Anna and Oliver discuss Children and X-Risk

Oh darn :( I was really looking forward to this event but ended up being busy then. One of the benefits of doing stuff like this on Zoom is to engage a broader community -- why stop at only people who can be there at the appointed time?

Would it have caused you to record it if I had asked nicely ahead of time? (I saw the announcement and knew I would likely be busy then. I could have thought to ask.)

Anna and Oliver discuss Children and X-Risk

Is there a recording/transcript/anything to watch after-the-fact?

Mentorship, Management, and Mysterious Old Wizards

Hmm, interesting. I suppose it would have, but it is hard to imagine what he could have told me in particular that goes beyond his essays. Maybe looking at the way I think and saying "you seem like the type to be a good startup founder".

This did prod me to remember a wizard-experience I had in 8th grade. It was with my science teacher. I was one of the better students in his class (possibly the best), and I was at one point crowding him before class, very eager to see the results of a test. He took me aside and said something like "why are you spending so much mental energy on this? You're smart enough that you'll always do okay. You don't need to get all As to be successful" (I don't remember the exact words). This was enormously impactful on me -- I think it immediately reduced my GPA, reduced my stress levels and increased my happiness & life satisfaction.

Mentorship, Management, and Mysterious Old Wizards

I really like this!

I got “permission” to be ambitious from Paul Graham’s essays. He definitely seemed like a mysterious old wizard but he also didn’t have to spend any time on me then (though I did eventually get some of his time, many years later in Y Combinator).

Dunno if this helps or hurts your theory.

Making Vaccine

I think a lot of these questions are answered in the radvac paper. I sent a copy of it to a biologist I know, and asked if he thought it was crazy to do this, and he read it and said “geez this looks safer than doing drugs”. I don’t have enough expertise to add anything beyond that.

#6: Optional additional steps

Thanks for writing this sequence!

While I don’t normally love cryptocurrency, it does seem like an obviously good idea to buy some cryptocoin and send the key into the future. There are some considerations for doing so, such as “how can I ensure that the key is readable?”, and “how can I avoid accidentally depending on a cryptocoin organization that might not continue to exist?”

I don’t actually know the best practices, but I would guess that the best thing is to take ownership of the coin with your own privately generated key using a wallet app that gives you a key recovery string of words (I think they call this a seed phrase). This seems fairly common, most wallet apps should support it. I don’t know the best wallet app, but hopefully someone else can chime in with a recommendation for one that is open source, trustworthy and has a seed phrase feature.

Then you’ll want to back up your seed phrase heavily: search for a seed phrase engraving kit on Amazon, and stamp/engrave it into metal for your lockbox. Write it down on archival paper in pencil too.

Separately, also backup the wallet itself on a few different kinds of media (maybe a USB key and a writable cd/dvd).

Lastly, back up the source code for your wallet app both on the media and printing it out.

Note that all of these steps can be done even before you fund your wallet - funding can be done at any moment later on!

#4.1: Types of life insurance

All these are great points! You've updated me that the IUL solves a real problem.

The thing I felt (and still feel) that you aren't acknowledging is the investment returns on savings -- with the IUL, the insurance company will invest the money and take all the upside; whereas if you save it yourself, you can keep that upside. In the linked post you assume a 0% return on savings.

I did run through a few scenarios with nonzero rates of return. The IUL doesn't come out ahead in expectation, but it seems to have been designed well enough that if you want certainty, it wins:

Scenario A: $320/month saved for 15 years at 7% grows to $100k in those 15 years. Then you're done. (Obviously that 7% rate of return comes with substantial risk, so you have a chance of not being at 100k at that instant; but you still have 5 years to solve the problem before your term runs out!) This has a high chance of solving the problem in 20 years instead of 60, and you still have the rest of your life for that investment to keep growing. That said, it's still a risky strategy and I haven't accounted for the cost of the term life premium.

Scenario B: $88/mo for life (your IUL quote). You will reach $100k at the 60-year mark as long as you average a 1.5% rate of return; at 2% you only need 54 years; at 3% it's 46 years. Again, a risky strategy.

IUL gives you a certainty of death benefit with a relatively low monthly premium. The cost is basically all your upside, which is substantial, but like you said, I think it's probably worth it for people who have the problems it solves.

#4.1: Types of life insurance

Great analysis!

I would strengthen the term+self-fund recommendation for readers of LW. You say it only makes sense if you "expect to be very wealthy"; however, it seems to me that it is pretty easy, over the course of 20 years or so, to plan to save up a few hundred thousand $ to self-fund after that point. If that doesn't sound easy then it is not so clear that cryonics is for you; and IUL isn't solving the problem because you still have to pay the money in expectation. It seems like IUL only makes sense if the term insurance gets expensive before you can conceive of a way to save the money on your own. I guess it also makes sense if you aren't conscientious about saving or making term payments. But it seems to me like you pay a lot for this convenience.

How much does it cost to design an app?

This is a hard question and software people will typically not want to be pinned-down on specifics without consulting with you extensively, because the depth of requirements for software projects vary dramatically. You're asking for very little functionality (which is great!) but the bulk of costs of software construction are not in the core functionality, they are in polish, bug-fixing and edge-case handling, which you included in your requirements ("simple, secure, and easy to use") but would need to be a lot more specific about, in order to get a result you'd be happy with. It's really hard to give these kinds of estimates without those conversations.

  1. To just satisfy the requirements, I could imagine doing the non-payment-processing version very cheaply using Typeform or another "survey builder" for the UI, and a simple backend that just pulls the results out of Typeform and sends notifications. I could imagine throwing a prototype for this together in a few days of time for someone like me (so less than a few thousand $) but it would probably not work well, be reliable, etc. at that level of polish. Also, few freelance developers of quality will take on a project like this at that price point, because they have "seen it all before" and know that the edge cases and polish are likely going to result in a 10x cost inflation at a minimum.

  2. Payment processing increases the cost a bunch because it adds new requirements for security, ease of understanding & debuggability, etc. You can often outsource the actual UI for it to e.g. Stripe Checkout though so it may not make a huge impact.

  3. I don't think you've given enough information to answer "what would be the best way to go about it?" For example it sounds like you need software help, but you might also need graphic design help, product design/UX help, etc. For software help I know that freelance developers will bid on your projects on various sites (I'm not familiar with which sites are currently considered reputable and I haven't done this myself so I don't know how hard it is to figure out which bidders are any good). But it's unlikely you'll produce a "simple, secure and easy to use" product without getting help in other domains as well. It is sometimes possible to convince people to work with you for free if they like your idea (and you).

The impact merge

Strong upvoted, because this post made me realize I myself am doing this "merge" and it seems like a useful distinction to draw that I haven't been thinking about enough!

The biggest fear I have about pushing too hard towards purchasing these things separately is addressed in your post: I agree that "your efforts to do good will be cut off from the energy the accomplishment desire provides — a deprivation that could be costly, especially given that cases like Bob’s above only make a difference to Bob’s attitudes, not his actions."

In some sense, I'd guess that a pretty sizable % of this community is attracted by the idea that one could do big things while also doing good things. Certainly that is a strong undercurrent in a lot of Eliezer's writing. And if we push too hard back against that, there might be something of value lost. So I guess I agree with the post and am similarly mystified by what to do about it :)

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