FWIW, some MMT economists think those questions are strawmen. I don’t know enough to comment on whether I agree.
I agree that moral hazard is, but you could also imagine an excludable EA insurance scheme that reduced free-riding. E.g., pay $X/month and if you lose your job you can live here for up to a year.
But since the employed EA community is not as diversified as the whole market, employed EAs may be more liable to systemic shocks that render the insurer insolvent. But of course, there’s reinsurance...
[Right-wing] Impacts on existential risk:None yet, that I can think of
I’d add: “A general disbelief in the possibility of AGI/TAI due to theological convictions on the nature of sentience and intelligence.”
As someone who actively promotes EA in a school, we definitely do get far more pushback from left-wing (esp. socialist) students than right-wing ones. In fact, from my fundraising experience, I’m 60% confident that conservative students are more financially generous towards EA per capita than liberal ones.
I second this analysis and agree that this was a great grant. I was considering donating to Miles’ Patreon but was glad to see the Fund step in to do so instead. It’s more tax-efficient to do it that way. Miles is a credible, entertaining, informative source on AI Safety and could be a real asset to beginners in the field. I’ve introduced people to AIS using his videos.
I’d like to also echo others’ comments thanking the team for responding and engaging with questioning of these decisions.
A question I have as a consistent donor to the fund: under which circumstances, if any, would the team consider regranting to, e.g., the EA Meta Fund? Under some facts (e.g., very few good LTF-specific funding opportunities but many good meta/EA Community funding opportunities), couldn’t that fund do more good for the LTF than projects more classically appropriate to the LTF Fund?* Or would you always consider meta causes as potential recipients of the LTF Fund, and therefore see no value regranting since the Meta Fund would not be in a better position than you to meet such requests?
I ask because, though I still think these grants have merit, I can also imagine a future in which donations to the Meta Fund would have more value to the LTF than the LTF Fund. But I imagine the LTF Fund could be better-positioned than me to make that judgment and would prefer it to do so in my stead. But if the LTF Fund would not consider regranting to the next-best fund, then I would have to scrutinize grants more to see which fund is creating more value for the LTF. But this defeats the purpose of the LTF.
*The same might be said of the other Funds too, but Meta seems like the next best for the LTF specifically IMO.
This could also help free up a significant amount of donation money. My guess is that a central entity that could be (more) risk-neutral than individual EAs would be a more efficient insurer of EA runway needs than individual EAs. Many EAs will never use their runways, and this will mean, at best, significantly delayed donations, which is a high opportunity cost. If runway-saving EAs would otherwise donate (part of) their runways (which I would if I knew the EA community would provide one if needed), there could be net gains in EA cashflow due to the efficiency of a central insurer.
I’m not super confident in this, and I could be wrong for a lot of reasons. Obviously, runways aren’t purely altruistic, so one shouldn’t expect all runway money to go to donations. And it might be hard or undesirable for EA to provide certain kinds of runway due to, e.g., moral hazard. It might also be hard for EA as a community to provide runways with any reasonable assurance that the outcome will be altruistic (I take this to be one of the main objections to the EA Hotel). Still, I think the idea of insuring EA runway needs could be promising.
Regarding the donation to Lauren Lee:
To the extent that one thinks that funding the runways of burnt-out and/or transitioning EAs is a good idea to enable risk-neutral career decisions (which I do!), I’d note that funding (projects like) the EA Hotel seems like a promising way to do so. The marginal per-EA cost of supplying runway is probably lower with shared overhead and low COL like that.
Epistemic status: highly speculative and somewhat humorous
I wonder if, for Google engineers specifically, the effect might be dominated by Alphabet investing some small portion of its ad revenue in AGI-relevant things.
The Sixth Amendment only applies in criminal cases. These are not criminal cases.
This perspective makes a lot of sense to me :-)
[I think there are strong arguments against cryonics as an altruistic intervention by Jeff Kaufman here.] But I thank you for pointing out the tension :-)
Small-cap stocks generally perform better than large-cap ones (with higher variance). In the interest of promoting risk-neutrality regarding donations, I’m updating this post and the associated calculations to recommend an international small-cap ETF: VSS.
It’s also worth clarifying that I doubt that any group that did this would derive a lot of their EV from this activity. Instead, I think this is a good top-of-the-funnel type activity to run for reasons 5.–11. above. More specifically, I think there’s high community-building value in doing activities that:
1. Do a significant, easily quantifiable amount of good;
2. Address important problems;
3. Have some EA motivation; and
4. Give people a chance to talk about their EA worldview with non-EAs,
even if the good resulting from those activities might not, in themselves, account for a significant percentage of the good that EA group accomplishes. I think, e.g., GWWC/1FTW tabling is an example of this.
Yeah, especially since this is an exploratory proposal, I’d love to have that criticism brought out into the open like Ryan does above. Also (and this is not a complaint regarding those downvotes, but rather my own view of what good community norms are), to encourage promotion of new ideas, I think we should downvote exploratory proposals only if their prima facie justification is very flawed. Maybe mine is, but I can’t tell whether unexplained downvotes are justified by some obvious, severe flaw in my prima facie argument or just a different weighing of the evidence.
That all seems quite plausible to me. It’s definitely a one-off activity, which I agree drives down its EV. I also agree that there’s a risk of this promoting potentially harmful ideas about e.g. live kidney donation. I’ve added those to the list of counterarguments and credited you :-)
I guess my main point is that this seems qualitatively competitive with pledge drives (e.g., GWWC, OFTW), so insofar as those are valuable things for a group to be doing (a common assumption), maybe this is too. But your points have updated me against this somewhat :-)
I think you should expand on why you believe this is the case. It would be useful for me to know your thinking, since I’m considering giving to them.
Brian Tomasik has written about this here:
Substitution across fish types
The analysis becomes more complex when considering other wild fish species and fish farming. A decrease in the wild population of a given fish species may not reduce total fish consumption but might merely shift consumption to other fish.
Fishing down the food web
Big fish tend to be overexploited first, since they’re easier to catch and take longer to mature. As populations of big fish decline, the result is fishing down the food web, i.e., harvesting smaller fish species. To produce the same amount of fish meat, more total fish will need to be harvested. Even if Fred weighs the badness of killing fish by the brain complexity of the fish killed, as long as Fred’s brain-complexity function is less than linear in the mass of the fish being caught, then catching a given mass of smaller fish will be worse in Fred’s eyes.c Assuming the total mass of fish harvested stays roughly the same now and into the long run, then eating more big fish and thereby reducing their long-term yields will have made things worse for Fred.
In addition to causing consumption of more small wild fish, overfishing of big species in the wild creates pressure to produce farmed fish. Some farmed fish are fed smaller wild-caught fish, which means fish farming can significantly increase total fishing. This would be prima facie bad in Fred’s eyes.
However, there might be cases where fishing pressure on smaller wild-caught fish who are fed to bigger fish is sufficiently intense that populations of the smaller fish also decline. One example of this was the Peruvian anchovy fishery, which had supplied fish meal for livestock but which collapsed, leading to increased demand for soy protein instead.
Unfortunately, other fish-feed sources might be even worse than wild-caught fish, such as insects. Farming insects to feed farmed fish would significantly multiply the number of animals killed by humans. That said, fish feed may also include plant-based ingredients.
How much would substitution happen?
In rich countries, I would expect that demand for fish would remain pretty stable in the face of further fishery declines. As there become fewer big wild fish, prices of fish increase slightly, which slightly reduces the quantity demanded. And some eco-conscious consumers might cut back on fish in response to overfishing. But on the whole I expect the effect to be modest for affluent omnivores.
However, the effect might be more pronounced in poor countries, which may lack the resources to undertake aquaculture. According to the UN FAO:
In many areas of sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, [...] fish consumption levels remain too low and they are failing to benefit from the contributions that fisheries and aquaculture are increasingly making elsewhere in terms of sustainable food security and income.
Given that up to 90% of US seafood comes from outside the US and that most rich countries import a lot of seafood from developing countries, increased consumption of fish in rich countries might indeed reduce long-term fishing by poor countries (to the detrmiment of indigent people in those countries).
Total fish production
One macroscopic perspective from which to assess the total impact of fishing is the following graph (compiled by Earth Policy Institute). [Graph here] I think the trends in the graph might be overstated if these figures include China, which is a major fish producer that’s widely believed to overreport its fish numbers.d So the increase in fishing is possibly less dramatic than what’s shown. But assuming the overall trend of wild + farmed fish is still an increasing one, then this is a bad sign from Fred’s perspective, even if Fred only cares about fish in proportion to their mass (so that Fred wants to minimize the total biomass of fish caught). This is weak evidence that further demand for fish would make things worse for Fred, since most of the trend in the graph was probably driven by growing fish demand.
Of course, some fishery doomsayers might claim that the upward trend in the graph can’t last forever (especially since fish farming often relies on wild-caught fish), and if they’re correct, then drawing conclusions from the portion of the curve we can see now would give the wrong impression. But given that some fisheries are recovering, especially in the US, I’m personally skeptical about “end of fish” scenarios.
When considering substitution of fish consumers away from a declining fish species toward other species and fish farming, the effect of marginal big-fish consumption in the short run on total long-term fish harvesting becomes unclear. It’s not obvious how much a reduction in populations of big wild fish reduces total fish consumption especially by the global poor (which could be good from Fred’s perspective) versus how much it merely shifts consumption to other fish types (which could be quite bad from Fred’s perspective).
Thanks for the cite; great analysis. I’ve updated my post to incorporate some of yours. :-)