Recent Discussion

Project Drawdown released their 2020 Update last week. It's now completely freely available and, in my opinion, the most accessible quantitative reference on climate solutions.

Updated table of climate solutions: https://drawdown.org/solutions/table-of-solutions

Drawdown 2020 review (requires email registration to download): https://drawdown.org/drawdown-framework/drawdown-review-2020

Notably, Reducing food waste has moved up to take the top rank, followed by Health and Education and then Plant-based diets. Refrigerant management, the previous top priority, is now ranked fourth, followed by ... (Read more)

Hi Matthew,

Thanks for this vigorous and informed replies!

1. You say that IAM's don't factor in economic factors. I think this is wrong, or perhaps I have misunderstood your point? IAMs model the role of different energy technologies in an energy system meeting an emissions and economic constraint. The typical IAM does indeed imply a quadrupling of nuclear to 2050 (Peters et al, p4). This suggests that you are wrong to give the impression that all experts believe that nuclear should be phased out. As another example, the authors of the Clack et ... (read more)

EA Updates for March 2020
629m4 min readShow Highlight

Here are a couple of links I think are especially useful and I've also included events for the first time as they are no longer London specific.

UPCOMING VIRTUAL EVENTS

Effective Environmentalism
When: Saturday 4th April
Weekly calls with speakers and hosts on different topics relating to climate change and the intersection with other causes

People of Colour and Ethnic Minorities
When: Saturday 4th April
A v... (Read more)

[Epistemic Status: Totally serious. Thanks to Aaron Gertler for reading a version of this draft.]

Related material

What is international supply chain accountability?

I think that one useful way to define the term is

  1. as a strategy
  2. used to forcefully incentivize global companies to align their production processes with a given morality,
  3. making use
... (Read more)

In Importance, you could add that corporate governance plus social responsibility is linked to corporate committments regarding animal welfare, or that it might be promising for other areas such as catastrophic risks.

P.S.: Sorry, but hammer&sickle isn't enough to turn it into a good April Fool's joke.

Ramiro's Shortform
35moShow Highlight

Does anyone have any idea / info on what proportion of the infected cases are getting Covid19 inside hospitals?

(Epistemic status: low, but I didin't find any research on that, so the hypothesis deserves a bit more of attention)

1. Nosocomial infections are serious business. Hospitals are basically big buildings full of dying people and the stressed personel who goes from one bed to another try to avoid it. Throw a deadly and very contagious virus in it, and it becomes a slaughterhouse.

2. Previous coronavirus were rapidly spread in hospitals and other c... (read more)

We are excited to announce the launch of Utilitarianism.net, an introductory online textbook on utilitarianism, co-created by William MacAskill, James Aung and me over the past year.

https://www.utilitarianism.net/

The website aims to provide a concise, accessible and engaging introduction to modern utilitarianism, functioning as an online textbook targeted at the undergraduate level . We hope that over time this will become the main educational resource for students and anyone else who wants to learn about utilitarianism online. The content of the website aims to be understandable to a broad a... (Read more)

10richard_ngo4hI'd be more excited about seeing some coverage of suffering-focused ethics in general, rather than NU specifically. I think NU is a fairly extreme position, but the idea that suffering is the dominant component of the expected utility of the future is both consistent with standard utilitarian positions, and also captures the key point that most EA NU thinkers are making.

Good point. Thank you.

Even classical utilitarianism can belong to the umbrella term of suffering-focused ethics if its supporters agree that we should still focus on reducing suffering in practice (for its neglectedness, relative easiness of prevention, as a common ground with other ethical views, etc).

COVID-19 is a tragedy with more everyday social implications in the developed world than anything since World War II. Many EAs are wondering what, if anything, to do about COVID to help the world. To try to investigate further, I am helping articulate possible research ideas for further discussion and consideration.

The kind of research we need to do in this situation is very different from the kind of research EA is used to doing well. We normally spend several months carefully researching a single topic that doesn’t change very much. With COVID, everything about this is reversed—the situation

... (Read more)
2IsabelHasse17hIs it possible to contribute to research if I've never worked on a similar research project and have no relevant expertise?

I think you could contribute, but some projects will be easier to contribute to than other. Some suggestions:

-Helping to update Wikipedia pages about different countries' policy responses to COVID-19 would be helpful and a good introduction, because you'll have collaborators to help you.

-Many of these questions you could make a start on and ask for feedback from Aaron Gertler or Effective Altruism Editing and Review or Effective Altruism Coronavirus Discussion groups on Facebook. Then you can post your work, making the limitations clear.

-I would be careful

... (read more)

Hi folks, this is our annual thread where we spend the day collecting ideas for Cause X. (Apologies to Australia for making this post so late in the day there.) Remember--serious suggestions only!!!

Excellent submission!

7Answer by pvs4hTurning the United Nations into a Decentralized Autonomous Organization The UN is now running on ancient technology[source [https://treaties.un.org/]], is extremely centralized[source [https://www.un.org/en/pdfs/18-00159e_un_system_chart_17x11_4c_en_web.pdf]] and uses outdated voting methods and consensus rules[source [https://www.un.org/securitycouncil/content/voting-system]]. This results in a slow, inefficient organization, vulnerable to regulatory capture and with messed up incentives. Fortunately, we now have much better alternatives: Decentralized Autonomous Organizations [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decentralized_autonomous_organization] (DAOs) are blockchain-based organizations which run on smart contracts. They offer many benefits compared to legacy technology: 1. Since the blockchain is always online and permanent, they are always available, fast, and 100% transparent by design. 2. They are decentralized and invulnerable to any attacks: [source [https://www.researchgate.net/publication/325632774_eGov-DAO_a_Better_Government_using_Blockchain_based_Decentralized_Autonomous_Organization] ] 3. The rules are enforced by code, so they are unbreakable. [source [https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/8eaa/a120e988487b8e0a2d0ce3e19726b697aee2.pdf] ] 4. They support new forms of governance and voting, such as futarchy or quadratic voting [source [https://coinspace.com/news/blockchain-news/reinventing-democracy-quadratic-voting-futarchies-and-liquid-digital-democracies-delegation] ]. 5. Since everything runs on ethereum, and cryptocurrencies always go up, a small investment in Ether now could provide enough funds to run the UN forever, freeing states from having to contribute funds [source [https://www.cryptoground.com/what-if?amount=1000000&coin=ETH&day=08-07-2015]]. Given the ample benefits, I'm sure a quick email to UN Secretary General António Guterres will convince everyone to switch to DAOs. Thus, we only need a small team of developers to write the code
5Answer by NunoSempere6hInternational Supply Chain Accountability [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/ME4zE34KBSYnt6hGp/new-top-ea-cause-international-supply-chain-accountability] .

Also: what about just explicitly criminalizing a) a first strike, b) a nuclear attack? The idea is to make it more likely that the individuals who participated in a nuclear strike would be punished - even if they considered it to be morally justified.

(Someone will certainly think this is "serious April Fool's stuff")

Summary

  • EAs in the survey reported total donations of $16.1M USD in 2018.
  • The median annual donation in 2018 was $683.92.
  • The median annual donation in 2018, excluding those who joined EA in 2019 was $990. This is higher than the median annual donation in 2017 of $832, excluding those who joined EA in 2018.
  • 1.3% of donors accounted for 57% of donations.
  • The median percentage of income donated in 2018 was 3.23%.
  • 20% of EAs donated 10% or more of their income.
  • The median percent of income donated by full-time employed non-student EAs who earn more than $10,000 was 3.38% and 24% of these EAs don
... (Read more)
3Mati_Roy10hI wonder how people in the EA community compare with people in general, notably controlling for income. I also wonder how much is given in the form of a reduced salary or volunteering, and how that compares to people in general.

The SlateStarCodex survey data is useful to answer a limited form of that question (a comparison with other SSC-survey answerers).

Code here, in R, may be useful.

Did you mean to post this using the Markdown editor? Currently, the formatting looks a bit odd from a reader's perspective.

Cross-posted from the Animal Advocacy Careers blog.

Abstract

To build understanding of the bottlenecks and job opportunities in the farmed animal movement, Animal Advocacy Careers (AAC) conducted a brief “spot-check” of the job opportunities that were advertised on the websites of 27 different effective animal advocacy (EAA) nonprofit organisations. The results were compared to the findings from an additional search of the currently filled roles at the same organisations. The findings provide weak evidence that EAA nonprofits are struggling to fill fundraising and operations r... (Read more)

Thanks for posting this! I've come to believe that a lot of common beliefs about the EA job market are based on anecdotes and impressions rather than data on available positions or the population of job-seekers. I'm excited to see AAC taking on this work for animal advocacy roles.

To start: I don’t want to say that self-isolation is that bad in the scheme of things. People have lost their lives, they’ve lost loved ones. Healthcare workers are working hard, at their own risk, to protect us all. Some other workers don’t have a choice about continuing to work in person. And for some immunocompromised people and their families, self-isolation is the reality much or all of the time.

But I’m writing for those of us who aren’t physically ill, are doing some amount of self-isolation or social distancing because of the pandemic, and are not finding it easy. Most of this isn’t spe

... (Read more)

I also like this quote:

“I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo.
"So do I," said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

The EAG 2020 team has invited Charity Entrepreneurship (CE) to conduct an AMA on the sidelines of this year’s virtual conference. CE helps start high-impact charities through extensive research and a two-month incubation program.

Hi EAG, Patrick here. I joined CE in the summer of 2019 as a Charity Mentor and have since become more involved, most recently as a Director of Communications. Besides communications, I contribute to developing the curriculum and content of the upcoming incubation program.

I look forward to your questions about CE, our current application window for the 2020 inc... (Read more)

Hi Patrick, I hope this message finds you well. I am interested in the incubator program but I am a Brazilian citizen working in the USA. Does your team help applicants secure UK visas or would I need to get one on my own? Cheers, Vitor

4mattefay13hBuilding off of Mathias' question, it seems like the idea behind CE is to find passionate generalists [https://www.charityentrepreneurship.com/blog/what-traits-make-a-great-charity-entrepreneur] , give them a few months of training/mentorship/support, and set them off to implement a research-backed intervention. How does expertise, experience, and personal fit play a role with regard to founding a successful charity? Personally, I can't imagine signing up for the incubation program without having a concrete idea that I'd feel uniquely capable of working on. Is that common?
4mattefay13hHow would you distribute the value proposition of attending the program for aspiring charity entrepreneurs between things like: 1) thoroughly researched charity ideas 2) skills/training 3) networking with other EA's for things like co-founders, mentors, and donors 4) seed funding/legal services/office space

Lant Pritchett is a development economist and master of backhanded compliments. I'm always looking for new frames to use when I think about causes, and his "smell test" fits the bill. 

In short: Think about countries that have been successful, economically. What are some things these countries do? And does the development program you favor actually make developing countries more similar to developed countries?

This is, of course, not a fully general argument against RCT-driven interventions in the GiveWell mold. But I found it an interesting supplement to the Forum's recent debate around ec

... (Read more)

I was only commenting on the particular wording of the 'smell test' in devlopemntal economics---i use a smell test to decide if i need to throw food away which i try not to do, or wash clothes , or if somehow a dead mouse is in my apt --i leave mice alone but they are poisoned by what they eat or die of old age--i dont think they live very long--maybe 2 years

developmental economics (definately not my area) i associate with jeffrey sachs, william easterly, amartya sen, and partha dasgupta. one can add jagdish baghwati and more than i can r... (read more)

Effective Altruism and Free Riding
805d10 min readShow Highlight

I'd like to thank Parker Whitfill, Andrew Kao, Stefan Schubert, and Phil Trammell for very helpful comments. Errors are my own.


Many people have argued that those involved in effective altruism should “be nice”, meaning that they should cooperate when facing prisoner’s dilemma type situations ([1] [2] [3]). While I believe that some of these are convincing arguments, it seems to be underappreciated just how often someone attempting to do good will face prisoner’s dilemmas. Previous authors seem to highlight mostly zero-sum conflict between opposing value systems... (Read more)

That article has a good reference list but these are mostly of historical interest . I do reccomend reading the article and looking at the references . (it might take 80,000 hours to read them all in full so i do not reccomend that --just read the abstracts , and if you want look at the intros, conclusions, scan main text --especially equations----one can say in 1 equation more than in 1000 words, but the equation has 1000 words behind it, and references. )

Michael Taylor's 1976 book 'the possibility of cooperation' discussed this theme, bu... (read more)

2Milan_Griffes17hRight – when we're looking for ways to improve coordination, we should consider interventions at both the systemic level and the individual level. It seems obvious that there's a close relationship between the two levels. If the causal relationships between levels are murky, that implies casting a wide net when surveying potential interventions. (If we can't see the causal relationships clearly at the start, we can't confidently rule out interventions on either level.)

I think I (and some other EAs) are in a possibly rare category of being young, healthy, and having unusually high financial, etc stability so we can take time off our work/studies and other projects to fully focus on this.

In addition, some of us may have especially relevant skills. (For example, many of us have extensive amateur or professional experience on analyzing tail risks).

While I agree that there should be a strong prior against EAs working on disaster relief, I think this is plausibly different from other disaster relief situations because it's likely to be unusually bad and hum... (Read more)

https://sciencehouse.wordpress.com has a more recent study and discussion of 2 other studies at imperial college london and oxford. Science Magazine AAAS also has a whole issue (march 27) on topic. COVID-19 appears to be a real problem but time will tell. (My area has many scientists, but also many poor and uneducated people, so there are lots of 'conspiracy theories' floating around --'viruses of the mind' --there are academic papers on these as well, mostly written by physicists.)

My point 4 i actually view as the main one, unles... (read more)

Hello, Forum users!

I’m part of the CEA team that works on the EA Forum. We’re gathering feedback to figure out which changes and improvements to the Forum (technical and otherwise) we should prioritize.

 

Here’s a link to the feedback survey. Almost every question is optional; we'd really love to hear from you, even if you don't have time to go into detail!

You’re also welcome to share feedback in the comments on this post, or to send me an email.

 

Whether you’ve been using the Forum since 2014 or you made your account last week, please consider taking the survey! In doing so, you’ll hel

... (Read more)

Thanks! I fixed the form a few hours ago.

Covid-19 Response Fund
1521h1 min readShow Highlight

Founders Pledge, in partnership with Silicon Valley Bank, have today launched a Covid-19 Response Fund. Silicon Valley Bank have generously seeded this with $1m. In the first instance, the fund will focus on:

  • Medical research into treatments and vaccines
  • Policy research and advocacy to deal with the current outbreak
  • Global humanitarian support

In the first instance, we will be supporting the following organisations:

  • John Hopkins Center for Health Security
  • Gates' Covid Fund
  • Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Initiatives COVID-19 Vaccine

Among others. We will monitor the funding needs of organisat... (Read more)

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