User:Issa Rice/Priors for CP

Some priors for different causes (intended more as a proof-of-concept).




Controversiality, “epstemic triad”

Dollar estimate if solved completely

General importance




Expert opinion

General steps to solve

Ability of affect long-term trajectory of humanity

Ability to speed up development

Most favorable assumptions


Biological research

Technological/scientific, one-off

Fairly controversial, though most objections seem to have strong counterpoints. In particular, there seems to be a clear epistemic triad of (life is good so more life is better [young kids?]; it could lead to lots of problems like overpopulation and boredom and stagnation [educated adults?]; all those objectsions are silly, life is still good [people on LW, Bryan Caplan])

I forget; but it's something like a trillion a year just in the US alone?

Seems like an important cause, but does it do better than just natalism?

Hard to say. Even if we ignore people like de Grey, there still seems to a lot of people who seriously think “curing aging” is possible.

There seems to be at least a few hundred researchers here, but probably a lot more could be done if we're serious about this.

It might be hard to avoid bias toward this cause because of its inherent “selfishness”.

There seems to be significant disagreement among people working in this cause (de Grey vs Kaeberlein, for instance).


Probably not very much? It doesn't seem to do much better than pure natalism alone. I mean, maybe not having to train programmers or scientists each generation will lead to faster development, for example. But it's not like existential risk in this regard, I think.

As noted above, it might lead to faster development in technology and science.

If the person-affecting view is true, then since making new people isn't of any use, it turns out that keeping the currently-existing people for alive as long as possible is the way to go.

Open borders

Politics, policy


Pretty controversial in the mainstream. Though I'm not sure there is much disagreement among the knowledgeable about whether open borders is a good idea. Those on LW seem particularly in favor of it, for example. In particular, the fact that open borders would immensely help those in developing countries seems undeniable.

See Alexander Berger's calculations. Something like a one-off boost in the trillions. And then probably less after that.

Really important, though it's hard to get myself to care too much about it, as John Lee notes in his post.

It's a policy thing, so really depends. Even OB seems to think this is mostly theoretical at this point?

People definitely do talk about it, but not in the way Bryan Caplan or OB talks about it.

I have to keep in mind that Vipul runs OB.

I'm not too sure about this

Lobbying, advocacy, writing blog posts???

Helping the currently-disadvantaged could lead to huge flow-through effects, which can speed up development, changing the long-term trajectory that way. There might also be a case for something like, say, open borders leads to more people being productive and working on the right problems, so it reduces existential risk. It probably also leads to a more moral society.

As noted, it probably speeds up development.

Remarkably, open borders doesn't seem to require any hard ethical stances. I mean, as long as you're cosmpolitan, egalitarian, etc., then it's hard to deny OB as a cause.

Animal welfare

Lifestyle/general ethics


Yeah it's kind of controversial in a sense. But most people are either passionate or apathetic.


Depends a lot on what moral value you assign to animals. I'd say it's important, but not as important as, say, open borders. There also aren't the flow-through effects you'd see from open borders. Also there seems to be a clear ordering of which animals to focus on.

Personally fairly tractable (having become vegetarian) but advocacy seems difficult, especially if you want people to actually stay vegetarian/vegan.

There actually seems to be many groups (though they may oppose each other).

I'm personally essentially vegetarian. It's not clear to me that the main benefit of getting people to not eat meat is the reduction of suffering; it may be, for instance, in the form of longevity or environmental benefits (not using water), and also sustainability (you can feed more people).

Seems divergent.

Advocacy, Overton window stuff, influencing peers.

Changing people's diet might affect trajectory, but it isn't from anything to do with animal welfare.

Probably none?

That animals have great moral value, basically.