I enjoy running, swimming, cycling, hiking and playing piano.
It may be worth including a question to assess the fraction of people who think their lives are positive (e.i. whether they would rather not have been born or not, neglecting effects on other beings).
Thanks for writing this!
You may want to consider creating a topic for “Samotsvety”, where posts such as this could be tagged.
Thanks for sharing!
It looks like plane is better. Trusting your numbers, you would save about 200 $ and decrease your travel time by 8 h. I think donating to Founders Pledge’s Climate Change Fund (CCF) removes at least 1 tCO2e/$ (see “Conservative impact analysis example of innovation inneglected tech” of this report), so you could potentially remove 200 tCO2e with the savings. This is much larger than the difference of CO2 you estimated, and so I guess it greatly outweights other environmental impacts too.
In addition, I think there are even more effective options than CCF, e.g. donating to the Long-Term Future Fund.
Relatedly, To WELLBY or not to WELLBY? Measuring non-health, non-pecuniary benefits using subjective wellbeing.
In Bayesian reasoning, if two distributions for the same parameter are normal, then their combination is too; its mean is the average of the two primary means, weighting by the respective precisions (inverse variances).
I think this refers to the inverse-variance method. I am not sure under which conditions it should be applied, but it minimises the variance of a weighted mean of 2 estimates of the same variable of interest.
Thanks, great to see how sequencing wastewater may eventually help us stop a pandemic. Great work!
Thanks for commenting, Kirsten.
A carbon footprint isn’t an equal fraction of the carbon emitted in the world, it’s the amount you personally emit.
I agree, but I would say the carbon footprint of the mean human can be calculated by diving the global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by the total population.
There’s no equivalent for x-risk; the world would not be safer if you didn’t exist.
I think there is an equivalent for x-risk to some extent. For example, GHG emissions contribute to x-risk from climate change. Similarly, in the same way that some people have a larger carbon footprint, I guess some people have a larger x-risk footprint. For example, people in the apocalyptic residual (see Bostrom 2019) working in a BSL-4 lab would have a larger x-risk footprint than a typical rural farmer in Kenya.
However, I agree the concept of footprint is flawed in many ways. This post was just a calculation I found interesting, and fun to do. As I said above:
In any case, effective donations and other actions are:Better seen as a great way of increasing impact. Thinking about them as a form of offsetting could limit our ambition and lead to a smaller impact.Often complementary instead of mutually exclusive.
In any case, effective donations and other actions are:
Better seen as a great way of increasing impact. Thinking about them as a form of offsetting could limit our ambition and lead to a smaller impact.
Often complementary instead of mutually exclusive.
I liked the analogy, thanks!
I would be happy to see more work trying to determine whether the seed-pollen ratio is below or above the optimal, based on empirical data and an explicit model of movement building (e.g. building on Owen Cotton-Barratt’s model). Intuitions of people involved in movement building would probably be a key input to such work.
Good point. Added!
Thanks for all the detailed explanations!
Whether the move from A to A+ improves things depends on whether or not B is available.
In my mind, whether A+ is better than A only depends on the goodness of the difference between them:
1) Increase in wellbeing for 10 M people.
2) Additional 10 M people with positive wellbeing.
I think both 1) and 2) are good, so their combination is also good. Do you consider 1) good, but 2) neutral? If so, I would argue the combination of something good with something neutral is something good.
Would you replace your excellent moments with marginally good ones to marginally improve all of the marginal ones and marginally increase your overall average and total welfare?
I definitely would, but I can see why my intuition would push against that. For a typical life expectancy, and magnitude of excellent moments, marginally increasing the goodness of the marginally good moments would probably not be enough to increase total welfare.
The aggregation required in NAE depends on welfare being cardinally measurable on a common scale across all individuals so that we can take sums and averages, which seems plausibly false.
I agree a common scale is required. However, at a fundamental level, I believe wellbeing is a function of the laws of physics and elementary particles. So, as all humans are subject to the same laws of physics, and have very similar compositions, I expect there is a (very complicated unknown) welfare function which applies quite well to almost all individuals.
It’s assumed there is positive welfare and net positive lives, contrary to negative axiologies, like antifrustrationism or in negative utilitariaism.
In 2 or 3 surveys in the UK, Kenya and Ghana, most people said they would prefer having lived their lives rather than not having been born (see Chapter 9 of What We Owe to the Future). Naturally, this does not mean that most people have net positive lives, but I would say it is strong evidence that it is possible to have net positive lives (e.g. I think there is at least 1 person in the world with a net positive life). If not in the present, at least in the future.
You need to separately rule out this kind of lexicality with another assumption (e.g. welfare is represented by (some subset of) the real numbers with the usual order and the usual operation of addition used to take the total and average), or replace NAE with something slightly different.
I agree, but I do not think that kind of lexicality is plausible. How can one produce something infinitely valuable from finite resources?
This is the updated link for the (same) Colab model. Due to technical difficulties, I am not able to edit the post.
I don’t think you clarified whether when you say tonnes of carbon whether you actually mean carbon (which academia typically uses), or CO2 (which industry/popular typically uses).
I meant tonnes of GHG, namely CO2e. I have now clarified this in the 1st footnote.
But I think it’s worth pointing out that this cost-effectiveness is around five orders of magnitude higher than typical climate actions, such as subsidizing renewable energy or electric vehicles (~$100/tC).
I agree. The 1st bullet point of the Discussion now addresses this.
I think the last dollar of Open Phil is more appropriate (especially because the last dollar of EA would be significantly lower cost effectiveness than this), and would allow climate change to be about two orders of magnitude less cost-effective and still meet the bar.
I think the cost-effectiveness of the last dollar of OP’s longtermist projects is similar to that of the last dollar of other organisations in the EA space funding longtermist projects, because I believe the money of OP and such organisations is fungible to a reasonable extent. I would say OP’s estimate of 0.05 bp/G$ is lower than the others mostly because it is an underestimate.
Would it be interesting for EA Forum questions to have a feature to allow surveys and predictions? In theory, one could post a question with a link to Google Forms, but maybe some kind of integration would encourage more surveys and forecasts. Given the large number people who read the EA Forum, there is margin to collect lots of data.
Thanks, Matt! I think the above is a very valuable explanation of FP’s mission, and have edited the last 2 paragraphs of the Introduction to point to your and Johannes’ comments.
Thanks for clarifying, Johannes!
PS: I tried to convey that in the Introduction by saying that “mitigating existential risk as cost-effectively as possible does not correspond to FP’s mission”.
PPS: I have now edited the Introduction to point to your and Matt’ comments, and thus better describe FP’s goals. I no longer mention that “mitigating existential risk as cost-effectively as possible does not correspond to FP’s mission”.
Hi, I think it would be worth linking to the full job descriptions in the posts.
The 80,000 Hours job board does not take applications, saying, “Due to resource constraints, we are currently unable to process unsolicited requests to list vacancies on this board.”
I think this is no longer true. From here:
We only list roles that we think are among the best opportunities according to our listing criteria. However, we realise that there will be some great opportunities out there that we are not aware of.If there is a role you think we should be listing on the job board, please send the link (and supporting information if needed) to email@example.com, and we will consider it for listing.
We only list roles that we think are among the best opportunities according to our listing criteria. However, we realise that there will be some great opportunities out there that we are not aware of.
If there is a role you think we should be listing on the job board, please send the link (and supporting information if needed) to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will consider it for listing.