The expected value of the long-term future

I wrote an article describing a simple model of the long-term future. Here it is: in PDF format in tex format Summary: A number of ambitious arguments have recently been proposed about the moral importance of the long-term future of humanity, on the scale of millions and billions of years.... Read More
Comment author: ThomasSittler 16 December 2017 11:26:42AM 1 point [-]

by the way sam, do you plan to move Giving What We Can's "my giving" to app.effectivealtruism.org/pledge ?

Comment author: ThomasSittler 16 December 2017 11:17:56AM 1 point [-]

This is really great, I like the idea of CEA building online infrastructure for the community. The explanation of the lottery is pretty good and you've clearly put a lot of effort into it. It is still not perfectly clear in parts.

The draw date is the time at which the lottery will be drawn. The UNIX timestamp of this date will be used to select the NIST beacon entry from which the winning lottery number is derived.

An explanation of NIST beacon entry would be nice here.

The block size is guaranteed by a benefactor who agrees to ‘backstop’ the pot up to this amount.

I'm assuming from context that this means Paul will pay the whole 100,000 even if less than 100,000 is donated by individual entrants in the lottery. More explanation would be nice. [OK, this becomes clearer later in the text, when you say "Unallocated number ranges will be assigned as a ‘ticket’ to the lottery guarantor". But the flow is not smooth]

It's also not entirely clear to me how block overflow is handled. Do you have a second guarantor waiting in the wings for the second block?

Comment author: BenHoffman 02 December 2017 09:53:42PM 1 point [-]

There's an implied heuristic that if someone makes an investment that gives them an income stream worth $X, net of costs, then the real wealth of their society increases by at least $X. On this basis, you might assume that if you give a poor person cash, and they use it to buy education, which increases the present value of their children's earnings by $X, then you've thereby added $X of real wealth to their country.

I am saying that we should doubt the premise at least somewhat.

Comment author: ThomasSittler 02 December 2017 11:35:11PM *  0 points [-]

I have no disagreement with that :)

Still, I don't actually see that much evidence that recipients spend the money on positional goods to a significant extent. To simplify, they seem to mostly buy food and productive assets.

Comment author: ThomasSittler 02 December 2017 04:12:55PM 2 points [-]

I just want to say: that spreadsheet is something beautiful. <3

Comment author: ThomasSittler 02 December 2017 03:13:18PM *  4 points [-]

Thanks for the post! There's actually a lot of existing literature on these topics.

Regarding the effect of cash on happiness, Haushofer, Reisinger & Shapiro (2015) have a paper called "Your Gain Is My Pain: Negative Psychological Externalities of Cash Transfers".

If you are in fact skeptical of the meaningfulness of your income as a metric, you should be similarly skeptical of the meaningfulness of variations in income of people in poor countries

Maybe I misunderstand you, but the whole point of cash transfers is that money matters more for quality of life when you are poor. See 80,000 Hours' review.

The (lack of) productivity effects of (primary) education in developing countries have also been studied, although I'm less familiar with that literature. However, Haushofer & Shapiro (2016) find that as a result of the cash transfers, "education expenditures increase by USD 1 PPP", while overall expenditure on non-durable goods increases by 36 USD PPP. (Table V).

Comment author: ThomasSittler 22 November 2017 08:13:29PM 3 points [-]

Great work! This was enjoyable and useful.

Comment author: Kathy_Forth 11 November 2017 07:07:41AM *  5 points [-]

I suspect a lot of this is due to people trying to save time on reading. There are too many articles to keep up, so we (myself included) choose the articles that seem most likely to have the information I need most, and some of this priority order is author based. An additional method for people who are doing this for efficiency reasons:

We could do an experiment to find out what percentage of high status people's karma points are due to their status or getting a larger amount of attention overall than other posters. Then, us efficiency oriented people can mentally adjust the karma scores accordingly.

Comment author: ThomasSittler 12 November 2017 08:30:03PM 0 points [-]

You can also see the week's / month's most upvoted posts here. This gives you another way to filter for (hopefully) high-quality posts while losing only a small amount of blinding. (You know the ranking of posts that week, but you don't know their relative scores nor who wrote them).

Comment author: ThomasSittler 08 November 2017 09:02:27PM 3 points [-]

This paper contains some interesting results regarding how exactly one should aggregate credences.


How should a group with different opinions (but the same values) make decisions? In a Bayesian setting, the natural question is how to aggregate credences: how to use a single credence function to naturally represent a collection of different credence functions. An extension of the standard Dutch-book arguments that apply to individual decision-makers recommends that group credences should be updated by conditionalization. This imposes a natural constraint on what aggregation rules can be like. Taking conditionalization as a basic constraint, we gather lessons from the established work on credence aggregation, and extend this work with two new impossibility results. We then explore contrasting features of two kinds of rules that satisfy the constraints we articulate: one kind uses fixed prior credences, and the other uses geometric averaging, as opposed to arithmetic averaging. We also prove a new characterisation result for geometric averaging. Finally we consider applications to neighboring philosophical issues, including the epistemology of disagreement.


Modesty and diversity: a concrete suggestion

In online discussions, the number of upvotes or likes a contribution receives is often highly correlated with the social status of the author within that community. This makes the community less epistemically diverse, and can contribute to feelings of groupthink or hero worship . Yet both the author of a... Read More

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