Comment author: rhys_lindmark 06 September 2017 06:31:11PM *  1 point [-]

Love this exercise (I read a non-fiction book a week, so I think about this a lot!). I'd definitely put an EA book in the top 5, but I think we get more differentiated advantage by adding non-EA books too. My list:

  1. On Direction and Measuring Your Impact—Doing Good Better
  2. On Past-Facing Pattern Matching from History—Sapiens
  3. On Future-Facing Tech Trends—Machine, Platform, Crowd
  4. On Prioritization and Process—Running Lean
  5. On Communication—An Everyone Culture

Honorable Mentions:

  1. Influence/Hooked/Thinking Fast and Slow (on behavioral psychology)
  2. World After Capital/Homo Deus/The Inevitable (more macro trends)
  3. Designing Your Life (process)
  4. Nonviolent Communication (communication)
In response to Open Thread #38
Comment author: rhys_lindmark 24 August 2017 04:19:19PM 1 point [-]

I'm interested in quantifying the impact of blockchain and cryptocurrency from a ITN perspective. My instinct is that the technology could be powerful from a "root cause incentive" perspective, from a "breaking game theory" perspective, and from a "change how money works" perspective. I'll have a more full post about this soon, but here's some of my initial thoughts on the subject:


I'd be especially interested in hearing from people who think blockchain/crypto should NOT be a focus of the EA community! (e.g. It's clearly not neglected!)

Comment author: WillPearson 23 August 2017 02:03:00PM 0 points [-]

I'd not thought to look at it, I assumed it was/stayed an IARPA thing and so focused on world affairs. Thanks!

It looks like it has become a for-profit endeavour now with an open component.

From the looks of it there are no ways to submit questions and you can't see the models of the world used to make the predictions, so I'm not sure if charities (or people investing in charities) can gain much value from it.

We would want questions of the form: if intervention Y occurs what is the expected magnitude of outcome Z.

I'm not sure how best to tackle this.

Comment author: rhys_lindmark 24 August 2017 03:59:18PM 0 points [-]

Great question. and are building decentralized prediction markets on the Ethereum blockchain. Their goal is to "match the global liquidity pool to the global knowledge pool."

I've asked them how they're thinking about hedgehogs to form a collective fox-y model (and then segmenting the data by hedgehog type).

But yeah, I think they will allow you to do what you want above: "Questions of the form: if intervention Y occurs what is the expected magnitude of outcome Z."

In response to Open Thread #38
Comment author: Vincent-Soderberg 24 August 2017 10:37:14AM 2 points [-]

An idea i've had for a while: Making an Effective Altruism/DGB board game might might be an high impact project.

The reasons for why that would be are rough, but sensible i think.

1: Games can teach mindsets and viewpoints of the world that other media cannot, and since much of EA is counterintuitive, a game can be a great learning tool.

2: It can serve the same purpose as an documentary (aka: an EA awareness tool)

3: could be fun to whip out at EA hangouts and play with people new to EA ; related to 1st point.

4: Board games are having an golden age right now, with more people buying them then ever, and marketing/releasing a board game is radically cheaper then in the past, as far as i can tell.

what are some reasons not to pursue this project?


1: making a game takes long time, and...

2: Terrible career capital (as far as i can tell)

So unless you have much game design experience, or can persuade a fellow game designer to do it, it's very much not worth your time. 80 000 hours and CEA may be able to do something with this project, but otherwise im drawing a blank.

I have made a rough sketch of how a game like this would work, but it's not very good because i am not a game designer.


Comment author: rhys_lindmark 24 August 2017 03:50:43PM 2 points [-]

I'm super into this! I'd be happy to check out your rough sketch. A couple thoughts:

  1. I think we should not bucket all of our time into a general time bucket. In fact, some of our time needs to be "fun creative working time". e.g. Sometimes I work on EA things, and sometimes I make music. "Designing an EA board game" could be part of that "fun bucket".
  2. A game like Pandemic ( could be a good starting point for designing the game (or to work with them on designing it). Essentially, use Pandemic as the MVP game for this, then expand to other cause areas (or to EA as a whole). Also, see 80,000 Hours most recent podcast on pandemics (the concept, not the oard game :)
  3. Here's my favorite piece on game design (by Magic the Gathering's head designer)
  4. My instinct is that this should be a collaborative game (or, as William Macaskgill would say, a "shared aims community").
In response to Open Thread #38
Comment author: William_S 23 August 2017 05:21:43PM 3 points [-]

Any thoughts on individual-level political de-polarization in the United States as a cause area? It seems important, because a functional US government helps with a lot of things, including x-risk. I don't know whether there are tractable/neglected approaches in the space. It seems possible that interventions on individuals that are intended to reduce polarization and promote understanding of other perspectives, as opposed to pushing a particular viewpoint or trying to lobby politicians, could be neglected. seems like a useful study in this area (it seems possible that this approach could be used for issues on the other side of the political spectrum)

In response to comment by William_S on Open Thread #38
Comment author: rhys_lindmark 24 August 2017 03:40:41PM *  2 points [-]

Nice link! I think there's worthwhile research to be done here to get a more textured ITN.

On Impact—Here's a small example of x-risk (nuclear threat coming from inside the White House):

On Neglectedness—Thus far it seems highly neglected, at least at a system-level. is one of the only projects I know in the space (but the founder is not contributing much time to it)

On Tractability—I have no clue. Many of these "bottom up"/individual-level solution spaces seem difficult and organic (though we would pattern match from the spread of the EA movement).

  1. There's a lot of momentum in this direction (the public is super aware of the problem). Whenever this happens, I'm tempted by pushing an EA mindset "outcome-izing/RCT-ing" the efforts in the space. So even if it doesn't score highly on Neglectedness, we could attempt to move the solutions towards more cost-effective/consequentialist solutions.
  2. This is highly related to the movement that Tristan Harris (who was at EAGlobal) is pushing.
  3. I feel like we need to differentiate between the "political-level" and the "community-level".
  4. I'm tempted to think about this from the "communities connect with communities" perspective. i.e The EA community is the "starting node/community" and then we start more explicitly collaborating/connecting with other adjacent communities. Then we can begin to scale a community connection program through adjacent nodes (likely defined by n-dimensional space seen here
  5. Another version of this could be "scale the CFAR community".
  6. I think this could be related to Land Use Reform ( and how we construct empathetic communities with a variety of people. (Again, see Nicky Case —
Comment author: Richenda  (EA Profile) 23 August 2017 05:33:18PM 1 point [-]

Hi Rhys,

Yes, Universities are especially good environments in which to start EA groups for a number of reasons (lots of young people with plenty of free time who are actively reaching for new ideas, experiences and activities, a lot of infrastructural support from institutions, student unions, a captive audience, etc.)

We are very mindful of the differences between local groups and University groups. Internally we work on building expertise about these differences, and customising the support and advice we give based on the nature of the group in question.

We have also drawn on the expertise of other successful student based movements. For example, the Secular Student Alliance has some excellent group growth and management guides which we pass on for recommended reading (while giving full credit, of course).

Comment author: rhys_lindmark 24 August 2017 03:20:51PM 0 points [-]

Awesome. Thanks Richenda—I'm looking into Secular Student Alliance now!

Comment author: ThomasSittler 18 August 2017 08:50:51PM 2 points [-]

Could you give specific examples of how ideas from VCs or startups could contribute a novel insight to EA prioritisation? Your links weren't very helpful on their own.

Comment author: rhys_lindmark 23 August 2017 06:18:10PM 1 point [-]

Yep yep, happy to! A couple things come to mind:

  1. We could track the "stage" of a given problem/cause area, in a similar way that startups are tracked by Seed, Series A, etc. In other words, EA prioritization would be categorized w.r.t. stages/gates. I'm not sure if there's an agreed on "stage terminology" in the EA community yet. (I know GiveWell's Incubation Grants and EAGrants are examples of recent "early stage" investment.) Here would be some example stages:

Stage 1) Medium dive into the problem area to determine ITN. Stage 2) Experiment with MVP solutions to the problem. Stage 3) Move up the hierarchy of evidence for those solutions—RCTs, etc. Stage 4) For top solutions with robust cost-effectiveness data, begin to scale.

(You could create something like a "Lean Canvas for EA Impact" that could map the prioritized derisking of these stages.)

  1. From the "future macro trends" perspective, I feel like there could be more overlap between EA and VC models that are designed to predict the future. I'm imagining this like the current co-evolving work environment with "profit-focused AI" (DeepMind, etc.) and "EA-focused AI" (OpenAI, etc.). In this area, both groups are helping each other pursue their goals. We could imagine a similar system, but for any given macro trend. i.e. That macro trend is viewed from a profit perspective and an impact/EA perspective.

In other words, this is a way for the EA community to say "The VC world has [x technological trend] high on their prioritization list. How should we take part from an EA perspective?" (And vice versa.)

(fwiw, I see two main ways the EA community interacts in this space—pursuing projects that either a) leverage or b) counteract the negative externalities of new technologies. Using VR for animal empathy is an example of leverage. AI alignment is an example of counteracting a negative externality.)

Do those examples help give a bit of specificity for how the EA + VC communities could co-evolve in "future uncertainty prediction"?

Comment author: Halstead 22 August 2017 11:41:08AM *  0 points [-]

good shout - does anyone have any thoughts on this that aren't well-known or disagree with Tetlock?

Comment author: rhys_lindmark 23 August 2017 05:37:10PM 0 points [-]

This isn't a unique thought, but I just want to make sure the EA community knows about Gnosis and Augur, decentralized prediction markets built on Ethereum.

Comment author: rhys_lindmark 18 August 2017 04:38:31PM 2 points [-]

I definitely agree that information on these topics is ripe for aggregation/curation.

My instinct is to look to the VC/startup community for some insight here, specifically around uncertainty (they're in the business of "predicting/quantifying/derisking uncertain futures/projects"). Two quick examples:

I would expect an "EA-focused uncertainty model" to include gates that map a specific project through time given models of macro future trends.

Comment author: rhys_lindmark 18 August 2017 04:01:06PM 1 point [-]

Thanks for aggregating this information, Richenda! One quick bucket of thoughts around EA groups + universities:

  1. How are LEAN/CEA/EAF thinking about university chapters? Have they been an effective way of building a local community? Are there any university-focused plans going forwards?
  2. Are there other movements trying a university-focused strategy? Could we partner/learn from them? I'm thinking about something like Blockchain Education Network (see and

Thanks Richenda!

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