This is not a solution/answer, but someone should design a clever way for us to be constantly searching for cause x. I think a general contest could help, such as an “Effective Thesis Prize”, to reward good works aligned with EA goals; perhaps cause x could be the aim of a contest of its own.
If it was feasible (and I’m a little bit skeptical), a ‘social safety bugs’ program rewarding people for sharing destructive ideas could be useful even if the ‘bugs’ were hard fix, by identifying them beforehand, by raising awareness of this problem of dangerous information, and perhaps even by using the frequency of repetitions of an idea as a proxy to measure how spread it is among the population.
Couldn’t it misfire? I mean, do dangerous people know they could be more effective if they researched a little bit more on new ways to do harm? Wouldn’t they start crowdsourcing it or something, if they knew it? If they don’t, the problem of dangerous info is a dangerous info, and we should be careful with raising awareness of it, too.
If a romance gives an idea easy to prevent, they might be overall helpful by raising awareness about this problem, so making it common knowledge.
Does this include 9/11? I mean, hijacking planes to use them as bombers was an available strategy way before 9/11.
Nassim Taleb begins a book (Black Swan?) imagining what would have happened if a legislator had passed a bill that would avoid it before 2001… We would never realize how many lives it’d have spared. And that’s the most tragic to me: a wrongdoer needs only to get a new idea for an effective way of spreading destruction, but we would have a hard time to convince people that Tylenol poisoning is an eminent threat before many people died.
Perhaps we could mitigate this risk if there were an institution to gather those destructive ideas, analyze them, and recommend strategies to authorities for mitigating those risks.
Also, I think it’s implicit, but maybe it should be openly stated: internet has made this problem worse, since it’s made it easy to spread widely this type of idea.
And prizes wouldn’t have to be super expensive. I mean, graduate students don’t need too much additional incentives to write a good thesis; the main one is to be acknowledged as “Effective Thesis of the year”
I think it’d still need a previous filter, and a good one would use many opinions of others. Maybe something lik crowdsource decision-making, as in your Metis project.
I’d contribute to that, especially if the theses were open for reading or download.
(Maybe we could for the right of voting on a thesis in a pre-selection phase. E.g., I’d be willing to pay U$50 to get access to them and vote on my favorite ones. But I haven’t really thought a lot about it)
I do agree with the premise/problem description (your first claim), but not with the solution/EA hotel—mostly because there might be more efficient ways to reduce the gap (e.g., the project evaluation platform). My main point is that, even if the EA hotel is the best way of supporting/incenting productive EAs in the beginning of their careers, it doesn’t solve the problem of selecting the best projects—the main cause of the Chasm; and even if someone has a great idea, they might not be the most capable of implementing them. More than the EA hotel, we need a platform to elicit project ideas and information, spread them among a community of people interested in evaluating them, and then support EA hotel guests interested in giving some of these ideas a try, or assign them to the best fit for implementation. Possible ways to fill this part of the chasm: hiring/training superforecasters, using prediction markets, contests, or maybe even just creating something like a voting system kind of incentive compatible (or just a particular forum) only for that.
Is there any charity/project/company/research trying to effectively improve people’s mental health by encouraging them to frequent green spaces?
Please, don’t misunderstand me, I’m no green activist, but I’ve seen so many mentions to increasing anxiety and depression (I’m not sure if it’s true), and so many diagnoses (it’s the internet, the economy, the culture...), and its rebuttals (“actually, everything is getting better, according to this graph...“), and Michael Plant has written many convincing pieces about the importance and neglectedness of mental health… but almost no one mentions that we’re the first (maybe the second) generation to spend most of our lives indoors. I could provide some anecdotal evidence, but I guess the link between green spaces and happiness is very plausible and generally not contested by literature.
(I wouldn’t say it could cure depression, but it might improve welfare. Our bodies and brains were designed by evolution to run on savannah and hunt big game… I mean, even people i know that went through stressful situations in the wild actually use to treasure these memories with joy; I mean, I know I was tired and and wet and trying not to freeze to death… but it seems like I was having fun. I don’t think anyone needs to get into the middle of the jungle to get the benefits of green spaces; we should probably observe some positive effect if we could just get young people from cold climates to go to a park a little bit during winter, instead of closing themselves at home for four months)
Is there any charity/project/company trying to effectively improve people’s mental health by encouraging them to frequent green spaces?
Please, don’t misunderstand me, I’m no green activist, but I’ve seen so many mentions to increasing anxiety and depression (I’m not sure if it’s true), and so many diagnoses (it’s the internet, the economy, the culture...)… but almost no one mentions that we’re the first (maybe the second) generation to spend most of our lives indoors. I could provide some anecdotal evidence, but I guess the link between green spaces and happiness is very plausible and generally not contested by literature.
Actually, Forethought launched this one week ago: https://www.forethought.org/undergraduate-thesis-prize
Thanks for this summary. Just on comment: wouldn’t it be useful to have a kind of Effective Thesis prize? It might be convenient for advancing the idea among professors.
(This is the third − 1st in Open Thread #43, 2nd in a facebook comment—and last time I make this suggestion. Sorry if it’s getting boring)
Thanks for your comment and your insights, that’s precisely what I wanted. I do agree we lack evidence about the effectiveness of prizes as a way to incent studies on specific subjects – but that’s not unsurmontable (if I don’t find a paper about it, I’ll try to compare keywords frequency in academic databases before and after the establishment of a similar prize to check if there’s a correlation). Also, I hadn’t considered a prize could result in a reputational risk – even if it’s unlikely, but it might necessary to hedge against it; one possibility is to grant the commitee the right to abstain from declaring a winner, if no one is found worthy.
Concerning the other mentioned obstacles, I don’t think they would hinder the main goals of such a prize – to foment the ideas of EA and to incent the study of EA causes. Assuming these causes are worth of my time (even more than saving a toddler’s life), so it’d not be a waste of time.
As risk mitigation, we could start by requiring that applicants provide a brief essay summarizing their research and arguing in their favor; then a crowd of blind-reviewers would use such essay (and other « cheap signals », such as abstracts, conclusions, etc.) to reduce the number of candidates to a small set, to be scrutinized by a comitee of proeminent scholars; maybe we could put the theses online and ask everyone for feedback (people could vote on the best thesis in this first phase). Also, we could mitigate reputational risks and problems of scale if, instead of a global institution such as the CEA, we had such a competition in a more restricted environment– maybe some institution in a small country, such as the Czech Republic (well, they created the Effective Thesis project, right ?). So, if something went wrong, it wouldn’t hit the whole EA movement.
Sorry, I’m new here. You mean making a thread in this forum? I still don’t know how.
I think the main problem is that it’s hard to implement any substancial change in political systems of great powers, such as US and UK—precisely the kind of target one should have in order to have a huge impact.
If we want to change political systems, we would have to start from below: small countries (maybe Estonia—they’re so pro-inovation) and private associations. Has anyone ever heard of a legal statute on private orgs voting systems?
Why don’t we have an entry on EA (and on X-Risk) on Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (or IEP, by the way)?
The best we have is a mention en passant of Singer’s “Most good you can do...” inside the “Altruism” entry. Really, it’s just: “If friendships and other loving relationships have a proper place in our lives even if they do not maximize the good, then sentiment is an appropriate basis for altruism. (For an opposing view, see Singer 2015.)” <https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/altruism/>
I mean, there’s even a whole new article on the Philosophy of Chemistry! It might not seem important, but SEP is one of the major preliminary sources for researches in Philosophy. It’d be an effective way “spreading the word” among philosophers outside Oxford & Berkeley communities.
(Funny thought: many EA philosophers are cited as major sources in SEP articles about Ethics, decision theory, AI… - but NOT EA)
I see that SEP’s editorial board has the responsibility of defining what’s being published and who’s gonna do it—but there must be something to do about (maybe coordinated mass requests of an EA article? or someone sending a complete article, according to item 3 in the Editorial Policies: ” ualified potential contributors may send to the Principal Editor or an appropriate member of the Editorial Board a preliminary proposal to write on an Encyclopedia topic, along with a curriculum vitae.” <https://plato.stanford.edu/info.html>
I guess all I’ve said so far applies to the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosphy, too.
(P.S.: If I’m getting boring with my frequent posts, please let me know)
Why don’t we have a kind of “Effective Thesis Prize”?
I know there have been prizes on particular subjects, such as the philosophy quarterly essay prize in 2016 (who won it?). But has anyone tried an open general prize, accepting applicants from any area, anywhere? Would it be too expensive? (I don’t think so: the $$ could be little, since phd candidates don’t need additional incentives to improve their thesis)
Would it it hard to organize? (Maybe a little bit, but there would be time...)
Pros: it’d be a simple way to propagate EA ideas and the Effective thesis tool. It’d be useful to elicit information, and maybe to find significative new contributions...
Actually, I think there are many more pros, and I’m considering to try something like that in Brazil (where EA movement is just beginning). So I’d really appreciate some tips about possible CONS.
Nice and useful post. I’m trying to find its sequel, on ‘projects compatible with these heuristics’. Is it ready? where do I find it?
Perhaps I should warn: ambiguity-aversion sensitivity to framing effects is contested by Voorhoeve et al. (philarchive.org/archive/VOOAAF); however, the authors recognize their conclusion goes against most of the literature.
in the last 30min, I found out ACE includes considerations about demand elasticity for animal products in its evaluations. It’s not the same as a RCT, but I believe it’s a good enough estimate. I’ll keep the post, though, in case anyone have similar doubts.