I’m a recent graduate, interested in finance and AI. I blog about rationality, motivation, social skills and life optimisation at neelnanda.io
I thoroughly enjoyed all three of these—in particular getting a crisper picture of what CATF actually does, and why it’s awesome. Thanks for all the work!
One project that popped up last year involved converting the operations of a platinum mining company in Bihar from burning coal to another burning another fossil fuel in a slightly-lower-emissions way. That’s easy to verify, and there was a clear argument for why it wouldn’t make economic sense for them to transition without the offset money
I am also confused about the general question, but I found this intervention interesting to think about. It seems like the legitimacy of this comes down to the elasticity of demand for coal in India (basically, if someone buys 1 ton less of coal, will someone else buy that same ton for a lower price, or will coal producers make one ton less?). I couldn’t find any data on elasticity of demand for coal in India, but this paper estimates it for China as 0.3 to 0.7, which is maybe an OK proxy? And I don’t know if it’s reasonable to model the elasticity of demand of coal and of the other fossil fuel as the same (eg, it would be terrible if not buying 1 ton of coal reduces the total coal by 0.2 tons produced, but buying 1 ton of oil increases total oil produced by 0.8 tons).
Overall it feels non-obvious to me whether it’s legit, though I lean towards “probably, but about half as effective as a naive calculation suggests”
Thanks for the great post, lots of concrete and useful advice in there!
What’s tabling? From context, my best guess is just setting up a table somewhere and advertising the society? But that feels super weird/isn’t something I’ve ever seen a society doing at Cambridge—is this a US thing?
I’m curious whether you ended up trying these out?
Great post! I’d be very excited to see somewhere like the Infrastructure Fund funding any of these.
Another point: Generally converting money to time and productivity—affording healthy ready meals, a fast and functional laptop and phone, not needing to stress about meeting rent, being able to get Ubers rather than walking, etc. I think it’s often awkward to ask for money to meet things like this for yourself, but I want anyone doing good community building with to not need to worry about things like this! Or if anyone is doing a part time job to support themselves while doing community building, I’d LOVE for them to be paid for the community building instead, and be able to focus on that more
I think people in EA are often averse to things like this, because that money could be donated instead. But I think this often leads to bad norms around this stuff—if you’re doing high impact work, your time is valuable, and saving time means you can do more good work!
I had absolutely no idea you could subscribe to a tag! Thanks (as a result, I have no real views on this feature)
I feel mildly negative about this idea, though find it hard to articulate why
I would find this extremely motivating (though also obsessively check it in a way that is somewhat unhealthy)
Interesting idea! I think this works much better when supply is constrained, eg land, and not when supply is elastic (eg GPUs). I’m curious whether anyone has actually tried this
I think AI research on large models is quite different to the kind of research meant by this post, because it requires large amounts of compute, which is physical (though I guess not exactly a product)
Similarly biotech research or high energy physics research is really expensive, and mostly because of physical world stuff
Lastly, I may be alone here, but I am concerned with EA community becoming a little too quickly bound to norms and rules. I would be afraid we could quickly become a dogmatic and siloed group. I would argue the approach in the video above is unique/diverse in the community, and that there is strong value in that
I agree with the principle of being pro-diversity and anti-dogma in general, but I disagree when it comes to public communications. If someone communicates badly about EA, that harms the movement, can negatively change perceptions, and makes it harder for everyone else doing communication. Eg, 80K over-emphasising earning to give early on.
I think that divisive and argumentative approaches like this one, as Harrison says, can put a lot of people off and give them a more negative image of EA, and I think this can be harmful to the movement. This doesn’t mean that public communication needs to be homogenous, but I do think it’s valuable to push back on public communication that we think may be harmful.
Thanks a lot for the thorough post! I found it really helpful how you put rough numbers on everything, and made things concrete, and I feel like I have clearer intuitions for these questions now.
My understanding is that these considerations only apply to longtermists, and that for people who prioritise global health and well-being or animal welfare this is all much less clear, would you agree with that? My read is that those cause areas have much more high quality work by non EAs and high quality, shovel ready interventions.
I think that nuance can often get lost in discussions like this, and I imagine a good chunk of 80K readers are not longtermists, so if this only applies to longtermists I think that would be good to make clear in a prominent place.
And do you have any idea how the numbers for total funding break down into different cause areas? That seems important for reasoning about this.
The best way for this is to create an issue on github
The best way for this is to create an issue on github
Fyi this link is broken
This seems like a great initiative, I’m excited to see where this goes!
Do people need to be US citizens (or green card holders etc) to apply for this?
Have you spoken at all with the Centre for Long-term Resilience? They work with UK policy makers on issues related to catastrophic and existential risk, and I imagine would be pretty interested in this project.
Interesting idea! I’m curious to see where this goes. I’m unsure whether I expect most people to perceive this as pretentious, or as admirable/norm-setting
One thing that would significantly put me off using this as is is that I can only choose 3 cause areas (none of which are the ones I most highly prioritise), and can’t choose specific charities within each cause area. But if this website isn’t aimed at longtermists/highly engaged EAs, maybe this is fine! I believe One for the World do something similar.
The other primary advantage is that the name is quite self-explanatory.
When I hear the name, I picture a hotel chain trying to provide excellent and efficient service. It doesn’t feel like it gets to the heart of the EA Hotel for me.
Why is “iterated embryo selection” desirable on EA grounds?
I can see the argument that this let’s us improve human intelligence, which eg leads to more technological progress. But it seems unclear whether this is good from an x-risk perspective. And I can see many ways that better control over human genetics can lead to super bad outcomes, eg stable dictatorships.
This seems like an awesome project!
I’m curious why you’re emphasising ‘it needs to be obvious, after some thought, that this cause is not worth pursuing at all’ as a criteria here. To me, it doesn’t really feel like cause prioritisation to first check whether your cause is even helpful. I feel that the harder but more important insight is that ‘even if your cause is GOOD, some other causes can be better. Resources are scarce, and so you should focus on the causes that are MORE good’.
To me, one of the core ideas of EA is trying to maximise the good you do, not just settling for good enough. And that’s something I’d want to come across in an introductory work. Though it’s much harder to make this intuitive, obviously!
I’d love to use such an Anki deck!