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Gordon Irlam
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Gordon Irlam

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I ironically encourage anyone who is concerned about the influence of money on US politics to donate to the Mayday PAC. Unless more people donate they won't reach their July 4th target. It costs nothing unless the target is reached, and if you want you can limit donations to helping only either Republicans or Democrats that are committed to reform.
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We waste roughly 1/3 of our lives sleeping. This puts sleep right up there along with global warming, hostile AI risk, and global poverty as one of the world's big problems. From what I can tell very little is being done about it. Despite sleep's big expense sleep appears less promising than many other philanthropic opportunities. Drugs such as modafinil can cut the need for sleep from 8 hours a day to 2.5 hours with apparently few side effects. When purchased in bulk modafinil costs around $0.30 per 200mg, or $100/year. Valuing a year of normal life at $90k and assigning no value to time spent sleeping gives (8 - 2.5) / (24 - 8) * $90k = $30k as the value of the increased economic productivity and leisure time of an individual consuming modafinil. The result is a leverage factor of 300 for each dollar spent on modifinil assuming no overheads. This is less than many other opportunities I have documented at Back of the Envelope Guide to Philanthropy. The price of modafinil would need to drop below $0.01/pill before it becomes interesting.
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Gordon Irlam

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The Big Issues

The eradication of smallpox stands out as possibly the greatest achievement of the 20th century, saving of the order of perhaps 1 billion lives over 100 years. What about this century? Where might lie the big wins? The scourge of tobacco related deaths stands out as potentially one of the likely greatest failures of the 21st century, with projections of the order of 1 billion lives lost over 100 years. This is 3 times the current combined death rate of AIDS, TB, and malaria. In my book this puts it up there, along with climate change, hostile artificial intelligence, global poverty, and nanoplague, as one of the big issues we should all be discussing. But we don't. What is it about climate change and terrorism that captures the public attention when other equally or more pressing issues seem to register barely a blip? Especially frustrating is the fact that what to do about tobacco is very concrete (raise global tobacco taxes) and can be done quite cheaply (even factoring in opposition from the tobacco industry).

It seems we only respond when there has been a change in state, so we react to AIDS, a relatively new disease, more than we discuss or react to TB, despite it having a similar death rate and being cheaper to cure. Terrorism and awareness of climate change are also relatively new issues, so we respond strongly to them. Tobacco is perceived as having been around for a long time, so we fail to react, and similarly for global poverty. Hostile artificial intelligence and nanoplague hold the short straw. They have never occured, so unless we can find a way to change how we are behaving, we won't react to them until it is too late.
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Gordon Irlam

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I just made a new release of my AACalc.com asset allocation calculator. Try it out and let me know if you encounter any problems.

New in this release are load balancing/scaling so that it hopefully won't fall over when someone blogs about it and it gets lots of visitors, hiding a lot of the advanced inputs behind "advanced" toggles, more conservative default after inflation returns of 4.0% and 0.4% for the stock and Treasury bond markets, and a code base that handles annuities but this isn't available to the casual user due to the compute time needed.
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Have him in circles
36 people
Tom Tromey's profile photo
Michael Tiemann's profile photo
Rohit Khare's profile photo
James Love's profile photo
Raymond Irlam's profile photo
Jennifer Turner's profile photo
Pax Gethen's profile photo
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