In response to Open Thread #38
Comment author: zdgroff 22 August 2017 10:27:48PM 2 points [-]

I've started blogging regularly. Today I asked whether the push for AI safety needs more of a public movement behind it in light of the letter on AI weapons from Elon Musk and others. Read it and let me know what your thoughts are, as I may act on your answers!

Comment author: zdgroff 21 August 2017 10:22:33PM 0 points [-]

This is a great series. I'm not persuaded about the neglectedness, though. I do believe there are few organizations working on drug reform across the board, but it does seem plausible to say that (a) legalizing marijuana is an effective first step to broader drug reform and (b) marijuana legalization is not neglected, as there is enough force behind it to have successfully won ballot measures across the United States as well as support from many leading national politicians. What do you think of the push to legalize marijuana on this front?

Comment author: zdgroff 21 August 2017 09:44:28PM 1 point [-]

This is a very impressive series. My fiancé and I are focused on animal and far-future causes at the moment, but he had been pushing for us to choose a mental health charity to the extent we'd focused on present-day humans. I'm going to send this his way, as I think he'll appreciate it.

Comment author: Ben_Todd 19 August 2017 06:49:48PM 1 point [-]

Open Phil doesn't appear to do this (they don't mention that often in their public facing docs.)

They do, though it's usually not the first thing they mention e.g. here:

Comment author: zdgroff 21 August 2017 09:24:23PM 1 point [-]

This seems like the right approach. Quantify but don't hype the numbers.

Comment author: zdgroff 21 August 2017 09:23:49PM *  0 points [-]
  • How far should we use quantified models?

I think quantifying tends to be the right approach almost always when it's an in-depth exploration based on 80,000 hours' reasoning. That said, when it is used in a public summary of reasoning it can give a false pretense of certainty in cases where the estimate is very uncertain, leading to problems like those described here in animal advocacy. I think the best solution is to reason quantitatively when possible but to keep that in a public document linked to in any announcements and not to highlight the quantitative estimates in a way that often misleads people.

Another important step to take on this issue is probably to distinguish between problems that are unmeasurable and those that simply have not been measured yet. On those that have not been measured yet, we should try to measure them, and that might take some creativity by ingenious researchers.

Comment author: zdgroff 02 January 2017 08:12:46PM 1 point [-]

I think Facebook and email dominate a large portion of nearly everyone's internet usage. I've seen other groups try to establish separate sites or discussion boards outside of Facebook and it never seems to work (EA Forum is probably successful relatively) because people just have so much social investment on Facebook.

Comment author: AllisonSmith 07 December 2016 09:26:10PM 1 point [-]

ACE and GiveWell have both written blog posts about where staff donate in the past. It's been a mix of recommended charities, the employer organization, and other charities. On skimming, it looks to me like GiveWell staff, at least in 2015, more closely followed the recommendations of their employer than ACE staff.

(Links go to 2015 staff donation posts.)

Comment author: zdgroff 07 December 2016 10:33:14PM 2 points [-]

That seems like something we would expect if GiveWell and ACE researchers are doing a good job, given that animal interventions seem to have less robust evidence than global poverty ones.

Comment author: zdgroff 07 December 2016 12:06:43AM 1 point [-]

Major props to the authors on the study and for this follow up write up as well.

For maximizing power per dollar, another technique to consider is the one outlined here, in which researchers first found a subsample of people more responsive to follow-up surveys (of course, there are concerns about external validity):

Comment author: zdgroff 06 December 2016 11:43:57PM 3 points [-]

One of the things I find most frustrating in this area is how there are such wildly differing views on 3.1: we should be able to get some measurements on this - are there EAs working on that? Just looking at how long offspring typically starve in different varieties of k-selected species?

The first time I read this I was perplexed at the lack of a clear conclusion, but now I realize that the argument seems to be against concluding that we have reason to believe net wild animal suffering is different from zero in a negative direction without making a claim about it being positive, is that correct? So: the conclusion is that we should focus on areas where we have more certainty, and wild animal suffering is likely not one of those areas. That seems like a conclusion many EAs share who still care about WAS prima facie.

Comment author: zdgroff 06 December 2016 11:28:26PM 3 points [-]

Is there an easy way for us to get relevant updates on the conference as they come in? What about participating in planning - how can people do that?

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