Recent Discussion

Does anyone know about donor-advised funds for UK taxpayers? The only ones I've been able to find seem to charge large management fees, or have a prohibitively large minimum investment.

Hm, the fees on the CAF account look pretty steep - seems like it eats 4% of everything you put in there up to £22k, and 1% thereafter.

7matthew.vandermerwe30m Yes that's what I meant - will edit for clarity
6Henry_Stanley28m Gotcha. Thanks for the answer - I guess UK DAFs will only ever allow you to donate to UK charities, so maybe the lack of flexibility isn't worth it.

Authors: John Halstead, Hauke Hillebrandt

Opinions are ours, not those of our employers.

Summary

Randomista development (RD) is a form of development economics which evaluates and promotes interventions that can be tested by randomised controlled trials (RCTs). It is exemplified by GiveWell (which primarily works in health) and the randomista movement in economics (which primarily works in economic development).

Here we argue for the following claims, which we believe to be quite weak:

  1. Prominent economists make plausible arguments which suggest that research on and advocacy for economic growth in l
... (Read more)

Getting downvoted isn't 'abuse' - it's just a signal that people disagree with you. :) I'm not convinced of the case you're making for education, for example.

8Henry_Stanley1h I'd like to see a source for that, given the Gapminder chart of years of schooling vs. GDP has plenty of examples of countries which have increased the number of years of schooling and seen no increase in GDP - e.g. Kyrgyz Republic, Moldova, Micronesia et al
1dominicroser2h If the case for growth in rich and poor is very different (possibly negative in the one but not the other case), then it starts to matter a lot whether we can promote growth in poor countries without promoting growth in rich countries as a side-effect. I don't know how the proposed interventions fare in this respect?

Hi, all!

We are Jon Behar and Kathryn Mecrow-Flynn- we work with The Life You Can Save (TLYCS)- ask us anything!

The Life You Can Save curates some of the most impactful charities in the world and makes it easy to donate to them. Our mission is to help change the culture of giving in affluent countries, and to increase donations to nonprofits that dramatically improve the lives of people in extreme poverty. The Life You Can Save was founded by Peter Singer to advance the ideas in his 2009 book, The Life You Can Save: Acting Now to End World Poverty. In 2019, our team launched the 10th Anniversar... (Read more)

Does TLYCS plan to update recommendations for climate-related organizations, or investigate new ones?

Dear EAs,

I would like to advocate, but also get your feedback, on using already existing/heightened concerns about climate change among many firms/groups, to channel donations to EA-recommended organizations (e.g., Coalition for Rainforest Nations and Clean Air Task Force, as recommended in this Founders Pledge cause area report).

Summary of this post / TL;DR:

  • I am not advocating for Climate Change to become a main cause area for EA, although I find this an interesting point of discussion (see this post by Louis_Dixon);
  • Nevertheless, I see willingness to act on climate change issues and/or willin
... (Read more)

Great point for other people who are tring this!

I faced this dilemma when calculating the amount to be donated to CATF. My colleagues raised that we perhaps should use the 'average cost' to offset a ton of CO2 (assumed as $10) for the calculation. I was fine with the approach, of course, but since it was mainly one partner in the company that did the offset I did not want to multiply the sum by a factor of 5, in which case he may not have been willing to just pay for it himself and instead raise it to all the partners where it could have been blo... (Read more)(Click to expand thread. ⌘F to Expand All)Cmd/Ctrl F to expand all comments on this post

I think there's a lot of great literature that's relevant for EA purposes. Sometimes specific phrases can act as useful keywords.

If we use similar language as other academic fields, then:

  1. Other groups can understand Effective Altruist writing easier.
  2. Effective Altruists can more easily search for existing literature and discussion.

I've recently been doing some surveying of different fields and finding a lot of terminology I think is both (1) not currently used by many people here, and (2) would be interesting to them.

This can be as simple as an interesting Wikipedia page. I think there are

... (Read more)

Governance

In political science literature, "governance" refers to how something is overseen and managed whether or not that's done by Government. For example, if your AI system has to comply with a few regulations, but you're also responsible to your company's ethics board and shareholders, that's all governance.

Relevant for

EAs in politics, policy or institutional change. Particularly useful for EAs interested in AI policy where a wider conception of governance is arguably much more desirable than direct government regulation.

10Answer by Khorton7h Endogenous institutions In political and economic literature, institutions include formal groups (eg the Civil Service, the Church of England, the monarchy) but also the overall "rules of the game" (eg to what extent politicians are comfortable accepting bribes/gifts/political donations in exchange for political influence). These rules affect the people "playing the game" eg lobbyists and politicians, but they're also created by them. Relevant for EAs working on politics, lobbying or institutional change.

This is the third in a series of posts on International Relations and Policy. First was the introduction to this sequence, which discusses why this matters, and who should care. Second was defining Policy and International Relations, and talking about the sub-fields of political science. That post deferred discussion of different approaches, and instead looked at subject areas. That leads to the current post, which is a more detailed overview of political science specifially, rather than international relations and policy, which will be discussed in later posts.

This post is primarily going to ... (Read more)

Do you mean Aristotle’s “Politics”?

Yes, I did. Whoops, fixed.

In general, yes, international relations is a complex adaptive system, and that could be relevant. But I'm just not sure how far the tools of complexity theory can get you in this domain. I would agree that complexity science approaches seem closely related to game theoretic rational actor models, where slight changes can lead to wildly different results, and they are unstable in the chaos theory / complexity sense. I discuss that issue briefly in the next post, now on... (Read more)(Click to expand thread. ⌘F to Expand All)Cmd/Ctrl F to expand all comments on this post


This is the 2019 case for supporting The Center for Election Science. (Here's our intro page.) We need your financial support to succeed in our mission. This outline details what you can look forward to in this post. Also, you can hear in (very) long form about our work from an episode of 80,000 Hours. And there’s our EA Global Presentation.

  1. Who we are
  2. Why we do what we do
    1. Importance
    2. Tractability
    3. Neglectedness
  3. What we will do with sufficient funding
  4. Why we’re asking for funding from you
  5. Why there is urgency
  6. My ask to you
  7. FAQ

Who we are

The Center for Election Science (CES) is a 501(c)3 ... (Read more)

The poll included only those who intended to vote in the Democratic Primary.

It's very difficult to manage volunteers in this way, particularly given our small staff size. We tend to contract polling out. That said, it takes some expertise to sort through the data. Having staff for research would help us dramatically in both evaluating voting methods and measuring progress within cities that we've won in.

Charity evaluation is rarely straightforward. Many factors, within a charity’s control or outside of it, can influence the impact a charity has.

This post will highlight a case that illustrates how thinking through these factors can lead to surprising information that changes our understanding of a charity’s impact.

Summary

GiveWell recommended a grant to Results for Development (R4D) in May 2016 for its recently-launched program to increase access to pneumonia treatments for children in Tanzania. We thought this program was promising enough to potentially join our short list of GiveWell top char

... (Read more)

Epistemic status: Highly speculative. I know very little about the current state of the field or what EAs in this space think about. I also know about as much about general policy as you’d expect of a random layman who has ever once lived in DC, so everything I say could be wildly off-base.

Who should read this: If you think US politics and policy are not really important for improving the world, or if you’re extremely skeptical that EAs could have any tangible effect on either, you can stop reading this post now.

Introduction

I think it’s plausible that Effective Altruism w... (Read more)

I think if you're in a blue state like California, it generally makes sense to register as Republican to vote in the Republican primary, because there will be fewer California Republicans voting in that primary, but California still contributes the same number of electoral college votes?

Epistemic status: This is basically meant as a collection and analysis of existing ideas, not as anything brand new. I’m not an expert on the topics covered. I’d appreciate feedback or comments in relation to any mistakes, unclear phrasings, etc. (and just in general!).

In various communities (including the EA and rationalist communities), it’s common to make use of explicit, numerical probabilities.[1]

At the extreme end, this may involve explicit attempts to calculate what would maximise expected utility, and then do that thing.

It could also involve attempts to create explicit, probabilistic m

... (Read more)

That all seems to make sense to me. Thanks for the interesting reply!

2Ozzie Gooen16h Ok, I'll flag this too. I'm sure there are statistical situations where an extreme outcome implies that an adjustment for correlation goodharting would make it seem worse than other options; i.e. change order. That said, I'd guess this isn't likely to happen that often for realistic cases, especially when there aren't highly extreme outliers (which, to be fair, we do have with EA). I think one mistake someone could make here would be to say that because the ordering may be preserved, the problem wouldn't be "fixed" at all. But, the uncertainties and relationships themselves are often useful information outside of ordering. So a natural conclusion in the case of intense noise (which leads to the optimizer's curse) would be to accept a large amount of uncertainty, and maybe use that knowledge to be more conservative; for instance, trying to get more data before going all-in on anything in particular.

The forecasting website Metaculus is launching the Bentham Prize, which will award, every two weeks, prizes of $300, $200, and $100 in Amazon gift cards to the first, second and third most valuable user contributions. Eligible contributions include standout public predictions, models, factorisations, comments that help improve questions, datasets, and links to relevant sources (see the the link above for further details and examples).

The first round starts on January 23rd and ends on February 7th, and will be restricted to comments within the Animal Welfare Series.

Hi readers,

It's great to have you on the forum! If you'd like to, write something below about yourself or how you connect with the philosophy and social movement of effective altruism.

 

warm fuzzies

To start us off, I'm a junior doctor from Melbourne, with a particular interest in tweaking the impact of emerging technologies so they better serve humanity.

Ryan

I am DIFFO Frédéric, ph.D student on comparative littérature in université d'Artois. I am in the fourth year research. My topic base on immigration and representation of alterity in some selected subsaharian and maghrebian novels. My supervisor is Anne Gaelle Weber. My research laboratry is "texte et culture"

Moloch is a poetic way of describing failures of coordination and coherence inside an agent or between agents and the generation of harmful subcomponents or harmful agents. Perhaps this could be decomposed further, or at least partially covered, by randomly generated accidents, Goodhart’s law failures, and conflicts of optimization. Let’s zoom in on one aspect, conflicts of optimization.

What are conflicts of optimization? They are situations where more than one criterion is being optimized for and in practice improving one criterion causes at least one other criterion to become ... (Read more)

Overall I think this is pretty good!

Two comments:

1) It might be useful to imagine that since we're bounded-rational and have imperfect information, that in many cases we don't know where the frontier is, or we don't know our orientation and are uncertain about which actions lead to a world we care about.

2) Since it's easier to optimize for certain things like profit rather than value, certain movements on the board might be easier, meaning we will trend in the direction of those shifts.

Summary

  • 74% of EAs in the survey currently live in the same set of 5 high-income English-speaking western countries as in 2018.
  • The share of EAs living outside of the USA and Europe is slightly larger (4%) than in 2018 and larger among newer EAs than veteran EAs.
  • 40% of EAs live in cities with fewer than 10 other fellow EAs.
  • While Global Poverty is a high priority cause area for EAs around the world, EAs in the USA appear to prioritize Cause Prioritization less than their peers elsewhere and EAs outside the USA and Europe appear to prioritize Climate Change more.
  • When pressed to choose only o
... (Read more)

Effective Altruism Animal Welfare Fund is looking for applications. The deadline to be considered for the distribution cycle is coming up. You can apply here:

Apply to the Animal Welfare Fund

The Animal Welfare Fund makes grants on the regular grantmaking schedule, with recommendations made in February, July, and November each year. The Fund has rolling applications. However, any application received after the deadline for each round will receive a response around five months later during the next evaluation period. The application window for the coming round will end on the 6th of February 202... (Read more)

Crossposted to LessWrong

So far the idea of differential technological development has been discussed in a way that either (1) emphasizes ratios of progress rates, (2) ratios of remaining work, (3) maximizing or minimizing correlations (for example, minimizing the overlap between the capability to do harm and the desire to do so), (4) implementing safe tech before developing and implementing unsafe tech, and (5) the occasional niche analysis (possibly see also a complementary aside relating differential outcomes to growth rates in the long run). I haven’t seen much work talking about how... (Read more)

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