1413 karmaJoined Apr 2020


Does this not imply that all the people who quit recently shouldn't have?

I agree this is an important consideration. Funnily enough, I think currently, on the margin at least, there is a lot of money in x-risk, in fact, more than we currently know what to do with. I don't think many x-risk organizations are fundamentally constrained on dollars and several organizations could be a lot lot more frugal and have approximately equal results.

At some point, I kinda just want to say "ok, where has the forecasting money gone?", and it seems to have overwhelmingly gone to community forecasting sites like Manifold and Metaculus. I don't see anything like "paying 3 teams of 3 forecasters to compete against each other on some AI timelines questions"

  1. I think your point 1 is a good starting point but I would add "in percentage terms compared to all other potential causes" and you have to be in the top 1% of that for EA to consider the cause neglected. 

3. I didn't make it. It is great though. I was talking about on a yearly basis in the last couple years. That said, I made the comment off memory so I could be wrong.

Yes, it's a meta topic; I'm commenting less on the importance of forecasting in an ITN framework and more on its neglectedness. This stuff basically doesn't get funding outside of EA, and even inside EA had no institutional commitment;


  1. I don't think it's necessary to talk in terms of an ITN framework but something being neglected isn't nearly reason enough to fund it. Neglectedness is perhaps the least important part of the framework and something being neglected alone isn't a reason to fund it. Getting 6 year olds in race cars for example seems like a neglected cause but one that isn't worth pursuing.
  2. I think something not getting funding outside of EA is probably a medium-sized update to the thing not being important enough to work on. Things start to get EA funding once a sufficient number of the community finds the arguments for working on a problem sufficiently convincing. But many many many problems have come across EA's eyes and very few of them have stuck. For something to not get funding from others suggests that very few others found it to be important.
  3. Forecasting still seems to get a fair amount of dollars, probably about half as much as animal welfare. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1ip7nXs7l-8sahT6ehvk2pBrlQ6Umy5IMPYStO3taaoc/edit?usp=sharing

Your points on helping future people (and non-human animals) are well taken.

I'm in the process of writing up my thoughts on forecasting in general and particularly EA's reverence for forecasting but I feel, similar to @Grayden that forecasting is a game that is nearly perfectly designed to distract EAs from useful things. It's a combination of winning, being right when others are wrong and seemingly useful, all wrapped into a fun game.

I'd like to see tangible benefits to more broad funding of forecasting that seems to be done in t he millions and tens of millions of dollars.

I would also be the type of person you would think would be a greater fan of forecasting. I'm the number one forecaster on Manifold and I've made tens of thousands of dollars on Polymarket. But I think we should start to think of forecasting as more of a game that EAs like to play, something like Magic the Gathering that is fun and has some relations to useful things but isn't really useful by itself.

I haven't disagree voted this. I'm the #1 trader on Manifold. I doubt prediction markets will be useful here. In fact, I think I could probably use prediction markets to "screw with people". For example "watch out for X, Manifold thinks there is a 15% chance that they have a sexual assault charge in the next year".

I agree that less money to the IRS will benefit the wealthy more but this is because the IRS already mainly audits wealthier people and thus less audits disproportionately reduces audits on the wealthy. This is similar to how tax cuts nearly always help the wealthy... because the wealthy pay the vast majority of taxes. It's nearly impossible to cut taxes without the wealthy paying far less dollars in taxes than a middle class/poor person.

While more expensive to pursue cases against the wealthy, it is more than worth it when it comes to the increase in reward.

Some things to point out:

1. Often, things become crimes that get prosecuted when they are done by the wealthy vs. normal people. To be clear, the reason for this is that governments/prosecutors want money and there is a lot of money in going after Kjell Inge Røkke for an illegal boating license but there isn't for a father letting his 15-year old child drive in a parking lot. There's a lot of money going after a billionaire for tax evasion but not in someone having a side hustle where they make money under the table selling $50k worth of widgets per year. This is going to lead to billionaires' actions being surveilled more and thus gone after for crimes more often than the average person. The reward makes it worth it. Billionaires will have far more legal/monetary resources and thus you should naively expect more settlements, particularly without an admission of wrongdoing.

I suppose I recommend people think something like "ok, how bad was this really" when they look at billionaire crimes. Perhaps a litmus test of "would I remain friends with my average non-EA friend if I found out that they had done this"

2. The Giving Pledge has no restrictions on the charitable causes that signatories are allowed to support. As such, unfortunately, as you would likely expect, the vast majority of donations basically go to vanity projects to improve self-image that have little to do with trying to improve the world, let alone try to do so effectively. The median philanthropic gift in terms of impact is something like a generic climate organization with many philanthropic gifts going to building a building at a college to get their name on it or arts museums and such. A non-negligible amount is also tax evasion.

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