I'm interested in effective altruism and longtermism broadly. The topics I'm interested in change over time; they include existential risks, climate change, wild animal welfare, alternative proteins, and longtermist global development.

A comment I've written about my EA origin story

Pronouns: she/her

"It is important to draw wisdom from many different places. If we take it from only one place, it becomes rigid and stale. Understanding others, the other elements, and the other nations will help you become whole." —Uncle Iroh


Philosophize This!: Consciousness
Mistakes in the moral mathematics of existential risk - Reflective altruism
EA Public Interest Tech - Career Reviews
Longtermist Theory
Democracy & EA
How we promoted EA at a large tech company
EA Survey 2018 Series
EA Survey 2019 Series


Topic contributions

I can speak for myself: I want AGI, if it is developed, to reflect the best possible values we have currently (i.e. liberal values[1]), and I believe it's likely that an AGI system developed by an organization based in the free world (the US, EU, Taiwan, etc.) would embody better values than one developed by one based in the People's Republic of China. There is a widely held belief in science and technology studies that all technologies have embedded values; the most obvious way values could be embedded in an AI system is through its objective function. It's unclear to me how much these values would differ if the AGI were developed in a free country versus an unfree one, because a lot of the AI systems that the US government uses could also be used for oppressive purposes (and arguably already are used in oppressive ways by the US).

Holden Karnofsky calls this the "competition frame" - in which it matters most who develops AGI. He contrasts this with the "caution frame", which focuses more on whether AGI is developed in a rushed way than whether it is misused. Both frames seem valuable to me, but Holden warns that most people will gravitate toward the competition frame by default and neglect the caution one.

Hope this helps!

  1. ^

    Fwiw I do believe that liberal values can be improved on, especially in that they seldom include animals. But the foundation seems correct to me: centering every individual's right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Thank you for posting this! I've been frustrated with the EA movement's cautiousness around media outreach for a while. I think that the overwhelmingly negative press coverage in recent weeks can be attributed in part to us not doing enough media outreach prior to the FTX collapse. And it was pointed out back in July that the top Google Search result for "longtermism" was a Torres hit piece.

I understand and agree with the view that media outreach should be done by specialists - ideally, people who deeply understand EA and know how to talk to the media. But Will MacAskill and Toby Ord aren't the only people with those qualifications! There's no reason they need to be the public face of all of EA - they represent one faction out of at least three. EA is a general concept that's compatible with a range of moral and empirical worldviews - we should be showcasing that epistemic diversity, and one way to do that is by empowering an ideologically diverse group of public figures and media specialists to speak on the movement's behalf. It would be harder for people to criticize EA as a concept if they knew how broad it was.

Perhaps more EA orgs - like GiveWell, ACE, and FHI - should have their own publicity arms that operate independently of CEA and promote their views to the public, instead of expecting CEA or a handful of public figures like MacAskill to do the heavy lifting.

I've gotten more involved in EA since last summer. Some EA-related things I've done over the last year:

  • Attended the virtual EA Global (I didn't register, just watched it live on YouTube)
  • Read The Precipice
  • Participated in two EA mentorship programs
  • Joined Covid Watch, an organization developing an app to slow the spread of COVID-19. I'm especially involved in setting up a subteam trying to reduce global catastrophic biological risks.
  • Started posting on the EA Forum
  • Ran a birthday fundraiser for the Against Malaria Foundation. This year, I'm running another one for the Nuclear Threat Initiative.

Although I first heard of EA toward the end of high school (slightly over 4 years ago) and liked it, I had some negative interactions with EA community early on that pushed me away from the community. I spent the next 3 years exploring various social issues outside the EA community, but I had internalized EA's core principles, so I was constantly thinking about how much good I could be doing and which causes were the most important. I eventually became overwhelmed because "doing good" had become a big part of my identity but I cared about too many different issues. A friend recommended that I check out EA again, and despite some trepidation owing to my past experiences, I did. As I got involved in the EA community again, I had an overwhelmingly positive experience. The EAs I was interacting with were kind and open-minded, and they encouraged me to get involved, whereas before, I had encountered people who seemed more abrasive.

Now I'm worried about getting burned out. I check the EA Forum way too often for my own good, and I've been thinking obsessively about cause prioritization and longtermism. I talk about my current uncertainties in this post.

Thanks for everything you've done, Austin! I'm especially grateful to the Manifold community for having raised $1,203 for Shrimp Welfare Project (to date); it's been one of the most popular charities on the platform.

The Insect Institute (as Insect Welfare Project) got a $45k movement grant from ACE in June 2022. Shrimp Welfare Project got a $40k grant in the same round.

(I could be wrong but I think Insect Welfare Project was the working name of the Insect Institute prior to February 2023?)

Your second statement is basically right, though my personal view is they impose costs on the movement/EA brand and not just us personally.... I hope to see everything funded by a more diverse group of actors, so that their dollar and non-dollar costs are more distributed.

Do you think that these "PR" costs would be mitigated if there were more large (perhaps more obscure) donors? Also, do you think that "weird" stuff like artificial sentience should be funded at all or just not by Good Ventures?

[edit: see this other comment by Dustin]

Is this separate from Insect Institute? The title of the post made me think that Insect Institute was rebranding to Arthropoda Foundation.

The CC license only covers Licensed Rights that the Licensor owns or is authorized to grant to the user. It does not come with a guarantee (or warranty) that the user has all the rights necessary to use the material. So no, third-party copyrights are not covered by the license.

However, Creative Commons (the organization) recommends that:

Licensors should also secure all rights necessary before applying our licenses so that the public can reuse the material as expected. Licensors should clearly mark any material not subject to the license. This includes other CC-licensed material, or material used under an exception or limitation to copyright.

UK prime minister Rishi Sunak got some blowback for meeting with Elon Musk to talk about existential AIS stuff on Sky News, and that clip made it into this BritMonkey video criticizing the state of British politics. Starting at moment 1:10:57:

...the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom interviewing the richest man in the world, talking about AI in the context of the James Cameron Terminator films. I can barely believe I'm saying all of this.

VSL isn't directly comparable across countries. It's a measure of how much money people in a given country would be willing to spend to save their own lives. For example, if someone would be willing to pay up to $125,000 to reduce the chance of them dying by 1%, then their VSL is $12.5 million. These amounts are lower in poor countries simply because the people there have less money, and it has nothing to do with whether their lives are more or less valuable.

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