That’s really interesting—do you have any recommended reading on the UK system?
Changing the raw totals sounds confusing, but you could implement some form of regularisation in ranking contexts—for example karma relative to total karma across all posts for that month.
It is a little strange that if I go to an old post I upvoted, un-upvote, and then re-upvote, its karma increases I think.
Importantly, I suspect it’d be bad for the world if we lowered our bar, though unfortunately I don’t think I want to or easily can articulate why I think that now.
Do you think it is bad that other pools of EA capital exist, with perhaps lower thresholds, who presumably sometimes fund things that OP has deliberately passed on?
Chris McVey, Josh May, and I had several times tried and failed to write arguments that would be effective in increasing participants’ donation rates. When we presented participants emotionally moving narratives about children who had been rescued by charitable donations, charitable donations were higher than in a control condition—but never when we presented ordinary philosophical arguments that donation is good or is your duty. … We wondered whether the failure might just be the result of our inability to write convincing arguments.
[E]ach of the five selected arguments was viewed by about 335 participants, while 471 participants viewed the middle school science text. The results were clear: All five of the arguments substantially outperformed the control condition.
Presumably the theory is that philosophical argument can(not) increase donations, and it sounds like they had a randomised control in the form of an unrelated text.
Isn’t this what CEA was created to do—provide central services like accounting and tax registration for smaller EA (though they weren’t called ‘EA’ in those days) organisations in order to benefit from economies of scale?
If I am on the main page, it might be nice if center-clicking on the ‘Show Previous Comment’ button opened that comment tree in a new tab. At the moment you can center-click the date to open a comment in a new tab, and then separately need to click ‘Show Previous Comment’.
Has anyone else (politicians, researchers, etc.) ever argued for a system resembling this one?
Robin Hanson has written about similar ideas:
For every immigrant that we admit, the government could track how much that person pays in taxes each year, and also how much the government spends on that person via benefits whose costs can be measured individually. We could probably assign individual costs for schools, Medicare and Medicaid, prison, etc. For types of costs or benefits that can’t be measured individually, we’d could attribute to each immigrant some average value across citizens of their location and demographic type. When there are doubts, let us err in the direction of estimating higher costs, so that our measures are biased against immigrants adding value.
Okay, so now we have a conservative net financial value number for each immigrant for each year, a number that can be positive or negative. From these numbers we can create financial assets that pay annual dividends proportional to these numbers. If we let many people trade such assets, their market prices should give us decent estimates of the current present financial value of this stream of future revenue. And if we allow trading in such assets regarding people who apply to immigrate, with those trades being conditional on that person being admitted and coming, then such prices would estimate the net financial value of an immigration candidate conditional on their immigrating.
We could then admit the candidates for whom such estimates are highest; using a high threshold could ensure a high confidence that each immigrant is a net financial advantage. Those who are skeptical about particular immigrants, or about immigration in general, could insure themselves against bad immigration choices via trades in these markets, trades from which they expect to profit if their skepticism is accurate.
The essential idea of AI Benefits is simple: AI Benefits means AI applications that are good for humanity.
Thus, for the rest of this series I will be focusing on the subset of AI Benefits that individuals could receive other than what markets would likely provide by default by actors not motivated by social benefit.
If non-market AI Benefits are a strict subset of AI Benefits, a phrase which essentially just means ‘good things from AI’ then this is not true by definition:
[B]y definition markets will generally not provide AI Benefits
Indeed, given the scale and efficiency of market production compared to philanthropy it is possible that markets might produce the vast majority of AI benefits.
I’m not optimistic about our ability to influence the distant future in this regard (absent a Singleton), because it seems to me there will be two phases, both with strong but very distinct instrumental pressures for norm convergence.
Initially, space colonisation will be extremely dependant on earth. Earth will be the only source of many raw resources, livestock, manufactured goods, scientific expertise and human capital. Distant travel will be performed by robots, not people, who will be fully controlled from earth. Colonies might be economic through mineral export, but self-sufficiency would at best mean impoverishment and at worst be simply impossible. Even when colonies became more advanced, they could not hope to rival the military capacity of earth. This will naturally encourage a highly centralised form of governance, where key decisions are made on earth, and status is determined by the terrestrial social system.
Eventually however, humans will settle over vast distances, and the description above is reversed. With the colonisation of other habitable planets and construction of vast space stations, there will be rival sources for essentially all goods. Furthermore, speed of light limitations mean that most trade will be impossible, and also most warfare, reducing the ability of earth to influence outer systems in either direction. As such it seems that extreme decentralisation will be the natural form of governance.
… unless the central power in the first stage can prevent this from occurring, by securing their control prior to the second stage, perhaps using cryptographic weapon locks.
Thanks very much for writing this! I have always thought this was a great idea, and a huge mistake that reformists focus on abolishing private prisons, rather than using them. With privatisation you get what you pay for, and at the moment we pay for volume.
Minor note: you define CrimesBob as
the maximum amount that we (as a society) would spend to prevent it. Thus, since we do not have infinite money, equivalent compensation for the nonmonetary effects of a crime must always exist (CrimesBob).
However, might it be better to define it as the minimum amount we would have to be paid in order to release someone? If someone is expected to cause spectacularly large amounts of disutility, we should want them to stay in prison even if we can’t spend more than total GDP on it.
I should have included the opportunity costs of prisons and society at the beginning of the proof.
You still can!
I think of there being basically three extreme possibilities:
Really low R0
We successfully suppress the disease after the protests. As such, while protest-driven infections are a larger percentage of the total, the total number is much smaller, so it doesn’t really matter very much. This is basically the R0 = 0.7 case I mentioned.
High R0, no vaccine in time
Basically everyone gets the disease. As such the protests and other re-opennings have limited direct impact on the number of cases, as you mention. The impact is largely limited to accelerating this, with some effect on hospital capacity and less time to learn about better treatments.
High R0, mass vaccination in medium term
The number of cases keeps growing, then suddenly falls when a vaccination is rolled out. In this case, accelerating the spread is basically the same as delaying the vaccination. Because of the nature of exponential growth, the majority of cases will be just before mass vaccination, so this leads to a dramatic increase in the total number of deaths. (This might be slightly offset by the fact that a higher incidence makes it easier to do clinical trials on vaccines, but I would expect this effect to be small).
In the modelling I assumed an R0 < 1, which is basically a less-extreme version of the first scenario.
I think this is the wrong question.
The point of lockdown is that for many people it is individually rational to break the lockdown—you can see your family, go to work, or have a small wedding ceremony with little risk and large benefits—but this imposes external costs on other people. As more and more people break lockdown, these costs get higher and higher, so we need a way to persuade people to stay inside—to make them consider not only the risks to themselves, but also the risks they are imposing on other people. We solve this with a combination of social stigma and legal sanctions.
The issue is exactly the same with ideologies. To environmentalists, preventing climate change is more important than covid. To pro-life people, preventing over half a million innocent deaths every year is more important than covid. To animal rights activists, ending factory farming is more important than covid. To anti-lockdown activists, preventing mass business failure and a depression is more important than covid. But collectively we are all better off if everyone stops holding protests for now.
The correct question is “is it good if I, and everyone else who thinks their reason is as good as I think this one is, breaks the lockdown?” Failure to consider this, as it appears most people have, is to grossly privilege this one cause over others and defect in this iterated prisoners dilemma—and the tragic consequence will be many deaths.
I’m not sure CEEALAR is pronounceable. I don’t think it’s pleasing.
I actually think ‘sea-ah-lar’ is quite nice sounding, perhaps a distant cousin of Fëanor.
Hey, thanks for this. Do you have any good data on the super-spreader events, and how to adjust for inside/outside? I agree that ‘you’ in a general sense can, but unfortunately this doesn’t mean that ‘I’ specifically can!
I think many of those examples would fall under their other categories like “Most Businesses Suspended” or “School Closure”. Things like ‘beach closures’ do not, but population density on beaches tends to be much lower than at protests (at least of the beaches I have been to).
Additionally, I worry that the protests might reduce other forms of social distancing. Imagine you are a moderate conservative, who had to cancel your son’s graduation and your daughter’s wedding, and hasn’t been able to go to confession for months. You wanted to go back to work, but all the experts told you that it was too dangerous, even though you knew you’d be careful. They even stopped you playing golf—you weren’t even allowed to do a couple of rounds by yourself, standing by yourself in the middle of the green! Now all of a sudden these so-called experts are joining the hippies in a chaotic screaming looting protest, with nary a six foot gap to be seen. How likely is it that you will trust them again?
I was thinking about the outside issue. It seems in general this is quite protective, presumably because the wind blows the droplets away, rather than their being recycled in a largely air-tight room. But for a sufficiently large protest, presumably the wind is blowing them away… onto another part of the protest! So I worry that this factor will be less protective here.
Great explanation of the scaling issues, good way of thinking about it.
A protest near me had six foot markings on the ground to give each individual protester their own box… which was then ignored in practice.
Thanks for your comment! I actually discussed the maths of this a bit in person, but omitted it from the article for simplicities sake, and because I don’t think it affects the conclusion much; it is essentially another causal channel by which the protests could increase transmission.
I am sceptical that total transmission-once-arrested cases will be anywhere close to transmission-on-streets. For the period they are arrested they’ll be in close quarters, so it’s definitely true that that is bad, though the total number of people they interact with will presumably go down, which will be a positive. But most importantly I expect only a very small fraction of protesters to be arrested. Indeed at some protests not a single person has been arrested! Furthermore, I expect that anyone reading this article (or anyone being influenced by someone who has read this article) is significantly less likely than average to be arrested, so it is at least less relevant from the point of view of their personal decision making.
I sort of see your point about the game theory, but I am sceptical that “the police will have to treat me nicely because otherwise I will get coronavirus” will work in practice. Similarly, I don’t recommend trying deterrence with the IRS, or the SEC, or many other US government agencies; they have quite credible pre-commitments to ignoring your threat.
Thanks, good comment!
I spent a while trying to estimate the r0 in this way, thinking about the dynamics of protests. In the end I couldn’t really come up with much confidence as any level of at-protest-r0; in particular it wasn’t obvious why it couldn’t be much higher, given the loud close contact between a very large number of people. It certainly seems plausible to me that an infected person could easily pass within one meter of a very large number of people. When I try to visualise the number of talking people I spent time close to pre-Covid, vs the number I would be close to at a busy protest, it doesn’t seem implausible to me that the latter could be orders of magnitude higher. But I don’t have any data on this so it is rather speculative!
Huh, my bad, seems fine now.