02 October 2022

Blog Prize Digest: September

Read on to hear about the winners of our latest Post Prize, some of our other favorite posts from the month, and the topic of our next Post Prize.

Some of our favorites from the blog roll

The Decision Was Already Made

n the first post for her new blog, “by Zeus, maybe!“, Idil writes about the moment when we make moral decisions: Is it when we are confronted with a moral choice or earlier? Idil argues that moral decisions are like an exam: if you show up without studying, expecting to learn the material while taking the test, you are doomed to failure. 

Scraping training data for your mind

Henrik Karlsson discusses Karl Ove Knausgaard’s rocky start to writing, suggesting that individuals need to “scrape” knowledge and skills until they are able to find their niche. Karlsson tracks Knausgaard’s development against contemporary trends and questions what sort of domain knowledge and introspection is necessary for great work.

Improving “Improving Institutional Decision-Making”: A brief history of IIDM

Sophia Brown writes about the history of ‘improving institutional decision making’ in effective altruism. Early on, the discussion focused on how to direct government aid towards more cost effective initiatives. Later, IIDM came to mean an investigation of how insights from decision sciences could be integrated into organizations. Now, longtermists and those concerned with existential risk are considering how institutions might play a role in ensuring the future goes well. Sophia plans to follow up this post with more of her thoughts on the future of IIDM.

Can Nuclear Power Manage Another Comeback?

Austin Vernon recounts the history of nuclear energy and charts a path forward for the development of further nuclear power plants. Vernon aims for self-regulated, demand-driven energy production and has a pathway for getting there. 

B-minus Politics Are Best

Maximum New York writes on why good enough politics is preferable to perfect policy. Striving for real rather than abstract gains, a political theory of second best isn’t about solutions so much as making complex problems more manageable.

EA is not religious enough

“Pretty much every criticism of Effective Altruism has some claim that EA ‘is a lot like a religion’” but Lawrence Newport argues that EA should become more religious—especially in a manner similar to the Quakers. The Quakers, Lawrence writes, serve as a great model for how a community with a longterm vision of good policy and social productivity should interact and engage with others.

The Power of Challenge Trials

Saloni writes about how challenge trials actually work and how they might be used to develop vaccines against the Zika virus. In a regular vaccine trial (outside a pandemic), very few people who receive a vaccine dose are actually infected, so it can take thousands of volunteers to get a statistically significant sample. It can also take several years. Challenge trials could rapidly speed up the vaccine development timeline. Also, be sure to check out the work that is being done on challenge trials advocacy from 1Day Sooner.

From the judges:

  • Leopold and Avital at the Future Fund announced the Future Fund AI Worldview Prize—enormous prizes for changing the team’s fundamental assumptions about AI
  • Nothing new from Fin and Nick!

If you are still hungry for more posts

Flu Strain Frequency Over Time Graphic of the Month

The B/Yamagata strain of flu might have gone extinct during the pandemic, via @salonium