4991 karmaJoined Jul 2019Working (0-5 years)New York, NY, USAsunyshore.substack.com



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.

Well, if we allow complex numbers, a lottery over all negative utilities would result in a real geometric mean, but for a mixture of positive and negative utilities, we'd get imaginary numbers.

For example, consider lottery  with Pr(-5) = 0.5, Pr(-3) = 0.3, and Pr(-2) = 0.2. Then


The (-1)'s factor out, giving us


which is a negative number.

Now consider lottery  where one of the utilities is positive - e.g. we have Pr(-5) = 0.5, Pr(3) = 0.3, and Pr(-2) = 0.2. Then we'd get


which is an imaginary number. The magnitude is equal to the weighted product of the magnitudes of the individual utilities, but the argument (the angle it makes with the positive real axis on the complex plane) is  times the total probability mass of any negative utilities. This makes comparisons impossible because the complex plane is an unordered set.

Hi team. How active is the Center for Space Governance currently? What are your plans for the next two years, if any?

I asked in public because I believe that multiple people could benefit from the answer and that's more efficient than multiple people asking the same question in private emails. Regardless, I don't care about the post's karma or what anyone thinks about my decision to ask publicly except for the EA Forum staff or the EAG organizers.

For example, most members want to eat animals, and even if they know that it is wrong to eat those among them raised in cruel conditions, they will continue to do so.

I think that people continue eating animals because they're not aware of the cruel conditions in which many animals are raised, not because they like animal cruelty. Generally, when people are made aware of those cruel conditions, they oppose them. For example, a Data for Progress survey in 2022 found that 80% of respondents supported California's Farm Animal Confinement Initiative (Prop 12); the percentage of support did not vary much by party affiliation. I imagine that people living on a lunar or Martian colony will be living in closer quarters to any farmed animals there than people on Earth do, since the colonies would be smaller. So if anything, they'd be more aware of the animals' living conditions and would be more motivated to ensure the animals' well-being.

Good point. My total state and local tax bill was higher than $10k, so I would have been able to take a $10k SALT deduction, meaning I would have had to donate at least $3,850 in order to itemize. I donated about $2.5k of my own money (plus $2.5k in employer matches), so it made sense to take the standard deduction.

The standard deduction in 2024 is $14,600, so I'd have to claim $10k SALT deduction + at least $4.6k charitable deductions or other itemized deductions in order to benefit from itemizing. I could easily do that. I'm not looking forward to itemizing my tax bill, haha :)

For what it's worth, the SALT deduction cap might sunset at the end of 2025, so it may make sense for more people to itemize charitable deductions again.

Thanks for sharing this!

I opt for strategy 2 (donating appreciated assets). The standard deduction is so high ($14,600 in 2024) that I would have to donate several times that amount for the benefit of itemizing to outweigh giving up the standard deduction. Taking itemized deductions also involves a lot of paperwork. By donating assets, at least I get to realize the value of the assets for charitable purposes without paying capital gains taxes.

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