Trump’s recent executive order is likely a very good thing, but poor implementation could hamper the benefits

Donald Trump recently passed an executive order which, among other things, will allow live kidney donors to get reimbursed for expenses like childcare costs and lost wages they incur during the donation procedure.

Hopefully, this will enable many more people to donate kidneys and is great news for the supply of kidneys in the US. However, I couldn’t help feeling immediately dismayed at the thought of donors having to go through a cumbersome bureaucratic reimbursement process.

I doubt I’m alone in having many negative experiences with reimbursements, from lengthy delays to getting denied based on technicalities. Because of these negative…


The hidden costs and what to do about them

Having worked at a few large, public-sector organizations, I am intimately familiar with bureaucratic sludge (and why organizations like BERI are so valuable). One of things I found most frustrating was the process for getting reimbursed for business travel and purchases. Some of the pain points I’ve experienced include:

  • Difficulty finding options that are within policy limits (and either having to waste time finding a cheaper option, or accept that you will have to pay the extra out-of-pocket)
  • Having to find your employee/medical/membership ID number and other data
  • Filling out badly designed forms
  • Providing sensitive financial/medical data over insecure channels

Mental models can help us understand the world and make better decisions. I’m collecting a list (in no particular order) of the ones I find most helpful and use most frequently. The ones in bold are ones I find particularly useful or impactful.

This list is not exhaustive — it just contains the ones most salient to me. For more mental models, see this awesome list by Farnam Street.

Science

  1. The scientific method
  2. Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs)
  3. Occam’s razor
  4. Falsifiability
  5. Correlation vs causation
  6. Confirmation bias
  7. If something claims to fix everything, it probably fixes nothing

Game Theory

  1. Prisoner’s Dilemma (competitive games)
  2. Stag Hunt


With the rise of social media and pay-walled news sites, there is often talk of RSS becoming obsolete. For me however, it’s still an essential part of my information diet, and the numbers suggest I’m not alone. But I’m struggling to find an RSS reader that fulfills my (I think pretty reasonable) requirements.

Here’s what would make the perfect RSS reader for me:

  1. Web and mobile versions
  2. The ability to subscribe to many RSS feeds
  3. The ability to save random articles from the web without subscribing to the feed (e.g. via a Chrome extension)
  4. The ability to see a list…


I’m always impressed by people who can have dozens of browser tabs open and still get things done. For me, more tabs means more distraction and anxiety, a slower browser, and a high chance of losing something important.

There are tons of options for managing tab overload, from saving them all as bookmarks to forcing them all to reopen if you close your browser. The problem is, a lot of them are just ways to ignore the problem rather than deal with it. …


(This article contains affiliate links)

As I took a wobbly ride on a rented electric scooter earlier this year, my first thought was “this is not for me…

I couldn’t figure out where to comfortably put my feet, and I found myself gripping tightly onto the handlebars as the tiny wheels struggled with the gravelly ground. I generally felt pretty self-conscious trying to weave between pedestrians and cyclists on the mixed-use path.

Fast-forward a few months, and I now use my own electric scooter almost everyday. I can’t remember how I coped without it!

The change occurred because I moved…


The fast-moving pace of AI can make it tricky to stay up-to-date with latest news and developments. While there are many popular newsletters run by organizations, I find the most helpful come from individuals working directly in the field. Here are a few of my favorites; have I missed any you would recommend?

AI Alignment

This is a fantastic newsletter focusing on technical AI safety run by Rohin Shah, a researcher at the Center for Human-Compatible AI (where I work). It provides summaries of key papers and thoughtful opinions, and is highly recommended for anyone interested in technical AI alignment research. …


Financial information can be complex and overwhelming, but I think some relatively simple rules can get you the vast majority of the benefits for minimal effort. I’ve tried to boil down the most salient information I’ve learned from reading things like The Simple Path to Wealth, The Compound Effect, Mr. Money Mustache and various other sources. There’s nothing groundbreaking here; that’s the point.

I hope you find this helpful, but obviously I’m not a professional, so please seek expert advice if you need it!

The basics


Or, my attempt to justify another glass of wine…

Present-me is often annoyed at past-me for drinking too much, eating too much or not exercising enough. Does that mean engaging in those behaviours was irrational?

I’m following an online course in Behavioural Economics, and one of lectures featured various academics answering the question:

‘Is irrationality damaging to welfare?’

A number of responses included arguments along these lines:

“Yes, people frequently engage in behaviours that they know are bad for them such as smoking, over-eating and over-spending; this demonstrates that irrationality damages their welfare.”

This is a common argument that frustrates me as it fails to take into account the…


Rethinking our relationship with productivity in the light of technological acceleration.

Once upon a time, the privileged elite would flaunt their impractical clothing and untanned skin to show how little they needed to work. It was leisure, not labour, that was the mark of success.

These days, the trend has reversed. Those who don’t work are shunned and considered lazy, while constant busy-ness is a sign of importance. This is the lure of productivity: when our social value is equated with our economic output, who wouldn’t want to get more done?

The danger is that we could be on the brink of something that will disrupt our value system completely. If…

Rosie Campbell

Productivity, systems, and optimization. Effective altruism, science, futurism, tech, econ, and rationality.

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