How bad do you think the H5N1 situation is? I tried to search on LessWrong and EffectiveAltruism, but haven't found that much discussion.

When I was reading about H5N1, a lot of my assumptions were broken. I was shocked how vulnerable we are to the most "predictable" threats.

Should/can rationalists take this threat into account? Can this threat warrant even, I dunno, some community-wide preparation?

Edit: this comment gives specific predictions. Can somebody explain the justification behind such predictions? What exactly keeps the risk relatively low?

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Both these questions have too short timing: half a year.  The real question is will H5N1 pandemic happen in the next 5-10 years, that is, before strong AI. If we extrapolate 2.4% per for half a year – to the next 10 years, it will be around 50 %, which is much less comfortable.

2gbear6058mo
Metaculus isn’t very precise near zero, so it doesn’t make sense to multiply it out. Also, there’s currently a mild outbreak, while most of the time there’s no outbreak (or less of one), so the risk for the next half year is elevated compared to normal.
2avturchin8mo
In the case of H5N1 we could suggest exponential growth of adaptation to mammals and humans as well as the number of infected birds, and ion that case the probability will be higher in the next few years.
1Q Home8mo
Sorry for a dumb question, but where do those numbers come from? What reasoning stands behind them? Is it some causal story ("jumping to humans is not that easy"), or priors ("pandemics are unlikely") or some precedent analysis ("it's not the first time a virus infects so much animal types")? I really lack knowledge about viruses.
5avturchin8mo
I think it is mostly prior probability for large zoonotic event, slightly updated by recent events

What exactly, in our rational consideration, keeps the risk relatively low? Is it a prior that calamity-level pandemics happen rarely? Is it the fact (?) that today's situation is not that unique? Is it the hope that the virus can "back down", somehow? Is it some fact about general behavior of viruses?

What are the "cruxes" of "the risk is relatively low" prediction, what events would increase/decrease the risk and how much? For example, what happens with the probability if a lot of mammal-to-mammal transmissions start happening? Maybe I've missed it, but Z... (read more)

Reusable respirators will work well against any fast-spreading pandemic (assuming no ridiculously-long, asymptomatic incubation periods).