Comment author: turchin 26 May 2018 10:32:11AM 1 point [-]

Thanks for this detailed analysis. I think that the main difference in our estimations is the number of adopters, which is 1.3 percent in your average case. In my estimation, it was almost a half of the world population.

This difference highlights the important problem: how to make really good life-extending intervention widely adopted. This question is related not only to metformin, but for any other interventions, including now known interventions such as sport, healthy diet and quitting smoking, which all depends on a person's will.

Taking a pill will require fewer efforts than quitting smoking, and around 70 percent of US adult population is taking some form of supplements.

However, supplements market depends on expensive advertising, not on real benefits of the supplements.

Comment author: oge 12 May 2018 01:36:55PM 1 point [-]

Pure chemical fixation without cooling would be ideal. The extra cryopreservation step is necessary since glutaraldehyde only fixes tissue for months rather than centuries.

Comment author: turchin 12 May 2018 03:52:43PM 0 points [-]

I think that actual good step in EA direction would be to find a relatively cheap combination of chemicals which provide fixation for a longer term, or may be preserving brain slices (as Lenin's brain was preserved).

I am interested to write something about cryonics as a form EA, but the main problem here is price. Starting price of the funeral is 4000 pounds in UK and they are not much cheaper in poor countries. Cryonics should be cheaper to be successful and affordable.

Comment author: turchin 11 May 2018 03:09:57PM *  1 point [-]

To become part of EA, cryonics must become cheap, and to become cheap, it should be, imho, pure chemical fixation without cooling, which could cost only a few dollars per brain, something like aldehyde fixation without cryopreservation.

Comment author: Evan_Gaensbauer 20 April 2018 09:47:13PM *  1 point [-]

That some chickens will never be born at all is the goal, as:

  1. it's believed those chickens born would have lives of only suffering, not redeemed by happiness;

  2. the degree and constancy of the suffering is so great considerations of preferences the chicken may have, like a 'will to live', are overridden by the preference/desire to be free of suffering;

  3. the expected consensus is we know enough about animal minds to conclude they have preferences like the instantaneous desire to be free of suffering in any given moment, but we don't have sufficient reason to believe they abstractly think of the future, and meaningfully have a 'will to live';

  4. the collective experience of the farm animal rights movement has been decades of reforms of factory farms remain unenforced or are insufficient to overcome the above considerations about how the lives of chickens on factory farms will never be worth living.

So the goal of some effective altruists focused on present and near-term future non-human animal well-being isn't to advocate for the animal's rights so much as it is to mitigate factory farming as an industry. This is from a perspective of EA from years ago, when Doing Good Better was published. There has been an empirical revolution within effective animal advocacy since then. The evidence has borne out employing messaging focused on systemic change over individual dietary/behavioural change, and not splitting hairs in messaging based on ideological differences internal to the animal welfare/rights movement. So if one cares about the rights of species to not go extinct, one doesn't have to fear the movement strategy implied by the OP, as effective animal advocacy (EAA) organizations are mostly not pursuing that strategy anymore. Given how expansive factory farming is in developed Western countries, and how it's expanding in developing countries, it appears factory farming, and thus the species of farm chicken, isn't going away soon. That stated, I've no reason to think effective animal advocates would object to preserving the genome of the farm chicken, or rearing individual farm chickens under humane conditions, e.g., at an animal shelter or hobby farm.

Of course peers of EA outside the movement have weighed on the topic, disagreeing with the consensus EA position on either side. An argument against vegetarianism and for the continuation of factory farming exists in the logic of the larder, as laid out by Robin Hanson and others. On the other side, another animal liberation movement called Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) thinks EAA doesn't go far enough. While I haven't followed them closely, and so I find their end goals confusing, I believe DxE's strategy is to mitigate factory farming isn't to have them not be born into net-negative lives, but raising sufficient public consciousness global human civilization will at some point in the future literally directly liberate all presently factory-farmed animals, presumably to freely roam the Earth.

*"effective animal advocacy" is the term for the interstitial movement emerging from the combination of effective altruism and the conventional animal welfare/rights movement.

Comment author: turchin 30 April 2018 07:43:28PM 0 points [-]

Were chicken preferences measured by EEG or choice? see also may comment above.

Comment author: jayquigley 21 April 2018 05:31:21PM 2 points [-]

The idea behind trying to end factory farming for animals' sake is that animals who spend their whole lives on factory farms are enduring lives that are not worth living. It is better not to bring creatures into existence who would live net negative lives.

You're right that extinction is a (very) extreme case. It's more likely that even with a drastic reduction in factory farming, a small fraction of descendants of farmed species would be preserved--either for farming, or in zoos or similar institutions. After all, they're easy to domesticate, having been bred over the centuries for precisely those purposes.

Comment author: turchin 30 April 2018 07:35:45PM 0 points [-]

How could we know that they are unhappy? Photos of overcrowded farms look terrible, but animals may have different value structure, like: - warm - safe - many friends - longer life expectancy than in the forest - guaranteed access to unlimited amounts of food.

Technically, we could have two ways to measure their preferences: do they feel constant pain according to their EEG + do they want to escape at any price and even happy to be slaughtered?

Comment author: turchin 19 April 2018 08:48:09PM 2 points [-]

I am puzzled by the value of non-born animals in this case. Ok, less chicken will be born and later culled, but it means that some chickens will never be born at all. In extreme case, the whole species of farm chicken could go extinct if there will be no meet consumption.

Comment author: Alex_Barry 19 April 2018 03:23:44PM 1 point [-]

I'm not saying you need to solve the problem, I'm saying you should take the problem into account in your cost calculations, instead of assuming it will be solved.

Comment author: turchin 19 April 2018 07:00:42PM 0 points [-]

In the next version of the article, I will present general equation in which will try to answer all these concerns. It will be (price of the experiment)(probability of success) + indirect benefits of experiment - (fixed price of metformin pills for life)(number of people)(share of adopters)(probability of success of the experiment) - unexpected side effects - growth of food consumption because of higher population. Anything lost?

Comment author: Alex_Barry 18 April 2018 11:35:43PM 1 point [-]

It probably should be analysed how the bulk price of metformin could be lowered. For example, global supply of vitamin C costs around 1 billion USD a year with 150 kt of bulk powder.

Yes but as I discuss above it needs to be turned into pills and distributed to people, for which a 2 cents per pill cost seems pretty low. If you are arguing for fortification of foods with metformin then presumably we would need to show extraordinary levels of safety, since we would be dosing the entire population at very variable levels.

In general I would find it helpful if you could try and keep your replies in the same comment - this basically seems to be an extension of your other comment about buying metformin in bulk and having it split in two makes it harder to keep track.

Comment author: turchin 19 April 2018 02:22:03PM -1 points [-]

Ok. I just have two ideas in different moments of time, that is why there are two comments.

I think that again the problem of expensive pills is not a problem of antiaging therapies, but a more general problem of expensive medicine and poverty. I should not try to solve all possible problems in one article as it will immediately grow to the size of the book.

Most drugs we now consume are overpriced compared with bulk prices; also food is much more expensive in retail. I think it is important problem, but it is another problem.

Comment author: PeterMcCluskey 18 April 2018 04:54:40PM 2 points [-]

It is even known to extend the life of diabetics so they live longer than healthy people.

No, it is known to correlate with living longer. But some or all of that correlation seems to be due to the sickest diabetics being switched from metformin to other drugs.

Comment author: turchin 18 April 2018 05:13:13PM 0 points [-]

How could it explain that diabetics lived longer than healthy people?

Anyway, we need a direct test on healthy people to know if it works or not.

Comment author: Alex_Barry 18 April 2018 03:28:34PM *  1 point [-]

I more meant it should be mentioned by the $0.24 figure e.g. something like:

"Under our model the direct cost effectiveness is $0.24 per life saved, but there is also an indirect cost of ~$12,000 per life saved from the cost of the metformin (as we will need to supply everyone with it for $3 trillion, but it will only save 250 million lives)."

Noticeably the indirect figure is actually more expensive than current global poverty charities, so under your model buying people metformin would not be an attractive intervention for EAs. This does not mean it would necessarily not be cost effective to fund the trial to 'unlock' the ability for others to buy the drugs, since it might be more efficient than e.g. other developed government use of money, but it does hammer home that the costs of the drugs is very non-negligible.

Comment author: turchin 18 April 2018 04:33:51PM 0 points [-]

Also, Alibaba suggests metformin for 5 USD for kg, which implies lifelong supply could be bought for something like 50 USD.

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