A lot of EAs I know consider Dennett as their favourite author—he was my favourite around that age. An unconventional philosopher who covers wide ranges of topics, from evolution, to consciousness, and whose later books (like this one) are more accessible than his early stuff.
The most famous historical utilitarian, Mill, grew up as a child-prodigy with intense tutoring in university-level subjects by his father James Mill. I found it to be a moving story, and gifted teenagers might be able to relate to some of the troubles that Mill experienced some 160 years ago.
Feynman is one of the great public intellectuals, and I loved this book. A gripping and hilarious read that teaches you a lot about the kind of clear thinking that is required to solve real-world problems. It could change a gifted kid’s perspective for sure.
Stories of Your Life: and Others by Ted Chiang
From Bacteria to Bach and Back by Daniel Dennett
Permutation city by Greg Egan
Autobiography by John Stuart Mill
Surely You’re Joking Mr Feynman by Richard Feynman
Reasons and Persons by Derek Parfit
(upcoming) Human Compatible by Stuart Russell
I think the present EA Forum is most like Reddit, among forms of social media, so yes, kinda like a news feed. But I think the Possible Drawbacks of switching to a classic forum are probably larger than the stated Problems with the current setup. I’d rather see the problems fixed within the current framework.
On the problems,
I would note that it’s not super-easy to improve search, as Facebook and old-school forums were never particularly easily searchable either. My preferred way to fix this would be to have a search bar, where you can type any term and see the posts on that topic sorted by upvotes like here.
The forum can indeed give an underwhelming impression. But perhaps this could be addressed by (i) having posts accompanied by some of their content a la Reddit, by (ii) simply placing grey horizontal lines between the commented posts, in order to delineate them, or by (iii) darkening the text to improve readability and ease of engagement
On the drawbacks:
Increasing overall post quality is one of the primary challenges for the forum, so that seems like a serious cost of switching to a forum. Although sometimes people who will produce great content are intimidated from doing so, the reverse is also a problem, even in the current setting—that people who produce low-quality content will proceed to do it. I don’t have a strong feeling that at present we should be pushing hard in one direction nor the other.
Overall, the picture is that the current problems might be easier to fix than those that would arise in a switch to an old-school forum.
I think this is an excellent definition.
Broadly, I understand it as:
(1) science of applying ethics given limited resources (tentatively impartial welfarist ethics)
(2) deployment of (1).
The omission of normativity has a fifth benefit of clarifying the difference from consequentialism.
In the UK, “Institute” is a protected term, for which you need approval from the Secretary of State to use in a business name, per https://web.archive.org/web/20080913085135/http://www.companieshouse.gov.uk/about/gbhtml/gbf3.shtml. I’m not sure how this changes if you’re being a part of the university, but otherwise this could present some problems.
Perhaps you missed the key quotation from my post (emphasized below):
...From our compilation of published scientific reports, we estimate the current proportion of insect species in decline (41%) to be twice as high as that of vertebrates, and the pace of local species extinction (10%) eight times higher, confirming previous findings (Dirzo et al., 2014). At present, about a third of all insect species are threatened with extinction in the countries studied (Table 1). Moreover, every year about 1% of all insect species are added to the list, with such biodiversity declines resulting in an annual 2.5% loss of biomass worldwide (Fig. 2)...”
Is the 2.5% estimate inaccurate?
For explicit sorting and simple interface, you might like ea.greaterwrong?
What I mean is that working on wild animal welfare is less important if there are few animals, for any axiology..
Other theoretical arguments for expecting small insect populations: (i) in the long-run future most life would be on other planets, or in extreme cases, in simulations, where there would be little reason to bring insects, (ii) in the very long-run, there’s little reason to think creating insects is the optimal way for people to use limited resources to fulfill their own preferences.
I think there should be an Oxford group that has as its audience the people in EA orgs, with activities to improve happiness, productivity, and the attractiveness of these workplaces, which is quite different from the goal of trying to grow a community of students. On this front, I’ve been spending time finding group housing near the new office. It would also be good to have short-term housing for visitors. It would be good to have dinners, and fun activities on a Friday night. In-principle, the range of activities that could be helped by proximity to the Oxford orgs is extremely large, but things that interact more closely with the orgs, like grant recommendations, or recruitment, just to pick a couple of arbitrary examples, would have to be worked out beforehand.
I’m not involved with either of these funds, but here are three projects I really want to see happen:
More recruiting for EA orgs: FHI wants to grow a bunch and could benefit from having more great researchers referred. Probably similar is true for other orgs.
Targeted outreach using social media advertisements: EA is currently doing little outreach for fear of dilution, and is thereby foregoing many of the benefits of our surplus of funds and ideas. Maybe we could do more outreach in a way that doesn’t bring about dilution, such as by advertising intellectual content in a way that’s filtered to just intellectual audiences.
EA Oxford community. There’s ~45 employees at FHI/GPI/Forethought/CEA-UK but almost all of the community activities are run by and directed at students.
I think the main answer is that advice for mid/late-career is harder to provide. But we can improvise by leveraging the existing research:
Could one land jobs at any of the positions on 80,000 Hours’ jobs board?
Could you switch to working on a high-priority area in general?
What are the main skills gained from your career? Are these needed by any of the organizations on the jobs board? Are they needed for starting any new organizations?