What are the best online tools for meetups and meetings? 2020-03-27T22:58:01.287Z · score: 26 (8 votes)
What is the safe in-person distance for COVID-19? 2020-03-26T20:29:52.732Z · score: 30 (9 votes)
What's the upper bound of how long COVID is contagious? 2020-03-21T22:39:30.829Z · score: 13 (3 votes)
Tagging (Click Gear Icon to filter Coronavirus content) 2020-03-21T22:16:26.092Z · score: 39 (12 votes)
How does one run an organization remotely, effectively? 2020-03-20T20:26:01.379Z · score: 17 (5 votes)
If I interact with someone with nCov for an hour, how likely am I to get nCov? 2020-03-01T23:53:19.649Z · score: 33 (11 votes)
Reviewing the Review 2020-02-26T02:51:20.159Z · score: 46 (11 votes)
Slack Budget: 3 surprise problems per week 2020-02-25T21:52:16.314Z · score: 38 (17 votes)
The Relational Stance 2020-02-11T05:16:06.900Z · score: 47 (17 votes)
Long Now, and Culture vs Artifacts 2020-02-03T21:49:25.367Z · score: 25 (8 votes)
Bay Winter Solstice seating-scarcity 2020-02-01T23:09:39.563Z · score: 3 (3 votes)
How would we check if "Mathematicians are generally more Law Abiding?" 2020-01-12T20:23:05.479Z · score: 28 (5 votes)
Please Critique Things for the Review! 2020-01-11T20:59:49.312Z · score: 51 (13 votes)
Being a Robust Agent (v2) 2020-01-11T02:06:45.467Z · score: 119 (45 votes)
Clumping Solstice Singalongs in Groups of 2-4 2020-01-05T20:50:51.247Z · score: 15 (2 votes)
Meta-discussion from "Circling as Cousin to Rationality" 2020-01-03T21:38:16.387Z · score: 12 (5 votes)
Voting Phase UI: Aggregating common comments? 2019-12-31T03:48:41.024Z · score: 10 (1 votes)
What are the most exciting developments from non-Europe and/or non-Northern-Hemisphere? 2019-12-29T01:30:05.246Z · score: 14 (3 votes)
Propagating Facts into Aesthetics 2019-12-19T04:09:17.816Z · score: 84 (25 votes)
"You can't possibly succeed without [My Pet Issue]" 2019-12-19T01:12:15.502Z · score: 53 (24 votes)
Karate Kid and Realistic Expectations for Disagreement Resolution 2019-12-04T23:25:59.608Z · score: 80 (27 votes)
What are the requirements for being "citable?" 2019-11-28T21:24:56.682Z · score: 44 (11 votes)
Can you eliminate memetic scarcity, instead of fighting? 2019-11-25T02:07:58.596Z · score: 66 (22 votes)
The LessWrong 2018 Review 2019-11-21T02:50:58.262Z · score: 102 (28 votes)
Picture Frames, Window Frames and Frameworks 2019-11-03T22:09:58.181Z · score: 26 (6 votes)
Healthy Competition 2019-10-20T20:55:48.265Z · score: 57 (21 votes)
Noticing Frame Differences 2019-09-30T01:24:20.435Z · score: 141 (52 votes)
Meetups: Climbing uphill, flowing downhill, and the Uncanny Summit 2019-09-21T22:48:56.004Z · score: 27 (6 votes)
[Site Feature] Link Previews 2019-09-17T23:03:12.818Z · score: 35 (9 votes)
Modes of Petrov Day 2019-09-17T02:47:31.469Z · score: 68 (26 votes)
Are there technical/object-level fields that make sense to recruit to LessWrong? 2019-09-15T21:53:36.272Z · score: 26 (10 votes)
September Bragging Thread 2019-08-30T21:58:45.918Z · score: 52 (15 votes)
OpenPhil on "GiveWell’s Top Charities Are (Increasingly) Hard to Beat" 2019-08-24T23:28:59.705Z · score: 11 (2 votes)
LessLong Launch Party 2019-08-23T22:18:39.484Z · score: 13 (4 votes)
Do We Change Our Minds Less Often Than We Think? 2019-08-19T21:37:08.004Z · score: 21 (3 votes)
Raph Koster on Virtual Worlds vs Games (notes) 2019-08-18T19:01:53.768Z · score: 22 (11 votes)
What experiments would demonstrate "upper limits of augmented working memory?" 2019-08-15T22:09:14.492Z · score: 30 (12 votes)
Partial summary of debate with Benquo and Jessicata [pt 1] 2019-08-14T20:02:04.314Z · score: 90 (27 votes)
[Site Update] Weekly/Monthly/Yearly on All Posts 2019-08-02T00:39:54.461Z · score: 36 (8 votes)
Gathering thoughts on Distillation 2019-07-31T19:48:34.378Z · score: 36 (9 votes)
Keeping Beliefs Cruxy 2019-07-28T01:18:13.611Z · score: 53 (21 votes)
Shortform Beta Launch 2019-07-27T20:09:11.599Z · score: 72 (20 votes)
Can you summarize highlights from Vernon's Creativity? 2019-07-26T01:12:31.724Z · score: 16 (4 votes)
"Shortform" vs "Scratchpad" or other names 2019-07-23T01:21:48.979Z · score: 15 (2 votes)
Should I wear wrist-weights while playing Beat Saber? 2019-07-21T19:56:54.102Z · score: 8 (2 votes)
Robust Agency for People and Organizations 2019-07-19T01:18:53.416Z · score: 53 (19 votes)
Doublecrux is for Building Products 2019-07-17T06:50:26.409Z · score: 32 (10 votes)
"Rationalizing" and "Sitting Bolt Upright in Alarm." 2019-07-08T20:34:01.448Z · score: 31 (11 votes)
LW authors: How many clusters of norms do you (personally) want? 2019-07-07T20:27:41.923Z · score: 40 (9 votes)
What product are you building? 2019-07-04T19:08:01.694Z · score: 42 (23 votes)


Comment by raemon on Mask wearing: do the opposite of what the CDC/WHO has been saying? · 2020-04-02T22:27:32.877Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Link for the surgical masks update?

Comment by raemon on How long does SARS-CoV-2 survive on copper surfaces · 2020-04-02T20:30:58.092Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Relevant section:

In an experiment with aerosolized SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV-1, at 21-23 degrees C and 40% humidity, both reached undetectable levels within 8 hours exposure to copper; by contrast, they lasted 72 hours on stainless steel and plastic.[1]

H1N1 influenza, which was another pandemic virus, though not a coronavirus, lasted significantly less time on copper than stainless steel; 10^5 viable viruses after 24 hours on stainless steel vs. 10^2 viable viruses after 2 hours on copper.[2]

Human coronavirus 229E remains infectious on plastic, ceramic, glass, and stainless steel for at least 5 days, was inactivated in less than 5 minutes on copper and brass when applied dry, and inactivated in less than an hour when applied in solution to metal alloys containing >75% copper.[4]

Using copper-coated surfaces in real-world environments reduces microbial contamination. In 5 residential healthcare facilities, where half of the doorknobs and handrails were coated with copper alloys while half were not, the bacterial concentration was significantly (p < 0.0001) lower on the copper-coated doorknobs and handrails.[5]  Similarly, when weights and grips in a gym were coated with copper alloy or left as rubber or stainless steel, the bacterial concentrations on the copper-coated surfaces were 94% lower than the controls.[6]

Comment by raemon on April Fools: Announcing LessWrong 3.0 – Now in VR! · 2020-04-02T08:24:05.754Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Heh, no worries.  :p

Comment by raemon on April Fools: Announcing LessWrong 3.0 – Now in VR! · 2020-04-02T06:50:14.104Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Wow. I'm running 3.1 now, and my laptop's fun isn't running at all. Wild!


Comment by raemon on April Fools: Announcing LessWrong 3.0 – Now in VR! · 2020-04-02T02:49:44.010Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It has now concluded

Comment by raemon on April Fools: Announcing LessWrong 3.0 – Now in VR! · 2020-04-02T01:28:31.610Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The LessWrong 3.0 Launch Party is happening now. Please put on your headphones before joining.

Comment by raemon on April Fools: Announcing: Karma 2.0 · 2020-04-02T00:40:47.765Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm so sorry.

Comment by raemon on April Fools: Announcing LessWrong 3.0 – Now in VR! · 2020-04-02T00:40:11.951Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I confess that "Expert Truthful Congregation v3.1" was selected by me on purpose tho.

Comment by raemon on April Fools: Announcing LessWrong 3.0 – Now in VR! · 2020-04-01T21:27:00.320Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Due to this feedback, I have gone and optimized LessWrong 3.0 to LessWrong 3.1, such that instead of loading a bunch of 10mb images the screenshots are actually sort of usable by a regular-person-computer.

Behold, Expert Truthful Congregation v3.1

Also, tonight at 6:30pm will be an official meetup held there.

Comment by raemon on Outperforming the human Atari benchmark · 2020-03-31T21:50:34.130Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The "2" means that it has 2 "relevance". You can upvote or downvote a given post's tag-relevance to determine the sort-order on the tag page.

Comment by raemon on Outperforming the human Atari benchmark · 2020-03-31T21:24:38.926Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

1. Meta: Why does this have the coronavirus marker?*

I think that's just a mistake, and possibly a bug in some new code we made for managing tags easier.

Comment by raemon on How long does SARS-CoV-2 survive on copper surfaces · 2020-03-31T20:54:16.950Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The original post seems like an off-the-cuff question that was a bit oddly specific. I think it'd be nice if it got refactored a bit to be useful to newcomers trying to get a handle on "how useful is this copper thing?", with examples about what sort of considerations you might look into.

Comment by raemon on Blog Post Day II Retrospective · 2020-03-31T20:45:11.351Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I also felt "monthly" was too soon (why I personally didn't participate). I do typically benefit from sort sort of Coordinated Effort Day once a month, but not necessarily the same Coordinated Effort Day. There are other things I need getting over the hump of motivation for.

Comment by raemon on How long does SARS-CoV-2 survive on copper surfaces · 2020-03-31T20:26:01.869Z · score: 14 (3 votes) · LW · GW

From the Justified Advice Thread Summary

An important update for me was that the halflife on copper is ~3.5 hours, which means that it's actually quite awhile before copper will kill coronavirus thoroughly enough to be "safe". I think it's more useful as something that "becomes clean overnight" than something like "you can reliably use a copper thing without having to clean it."

This was the clear winner of JPA Olympics– it’s cheap, effective, and very few people had heard of it before. In fact we were hoping for a highly polished, intensely researched post on just this; unfortunately no one has the time right now.

In its place, please enjoy these links:

  • This pre-print showed that this coronavirus in particular had a half life of 2.4-5.11 hours on copper, in contrast to 10.5-16.1 on steel or 13-19.2 on plastic
  • This review showed H1N1 decreased by 4 logs (a factor of 10^4) in 6 hours;
  • This study showed vaccinia and monkeypox viruses reduced by 6 logs (a factor of 10^6) in 3 minutes
  • This study showed murine norovirus was destroyed in 30 minutes, though it doesn't work very well at 4C;
  • This review says that copper oxide filters neutralize all of "bacteriophages [58-62], Infectious Bronchitis Virus [63], Poliovirus [61,64], Junin Virus [59], Herpes Simplex Virus [58,59], Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 (HIV-1) [11,65-67], West Nile Virus [11], Coxsackie Virus Types B2 & B4, Echovirus 4 and Simian Rotavirus SA11 [68]. More recently, the inactivation of Influenza A [55,65], Rhinovirus 2, Yellow Fever, Measles, Respiratory Syncytial Virus, Parainfluenza 3, Punta Toro, Pichinde, Adenovirus Type 1, Cytomegalovirus, and Vaccinia [65]".
Comment by raemon on What is the safe in-person distance for COVID-19? · 2020-03-30T23:00:58.677Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks, this is great.

I think the main followup question I have is "what's the rate of falloff for outdoors?" (given that my goal here is not "100% safe", its "the risk is comparable (i.e. within a factor of 2ish) to the usual background default level of micromorts", for the range of stuff humans typically do.)

Comment by raemon on [Update: New URL] Today's Online Meetup: We're Using Mozilla Hubs · 2020-03-29T21:30:13.676Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I have personally found VR mozilla hubs worse than computer screen mozilla-hubs.

Comment by raemon on [Update: New URL] Today's Online Meetup: We're Using Mozilla Hubs · 2020-03-29T19:07:24.701Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

New link, now working:

Comment by raemon on [Update: New URL] Today's Online Meetup: We're Using Mozilla Hubs · 2020-03-29T19:00:40.447Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Alas, we are running into some kind of technical delay. More details soon.

Comment by raemon on What are the best online tools for meetups and meetings? · 2020-03-28T23:32:37.017Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Nod. I definitely agree "keep in contact" is the main thing and if people are arguing over the details, probably better to roll with what a given person is comfortable with.

This question was oriented around groups of people where everyone agrees that that it's worth some experimentation and investment in a good longterm product, or who don't yet have a solid default. (For example, I've found that video-call-quality matters a lot more now that I'm doing them for hours at a time on a regular basis, whereas before I'd have been happy to grab a google hangout or slack or whatever for the occasional 45 minute call)

Comment by raemon on What are the best online tools for meetups and meetings? · 2020-03-28T22:38:28.318Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks! Curious if you've compared RingCentral to Zoom?

Comment by raemon on What is the safe in-person distance for COVID-19? · 2020-03-27T01:25:47.154Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Ah, okay yes that makes sense.

Comment by raemon on What is the safe in-person distance for COVID-19? · 2020-03-27T01:24:37.149Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I have roughly two use cases in mind here: 

a) the sort of person who wasn't that trustworthy in the first place and was probably going to start hanging out with friends within a few weeks even if official quarantines weren't lifted, but who might follow basic precautions if they were spelled out clearly.

b) small high trust networks where everyone has been quarantining (and documenting their quarantine), nobody has been interacting with anyone outside the network, etc. (but, still with a margin of error added so that a single person who's been exposed unknowingly doesn't end up auto-infecting everyone)

Comment by raemon on What is the safe in-person distance for COVID-19? · 2020-03-27T01:16:47.639Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

That makes sense, and does update me against public gatherings (but, I'm thinking of things on the timescale of a months to a year. I'm guessing it'll get increasingly hard to keep people apart. I'm also thinking less in terms of groups of 60, and more more like groups of 2-5)

I was thinking of thresholds that were more like "at least 12 feet apart, maybe 20 feet", with nobody touching any objects. (Also, I'm assuming this is all outdoors)

Comment by raemon on Where can we donate time and money to avert coronavirus deaths? · 2020-03-27T00:21:34.382Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

(you can move comments back and forth between Answers/Comments using the triple-dot menu on the right of the comment)

Comment by raemon on What is the safe in-person distance for COVID-19? · 2020-03-27T00:19:43.918Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

What makes you think that?

I'm also particularly interested in the "people are not wearing masks" answer, since a) I expect masks to continue to be in short supply, b) masks are just really annoying and I expect people to not wear them.

Comment by raemon on What is the safe in-person distance for COVID-19? · 2020-03-26T22:04:42.706Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks. Gave it a quick skim and will hopefully comb through and pull out useful bits later tonight.

Comment by raemon on What is the safe in-person distance for COVID-19? · 2020-03-26T22:04:20.336Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

(I'm assuming there's basically always some risk if you go out at all, but, like, at what point does the risk fall under one's usual exposure to micromorts?)

Comment by raemon on What is the safe in-person distance for COVID-19? · 2020-03-26T21:50:11.418Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

That makes sense for essential grocery trips and similar things, as an overall public policy. 

The thing I'm trying to figure out is "if you wanted to see friends/neighbors without hurting each other on a regular basis (i.e. going on walks, or visiting each other's front porch), how much distance do you have to maintain to actually be confident that you wouldn't infect each other for months on end?"

Comment by raemon on What will the economic effects of COVID-19 be? · 2020-03-25T22:28:14.790Z · score: 13 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Some questions that seem relevant to my overall model here:

  • What percentage of the economy is "essential business?", according to most shelter-in-place laws?
  • What percentage should be considered "essential business" for purposes of maintaining longterm supply chains? California lists "critical manufacturing" as an essential industry but I wouldn't be that surprised if it turned out to be missing pieces that turn out to be important for longterm functioning.
  • What fraction of jobs currently "can't be remote", but which could become remote with retooling?
  • I know one person who's already been laid off. I suspect there should be numbers somewhere we can look for how many people were laid off in the first 2 weeks, which may give us some inkling of what's to come.
Comment by raemon on What will the economic effects of COVID-19 be? · 2020-03-25T21:50:24.677Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

(This was originally an answer, Elizabeth moved it to comments)

Comment by raemon on What will the economic effects of COVID-19 be? · 2020-03-25T20:23:14.972Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I basically agree with "this question really depends on what the counterfactual is." (And I personally guess the counterfactual is 'knee-jerk-quarantine response in a couple weeks that is worse than swift action on all dimensions.') 

I still think the question is useful for a couple reasons: 

Simplifying the problem

For "what policies should governments do, and/or what should people advocate for?", the ultimate answer is pretty complex, includes "what you expect the government to do by default, and what do you think the easiest thing to get them to do instead."

But, answering the simpler question of "how will this affect the economy" helps give some gears to inform the more complicated questions.

What sort of economic trends to brace for

If you think (as I do) that quarantine is basically inevitable, it still matters "what will happen to the economy tho?", not for deciding what to do about coronavirus, but for how to plan the rest of your life.

Comment by raemon on Announcement: LessWrong Coronavirus Links Database 2.0 · 2020-03-25T17:57:16.617Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I personally have been interested in using some of the UI here to try an alternate version of the All Posts page. But other team members were skeptical of that and there are no concrete plans at the moment. 

Comment by raemon on Tagging (Click Gear Icon to filter Coronavirus content) · 2020-03-22T21:57:53.113Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I'm particularly interested to hear how people expect to use Tagging the most (both for coronavirus in particular and in general once it ramps up)

When you look at the coronavirus tag page and experiment with it, what works well, what feels clunky? How does the tag-relevance-voting system feel? Would you personally want to subscribe to the tag page? Would you personally get value out of a recent discussion section on the page?

Comment by raemon on What's the upper bound of how long COVID is contagious? · 2020-03-22T07:53:48.599Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Sorry, I worded that wrong. Edited the OP.

Comment by raemon on What's the upper bound of how long COVID is contagious? · 2020-03-22T03:42:13.576Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Updated OP to explicitly flag that there are two sub-questions here. (I assume both will benefit from similar aggregated information)

Comment by raemon on How does one run an organization remotely, effectively? · 2020-03-21T19:20:24.859Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW


Fwiw I'd also be interested if you essentially wrote up a mini-book review of REMOTE (maybe editing it into the original answer-comment?)

Comment by raemon on How does one run an organization remotely, effectively? · 2020-03-20T22:23:08.327Z · score: 14 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Elizabeth had previously written some notes on a Lit Review of how effective distributed teams were, which may be relevant to re-review.

Highlights and embellishments:

  • Distribution decreases bandwidth and trust (although you can make up for a surprising amount of this with well timed visits).
  • Semi-distributed teams are worse than fully remote or fully co-located teams on basically every metric. The politics are worse because geography becomes a fault line for factions, and information is lost because people incorrectly count on proximity to distribute information.
  • You can get co-location benefits for about as many people as you can fit in a hallway: after that you’re paying the costs of co-location while benefits decrease.
  • No paper even attempted to examine the increase in worker quality/fit you can get from fully remote teams.

Sources of difficulty:

  • Business science research is generally crap.
  • Much of the research was quite old, and I expect technology to improve results from distribution every year.
  • Numerical rigor trades off against nuance. This was especially detrimental when it comes to forming a model of how co-location affects politics, where much that happens is subtle and unseen. The most largest studies are generally survey data, which can only use crude correlations. The most interesting studies involved researchers reading all of a team’s correspondence over months and conducting in-depth interviews, which can only be done for a handful of teams per paper.
Comment by raemon on How does one run an organization remotely, effectively? · 2020-03-20T22:03:59.514Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Ah, I meant this in a more generic sense – I expect "how do I run a remote organization?" to be a highly important question for everyone in the coming months, and I thought it was worth including in the LW Research Agenda. Updated the title to be a little more clear.

Comment by raemon on How does one run an organization remotely, effectively? · 2020-03-20T20:43:48.110Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Can you say more about which things from that you've personally tried, or validated in some way?

Comment by raemon on Is the Covid-19 crisis a good time for x-risk outreach? · 2020-03-19T22:57:07.241Z · score: 8 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I think you explained this, but it took me some parsing of your comment to quite get it, so here it is spelled out more: my interpretation of what your saying is that "ordinary people" (who aren't following situations closely) who are trying to figure out who to trust, should update towards trusting people who predicted coronavirus early. (i.e. as an update on those people being Correct Contrarians)

Comment by raemon on FactorialCode's Shortform · 2020-03-19T22:39:41.102Z · score: 10 (4 votes) · LW · GW

As of last night, yes: click the Gear at the top-right of the Latest Posts page. (we don't yet have it working for All Posts or Recent Discussion, but will try soon)

Comment by raemon on Is the coronavirus the most important thing to be focusing on right now? · 2020-03-19T02:35:47.127Z · score: 14 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Overall: my current estimate is that there's about one more month of useful high-focus COVID work to do. Meanwhile, we'll be shipping the "block covid content from frontpage" option within 24 hours, so the people sick of COVID content can easily tune it out (assuming they're using LessWrong. Hmm, this is a good reminder that we should probably check in with GreaterWrong peeps about implementing the new tagging features)

Also, if you're using LessWrong and you haven't yet turned off the "Coronavirus" section at the top of the page, you already have the option in your recommendation settings to turn that off.


Answering other comments in more detail:

I do think #1 probably has the least remaining value for people who for whom it's a live option to "get supplies and hole-up somewhere for months."

The two reasons that I think at least some more thought is worthwhile here are:

  • Some people can't actually hole up forever, and I think those people benefit from having good, up-to-date models that inform them of how risky things actually are
  • Some people may be worried about economic/political turmoil. I am more worried about those discussions turning Mindkiller-y, and not quite sure what to do about it. But, I think they are worth figuring-out-how-to-figure-out-without-turning-Mindkillery.

3a: I think there's plenty of data-aggregation efforts that can be directed by high-context people, that mid-level-researchers can help.

I also think... the counterfactual posts that mid-level generalist researchers are going to do that aren't about  COVID probably also aren't 

3b: Politics isn't bad because it's addictive, it's bad because it's damaging to epistemics. (I do agree addictiveness means it should be "quarantined" somewhere [har har], but that part's pretty easy)

Comment by raemon on Why Telling People They Don't Need Masks Backfired · 2020-03-18T23:58:41.027Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'd say this isn't just a nitpicking, it's pretty directly challenging the core claim. Or at least, if the essay didn't want to be making that it's core claim, it should have picked a different title. (I say that while generally endorsing the article)

Comment by raemon on Is the coronavirus the most important thing to be focusing on right now? · 2020-03-18T23:27:27.233Z · score: 33 (13 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, though I think it's important to be asking this question, both now and every few weeks, to check "Hmm, do we actually have comparative advantage here? Have we picked all the low-hanging fruit?"

There are roughly three reasons I see to focus on this:

To make sure we're safe. 

You can't research x-risk if you're dead, or your life is disrupted. Right now a lot of stuff is up in the air. Having an accurate model of both the coronavirus itself, and possibly downstream economic/political turmoil seem important, at least until we've narrowed down the scope of how bad things area. (Maybe in a month it turns out things aren't that bad, but I think the error bars are wide enough to justify investing another month of thinking and preparation)

For standard EA Reasons. 

I read your initial question as mostly asking within this frame. Is Coronavirus important, neglected, and tractable? Do we have comparative advantage at it? 

I'm not sure about the answer to this question. On one hand, it's definitely not neglected. But it does seem important and tractable, and I think it is a quite achievable goal for LessWrong but to be one of the best places on the internet to discuss it and get information. 

My guess is that people who were working professionally on x-risk should most likely continue focusing on that, but I think for a lot of "freelance EA research" types, coronavirus is at least worth considering within the standard EA paradigm. 

But I would not be surprised if the answer was "no, when you factor in the non-neglectedness, the QALYs or other impact here isn't on par with usual EA effort."

Tight feedback loops. 

This is my biggest crux (after ensuring personal safety). What seems very significant about coronavirus to me is that it gives us a situation where:

a) there is clearly value to marginal thought, from people who aren't necessarily specialists.

b) you will probably get an answer to "was I right?" on the timescale of months or a year, rather than years/decades, which is how most EA is. 

I currently think it's worth marshalling LW and EA towards coronavirus, mostly as an Exam to see how competent we are, intellectually and logistically. It's a particularly good time to practice forecasting, research, first principles thinking, fermi-calculations, and collaboration. In the end, we'll a) have a clear sense of our own capabilities, and b) moreso than usual times, it'll be easier to signal our competence (assuming we turn out to be competent) to the rest of the world, possibly leveraging it into more people trusting us when it comes to more confusing domains.

Comment by raemon on Why isn't increasing ventilation of public spaces part of the best practice response to the Coronovirus? · 2020-03-18T00:41:42.555Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW


SARS is primarily transmitted by bio-aerosol droplets or direct personal contacts. We present a study of environmental evidence of possible airborne transmission in a hospital ward during the largest nosocomial SARS outbreak in Hong Kong in March 2003. 

Retrospective on-site inspections and measurements of the ventilation design and air distribution system were carried out on July 17, 2003. Limited on-site measurements of bio-aerosol dispersion were also carried out on July 22. Computational fluid dynamics simulations were performed to analyze the bio-aerosol dispersion in the hospital ward. We attempted to predict the air distribution during the time of measurement in July 2003 and the time of exposure in March 2003. 

The predicted bio-aerosol concentration distribution in the ward seemed to agree fairly well with the spatial infection pattern of SARS cases. Possible improvement to air distribution in the hospital ward was also considered.


Our study revealed the need for the development of improved ventilation and air-conditioning systems in an isolation ward or a general hospital ward for infectious respiratory diseases. The outbreak in Ward 8A, which was in a general hospital and could house nearly 40 patients, demonstrated the cross-infection risks of respiratory infectious diseases in hospitals if a potential highly infectious patient was not identified and isolated. Our example simulation, which extended the SARS Busters' design for an isolation room to Ward 8A, demonstrated that there was room for improvement to minimize cross-infection in large general hospital wards.

Comment by raemon on Good News: the Containment Measures are Working · 2020-03-17T23:16:12.239Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Alas. We're chatting with FB about it. Looks like we may have triggered a spam detection thing.

Comment by raemon on Should we all be more hygenic in normal times? · 2020-03-17T21:09:23.886Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

My hope is that we'll build a lot of tools/infrastructure that doesn't require ongoing costs to maintain (i.e. whenever you have a button that hundreds of people are pressing, or door handles they're opening, etc, find some alternate solution that doesn't require them to use their hands)

I think people will initially be more careful with ongoing habits (i.e. handwashing and face-touching) in the wake of coronavirus, but that this will fade within a few years.

Comment by raemon on COVID-19's Household Secondary Attack Rate Is Unknown · 2020-03-17T20:09:58.000Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW

We've set up a spreadsheet where people share their house isolation levels, and any symptoms they've been having.

The actual doc is private, but you can see a template to get the idea across here:

Comment by raemon on March Coronavirus Open Thread · 2020-03-17T19:43:20.172Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

See previous discussion here:

Comment by raemon on How to have a happy quarantine · 2020-03-15T06:36:42.038Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I definitely forgot to get up and move around a couple days in a row and that was a mistake.