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Guess the correlation
I was in the programming channel of the lesswrong slack this morning (it's a group chat web thing, all are welcome to ask for an invite if you'd like to chat with rationalists in a place that is not the archaic, transient mess that is IRC. (though irc.freenode.net/#lesswrong is not so terrible a place to hang out either, if you're into that))
, and a member expressed difficulty maintaining their interest in programming as a means to the end of earning to give. I've heard it said more than once that you can't teach passion, but I'd always taken that as the empty sputtering of those who simply do not know what passion is or what inspires it, so I decided, since we two have overlapping aesthetics and aspirations, that I would try to articulate my own passion for programming. Maybe it would transfer.
Here's what I wrote, more or less... (read more)
Why haven't the good people at GiveWell written more about anti-aging research?
According to GiveWell, the AMF can save a life for $3.4e3. Let's say it's a young life with 5e1 years to live. A year is 3.1e7 seconds, so saving a life gives humanity 1.5e9 seconds, or about 5e5 sec/$.
Suppose you could invest $1e6 in medical research to buy a 50-second increase in global life expectancy. Approximating global population as 1e10, this buys humanity 5e11 seconds, or about the same value of 5e5 sec/$.
Buying a 50-second increase in life expectancy for a megabuck seems very doable. In practice, any particular medical innovation wouldn't give 50 seconds to everyone, but instead would give a larger chunk of time (say, a week) to a smaller number of people suffering from a specific condition. But the math could work out the same.
Of course, it could turn out that the cost of extending humanity's aggregate lifespan with medical research is much more than $5e5/sec. But it could also turn out to be much cheaper than that.
ETA: GiveWell has in fact done a lot of research on this theme, thanks to ChristianKl for pointing this out below.
For AMF it's a lot easier to estimate the effect than it is for anti-aging research. GiveWell purposefully started with a focus on interventions for which the can study the effect.
You find a bit of data gathering under http://www.givewell.org/node/1339
More recently GiveWell Labs which then was renamed into the Open Philanthropy project will put more emphasis in that direction.
Articles that were written are:
http://blog.givewell.org/2014/01/07/exploring-life-sciences... (read more)
An interesting blog post which argues that in medical studies the great majority of improvement in non-intervention arms that is attributed to the placebo effect actually comes from regression to the mean.
Here they found dopamine to encode some superposed error signals about actual and counterfactual reward:
Could that be related to priors and likelihoods?
Significance... (read more)
I wonder if starting a GiveWell-like organization focused on evaluating the cost-effectiveness of anti-aging research would be a more effective way to fund the most effective anti-aging research than earning-to-give. Attracting a Moskovitz-lever funder would allow us to more than completely fund SENS (provisional on SENS still seeming like the best use of funds after more research was done).
Thoughts this week:
All I want for Christmas...is for someone from the effective altruism movement to take the prospect of using sterile-insect techniques and more advanced gene drives against the Tsetse fly seriously. This might control African Sleeping Sickness, a neglected disease, and more importantly, unlock what is largely suspected to be THE keystone cause, according to GiveWell of malnutrition in Africa through an extensive causal pathway. I feel EA's are getting too stuck into causes that were identified early in the movement a... (read more)
As a pampered modern person, the worst part of my life is washing dishes. (Or, rinsing dishes and loading the dish washer.) How long before I can buy a robot to automate this for me?
Short papers get cited more often. Should we believe that the correlation is due to causal factors? Should aspriring researchers keep their titels as short as possible?
The science myths that will not die
The Strangest, Most Spectacular Bridge Collapse (And How We Got It Wrong)... (read more)
Notes on the Oxford IUT workshop by Brian Conrad... (read more)
This is a kind of repost of something I share on the LW slack.
Someone mentioned that "the ability to be accurately arrogant is good". This was my reply:... (read more)
Here's a letter to an editor.
"The Dec. 6 Wonkblog excerpt “Millions and millions of guns” [Outlook] included a graph that showed that U.S. residents own 357 million firearms, up from about 240 million (estimated from the graph) in 1995, for an increase of about 48 percent. The article categorically stated that “[m]ore guns means more gun deaths.” How many more gun deaths were there because of this drastic increase in guns? Using data from the FBI Uniform Crime Reports, total gun murders went from 13,673 in 1995 to 8,454 in 2013 — a decrease in gun dea... (read more)
How much should you use LW, and how? Should you consistently read the articles on Main? What about discussion? What about the comments? Or should a more case-by-case system be used?
What are the strongest arguments that you've seen against rationality?
Does anyone know of some good program for eye training. I would like to try to become a little less near-sighted by straining to make out things which are at the edge of my range of good vision. I know near-sighted means my eyeball is squashed, but I am hoping my brain can fix a bit of the distortion in software. Currently I am doing random printed out eye charts, and I have gotten a bit better over time, but printing out the charts is tedious.