Small question: Do you want anyone to fill in the form or only people working for EA related organisations?
Could you explain more what you mean with this:
and rising sea levels provide even more reason to expand shorelines
This seems quite counterintuitive to me. Creating more low-lying areas where people will move to that will then flood seems like the opposite of what we want? One way to solve this would be by making the reclaimed land high enough to not flood after future sea level rise, but that’ll require much more materials (and hence higher costs). Another way to solve this is with technological solutions like the Netherlands does, but these are very costly, too.
What are your thoughts on this?
What are some examples of EA forum posts or comments that had a big influence on EA as a whole or on an EA-aligned organisation?
I’ll share the text that I submitted for useful search methodologies here:
I’ll start by saying that I might get some of this stuff wrong, as I only found out about this contest two days before the deadline so I didn’t have the time to do the proper research. However, it seems to me that currently, cause areas are identified by looking at neglected problems and finding the most cost-effective solutions for them. Sometimes, there are less neglected problems, such as traffic safety or US criminal reform, that still make it on the list. However, often the solutions presented are found within the context of a clearly defined problem and are very cost-effective at solving that (and only that) problem. I am certainly not the first to notice this, as I’ve often heard people say that GiveWell should focus more on systemic change or general economic growth. I think there might be another way, however. Instead of focusing on cost-effective solutions for a clearly defined given problem, there might be actions or interventions that only partially solve a very large variety of problems, such that everything taken into count, it is still the most cost-effective way to improve people’s lives. An example of the top of my head: increasing cycling rates in cities (instead of car usage) is good for many things: less noise, less air pollution, more active people, more spatially efficient, in cities it’s still relatively quick, etc… But in many of those things, there are solutions that are better: walking is quieter and more spatially efficient, going to the gym is more active and taking trains is quicker. But improving all those things to solve each problem separately is probably much more expensive than building bike lanes around the city, even though it makes relatively less progress on each problem individually. (There are also quite some costs to cycling as well and I’m not saying we should build bike lanes everywhere, but I hope it’s clear what I’m trying to say). On occasion, this seems to happen already, but only when a cost-effective solution is already found for a given problem(e.g. bednets for malaria) and we’re trying to get a better idea of the impact of it on society at large and we learn that it’s even more cost effective when we take that into count. Figuring out how this intervention benefits society at large, hence is only an afterthought, if it happens at all. I haven’t seen any information about those effects for most other charities recommended by GiveWell (but I’ll probably have missed some). There are, of course, some problems with this approach as well. It requires much more research and there is much more uncertainty. Tractability will also be harder: measuring how much we’re solving a not very clearly defined problem seems hard, but measuring it in QALYs should partially solve that (although there are many uncertainties there too).
Great initiative! It’s good to see that charities outside of the anglosphere are also being analysed and in some cases, even turn out to be very effective.
This is great! I very much miss the weekly summaries. Maybe it would be nice if these summaries were published as a weekly newsletter, just like Zoe’s?
What do you think of the national GWWC-like organizations, such as Effektiv Spenden in Germany or Doneer Effectief in the Netherlands? They are currently really similar to GWWC and recommend basically the same charities as GWWC or GiveWell. Should they maybe take a slightly different approach to researching charities or should they just be the national version of GWWC to get more people on board without doing their own research? Finally, do you think that there could be very effective charities operating outside the UK/US that GWWC is currently missing? Does GWWC research charities in continental Europe? If so, what are some examples; if not, what barriers exist (besides the obvious language one)?
Just a slight note: the link to the form includes the bracket and full stop at the end of the sentence so clicking the link doesn’t work :)
I’d say we already have most of the solutions for climate change, they just need to be implemented (properly). AI could be of help for that, but the fossil fuel lobby could use it just as well, so I’m not sure if it would mean that it gets implemented.
A lot of people, also within EA and 80k hours, are very aware of the advantages that AI can bring. And that is also kind of the problem: there are a lot of incentives for capable AI to be developed quickly, but too little attention is currently paid to the things that can go wrong. 80k is trying to get people to work on making AI safer, hence they focus mainly on the things that can go wrong, instead of promoting and encouraging even faster (and less safe) development of AI.
The World Food Programma already has an app (Android, iOS) that lets you do something similar. It might be of inspiration to those working on this
At the risk of wasting my time on this.
1 (“the risk of myocarditis was higher after vaccination than SARS-CoV-2 infection”);
The quote is incomplete, you omitted an important part. This is the full quote: “Associations were stronger in younger men <40 years for all vaccines and after a second dose of mRNA-1273 vaccine, where the risk of myocarditis was higher after vaccination than SARS-CoV-2 infection.” You also ignore the overall conclusion of the paper which says “Overall, the risk of myocarditis is greater after SARS-CoV-2 infection than after COVID-19 vaccination”.
2 (“In boys with prior infection and no comorbidities, even one dose carried more risk than benefit”).
The second study you link there is also only about male adolescents. This study has a general conclusion as well: “Our findings strongly support individualized paediatric COVID-19 vaccination strategies which weigh protection against severe disease vs. risks of vaccine-associated myo/pericarditis.” I don’t know about the other study, but this one uses VAERS data, which has been abused due to its unverifiability.
Germany, France, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and Norway recommend to NOT get double vaccinated (moderna), for large demographics (and these recommendations came when the covid risk was higher than it is now).
Indeed, as did Belgium. Important to note here is that these restrictions were only for a specific subset of the population, and only for non-mRNA vaccines. mRNA vaccines are fine. This is not a reason to not get vaccinated at all.
the vaccine does not stop transmission
It doesn’t have to in order to be effective. It slows down transmission and reduces the number of hospitalized people and deaths. It also reduces severity of symptoms for those who are vaccinated and go get the virus.
side point: boosters are not recommended for large demographics, by various studies due to harm they cause;
Have you read even the abstract of this paper? You are purposely framing it in such a way that supports your argument. The paper talks specifically about mandates, not recommendations, as EAG does. The study also mentions in its limitations that many adverse effects may be due to the nocebo effect or anxiety. The data from this study comes in part from the Wellcome Trust, which is known for having financial stakes in pharmaceutical companies which remains unreported in its conflict of interest and that it gains financially from the pandemic. The WHO has recommended the vaccine anyway.
The reason for your downvotes is that you seem to believe vaccines, at least at this point in the pandemic, are harmful, but most of your evidence supports the opposite of what you say.
Thanks for writing this. On the one hand, I think these calls for democracy are caused by a lack of trust in EA orgs to spend the money as they see fit. On the other hand, that money comes from donors. If you don’t agree with a certain org or some actions of an org in the past, just don’t donate to them. (This sounds so obvious to me that I’m probably missing something.) Whether somebody else (who might happen to have a lot of money) agrees with you is their decision, as is where they allocate their money to.
In addition, EA is about “doing the most good”, not “doing what the majority believes to be the most good”, probably because the majority isn’t always right. I think it’s good that EA Funds are distributed in a technocratic way, rather than a democratic way, although I agree that more transparency would help people at least understand the decision processes behind granting decisions and allow for them to be criticized and improved.
Sorry for my late reply, but thanks for mentioning. I edited my reply to remove that section.
Maybe it is possible through Topic Filters to distinguish between 1) criticism of EA as a philosophy and 2) criticism of actions of people? It is possible for something to cover both, e.g. when EA principles led someone to do things that ended badly. This would mean both the FTX drama and the current drama are solely in that second category. FTX because fraud is against EA principles and as such is only the consequence of personal actions, Bostrom because what he said in that e-mail isn’t related to doing the most good possible (at all).
I strongly felt the same when I opened the forum today. When reading the post titles mentioning “some apology email of Bostrom” I figured it couldn’t have been anything good and my first thought was “Oh god, not again”. I’d love to think about and discuss how to make the world the best place it can be. I’d also love to spread the EA ideas to other people, but the bar to then also join the community is high and the ideas once you’re beyond the principles are weird and for many, difficult to grasp. When I first learned about EA, I thought of it as a very elite thing. I’d love to be able to say that this is no longer the case, but sadly, it isn’t. I’ve been thinking about starting an EA University group, but the feelings expressed above have made me doubt doing so. The “drama” (apology for not finding a better word) of today and the previous months makes me doubt even more. I don’t want to represent a community that is about apologizing for other people’s actions, nor do I want to invite other people into such a community.
Thanks for thinking and writing about this!
I’m an undergraduate Geography student and we’ve talked about these lakes a few times in several courses. Below is a summary of what we’ve discussed in lessons about this topic.
Lake Kivu, just like Lake Nyos, is a lake in the African Rift where magma flows below the surface degasses. The gases themselves are not toxic, but as they release very suddenly in massive amounts, they push away all the oxygen, causing all life in the vicinity to suffocate. But this only happens if the gases released are 1) heavier than air/oxygen and 2) have nowhere to go i.e. the lake is in a valley. This is the case for both Lake Kivu and Lake Nyos.
To reiterate, the main risk is caused by all the gases releasing at once. These events don’t happen out of the blue. The water in the lake needs to saturated by the gases (but I guess one gas works too). The amount of gas that can be dissolved in the water also depends on the depth (see Figure 8 in the report linked in the original post). Whilst it is not at critical levels yet, it won’t happen overnight.
The water in Lakes Kivu and Nyos are ‘layered’ meaning that the water in the lake is very stable and doesn’t circulate a lot, if at all. This allows for gas saturation to occur in the lower layers. This gas will not release spontaneously. A trigger is needed. For Lake Nyos, this was a landslide that pushed water from the bottom to the top, causing it to degas. Lake Kivu is surrounded by hills too, but I’m not confident a small landslide will cause the entire lake to degas. There are several volcanoes in the vicinity, which could erupt and cause landslides, which in turn cause internal waves or turbulence and therefore degassing. Finally, a large amount of gas that gets inserted from the lake bed could also cause the saturation threshold to be crossed.
But even if this saturation threshold gets crossed by some water layers, it won’t cause the entire lake to degas. Only the gas molecules above the saturation threshold will form bubbles and rise through the surface. So for the lake to degas to such an extent that all the gas gets released, all the water in the lake needs to be basically turned upside down.
The report doesn’t mention any likelihood of any of these events happening. It’s also uncertain about the amount of gas that could be released and how much gas is added to the bottom of the lake.
Finally, I’d like to address the risks you identified:
Risk 1: what if the pipes will destabilise the lake?
As explained above, the pipes need to destabilise in such a way that causes turbulence with vertical movements of up to 130m. As the pipes are hollow and inserted vertically, I think it is extremely unlikely that this will happen. (For a fun at-home experiment: try inserting a straw in a glass of water with some liquid colouring to visualise the turbulence caused.). I think that most of the turbulence it does cause will cause some parts of the upper layers to move downwards, but not necessarily the other way.
Risk 2: releasing CO2 will contribute to global warming. Methane is even worse as a greenhouse gas, but it could be collected with profit. CO2 actually may be used too for fracking and for chemical and food production.
It seems like there is currently not really a way around this. Either the CO2 or CH4 gets released through the degassing explosion, or more controlled by the vertical pipes and turned into CO2 by burning the methane. So regardless of whether the amount extracted by current power plants is higher or lower than the amount added, we’re still turning it into CO2 . If we want to expand the amount of gas that we extract, we probably need to add some sort of carbon capture and storage system to the power plants. I have absolutely no clue how viable this is given current technology and the war that’s going on there, but I think it’s rather difficult
As there’s so much uncertainty about the amounts of gas and how much more degassing capacity is needed, if any at all, I’d say it’s quite difficult to estimate how much this would cost and therefore it’s difficult to give a cost-effectiveness analysis. On the other hand, if a solution is already known and it’s relatively cheap to implement it, I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t.
For those who’d like to know more, the report linked above goes into quite some detail and includes many equations to calculate stuff related to it that is beyond my knowledge. The technical term for these kinds of eruptions is limnic eruptions.
Great question, I’d love to know too. The one thing I can recommend is Robert Miles’ YouTube Channel, although he hasn’t uploaded in a while.
If I may add to your post, I’d also like to know what things are missing to reduce the risk. Is it a lack of creativity or a lack of people or a lack of something else? Thanks!