Posts

A Better Time until Sunburn Calculator 2021-08-17T00:40:00.663Z
Josh Jacobson's Shortform 2021-08-01T04:54:38.855Z
For some, now may be the time to get your third Covid shot 2021-07-10T17:38:57.686Z
Is the length of the Covid-19 incubation period likely to be affected by whether you are vaccinated? 2021-06-12T03:27:53.840Z
Assessing Interest in Group Trip to Secure Panamanian Residency [Imminent Rules Change] 2021-06-03T21:51:10.580Z
Quick examination of miles per micromort for US drivers, with adjustments for safety-increasing behavior 2021-04-19T23:19:36.163Z
Second Citizenships, Residencies, and/or Temporary Relocation 2021-02-16T19:24:14.598Z

Comments

Comment by Josh Jacobson (joshjacobson) on Josh Jacobson's Shortform · 2021-08-25T18:58:40.818Z · LW · GW

Thanks for sharing the idea. I think I'd find this inconvenient, but I do expect the inconvenience of various changes will vary significantly between people.

Comment by Josh Jacobson (joshjacobson) on COVID/Delta advice I'm currently giving to friends · 2021-08-24T17:14:26.371Z · LW · GW

Be much more wary of COVID when hospitals are full

Keep an eye on confirmed COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in your area, and put effort into avoiding catching or transmitting COVID-19 if it looks like hospitals in your area will be overloaded 2-4 weeks from now.

I’ve had a vague impression that this hasn’t meaningfully led to worse outcomes, though I could be wrong. Know of any analysis on it?

Additionally, even if we added the hospitalization % to the death percent (pretended all hospitalizations were deaths), I think impact would still be dwarfed by long COVID?

Comment by Josh Jacobson (joshjacobson) on COVID/Delta advice I'm currently giving to friends · 2021-08-24T05:16:52.251Z · LW · GW

There seems to be a strong consensus that the Mayo Clinic study was highly flawed (assuming this is the source for your Pfizer vs Moderna claim… it’s paywalled). I haven’t seen many people actually address their takeaways beyond that, except one in our community who said they’d bet on ~equal effectiveness still rather than Moderna having higher effectiveness.

I’d be interested in additional takes, or maybe I’ll look into this myself.

Comment by Josh Jacobson (joshjacobson) on Is antibody testing to assess effects of vaccines on you a good idea? · 2021-08-21T17:38:43.426Z · LW · GW

My mother is immunocompromised, so we’ve discussed this with 4 doctors who specialize in assessing immuno-affecting conditions.

3/4 felt that the information gain from doing this would be negligible. 2 of those 3 have generally had strong epistemics during her treatment. The fourth (who has generally been least impressive, but sounded like she maybe had a good idea on this?), thought it may be mildly useful.

Comment by Josh Jacobson (joshjacobson) on Josh Jacobson's Shortform · 2021-08-20T19:41:46.293Z · LW · GW

As I’m working on derisking research, I’m particularly aware of what I think of as “whales”... risks or opportunities that are much larger in scale than most other things I’ll likely investigate.

There are some things that I consider to be widely-known whales, such as diet and exercise.

There are others that I consider to be more neglected, and also less certain to be large scale (based on my priors). Air quality is the best example of this sort of whale, though 3-8 other potential risks or interventions are on my mind as candidates for this, and I won’t be surprised to discover a couple whales that did not seem to be so prior to investigation.

I thought that road safety and driving was a widely-known whale. Based on a preliminary investigation (more on what this means), I now tentatively think it is not.

This preliminary analysis yielded an expected ~17 days of lost life as a result of driving for an average 30 year old in the US over the next 10 years.

Spreadsheet image

I’m not sure how many of these 17 days an intervention could capture. I suspect most likely readers of what I’d write already grab the low-hanging fruit of e.g. not driving while impaired and wearing a seatbelt. So it does not seem probable that I would discover an intervention that alleviated even 30% (~5 days) of risk. Furthermore, I suspect most interventions in this space could have large inconvenience or time costs, causing greater reduction in the expected gain of my research in this space.

While this analysis does neglect loss of QALDs due to injury, which I don’t know the scale of, I predict they are unlikely to greatly affect this conclusion.

The 10 year timeframe may seem odd to some. But if we assume that self-driving cars of a certain ability level will greatly increase the safety of vehicle travel, which I personally believe, then 10 years may be even longer than the relevant window for investigation. Metaculus predicts L3 autonomous vehicles by the end of 2022, L4 autonomous vehicles by the end of 2024, and L5 autonomous vehicles by mid 2031. It’s not entirely clear to me at which of these stages most of the safety benefits are likely to occur, nor how long widespread use will take after these are first available, but it does seem to me as though the dangers of car travel, at least for most people who are likely to read my content, will not persist long into the future.

I have some context for effect sizes I think I’m likely to find with various interventions. I have preliminary estimates for interventions affecting air quality & nuclear risk, and more certain estimates for interventions on smoke detectors and HPV vaccination. With that context, road safety does not seem to particularly differentiate itself from much else I expect to investigate. With this discovery that road safety does not seem to be a ‘whale’, I tentatively think I will not further investigate it in the near future.

Comment by Josh Jacobson (joshjacobson) on A Better Time until Sunburn Calculator · 2021-08-20T06:36:38.455Z · LW · GW

Yeah that may be an interesting extension of it for version 2. Not sure how straightforward it would be to implement; haven’t looked into that yet.

Comment by Josh Jacobson (joshjacobson) on Josh Jacobson's Shortform · 2021-08-20T00:48:54.210Z · LW · GW

Intersections are what kill mostly.

This doesn't appear to be true. Using the same data I used above I get:

TEST

Comment by Josh Jacobson (joshjacobson) on Josh Jacobson's Shortform · 2021-08-20T00:13:57.407Z · LW · GW

I recently had what I thought was an inspired idea: a Google Maps for safety. This hypothetical product would allow you to:

  1. Route you in such a way that maximizes safety, and/or
  2. Route you in such a way that maximizes your safety & time-efficiency trade-off, according to your own input of the valuation of your time and orientation toward safety

First, I wanted to validate that such a tradeoff between safety and efficiency exists. Initial results seemed to validate my prior:

  1. The WHO says crashes increase 2.5% for every 1 km/h increase in speed.
  2. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports fatalities increase by 8.5% when there is a 5mph increase in speed limit on highways, and 2.8% for the same speed limit increase on other roads.
  3. The National Safety Council (NSC) cites speed as a factor in 26% of crashes.

Despite these figures, I felt none of these, on their own, provided sufficient information to analyze the scale of safety gains to be had. The WHO source was outdated and without context (although there was a link to follow for more information that I didn’t see at that time), the IIHS merely talked about increases in speed limits for two types of roads, rather than actual changes in speed that results nor relative safety of the two types of roads, and the NSC provided a merely binary result.

So I went searching for more data.

And I discovered that the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) releases a shocking amount of data on every fatal car crash. There’s useful data, such as what type of road the crash happened at, what the nature of the collision was, information on injuries and fatalities, whether alcohol was involved, etc.

(There’s also a surprising amount of information that I expect might make some people uncomfortable. For every crash this data includes VIN number of vehicles involved, driver's height, weight, age, gender, whether they owned the vehicle, driving and criminal history. It also includes the exact time, date, and location of the crash.)

I used the former (useful) information for analysis on this question. Given the initial data found, I figured that one way to approximate the available gains and tradeoffs was to analyze safety-gained from turning on the “Avoid Highways” setting on Google Maps.

After some experimentation and reading others’ thoughts, it became clear that this setting avoids interstates (I-5, I-10, I-15, etc.) but not other types of highways. I used NHTSA data to calculate the number of deaths occurring on interstates vs. on other roads, and found that the Federal High Administration provides data on the number of miles driven in the US per year by type of road. Using these two sources of data, I calculated the number of miles driven per fatality on interstates vs on all other roads (for 2019):

Interstates: ~180 million miles / fatality

All Other Roads: ~104 million miles / fatality

It turns out that interstates appear to be (at least on this metric) safer than non-interstates! This was surprising to me, given the earlier cited results that pointed to speed being dangerous.

I decided that I’d do more validation of this result if this was surprising to most people, but wouldn’t perform more validation if this wasn’t. Asking around, it looks like this result is not surprising to most:

From Effective Altruism Polls:

alt_text

From EA Corner Discord:

alt_text

And from the LessWrong Slack:

alt_text

So first of all, good job community, on seemingly being calibrated. Second, I followed my earlier plan and did not look further into this result given that it was aligned with most people's priors. And finally, I do think this makes the expected value of a Google Maps for safety significantly lower than my prior.

Assuming this result would hold through further validation, there are still ways that a Google Maps for safety could be beneficial. A few examples of this:

  1. Seeing if there are other road-type routing rules that would provide safer outcomes.
  2. Using more specific data, such as crash reports by road, to identify particularly dangerous roads / intersections and avoid them.
  3. There seem to be some behavioral economics-like results with road safety that could be leveraged during route design. For example, apparently roads with narrower lanes are safer than roads with wide lanes, presumably because narrower lanes have the effect of people driving more slowly, while having a lower effect on increased accident rate.
  4. Digging further into data on factors that contribute to crashes (alcohol, weather, distraction, evening, etc.) could reveal patterns that provide clues as to the safer route by situation.

I think this could be a really cool app to have, and I’d support its development if someone were to take it on, but it seems like a big project. I was sad and surprised to find that the potential quick win of turning on the “avoid highways” option is seemingly not a win at all (although there exist confounders and further validation would be beneficial).

Comment by Josh Jacobson (joshjacobson) on A Better Time until Sunburn Calculator · 2021-08-18T17:58:17.416Z · LW · GW

I think that’s a quite interesting topic / question. I may see if I can find any info on it, but for now am less informed than you.

Comment by Josh Jacobson (joshjacobson) on A Better Time until Sunburn Calculator · 2021-08-18T14:51:55.921Z · LW · GW

Yes, latitude and more.

Comment by Josh Jacobson (joshjacobson) on Josh Jacobson's Shortform · 2021-08-18T00:31:02.130Z · LW · GW

This is a follow-up to https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/RRoCQGNLrz5vuGQYW/josh-jacobson-s-shortform?commentId=pZN32PZQuBMHtM8aS , where I noted that I found the following sentence in an article about an Israeli study on 3rd shot boosters:

About 0.4% said they suffered from difficulty breathing, and 1% said they sought medical treatment due to one or more side effect.

worrisome, and how I reconciled it.


When I posted that, I reached out to Maayan Hoffman, one of the authors of the original Israeli article, with these observations. She found these interesting enough that she reached out to Ran Balicer, the head of the study (Head of Research at Clalit Health), with my observations, and then she forwarded his response to me:

We used ACTIVE screening for AE - we surveyed 22% of the vaccinees. [The other report cited] (https://www.timesofisrael.com/of-600000-israelis-who-received-3rd-dose-fewer-than-50-reported-side-effects/) [includes] PASSIVE reports of AE that the vaccinees choose to share with the reporting system. These are complementary systems. Just like in the US and other countries. Both are important. ... What we did is quite unprecedented. In terms of timing (same day - proactive calls - data gathering - analysis - informing the public). On 4500! People - 22% of all those with 7d experience after the 3rd shot. Even in Covid - I don’t think anyone has achieved anything like this. A clear message for the public to get vaccinated.

My thoughts:

  1. There's still something uncomfortable about the 0.4% having difficulty breathing to me. Based of what I cited previously from the Moderna study, and this additional context of active monitoring, the 1% seeking medical attention seems notable but not a big deal (after all, it matches placebo in the Moderna trial). It was still an update vs. my expectations when originally seeing it.

  2. I think this makes me mildly more hesitant than before about the booster shot, but I definitely strongly believe the booster shot is worthwhile (in isolation, e.g. not considering global fungibility). Also, it's not at all clear that this result is unique to booster-recipients vs. earlier vaccine reactions.

Comment by Josh Jacobson (joshjacobson) on Perhaps vastly more people should be on FDA-approved weight loss medication · 2021-08-17T18:30:42.244Z · LW · GW

Surgical options may be useful for some as well. https://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/32/4/567.short

Comment by Josh Jacobson (joshjacobson) on A Better Time until Sunburn Calculator · 2021-08-17T15:44:32.027Z · LW · GW

This is really interesting; I’d never heard of it before… thanks for sharing. I’m excited to research it more.

Sunscreen lengthens the amount of sun exposure needed to synthesize a given amount of Vitamin D; I wonder if this does as well.

Comment by Josh Jacobson (joshjacobson) on A Better Time until Sunburn Calculator · 2021-08-17T15:35:01.832Z · LW · GW

Indeed, the results for which warnings are thrown should be disregarded; the non-monotonicity of out-of-bounds results is a situation I noticed as well.

The authors were quite clear about the equation only being useful in certain conditions, and it does seem to act reliably in those conditions, so I think this is just an out-of-bounds quirk that can be disregarded.

Comment by Josh Jacobson (joshjacobson) on rohinmshah's Shortform · 2021-08-16T18:52:21.991Z · LW · GW

But even so it still doesn't explain why I don't notice while reading the summary but do notice while reading the opinion. (Both the summary and opinion were written by someone else in the motivating example, but I only noticed from the opinion.)

Ah, this helps clarify. My hypotheses are then:

  1. Even if you "agree" with an opinion, perhaps you're highly attuned, but in a possibly not straightforward conscious way, to even mild (e.g. 0.1%) levels of disagreement.

  2. Maybe the word choice you use for summaries is much more similar to others vs the word choice you use for opinions.

  3. Perhaps there's just a time lag, such that you're starting to feel like a summary isn't written by you but only realize by the time you get to the later opinion.

#3 feels testable if you're so inclined.

Comment by Josh Jacobson (joshjacobson) on rohinmshah's Shortform · 2021-08-16T15:50:08.610Z · LW · GW

How confident are you that this isn’t just memory? I personally think that upon rereading writing, it feels significantly more familiar if i wrote it, than if I read and edited it. A piece of this is likely style, but I think much of it is the memory of having generated and more closely considered it.

Comment by Josh Jacobson (joshjacobson) on Staying Grounded · 2021-08-15T17:05:09.951Z · LW · GW

Yes, and they are public, and others have highlighted similar things to them and publicly.

GiveWell is now starting to look into a subset of these things:

To date, most of GiveWell’s research capacity has focused on finding the most impactful programs among those whose results can be rigorously measured. ...

GiveWell has now been doing research to find the best giving opportunities in global health and development for 11 years, and we plan to increase the scope of giving opportunities we consider. We plan to expand our research team and scope in order to determine whether there are giving opportunities in global health and development that are more cost-effective than those we have identified to date.

We expect this expansion of our work to take us in a number of new directions,

Over the next several years, we plan to consider everything that we believe could be among the most cost-effective (broadly defined) giving opportunities in global health and development. This includes more comprehensively reviewing direct interventions in sectors where impacts are more difficult to measure, investigating opportunities to influence government policy, as well as other areas.

https://blog.givewell.org/2019/02/07/how-givewells-research-is-evolving/

Comment by Josh Jacobson (joshjacobson) on Staying Grounded · 2021-08-14T19:06:56.396Z · LW · GW

Up until “Fuck The Symbols” I’m with you. And as an article for the general public, I’d probably endorse the “Fuck the Symbols” section as well.

In particular:

it’s usually worth at least thinking about how to do it - because the process of thinking about it forces you to recognize that the Symbol does not necessarily give the thing, and consider what’s actually needed.

To the extent this is advocacy, however, it seems worth noting that I think the highly engaged LW crowd is already often pretty good about this, (so I’d be more excited about this being read by new LWers). In fact, in my experience, the highly-engaged LW crowd’s bias is already too far toward “fuck the symbols”.

There’s a lot of information that can be gained by examining the symbols. For example, I think EA’s efforts toward global development are highly stunted by a lack of close engagement with many existing efforts to do good. Working at a soup kitchen is probably not the best use of a poverty-focused EA’s time. But learning about UN programs, the various development sectors and associated interventions, and the status and shortcomings of existing M&E, I think very likely are (for those who haven’t done so). Doing so revealed to me a myriad of interventions that I’d expect to be higher impact than those endorsed by GiveWell. The symbols often contain valuable information.

The symbols can also be useful. Ivy League MBAs probably have an easier time raising money for certain types of businesses than do others.

So ‘fuck the symbols’ just feels much too strong to me, and in fact in the opposite direction I’d advocate, for the particular audience reading this.

Comment by Josh Jacobson (joshjacobson) on Perhaps vastly more people should be on FDA-approved weight loss medication · 2021-08-14T18:53:21.614Z · LW · GW

I haven’t fully understood why weight loss drugs are so little used in the US given the health effects of being overweight/obese either. I think it’s good that you’ve shined a light on this and your overview is helpful guidance to someone getting oriented. Many aspects of this feel aligned with my research on the topics.

That said, Plenity (https://www.myplenity.com/) is a non-drug option that looks particularly promising and should potentially be at the top of the list here.

I haven’t looked into the longevity effects of weight loss yet myself, but the treatment here seems pretty unsophisticated and strikes me as likely incorrect. The cited study appears to be correlational rather than causal (only read the abstract, could be wrong). Additionally I would expect that age at which you lose weight has an impact, for example, and last I read a BMI that was borderline healthy/overweight is actually what maximizes longevity. I think there’s significantly more work to be done before the longevity conclusions would seem well-substantiated to me.

That said, I think putting numbers on it is totally fine and a good thing to do as directional information, I’d just prefer their (seemingly high) uncertainty was highlighted.

Comment by Josh Jacobson (joshjacobson) on Josh Jacobson's Shortform · 2021-08-10T06:01:44.861Z · LW · GW

An article published today on Reuters and elsewhere reads, "Israeli survey finds 3rd Pfizer vaccine dose has similar side effects to 2nd." Buried within this article is the following:

About 0.4% said they suffered from difficulty breathing, and 1% said they sought medical treatment due to one or more side effect.

This seemed quite bad to me and like a worrisome result. I sought information on how many sought medical treatment after the second shot. I could not find this information, but I did find:

only 51 of some 650,000 people to have received the Pfizer shot sought medical attention for symptoms suffered

from a December 2020 article on Israeli vaccination. Comparing the 1% to 51/650000 = 0.008% I found that the current frequency of side effects requiring medical attention was 128x the level found after dose 1. This seemed like a bad sign.

I then sought out more information about side effects post dose 2 in Israel, which I did not find. But instead I looked at the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ Interim Recommendation for Moderna, and found the following:

The frequency of serious adverse events** observed was low in both the vaccine (1.0%) and placebo (1.0%) recipients

** Serious adverse events are defined as any untoward medical occurrence that results in death, is life-threatening, requires inpatient hospitalization or prolongation of existing hospitalization, or results in persistent disability/incapacity.

  1. I can't believe that this was 1%! That seems surprisingly high (for either group). I expect the outside-of-trial data has not been nearly that magnitude.
  2. This 1% matches the current Israeli data, and with a more restrictive definition, so the Israeli data no longer seems particularly worrisome in comparison, though I may dig in to this further. In general, I feel somewhat confused by the situation.

Sources: Reuter's article from today - https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/israeli-survey-finds-3rd-pfizer-vaccine-dose-has-similar-side-effects-2nd-2021-08-08/

Article from December 2020 - https://www.timesofisrael.com/1-in-1000-israelis-report-mild-side-effects-from-vaccine/

CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ Interim Recommendation for Moderna: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm695152e1.htm


EDIT: This article's statistics contrast with those of Reuter's, and show data very similar to the 1st shot: https://www.timesofisrael.com/of-600000-israelis-who-received-3rd-dose-fewer-than-50-reported-side-effects/

Comment by Josh Jacobson (joshjacobson) on Thoughts on being mortal · 2021-08-04T17:27:49.678Z · LW · GW

Gawande discusses institutions, practices, and evidence that points to an alternative vision — of nursing homes that provide more autonomy; of hospice care that does not prolong life at extreme costs to its quality;

I don’t understand this; my understanding of hospice is that life-prolonging treatment is absolutely not allowed while being in hospice care (you have to exit hospice).

Comment by Josh Jacobson (joshjacobson) on Josh Jacobson's Shortform · 2021-08-01T04:54:39.096Z · LW · GW

~2 weeks ago, the FDA added a warning to the J&J Covid shot regarding increased risk of developing Guillain-Barré Syndrome.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the history with blood clots, my quick check of prevalence finds that reports of developing GBS following J&J vaccination are actually less than would be expected otherwise.

My very basic analysis: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1wDFrDq0E6Q096E97XzU7ndP53mYC0Paf9Wyun-XxmWA/edit?usp=sharing

Numbers from: https://www.yalemedicine.org/news/covid-vaccine-guillain-barre-syndrome

EDIT: Analyzed another way, GBS cases may be 3-4x more common in J&J vaccine recipients than base rates (still highly uncommon, but I see the potential association).

Comment by Josh Jacobson (joshjacobson) on How many micromorts do you get per UV-index-hour? · 2021-07-30T19:35:26.169Z · LW · GW

It's not just about Vitamin D. An example:

Liu et al. 201487 found that hypertension is reduced by UVR-induced nitric oxide independent of vitamin D. They showed that stores of nitrogen oxides in the human skin are mobilized to the systemic circulation by exposure of the body to UVA radiation, causing arterial vasodilation and a resultant decrease in blood pressure independent of vitamin D, confirming the hypothesis of Feelisch et al. 2010.88 These results correlate with the findings of Afzal et al. 201477 that genetically low 25(OH)D levels were associated with increased all-cause mortality but not with cardiovascular mortality, indicating that a mediator other than vitamin D may be involved in cardiovascular mortality, and with the results of Tunstall-Pedoe et al. 201589 challenging vitamin D's alleged role in cardiovascular disease.

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/19381980.2016.1248325

Comment by Josh Jacobson (joshjacobson) on For some, now may be the time to get your third Covid shot · 2021-07-26T22:14:25.249Z · LW · GW

See responses to later bounty request on this topic as well, in particular the response linked: https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/fBGzge5i4hfbaQZWy/usd1000-bounty-how-effective-are-marginal-vaccine-doses?commentId=Rd3f3KiAMFNvpJAhu

Comment by Josh Jacobson (joshjacobson) on For some, now may be the time to get your third Covid shot · 2021-07-25T02:08:09.839Z · LW · GW

I entertained a similar hypothesis, but I now feel comfortable not including that to a meaningful extent in my decision making.

There's some evidence against this that I consider significant:

  1. I read ~3 doctors' takes on this question regarding a third dose; they all thought this sort of potential negative effect was very highly unlikely. At least one of them had a detailed explanation as to why that sounded reasonable to me (I'm not a medical professional), and that made that take a bit more additionally meaningful to me than those takes without explanation.

  2. Anecdotally, I feel like I would have seen more indication that this is a concern in the clinical trials news or in the news regarding those who are receiving / have received third shots, if it were substantial.

  3. The pattern that you refer to hearing about with dangerous kinds of flu has seemed to be the opposite of general covid severity and death patterns by expected immune response (age).

I don't have a particular likelihood to assign; this is the summary of the evidence I have.

Comment by Josh Jacobson (joshjacobson) on ($1000 bounty) How effective are marginal vaccine doses against the covid delta variant? · 2021-07-23T14:35:22.410Z · LW · GW

That’s awesome, thanks!

Comment by Josh Jacobson (joshjacobson) on ($1000 bounty) How effective are marginal vaccine doses against the covid delta variant? · 2021-07-22T14:37:26.201Z · LW · GW

My post from 12 days ago: https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/8RYxQrKegKMDGHcvo/for-some-now-may-be-the-time-to-get-your-third-covid-shot

Comment by Josh Jacobson (joshjacobson) on Covid 7/15: Rates of Change · 2021-07-16T16:14:10.430Z · LW · GW

It seems valuable to LOUDLY NOTE that Microcovid.org has not been updated for the Delta variant https://github.com/microcovid/microcovid/issues/869 and that the adjustment should be quite significant.

I'd be interested in perspectives on what adjustment should be implemented.

Comment by Josh Jacobson (joshjacobson) on You should ask for a third-party audit of your cryopreservation · 2021-07-13T00:27:09.027Z · LW · GW

Cryopreservation doesn't have to cause damage. For instance, Aldehyde Stabilized Cryopreservation (on pigs) doesn't https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cryobiol.2015.09.003

  1. I don't think this is done at any of the main cryonics organizations, right? Their methods are damaging in perhaps less predictable ways than this mechanism.

  2. I think the statement

Cryopreservation doesn't have to cause damage

is deceptive and I wouldn't want it being shared without further context. I had a conversation with my expert-friend about this method and the type of damage it causes.

Quoting some parts of my text message conversation with this expert friend who wishes to be anonymous:

(Him) I had never seen this article before, but it's pretty cool. The technique it describes supposedly preserves the brains ultrastructure (i.e. connections between neurons etc) for connectome mapping and neural research. However, the technique utterly fails at (and isn't trying) to preserve viability. In this case, the cryopreservation isn't causing "damage" to the structure of the brain, preserving it for connectome research....BUT they did that by obliterating any hope for brain viability post thawing by exposing it to extremely high concentrations of toxic chemicals.

(Me) Interesting. I'm not familiar with the connectome really, but to you does that mean that this is a method that sounds promising for e.g. future digital brain construction but sounds really bad for e.g. biological reanimation?

(Him) Yeah, that's a good summary. The question with digital brain reconstruction will be whether the connectome actually has all of the information you need or if there are other issues (analogous to how DNA is mediated by epigenetics).

(Me) Yeah, I could be wrong but I'd thought most people were thinking that chemical movements in the brain contained significant information that would probably need to be recreated accurately to reanimate someone who was accurate to the person who had passed.

(Him) That's my impression too.

(Me) How do the toxic chemicals obliterate hope of brain viability post-thawing?

(Him) I don't know the exact mechanism....but they're using extremely high concentrations of very toxic chemicals. I think the tissue is fucked from the toxic chemicals, but it depends on the exact type of toxicity (which I'm not sure about and the paper doesn't go into). In a certain sense, anything toxic "physically" damages the tissue at a certain scale...it might cause osmotic swelling or shrinkage, damage DNA, damage cell membranes, block oxygen (which causes all sorts of other damage), etc. Importantly for this application, it's not damaging the overall structure of the brain, so the connectome is still intact and can be studied. You could think of it like degrading the steel in a building. The overall structure will be intact, but it's now structurally unsound and will collapse if exposed to anything. Something is wrong about the structure on small scales, but the large scale structure appears normal.

Regarding your second response:

Brain biopsies are performed in hospitals e.g. during brain cancer diagnostics. They should not be dangerous to perform

The first paper I looked at on brain biopsies (https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10143-019-01234-w) says:

The mortality rate varies from 0.7 to 4%. Overall morbidity ranges from 3 to 13%. Most of the complications are revealed by the following symptoms: neurological impairment (transient or permanent), seizure, and unconsciousness. Symptomatic hemorrhage range varies from 0.9 to 8.6%, whereas considering asymptomatic bleeding, the range may be up to 59.8%.

That sounds like a high risk of being very damaging to me, and that's from one biopsy by expert medical staff vs. your proposed multiple by non-experts.

Comment by Josh Jacobson (joshjacobson) on Winston Churchill, futurist and EA · 2021-07-12T19:20:16.477Z · LW · GW

Makes sense; I think it's nice for that to now be explicit.

Comment by Josh Jacobson (joshjacobson) on Winston Churchill, futurist and EA · 2021-07-12T15:53:24.651Z · LW · GW

It's interesting to tie some thoughts in his writing to EA, but based on just the evidence here, I'd object to calling him an EA.

  1. I'd like to see that someone did significant good with their actions before calling them an EA, especially someone in a position of power.
  2. His words, particularly on nukes, sound a lot more like prediction or speculation than advocacy to me:

If to these tremendous and awful powers is added the pitiless sub-human wickedness which we now see embodied in one of the most powerful reigning governments, who shall say that the world itself will not be wrecked, or indeed that it ought not to be wrecked? There are nightmares of the future from which a fortunate collision with some wandering star, reducing the earth to incandescent gas, might be a merciful deliverance.

It's fun to call a famous figure an EA, but to me, identifying a risk in your writing = futurist, taking actions in pursuit of doing the most good you can = EA. I think to some doing things like calling famous figures EAs could be seen as the movement being spurious and status seeking, so I have a particular sensitivity to it that makes me want to flag this here.

Comment by Josh Jacobson (joshjacobson) on The topic is not the content · 2021-07-11T23:26:43.350Z · LW · GW

The Wait But Why article "Life is a Picture, But You Life in a Pixel" makes this same point and is what caused me to start explicitly focusing on evaluating jobs this way years ago.

A good read: https://waitbutwhy.com/2013/11/life-is-picture-but-you-live-in-pixel.html

Comment by Josh Jacobson (joshjacobson) on For some, now may be the time to get your third Covid shot · 2021-07-11T16:33:30.206Z · LW · GW

What you call a "significant indication that a third dose of an mRNA vaccine has a good safety profile" seems to be mostly just statements by vaccine manufacturers. ... Also, statements by vaccine manufacturers can obviously be important evidence (in a Bayesian sense) for the safety profile

I agree that statements by Pfizer and Moderna are important evidence. Additionally, the Moderna report I linked included "The frequency of any Grade 3 solicited local or systemic adverse events was 15% after the third dose of mRNA-1273 and 10.5% after the third dose of mRNA-1273.351. There were no Grade 4 solicited local or systemic adverse events. The most common solicited local adverse event was injection site pain in both groups. The most common solicited systemic adverse events after the third dose of mRNA-1273.351 or mRNA-1273 were fatigue, headache, myalgia and arthralgia. In general, mRNA-1273.351 had a lower reactogenicity profile than mRNA-1273 in this study."

I agree with them that this indicates a similar safety profile to the first two doses, in which "15.7 percent experienced a severe “systemic” adverse reaction and 7 percent, a severe “local” reaction." https://www.vox.com/22158238/covid-19-vaccine-side-effects-explained

Perhaps I should have been more explicit about this evidence not having been reviewed yet by other parties.

Furthermore, in your list of 8 "reasons to not pursue a booster vaccine now" you don't directly mention anything about potential health risks from taking a booster shot (which I'm not aware of the FDA claiming to be safe).

In that list is:

Some, such as the CDC and FDA, don’t think a booster is currently warranted.

More data on safety, optimal timing, etc. will be forthcoming and may help you make a better decision.

Given the evidence for a good safety profile (which also does include evidence I didn't cite in my post), I personally think that this was an appropriate degree to which I indicated that safety wasn't as validated as it could be, although perhaps:

Some, such as the CDC and FDA, don’t think a booster is currently warranted.

would have been better as:

Some, such as the CDC and FDA, don’t think a booster is currently warranted; they also have not reviewed the safety of a booster dose.

Thanks for highlighting your concern!

Comment by Josh Jacobson (joshjacobson) on You should ask for a third-party audit of your cryopreservation · 2021-07-08T02:23:49.139Z · LW · GW
  1. Cryopreservation causes lots of damage, always. What would this show?

  2. Brain biopsies, especially by cryo staff, sound dangerous.

  3. Is there any indication that cryo companies would comply with this? What would associated costs be?

Comment by Josh Jacobson (joshjacobson) on Is the length of the Covid-19 incubation period likely to be affected by whether you are vaccinated? · 2021-06-25T06:50:38.232Z · LW · GW

The cleaned version here resonates more greatly with me, answers some questions I think I hadn't realized I had, and I just really highly appreciate your response to this.

I'm making a meaningful quarantine decision prior to visiting someone immunocompromised, so it's really great to have your very different perspective from the other response to this.

Comment by Josh Jacobson (joshjacobson) on Cryonics signup guide #1: Overview · 2021-06-20T18:30:23.697Z · LW · GW

I also want to ask if you have any standby arrangements? I think that's a meaningful difference between signing up with CI vs Alcor, because as I said at some point in the sequence, ischemic time matters way more for preservation quality than what perfusion technique is used. (Like, if I lived in Ann Arbor, I would almost certainly sign up with CI no matter what.) Maybe this is just my intense risk-aversion showing again, but it seems to me that cryonics arrangements without standby arrangements might be nearly useless, and that's something I would worry about with CI.

To me this didn't feel like a meaningful difference between Alcor and CI when I signed up. CI is very closely aligned with Suspended Animation, which does standby and transport. I do believe you can sign up for CI without signing up for Suspended Animation, but by default everything is sent and obtained together seamlessly with CI as the sole/only needed point of contact (they work closely enough with SA that most will likely never explicitly interact with SA).

I hate to use an analogy involving bad, typically non-vegan food (for some reason I'm not quickly coming up with an alternative), but I think to me the difference was something like wanting vegan chicken and a vegan burger and going to an A&W+KFC that serves those (https://live.staticflickr.com/5057/5389457870_37d10fc914_b.jpg) vs. going to a single restaurant that itself serves both. Either way felt like pretty OK solutions.

(I also appreciate the rest of your comment and think that your hypotheses make sense!)

Comment by Josh Jacobson (joshjacobson) on Is the length of the Covid-19 incubation period likely to be affected by whether you are vaccinated? · 2021-06-14T19:47:25.013Z · LW · GW

My guess is that this isn't going to be worthwhile to look into in this case (facing a complicated, deadly disease with many, many medicines being taken for it, and a fragile health status) but I appreciate the suggestion.

Comment by Josh Jacobson (joshjacobson) on Is the length of the Covid-19 incubation period likely to be affected by whether you are vaccinated? · 2021-06-13T18:45:39.115Z · LW · GW

I really appreciate the detailed explanation here and expression of the level of confidence in your belief. Thanks so much for this!

Comment by Josh Jacobson (joshjacobson) on Is the length of the Covid-19 incubation period likely to be affected by whether you are vaccinated? · 2021-06-13T17:55:33.815Z · LW · GW

Mid 30s, and yes

Comment by Josh Jacobson (joshjacobson) on Would you like me to debug your math? · 2021-06-12T03:30:44.810Z · LW · GW

Are you open to auditing existing math (vs. observing and commenting on real-time creation)?

Comment by Josh Jacobson (joshjacobson) on Cryonics signup guide #1: Overview · 2021-06-07T21:34:26.695Z · LW · GW

I've left relevant comments on a number of the sections, but I think it's worth strongly emphasizing that you can have a much different experience than this sequence outlines! And having this different experience can be a very reasonable choice to make.

As someone financially constrained, who has high uncertainty on his finances and the state of technology 20+ years from now:

  1. I pursued term life insurance; it was fast, easy and cheap. I pay ~$10 / month for my cryo coverage, with the rate locked in for the next 20 years. All three providers I moved forward with were compatible with cryo, around the same price, and easy to work with. The policy I settled on is with Haven Life. I expect every insurance policy is compatible with the Cryonics Institute; they work with you to find a solution, and there are many. See this comment for why term life insurance can be a good choice: https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/NPDSB3WEEAb8Swuyc/4-1-types-of-life-insurance?commentId=5sXoDYZzRr2AcafeF

  2. I went with CI, and paid the lifetime membership fee. A post in this sequence estimates that cost as equivalent to $2 / month. If I accept that, my total financial outlay is $12 / month for cryo coverage for the next 20 years; this is much cheaper (although also potentially less feature-rich) than the over $100 / month this sequence provides guidance to obtaining.

  3. Going with CI can be a very reasonable decision. Not only can it be significantly more affordable, but I personally don't believe there are meaningful differences in cryopreservation quality (it's all very bad and will require appx. equally advanced technology to reanimate). Furthermore, if you have short timelines, financial sustainability is less likely to matter between the two (it's more likely both last for 30 years than for 500 years).

  4. Many of the "optional additional steps" were a built-in part of the CI sign-up process, in my case.

Additionally, there are many more cryopreservation options and optional next steps you can potentially take. CI informs you of some of those (Alcor may as well) and there's a lot of unique information shared in this FB group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/cryonicists/

Comment by Josh Jacobson (joshjacobson) on #3: Choosing a cryonics provider · 2021-06-07T21:23:41.472Z · LW · GW

FWIW, I do not think that Alcor > CI represents a consensus opinion; when I investigated this question ~1 year ago, it seemed likely to me that there was little difference other than cost (CI wins) and financial sustainability (Alcor wins).

I personally don't believe most other differences are meaningful (especially e.g. profusion quality), although I'm not an expert on many aspects of this.

Comment by Josh Jacobson (joshjacobson) on #4.2: Cryonics-friendly life insurance carriers · 2021-06-07T21:20:49.167Z · LW · GW

It's my impression that most, if not all, insurance carriers can be made compatible with CI at least. They have a number of acceptable options, one of which all 3 of the carriers I investigated were happy to abide by.

Comment by Josh Jacobson (joshjacobson) on #4.1: Types of life insurance · 2021-06-07T21:19:48.827Z · LW · GW

Beyond eventual self-funding, there are other reasons to potentially consider a term policy:

  1. Even if you do not expect to self-fund, if your financial assets will increase in the future and are low right now, the much lower term-cost may be worthwhile. I pay $10 / month for my term coverage, and I would not have opted in to the ~$100/month average you project elsewhere.

  2. If you expect that technological progress will greatly increase during your lifetime, e.g. short AGI timelines, or curing all disease, you may be primarily interested in coverage for the next ~20 years vs. after that time.

Comment by Josh Jacobson (joshjacobson) on #6: Optional additional steps · 2021-06-07T21:16:35.470Z · LW · GW

The Cryonics Institute includes a Living Will, Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, and Religious Objection to Autopsy form in their sign-up materials. Only one of the first two is required, and the objection to autopsy form is also not required.

Comment by Josh Jacobson (joshjacobson) on #4.4: The insurance underwriting process · 2021-06-07T21:14:13.817Z · LW · GW

My experience applying for term life insurance with ~3 carriers was all required a medical exam.

Comment by Josh Jacobson (joshjacobson) on Assessing Interest in Group Trip to Secure Panamanian Residency [Imminent Rules Change] · 2021-06-06T17:12:31.985Z · LW · GW

FWIW, this, and similar practices that imply dual citizenship isn't allowed, anecdotally seem to be a very common (perhaps the standard) situation. For example, the US doesn't expressly allow dual citizenship, and there's language in multiple places about renouncing other citizenships, but I've seen estimates that ~5-10% of US citizens have another citizenship and multiple US Congressmen are public about having multiple citizenships as well. I haven't heard about any US enforcement against multiple citizenships.

Having looked into many citizenships and residency programs, this situation is common amongst a high percentage of them, and outside of a few rare country exceptions (not present here) everyone seems to move forward being dual citizens without issue despite this. I do wish laws were clear and explicit about these sort of things, and that there was express permission for multiple citizenship, but it does seem that for a long time across many (most?) international jurisdictions multiple citizenships have been and are allowed in practice, even when commonly 'officially' disallowed.

For example, I mentioned this in response to a comment about Netherlands citizenship on the original post: https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/jHnFBHrwiNb5xvLBM/?commentId=psZcBFaZfQnzJDXeq

I do think, however, moving forward on this does require some willingness to accept that in-practice behavior differs from what may be implied by a country's official regulation, and that isn't a fit for everyone. For what it's worth, to me, after learning quite a bit about this issue moving forward doesn't feel messy at all, but I certainly understand others feeling differently.

Comment by Josh Jacobson (joshjacobson) on Assessing Interest in Group Trip to Secure Panamanian Residency [Imminent Rules Change] · 2021-06-06T16:58:43.020Z · LW · GW

I don't think it'd be very annoying at all. If, for example, you weren't doing significant economic activity in Panama on an ongoing basis, your US taxes would be unaffected and you wouldn't need to file any taxes in Panama (pretty confident).

If you're aiming for citizenship like I would be, then the main work is:

  • The upfront time and monetary investment
  • Showing investment / interest in Panama and knowledge about it for the 5 year later evaluation (probably involves at least 2 more visits to Panama during that time)
  • Then renewing your passport every 5-10 years
Comment by Josh Jacobson (joshjacobson) on Assessing Interest in Group Trip to Secure Panamanian Residency [Imminent Rules Change] · 2021-06-03T23:57:10.280Z · LW · GW

Sorry about that, and thanks for letting me know. This should now be resolved.

Comment by Josh Jacobson (joshjacobson) on Second Citizenships, Residencies, and/or Temporary Relocation · 2021-06-03T21:37:46.994Z · LW · GW

A lawyer who works on Paraguayan citizenship responded to an email inquiry of mine saying that you must reside in Paraguay for 183+ days of each year in order to pursue citizenship. I don't think this information is definitive, but it suggests another reason why that program many not be attractive.

UPDATE: Many sources confirm that the main difference between the programs is that Panama's provides a path to citizenship without ever staying very long in-country, while Paraguay's is maintainable as a permanent residency with only short occasional visits, but to gain Paraguayan citizenship you must spend the majority of 3 years in-country. One source for this (though I've looked at many): https://nomadcapitalist.com/second-passport/paraguay/

FWIW, a lawyer I'm speaking to about these options says that Paraguay's program is expected to change in the near future as well (Panama's is ending); they sit on the Paraguayan committee that's working on amending the law. See this about Panama: https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/rEbe9o9GErpKgqTMc/assessing-interest-in-group-trip-to-secure-panamanian