I'm running the first LessWrong LiveStream Debate and Meetup, an experiment in online events.

This Sunday (3/29) at noon PDT, Robin Hanson and Zvi Mowshowitz will debate Robin's policy proposal of deliberate infection of certain parts of the population. This will be on a YouTube LiveStream. After the debate, there will be several chat rooms in Mozilla Hub for a general LW meetup, where you can talk to other LessWrong users and with the two debaters.

After that, there'll be lots of online meetups in Mozilla Hub chatrooms like this one:

Please RSVP for the event here, so we know how many people are coming.


  • Time and Date: March 29 at 12:00 PM PDT (US West Coast Time)
  • On Feb 17th, Robin wrote the post Consider Controlled Infection, and has since followed up with six more posts on the policy proposal of deliberate exposure of certain parts of the population. Robin and Zvi will be debating that proposal and its alternatives.
  • They will have a 90 min debate followed by a 30 min Q&A that I'll moderate.
  • For the Q&A, if you are selected you will be given an invite link and will join the Zoom call to ask your question.
  • The online meetup will start just after 2pm. (If there's problems with Mozilla Hubs, we have a Discord server prepared as backup.)

I'll update this page with a link to the live stream and further info on how the Q&A and meetup will happen. I look forward to chatting with people! Check back for updates.

Update: the Mozilla Hub meetup rooms are listed here.

Updated 2: for the Q&A, please leave a comment on this post with a question or PM Jacob Lagerros (jacobjacob) with your question. He will select the questions he likes and invite you onto the zoom call to ask the question.

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13 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 4:33 PM

Respond to this comment if you want to ask a question that will be asked in the Q&A section.

​I think we are unlikely to hit herd immunity levels of infection in the US in the next 2 years. I want to see Robin and Zvi discuss whether they think that also or not, since this bears on the value of Robin's proposal (and lots of other things).

I think there are plausible scenarios where we reach, likely not full herd immunity of 'everyone can stop washing hands now, we're fine' but certainly levels that substantially impact R0 and can combine with 'ordinary-life-compatible' levels of avoidance (e.g. hand washing and face not touching, mask wearing, increased working from home and delivery, sports without crowds, less air travel, etc) to combine for effective herd immunity. The hope is that it will also include test+trace and thus be well below what it would take otherwise. I believe super spreaders are a big part of the correct model, and that we're probably already at 1%+ infection rates for the USA and 10%+ (likely 20%+) for NYC, and that the first 20% infected is going to knock infection rates down 50%+ due to selection effects (which won't be enough on its own in NYC or other big cities, but is a huge boost even there).

Usual warnings that I know nothing, but that's my best guess.

Robin I think puts substantial probability that we end up 50%+ infected. I have less, but still substantial. I do think it's a scenario worth having a mitigation plan for.

Yes; thanks; I now agree that this is plausible, which I did not at the time of making my above comment.


As an authoritarian country with not much consideration for medical ethics, China probably is able to try the deliberate infection route. They also have plenty of medical expertise so this idea was probably considered. Furthermore, if it was successful, I would expect them to announce that, or at least for the information to be leaked. How come we haven't heard about it yet?

What do you think are the odds of a successful vaccine being developed within 3 months? 6 months? A year? Before we achieve herd immunity?

How long do you think will the peak last? How does your position (and best-policy recommendations) change as this variable changes?

Noon is a pretty poor definition for an international event where noon is at quite different times.

Oops, fixed. It’s noon PDT.

Please RSVP for the event here, so we know how many people are coming.

the zoom link to ask your question in the call seems like it will increase the amount of time per question by a lot (and thus decrease total questions) unless you have someone buffering the question line well.

Feedback form if you'd like to fill it out: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSd5bgmdN3pGFiGZWCmwqzN6QA3jjVDELJ4x6KhpKZbQDHAH-A/viewform