All of James Grugett's Comments + Replies

Nice writeup! Impact markets are a really cool idea that could plausibly make public goods funding much more efficient.

Still, I have doubts. Funding decisions ultimately come down to someone doing an impact analysis, and let's just say that's a really hard job.

Getting to the correct order of magnitude of impact for a project like, say, deworming, would require a lot of careful data collection and analysis and maybe even interviewing a random sample of those affected over time. And even then, it's easy to be wrong.

Moreover, the incentives are not right. A p... (read more)

9Rachel Shu1y
You correctly imply something worth restating clearly: despite their initial framing, impact markets are not a way to achieve public goods per se, they are a way to efficiently achieve funder goals in contexts where the path to that goal is uncertain, there are many plausible options, and there is lots of information that can be potentially priced into the market about those options. With some impact market designs decentralized self interest can in fact come into play, perhaps in the form of bounty pools pledged into escrow by some subset of the people who would benefit from the existence of the public good they are offering the bounty for. In this case funders have a vested interest in what is achieved, and will evaluate based on such. Maybe in the long run markets that enable such a design will gain reputability relative to markets solely funded and assessed by fly-by philanthropists. I agree with you that disinterested funders often end up having counterproductive goals, although not in all domains. The above example of generic pharmaceutical repurposing trials might be such, where the market can bear useful information about which of many interventions would have the highest impact and chance of success, but the work to achieve that goal is kind of hard to do serious harm with, given that the risk profiles of those drugs is already well quantified. In such cases I see especially little risk to encouraging philanthropy. If some funder intentionally wishes to achieve nefarious goals with impact markets, I admit the existence of impact market infrastructure might facilitate that. But we have legal and social tools to counteract bad ends and I don’t think that impact markets are so powerful as to enable an end run around these.

Super interesting, thanks for writing this!

I work on Manifold, and one of the motivations for building the site is to play a roll furthering AI safety. One simple path is using prediction markets to make it common knowledge that AI capabilities is advancing rapidly. They can help us plan or warn us about potentially bad outcomes coming up. This is roughly the AI timelines question though.

So I'm glad to also hear that you might find prediction markets useful for concrete research questions or judging alternative proposals within the AI field.

Let me know if you think of any way the Manifold team can help out here!

Yeah, I was wondering if someone was going to bring that up. That seems to me like a hammer-in-search-of-nail kind of mistake. In the context of today's society, prediction markets aren't the optimal tool for convincing people of things or building common knowledge or the like; most people don't trust them or even pay attention. Within LW and the immediately adjacent community itself, there's nonzero value in aggregating peoples' timeline predictions and turning the aggregate into common knowledge, but given that only people near-adjacent to the community will pay attention the returns to that sort of thing are limited. (Also marginal returns for markets on the topic diminish rapidly; I expect they saturated some time ago.) At the moment I think the ball is mostly in the users' court, and I'm hoping this post will spur people to create some more-useful questions. (Though of course the Manifold team could try to make that happen more proactively - e.g. you could talk to some of the MATS participants about questions that come up when they're thinking about what to work on, probably there's lots of potential material there.)

I'm just skipping the second dose. The benefit of the second dose to a young person is almost infinitesimal.

Not getting it saves me time and the discomfort of side effects, and it reserves more doses for others, including eventually other countries. (Yes, we are still very supply constrained when you think globally.)

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Clearly the second dose of pfizer/moderna increases effectiveness. It also clearly increases the chance you're mildly sick for about a day. Probably skipping the second is fine but presumably people are keeping quiet when they do this so as to not reduce herd compliance.

My impression is that as long as you are outside, that would be sufficient ventilation, and so walking or biking wouldn't make much difference.

One other factor though could be that if you stand really close to someone, talking loudly could send some bits of saliva over directly, in which case walking and not facing each other would be an improvement.

2Adam Zerner3y
Hm yeah, on second thought I think you're right.