Founder of CEEALAR (née the EA Hotel; ceealar.org)
Started watching Next. Think it’s great and will recommend people watch it if they want to understand what the big deal is with AI safety/alignment. However, it’s frustrating for UK viewers—Episodes 1-3 are available on Disney+, and Episodes 6-10 are available elsewhere, but where are episodes 4 & 5!? Will try YouTube TV with a VPN..
I thought Seaspiracy was great—I started watching it without realising what it was, and it started with the filmmaker wanting to make a documentary about the oceans, then getting concerned about plastic waste (e.g. straws and bottles), and then it just kept going as he went down the rabbit hole. Seemed like a very EA kind of progression :)
I realise that. But I wouldn’t be surprised if the median household in the developed world had at least one spare room (this was one of the reasons why the “bedroom tax” was so unpopular in the UK).
Great, thanks. Do they accept UK charities? We are potentially interested at CEEALAR.
Great to see the write up of expenditure!
Housing: this is kind of pretend, because we actually built two extra rooms onto our house, which had a high up-front cost but will be useful for years and will eventually make the house sell for more. I’m instead substituting the cost at which we currently rent our spare bedroom ($900/month times 2 bedrooms)
I think it’s unusual for people to rent out their spare rooms, and it’s good that you have done so and provided yourselves with more income/reduced your living costs. By that metric I imagine that many people (especially home owners) have higher housing costs than they think. Maybe EAs are more likely to think about this and maximise the efficiency of their housing. But at the limit, every loft, basement and garage not converted is counterfactual lost earnings. Or, indeed, you could say that real estate investment in general is profitable, and people should do more of it. But then so are other things. So any profits “left on the table” through suboptimally investing money are also potential “costs”… (and then here things get tricky, in determining what the optimal investments are. And we’re pretty much back to the foundation of EA! Optimal allocation of resources).
[As I’ve said elsewhere in this thread, I don’t think children are a special case of expensive. They are one of several things that can be expensive (see also: location, career choice, suboptimal investment, tastes, hobbies), and for most people, who aren’t already maximising their financial efficiency (frugality; investments), it’s a matter of prioritisation as to the relative expense of having them.]
why not do so without kids and get roommates to save costs instead? Or rent a smaller place in Manchester?
Indeed. I would recommend that for anyone trying to be frugal so they can save/donate more (especially if they can work remotely). My point is, however, that unless you are already living a maximally frugal lifestyle, it’s possible to reduce your living costs in other areas such that having children needn’t be financially expensive. Children aren’t necessarily a special case of “expensive living costs”. It’s ultimately a matter of prioritisation.
Who is behind it? I can’t see any names attached, and a charity would usually need names for due diligence before being able to accept donations of that size. I guess it’s ok if they want public anonymity, but they will reveal names privately.
Yes, it’s ultimately a matter of prioritisation. My point is that it doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive, so cost needn’t be the overriding factor in deciding whether to have children or not.
Child care and babysitting is ~1/4. This could be much reduced with a parent working from home (so no before or after school clubs/childminding needed), and/or living with extended family and friends on hand.
~1/3 of that cost is education at £74k, which I think is mostly unreasonable to include as it includes university (where the cost is mostly borne born by loans taken out by the student that are effectively a graduate tax; and arguably, given all the free material available online now, isn’t strictly necessary for a lot of careers apart from it’s signalling value) and school lunch, when they will eat regardless (although fair if they deducted this from the food budget, which seems quite reasonable).
Re: location, rooms and vehicle—I guess it depends on how high your standards are (and could be net zero in % terms if you are willing and able to move to a cheaper location*). The median family in the developed world isn’t especially rich (£30k/yr household income in UK), yet has a decent standard of living by most measures, without most children being impoverished.Re: time—I think raising kids can help with preventing burnout from intellectually demanding work (and also in this vein, guarding against value drift via burnout—i.e keeping EA from taking over your life entirely, to detrimental effect). Although yes, sleep/relaxation can take a hit in the early years.*You can rent a 3 bedroom house with a garden in Manchester (UK’s 2nd largest/most productive city), for the cost of a double room in a shared house in London.
I don’t think having kids needs to be expensive. At least in the UK, schools and healthcare are free. Food and clothing are cheap. Their addition to bills isn’t much in percentage terms. Toys are cheap. The biggest expense is probably the time investment, but parenting is a different kind of “work” to the professional work that most EAs do, so I don’t think it necessarily comes from the same time budget (unless maybe the counterfactual is working 60+ hour weeks on EA).
Looking for the transaction on the Ethereum blockchain associated with Vitalik’s $2.4M SENS donation (if there is one). Can anyone link to it?
“while it might be pretty hard to predict whether AI risk is going to be a big deal by whatever measure, I can still be fairly certain that the sun will exist in a 1000 years”
These two things are correlated.
This [The ergodicity problem in economics] seems like it could be important, and might fit in somewhere with the discussions of expected utility. I haven’t really got my head around it though.
Starting with $100, your bankroll increases 50% every time you flip heads. But if the coin lands on tails, you lose 40% of your total. Since you’re just as likely to flip heads as tails, it would appear that you should, on average, come out ahead if you played enough times because your potential payoff each time is greater than your potential loss. In economics jargon, the expected utility is positive, so one might assume that taking the bet is a no-brainer.Yet in real life, people routinely decline the bet. Paradoxes like these are often used to highlight irrationality or human bias in decision making. But to Peters, it’s simply because people understand it’s a bad deal.Here’s why. Suppose in the same game, heads came up half the time. Instead of getting fatter, your $100 bankroll would actually be down to $59 after 10 coin flips. It doesn’t matter whether you land on heads the first five times, the last five times or any other combination in between.
Starting with $100, your bankroll increases 50% every time you flip heads. But if the coin lands on tails, you lose 40% of your total. Since you’re just as likely to flip heads as tails, it would appear that you should, on average, come out ahead if you played enough times because your potential payoff each time is greater than your potential loss. In economics jargon, the expected utility is positive, so one might assume that taking the bet is a no-brainer.
Yet in real life, people routinely decline the bet. Paradoxes like these are often used to highlight irrationality or human bias in decision making. But to Peters, it’s simply because people understand it’s a bad deal.
Here’s why. Suppose in the same game, heads came up half the time. Instead of getting fatter, your $100 bankroll would actually be down to $59 after 10 coin flips. It doesn’t matter whether you land on heads the first five times, the last five times or any other combination in between.
The idea is that by speeding through you increase risk initially, but the total risk is lower—i.e. smaller area under the grey curve here:
I think this probably breaks down if the peak is high enough though (here I’m thinking of AGI x-risk). Aschenbrenner gives the example of:
On the other extreme, humanity is extremely fragile. No matter how high a fraction of our resources we dedicate to safety, we cannot prevent an unrecoverable catastrophe. ..there is nothing we can do regardless. An existential catastrophe is inevitable, and it is impossible for us to survive to reach a grand future.
And argues that
even if there is some probability we do live in this world, to maximize the moral value of the future, we should act as if we live in the other scenarios where a long and flourishing future is possible.
I’m not sure if this applies if there is some possibility of “pulling the curve sideways” to flatten it—i.e. increase the fraction of resources spent on safety whilst keeping consumption (or growth) constant. This seems to be what those concerned with x-risk are doing for the most part (rather than trying to slow down growth).
Here is an argument for how GPT-X might lead to proto-AGI in a more concrete, human-aided, way:
..language modelling has one crucial difference from Chess or Go or image classification. Natural language essentially encodes information about the world—the entire world, not just the world of the Goban, in a much more expressive way than any other modality ever could. By harnessing the world model embedded in the language model, it may be possible to build a proto-AGI....
..language modelling has one crucial difference from Chess or Go or image classification. Natural language essentially encodes information about the world—the entire world, not just the world of the Goban, in a much more expressive way than any other modality ever could. By harnessing the world model embedded in the language model, it may be possible to build a proto-AGI.
This is more a thought experiment than something that’s actually going to happen tomorrow; GPT-3 today just isn’t good enough at world modelling. Also, this method depends heavily on at least one major assumption—that bigger future models will have much better world modelling capabilities—and a bunch of other smaller implicit assumptions. However, this might be the closest thing we ever get to a chance to sound the fire alarm for AGI: there’s now a concrete path to proto-AGI that has a non-negligible chance of working.
Nice post! Meta: footnote links are broken, and references to  and  aren’t in the main body.Also could  be referring to this post? It only touches on your point though:
Defensive consideration also suggest that they’d need to maintain substantial activity to watch for and be ready to respond to attacks.
We now have general funding for the next few months and are hiring for both a Community & Projects Manager and an Operations Manager, with input from Nicole and others at CEA. Unfortunately with the winding down of EA Grants the possibility of funding for the Community & Projects Manager salary has gone. If anyone would like to top up the salaries for either the Community & Projects Manager or Operations Manager (currently ~£21.5k/yr pro rata including free accommodation and food), please get in touch!
Looking for more projects like these
CEEALAR (formerly the EA Hotel) is looking for funding to cover operations from Jan 2021 onward.