view counts might be helpful? (Chicken-and-egg problem: For readers, you need writers, but for writers, you need readers.)

Zooming out, I suspect part of the issue is it feels scummy to promote your own work, so good work often ends up gathering dust--even if the purpose of that work was to help prevent other work from gathering dust! I think people should get over their aversion to promoting their own work some, and also try to promote the work of others more often. Then maybe we can have a wiki which reaches "meme status".

Comment author: Telofy  (EA Profile) 20 June 2018 10:52:50AM 0 points [-]

That would be an immensely valuable meta problem to solve!

Then maybe we can have a wiki which reaches "meme status".

On a potentially less serious note, I wonder if one could make sure that a wiki remains popular by adding a closed section to it that documents particular achievements from OMFCT the way Know Your Meme does. xD

Comment author: Telofy  (EA Profile) 19 June 2018 03:33:59PM *  13 points [-]

Sweet! I hope it’ll become a great resource! Are you planning to merge it with If there are too many wikis, we’d just run into the same problem with fragmented bits of information again.

Comment author: Telofy  (EA Profile) 08 June 2018 09:59:21AM 1 point [-]

Thank you! I suspect, this is going to be very helpful for me.

Comment author: Telofy  (EA Profile) 08 June 2018 08:00:30AM 1 point [-]

Awesome! Do you also have plans to assist EA founders of for-profit social enterprises (like e.g. Wave)?

Comment author: Denkenberger 26 March 2018 12:30:39AM 2 points [-]

From my book: "Synthetic food production refers to using chemical synthesis. Sugar has been synthesized from noncarbohydrates for decades (Hudlicky et al., 1996). Hudlicky, T., Entwistle, D.A., Pitzer, K.K., Thorpe, A.J., 1996. Modern methods of monosaccharide synthesis from non-carbohydrate sources. Chem. Rev. 96, 1195–1220." I didn't write much because I don't know enough about catalysis to say whether it can be ramped up quickly in a catastrophe. But for space colonization, that is not an issue.

Comment author: Telofy  (EA Profile) 30 March 2018 08:30:39AM 0 points [-]

Awesome, thank you!

Comment author: Jeffhe  (EA Profile) 17 March 2018 02:12:42AM *  0 points [-]

Hi Telofy,

Thanks for this lucid reply. It has made me realize that it was a mistake to use the phrase "clear experiential sense" because that misleads people into thinking that I am referring to some singular experience (e.g. some feeling of exhaustion that sets in after the final headache). In light of this issue, I have written a "new" first reply to Michael_S to try to make my position clearer. I think you will find it helpful. Moreover, if you find any part of it unclear, please do let me know.

What I'm about to say overlaps with some of the content in my "new" reply to Michael_S:

You write that you don't see anything morally relevant linking the person moments of a single person. Are you concluding from this that there is not actually a single subject-of-experience who feels, say, 5 pains over time (even though we talk as if there is)? Or, are you concluding from this that even if there is actually just a single subject-of-experience who feels all 5 pains over time, it is morally no different from 5 subjects-of-experience who each feels 1 pain of the same sort?

What matters to me at the end of the day is whether there is a single subject-of-experience who extends through time and thus is the particular subject who feels all 5 pains. If there is, then this subject experiences what it's like of going through 5 pains (since, in fact, this subject has gone through 5 pains, whether he remembers going through them or not). Importantly, the what-it's-like-of-going-through-5-pains is just the collection of the past 5 singular pain episodes, not some singular/continuous experience like an feeling of exhaustion or some super intense pain from the synthesis of the intensity of the 5 past pains. It is this what-it's-like that can plausibly be worse than the what it's like of going through a major pain. Since there could only be this what-it's-like when there is a single subject who experiences all 5 pains, therefore 5 pains spread across 5 people cannot be worse than a major pain (since, at best, there would only be 5 experientially independent what-it's-like-of-going-through-1-minor-headache).

My latest reply to Michael_S focuses on the question whether there could be a single subject-of-experience who extends through time, and thus capable of feeling multiple pains.

Comment author: Telofy  (EA Profile) 25 March 2018 03:05:07PM *  1 point [-]

Hi Jeff!

To just briefly answer your question, “Are you concluding from this that there is not actually a single subject-of-experience”: I don’t have an intuition for what a subject-of-experience is – if it is something defined along the lines of the three characteristics of continuous person moments from my previous message, then I feel that it is meaningful but not morally relevant, but if it is defined along the lines of some sort of person essentialism then I don’t believe it exists on Occam’s razor grounds. (For the same reason, I also think that reincarnation is metaphysically meaningless because I think there is no essence to a person or a person moment besides their physical body* until shown otherwise.)

* This is imprecise but I hope it’s clear what I mean. People are also defined by their environment, culture, and whatnot.

View more: Next