Yeah, I’d expect it to be a global catastrophic risk rather than existential risk.
Is there much EA work into tail risk from GMOs ruining crops or ecosystems?
If not, why not?
Yeah, I mostly focused on the Q1 question so didn’t have time to do a proper growth analysis across 2021
Yeah, I was talking about the Q1 model when I was trying to puzzle out what your growth model was.
There isn’t a way to get the expected value, just the median currently (I had a bin in my snapshot indicating a median of $25,000). I’m curious what makes the expected value more useful than the median for you?
A lot of the value of potential growth vectors of a business come in the tails. For this particular forecast it doesn’t really matter because it’s roughly bell-curved shape, but if I was using this as for instance decisionmaking tool to decide what actions to take, I’d really want to look at which ideas had a small chance of being very runaway successes, and how valuable that makes them compared to other options which are surefire, but don’t have that chance of tail success. Choosing those ideas isn’t likely to pay off on any single idea, but is likely to pay off over the course of a business’s lifetime.
Thanks, this was great!
The estimates seem fair, Honestly, much better than I would expect given the limited info you had, and the assumptions you made (the biggest one that’s off is that I don’t have any plans to only market to EAs).
Since I know our market is much larger, I use a different forecasting methodology internally which looks at potential marketing channels and growth rates.
I didn’t really understand how you were working in growth rate into your calculations in the spreadsheet, maybe just eyeballing what made sense based on the current numbers and the total addressable market?
One other question I have about your platform is that I don’t see any way to get the expected value of the density function, which is honestly the number I care most about. Am I missing something obvious?
Hey, I run a business teaching people how to overcome procrastination (procrastinationplaybook.net is our not yet fully fleshed out web presence).
I ran a pilot program that made roughly $8,000 in revenue by charging 10 people for a premium interactive course. Most of these users came from a couple of webinars that my friend’s hosted, a couple came from finding my website through the CFAR mailing list and webinars I hosted for my twitter friends.
The course is ending soon, and I’ll spend a couple of months working on marketing and updating the course before the next launch, as well as:
1. Launching a podcast breaking down skills and models and selling short $10 lessons for each of them teaching how to acquire the skill.
2. Creating a sales funnel for my pre-course, which is a do-it-yourself planning course for creating the “perfect procrastination plan”. Selling for probably $197
3. Creating the “post-graduate” continuity program after people have gone through the course, allowing people to have a community interested in growth and development, priced from $17/month for basic access to $197 with coaching.
Given those plans for launch in early 2021:
1. What will be my company’s revenue in Q1 2021?
2. What will be the total revenue for this company in 2021?
I recommend Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath.
Going through several startup weekends showed me what works and what doesn’t when trying to de-risk new projects.
This is great! Was trying to think through some of my own projects with this framework, and I realized I think there’s half of the equation missing, related to the memetic qualities of the tool.
1. How “symmetric” is the thing I’m trying to spread? How easy is it to use for a benevolent purpose compared to a malevolent one?
2. How memetic is the idea? How likely is it to spread from a benevolent actor to a malevolent one.
3. How contained is the group with which I’m sharing? Outside of the memetic factors of the idea itself, is the person or group I’m sharing with it likely to spread it, or keep it contained.
Here’s Raymond Arnold on this strategy:
This is great!
I’d love to be able to provide an alternative model that can work as well, based on Saras Sarasvathy’s work on Effectuation.
In the effectuation model (which came from looking at the process of expert entrepreneuers), you don’t start with a project idea up front. Instead, you start with your resources, and the project evolves based on demand at any given time. I think this model is especially good for independent projects, where much of the goal is to get credibility, resources, and experience.
Instead of starting with the goal, you start with your resources: What are my skills, interests, connections, and resources? What can I do with them?
And then, instead of doing something like Murphyjitsu to check for risks , you might reach out to a few of the people who are in your network, tell them about vague ideas, and chat with them about it. They may help crystalize what the project is, and you can get them onboard to help. Now you’ve effectively derisked by splitting up the work of the MVP among multiple people. If you can’t get anyone to commit, that may be enough validation by itself to not continue.
Then, you may launch your MVP—not to validate doing the full project, but even to figure out what the full project is. By getting feedback on your MVP, seeing what people are excited about, and not, this can help crystallize the project even further.
Once you’ve gotten some momentum, you can write up, rather than a project proposal, a “project summary” showing your momentum so far and using that to get things like funding and clarify to yourself what has happened. Then, you can evaluate next steps.
I happen to think that relative utility is very clustered at the tails, whereas expected value is more spread out.. This comes from intuitions from the startup world.
However, it’s important to note that I also have developed a motivation system that allows me to not find this discouraging! Once I started thinking of opportunities for doing good in expected value terms, and concrete examples of my contributions in absolute rather than relative terms, neither of these facts was upsetting or discouraging.
Some relevant articles:
But if it took on average 50 000 events for one such a key introduction to happen, then we might as well give up on having events. Or find a better way to do it. Otherwise we are just wasting everyone’s time.
But all the other events were impactful, just not compared to those one or two events. The goal of having all the events is to hopefully be one of the 1⁄50,000 that has ridiculous outsized impact—It’s high expected value even if comparatively all the other events have low impact. And again, that’s comparatively. Compared to say, most other events, an event on AI safety is ridiculously high impact.
It can’t take more that ~50 events for every AI Safety researcher to get to know each other.
This is true, much of the networking impact of events is frontloaded.
Nope, 1⁄50,000 seems like a realistic ratio for very high impact events to normal impact events.
Would you say that events are low impact?
I think most events will be comparatively low impact compared to the highest impact events. Let’s say you have 100,000 AI safety events. I think most of them will be comparatively low impact, but one in particular ends up creating the seed of a key idea in AI safety, another ends up introducing a key pair of researchers that go on to do great things together.
Now, if I want to pay those two highest impact events their relative money related to all the other events, I have a few options:
1. Pay all of the events based on their expected impact prior to the events, so the money evens out.
2. Pay a very small amount of money to the other events, so I can afford to pay the two events that had many orders of magnitude higher impact.
3. Only buy a small fraction of the impact of the very high impact events, so I have money left over to pay the small events and can reward them all on impact equally.
Since there will limited amount of money, what is your motivation for giving the low impact projects anything at all?
I’m not sure. The vibe I got from the original post was that it would be good to have small rewards for small impact projects?
I think the high impact projects are often very risky, and will most likely have low impact. Perhaps it makes sense to compensate people for taking the hit for society so that 1⁄1,000,000 of the people who start such projects can have high impact?
For an impact purchase the amount of money is decided based on how good impact of the project was
I’m curious about how exactly this would work. My prior is that impact is clustered at the tails.
This means that there will frequently be small impact projects, and very occasionally be large impact projects—My guess is that if you want to be able to incentivize the frequent small impact projects at all, you won’t be able to afford the large impact projects, because they are many magnitudes of impact larger. You could just purchase part of their impact, but in practice this means that there’s a cap on how much you can receive from impact purchase.
Maybe a cap is fine, and you know that all you’re ever get from an impact purchase is for instance $50,000, and the prestige comes with what % of impact they bought at that price.
Perhaps Dereke Bruce had the right of it here:
“In order to keep a true perspective of one’s importance, everyone should have a dog that will worship him and a cat that will ignore him.”
I propose that the best thing we can do for the long term future is to create positive flow-through effects now. Specifically, if we increase people’s overall sense of well-being and altruistic tendencies, this will lead to more altruistic policies and organizations, which will lead to a better future.
Therefore, I propose a new top EA cause for 2020: Distributing Puppies
Puppies decrease individual loneliness, allowing a more global worldview.
Puppies model unconditional love and altruism, creating a flowthrough to their owners.
Puppies with good owners on their own are just sources of positive utility, increasing global welfare.
You might be interested in this same question that was asked last June:
Something else in the vein of “things EAs and rationalists should be paying attention to in regards to Corona.”
There’s a common failure mode in large human systems where one outlier causes us to create a rule that is a worse equilibrium. In the PersonalMBA, Josh Kaufman talks about someone taking advantage of a “buy any book you want” rule that a company has—so you make it so that you can no longer get any free books.
This same pattern has happened before in the US, after 9-11 - We created a whole bunch of security theater, that caused more suffering for everyone, and gave government way more power and way less oversight than is safe, because we over-reacted to prevent one bad event, not considering the counterfactual invisible things we would be losing.
This will happen again with Corona, things will be put in place that are maybe good at preventing pandemics (or worse, making people think they’re safe from pandemics), but create a million trivial conveniences every day that add up to more strife than they’re worth.
These types of rules are very hard to repeal after the fact because of absence blindness—someone needs to do the work of calculating the cost/benefit ratio BEFORE they get implemented, then build a convincing enough narrative to what seems obvious/common sense measures given the climate/devastation.