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Improving Institutional Decision Making

Testing deliberative mechanisms, the Delphi Method, and foresight planning as integrative improvements with broad-based impact across several cause areas.

We also focus on epistemic methods and the need for open science, de-siloing of their insights, and effective science-policy interface. 

Long Term Future

Laying the foundations for extant mechanisms and innovations to target broad-based interventions that enhance civilisational capacities and incorporate future generations' perspectives.

Civilisational Risk

Addressing a broad range of 'civilisational risk' including: 
 

  • Existential Risk

  • Global Catastrophic Risk (GCR)

  • Systemic Risk

  • Suffering Risk (S-Risk)

Through systems dynamics modelling, historical precedents, and innovative decision making methods, we work to identify neglected feedbacks and bring complexity competence to their mitigation.

“The real problem of humanity is the following: We have Palaeolithic emotions, mediaeval institutions and godlike technology. And it is terrifically dangerous, and it is now approaching a point of crisis overall.” 

- E.O. Wilson

"Those who plant trees, knowing that only others will enjoy the shade, are public benefactors."

- Marcus Tullius Cicero

"Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?"

- T.S Eliot

Improving Institutional Decision Making

Improving institutional decision making (IIDM) has considerable overlap with several cause areas, suggesting its own robustness as a cause area. However it also remains relatively under-leveraged within Effective Altruism; particularly deliberation, decision making under deep uncertainty, and foresight mechanisms deployed therein.

 

In particular, extant organisations neglect deliberative democracy as particularly effective, tractable, and impactful despite theoretical and empirical successes. We intend to blend deliberative mechanisms (both in person, and via tools such as pol.is) with foresight exercises, and expert aggregation methods such as Horizon Scanning using e.g BARD.

In the short term, we see that citizen assemblies can be convened quickly, producing enhanced results against policy making as it currently exists. For the medium term, we see it as a means to address neglecting skin in the game and collective intelligence, the underutilisation of which can be costly, particularly to intercausal and holistic approaches to civilisational risk. We also see it demonstrating improvements in longtermist deliberation, for example with the Japanese study in Yahaba Town.

Long Term Future

Focusing on the long term future may not be the only framework for mitigating X-risk and GCR, but it is a vital lens, especially when working on neglected "broad approaches" that appear robust.

Value lock-in is a major risk in the long run, with our era arguably having as crucial a position as the Renaissance, Reformation, and Enlightenment did on the nascent principles and institutions of the modern era. 

Accordingly, we emphasise buttressing what Nick Beckstead has outlined as "coordination, capability, motives, and information" capacities today are crucial. Besides IIDM above, we also identify open science and meta-research as associated reforms within the 'Odyssean democratic' framework, as enormous amounts of knowledge and technological development may be unduly constrained by publishing houses today.

Civilisational Risk

We w​elcome a growing appreciation for the irreducible interconnections at systemic levels that amplify intercausal risk, itself contributing to compound, interconnected, interacting, and cascade risks

 

Through complexity modelling, agent based, and systems dynamical modelling, we intend to execute decision making under deep uncertainty, fostering greater integration of the natural and social sciences for enhanced understanding of solutions. 

 

This approach is further informed by historical data and current trends within biophysical, informational, and multiscale political (regional, national, and global) trends. We believe in particular with subpar policy responses to climate change, collapse risk deserves far greater attention in an expansive framework for GCR.

The risk of astronomical suffering only increases as technological potency and political failures accumulate; escalating conflict dynamics constitute under-explored components of avoiding collapse.

A combination of developing existential and deliberative mechanisms will be explored in the interests of diffusing the 'hidden variables' behind much of malevolent actors' and perverse incentives, with all their incumbent second order impacts on Civilisational Risk.

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