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I've had to replace my work laptop because of hardware issues every two or three years for the past nine years. I would expect a laptop to last on average at least five years before having sever enough hardware issues to warrant replacement. I wonder if my habit of full-on running with a laptop in my backpack has something to do with this.


On macOS, you can quickly toggle grayscale on and off by pushing (not tapping) the Touch ID button three times. You'll want to disable everything except "Color Filters" before doing this:

You can also set up a shortcut for toggling grayscale on Android (simultaneously pressing the top and bottom of the volume button is the trigger). Instructions here. (Annoyingly, this also sometimes forces a reload of whatever you're looking at, so you can lose data if you've e.g. started filling out a form and then toggle grayscale.) 


It should be noted that the linked-to article make many claims that lack nuance and justification (e.g., "News is toxic to your body" and "News massively increases cognitive errors").

Out of the approximately 10,000 news stories you have read in the last 12 months, name one that–because you consumed it—allowed you to make a better decision about a serious matter affecting your life, your career, your business—compared to what you would have known if you hadn’t swallowed that morsel of news.

It's helpful to know some COVID-related things (when is a vaccine expected; what are current prevalence rates) to help make decisions regarding how much risk to incur, how much toilet paper to buy, etc. In a few weeks (once the markets have settled), I'll have made a few thousand dollars trading on PredictIt against people who thought that Trump's chances were better than they were. I increased my charitable donations when the charitable-deduction limit was increased from 50% to 60% of AGI.

The article is right that very little news is of practical use! But overstating an argument isn't the best way of convincing people of this.


Here are my predictions (on Prediction Book):


One reason is that I didn't know they existed—I'd never heard of time banking before. Perhaps participation in existing time-banking communities would allow people to draw on a larger pool of people, and there would be a smaller chance that these communities would disappear. And unless you're traveling to one of a few large cities, you're more likely to find gratis accommodations on Couchsurfing.

On the other hand, I can think of a few advantages specific to having a sharing site targeted at effective altruists. First, it seems that time banks (at least the ones listed on the site you linked to) are local organizations. So you'd have to live in a community with a vibrant time bank to take advantage of it.

Second, it seems that most of the time banks listed in the directory are moribund. For example, the Berkeley group's most recent exchange (if I'm interpreting this correctly) occurred over eight weeks ago. Many of the local chapters have a member count in the single digits or have never recorded an exchange. Some exchanges, however, are quite active (e.g., those in Los Angeles and Oakland), and they might be worth checking out if you live nearby.

Third, time banking is supposed to be reciprocal. That might mean that people who don't have much to offer (because they're young, busy, etc.) might have difficulty participating in them. Effective altruists don't have to worry as much about shirking, as long as what they're doing advances the goals of effective altruism. The lack of a need for reciprocity might help facilitate exchanges, though it's possible for people who aren't effective altruists to take advantage of those who are.


If you drink coffee, you could buy a fully automatic coffee maker ($800). Or if you do it just for the stimulation, you could use caffeine tablets instead.

Leaving your computer on or in standby mode is often better than turning it on and off. Laptops use about one watt in sleep mode, and desktops typically use no more than five (source). Even if you left your computer in sleep mode for 24 hours a day, the yearly electric bill would be pretty small. If your computer uses

  • 1 watt: 4.3 kWh, $1.05
  • 5 watts: well, it would be five times that, or $5.25

(with an electricity price of $0.12/kWh)

On the other hand, leaving your computer on all the time might shorten its lifespan.


You could get laser hair removal instead of shaving. Calculations assume a discount rate of 10%.

Financial cost of hair removal

  • $1,500 to $4,000 for initial treatment
  • $300 a year for a touch-up treatment (PV ~ $3,000)

Total financial cost: $4,500 to $7,000

Time cost of hair removal

  • six treatments at 1.5 hours per treatment (.5 hours for the treatment itself, plus commuting, scheduling, waiting, etc.): 9 hours
  • annual touch-up treatments: 1.5 hours/year

Total time cost: 21 hours

Time cost of shaving

  • .25 hours/week = 13 hours/year (PV ~ 130 hours)

Cost per hour: $41 to $64


You could install a bidet on your toilet. Disclosure: I've never used a bidet.


  • Bidet: $750
  • Installation: $250 (a guess)

Total: $1,000

Time savings (assuming 1.5 bowel movements/day)

  • Hand washing: 60s per day (40s/BM)
  • Read a book or use your phone instead of wiping: 45s/day (30s/BM)
  • Reduced need to clean backside when showering: 10s/day

Total: 6 hours/year (PV ~ 37 hours, assuming a 10% discount rate and a bidet lifetime of 10 years)

Cost per hour: $27


If you wear glasses, you could get LASIK surgery. (I haven't done this.) According to these speculative calculations, the cost per hour of time saved is somewhere between less than zero (not having to get new glasses saves you money) and $55. But you can get the benefits only once, unfortunately.

Discount rate: 10%

Financial cost of glasses

  • cost of a pair of glasses each year: $15–$400
  • addional cost for updating prescription yearly: $50 (?)

total: $65–$450/year (PV ~ $650–$4500)

Time cost of glasses

  • putting on and taking off glasses: 20s/day
  • cleaning glasses: 20s/day
  • looking for misplaced glasses: 20s/day
  • updating prescription, shopping for glasses, ordering: 3 hours/year

total: 9 hours/year (PV ~ 90 hours)

Financial cost of LASIK

  • cost of LASIK surgery and follow-up appointments: $2,000–$5,000

Time cost of LASIK

  • scheduling, filling out paperwork, counseling, travel, etc. (pre-surgery): 3 hours
  • surgery: .5 hours
  • four checkups at 1.5 hours/checkup (including transit time)

total: 9.5 hours (PV ~ 9.5 hours)

total: $2,000–$5,000

net financial cost: -$2,500 to $4,350

net time savings: ~80 hours

per-hour cost: negative to ~$55/hour


What are the plans for EAA? When will it be spun off? Is there much interest in it from new members of 80k? Is anybody other than Eitan Fischer (who's in school) working on it at the moment?

Are you getting any other emails like this one?

I sent him one, except it had about two questions instead of sixteen. Thanks to Giles for asking all these questions and to Will for agreeing to make the answers public.

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