NunoSempere

Researcher @ Shapley Maximizers
12281 karmaJoined Nov 2018
nunosempere.com/blog

Bio

I am an independent research and programmer working at my own consultancy, Shapley Maximizers ÖU. I like to spend my time acquiring deeper models of the world, and generally becoming more formidable.  I'm also a fairly good forecaster: I started out on predicting on Good Judgment Open and CSET-Foretell, but now do most of my forecasting through Samotsvety, of which Scott Alexander writes:

Enter Samotsvety Forecasts. This is a team of some of the best superforecasters in the world. They won the CSET-Foretell forecasting competition by an absolutely obscene margin, “around twice as good as the next-best team in terms of the relative Brier score”. If the point of forecasting tournaments is to figure out who you can trust, the science has spoken, and the answer is “these guys”.


I used to post prolifically on the EA Forum, but nowadays, I post my research and thoughts at nunosempere.com / nunosempere.com/blog rather than on this forum, because:

  • I disagree with the EA Forum's moderation policy—they've banned a few disagreeable people whom I like, and I think they're generally a bit too censorious for my liking. 
  • The Forum website has become more annoying to me over time: more cluttered and more pushy in terms of curated and pinned posts (I've partially mitigated this by writing my own minimalistic frontend)
  • The above two issues have made me take notice that the EA Forum is beyond my control, and it feels like a dumb move to host my research in a platform that has goals different from my own. 

But a good fraction of my past research is still available here on the EA Forum. I'm particularly fond of my series on Estimating Value.


I used to do research around longtermism, forecasting and quantification, as well as some programming, at the Quantified Uncertainty Research Institute (QURI). At QURI, I programmed Metaforecast.org, a search tool which aggregates predictions from many different platforms, which I still maintain. I spent some time in the Bahamas as part of the FTX EA Fellowship, and did a bunch of work for the FTX Foundation, which then went to waste when it evaporated. 

Previously, I was a Future of Humanity Institute 2020 Summer Research Fellow, and then worked on a grant from the Long Term Future Fund to do "independent research on forecasting and optimal paths to improve the long-term." I used to write a Forecasting Newsletter which gathered a few thousand subscribers, but I stopped as the value of my time rose. I also generally enjoy winning bets against people too confident in their beliefs.

Before that, I studied Maths and Philosophy, dropped out in exasperation at the inefficiency, picked up some development economics; helped implement the European Summer Program on Rationality during 2017, 2018 2019, 2020 and 2022; worked as a contractor for various forecasting and programming projects; volunteered for various Effective Altruism organizations, and carried out many independent research projects. In a past life, I also wrote a popular Spanish literature blog, and remain keenly interested in Spanish poetry.


You can share feedback anonymously with me here.

Note: You can sign up for all my posts here: <https://nunosempere.com/.newsletter/>, or subscribe to my posts' RSS here: <https://nunosempere.com/blog/index.rss>

Sequences
3

Vantage Points
Estimating value
Forecasting Newsletter

Comments
1170

Topic contributions
14

One possible path is to find a good leader that can scalably use labour and follow him?

I upvoted this offer. I have an alert for bet proposals on the forum, and this is the first genuine one I've seen in a while.

This seems against the wording of "Give 10% of your income each year"

It seemed suboptimal ([x] marks things I've done, [ ] marks things I should have done but have not gotten around to).

  • [x] Saving donations for years of increased need seems like a better strategy than donating a fixed amount each year
  • [ ] Investing donations and then donating with interest seems plausibly a better option
  • [x] Having a large amount of personal savings allows me to direct my efforts more effectively by choosing not to take suboptimal opportunities for money. Having "slack", freedom of action, seems very useful.
  • [x] My time funges with money, and I will not always want to donate one instead of the other.
  • [x] Generally, constraining my future self seems kind of iffy, since my future self will have more information and better models, including information about my own values. I see the appeal of argument in the other direction about screening off becoming more altruistic, though.

Yes, and also I was extra-skeptical beyond that because you were getting a too small amount of early traction.

Iirc I was skeptical but uncertain about GiveWiki/your approach specifically, and so my recommendation was to set some threshold such that you would fail fast if you didn't meet it. This still seems correct in hindsight.

In practice I don't think these trades happen, making my point relevant again.

My understanding though is that the (somewhat implicit but more reasonable) assumption being made is that under any given worldview, philanthropy in that worldview's preferred cause area will always win out in utility calculations

I'm not sure exactly what you are proposing. Say you have three inconmesurable views of the world (say, global health, animals, xrisk), and each of them beats the other according to their idiosyncratic expected value methodology. But then you assign 1/3rd of your wealth to each. But then:

  • What happens when you have more information about the world? Say there is a malaria vaccine, and global health interventions after that are less cost-effective.
  • What happens when you have more information about what you value? Say you reflect and you think that animals matter more than before/that the animal worldview is more likely to be the case.
  • What happens when you find a way to compare the worldviews? What if you have trolley problems comparing humans to animals, or you realize that units of existential risk avoided correspond to humans who don't die, or...

Then you either add the epicycles or you're doing something really dumb.

My understanding though is that the (somewhat implicit but more reasonable) assumption being made is that under any given worldview, philanthropy in that worldview's preferred cause area will always win out in utility calculations, which makes sort of deals proposed in "A flaw in a simple version of worldview diversification" not possible/use

I think looking at the relative value of marginal grants in each worldview is going to be a good intuition pump for worldview diversification type stuff. Then even if, every year, every worldview prefers their marginal grants over those of other worldviews, you can/will still have cases where the worldviews can shift money between years and get more than what they all want.

Unflattering things about the EA machine/OpenPhil-Industrial-Complex', it's titled "Unflattering thins about EA". Since EA is, to me, a set of beliefs I think are good, then it reads as an attack on the whole thing which is then reduced to 'the EA machine', which seems to further reduce to OpenPhil

I think this reduction is correct. Like, in practice, I think some people start with the abstract ideas but then suffer a switcheroo where it's like: oh well, I guess I'm now optimizing for getting funding from Open Phil/getting hired at this limited set of institutions/etc. I think the switcheroo is bad. And I think that conceptualizing EA as a set of beliefs is just unhelpful for noticing this dynamic.

But I'm repeating myself, because this is one of the main threads in the post. I have the weird feeling that I'm not being your interlocutor here.

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