These monthly posts originated as the "Updates" section of the EA Newsletter. Organizations submit their own updates, which we edit for clarity.
This month, Rob Wiblin interviewed two guests for the 80,000 Hours Podcast:
- David Denkenberger on using paper mills and seaweed to feed everyone in a catastrophe, ft Sahil Shah
- Jaime Yassif on safeguarding bioscience to prevent catastrophic lab accidents and bioweapons development
And finally, our team added two posts to the EA Forum:
- Despite billions of extra funding, small donors can still have a significant impact (Ben Todd)
- 80,000 Hours wants to talk to more people than ever (Habiba Islam) — we’ve recently increased our capacity for free 1:1 career advising, so apply today to start 2022 off right!
- As the end of the U.S. tax year approaches, GiveWell has shared its annual top charities announcement and recommendation on where to give (recommendations for giving in 2021) and highlighted its general guidance on giving efficiently. You can also read its popular annual roundup of GiveWell staff members' personal giving decisions.
- Transparency is one of GiveWell’s core values. Many donors support GiveWell in part because it publicly shares as much as possible about how it reaches its conclusions, so it published a page detailing its approach to estimating the impact of donations. GiveWell hopes this clarifies how its thinking on impact has evolved, including why it now considers cost-effectiveness at the level of individual funding opportunities (rather than charities or programs) and why it doesn't have accurate cost-effectiveness estimates for future grants. (GiveWell’s best guess is that future grants will be similar in cost-effectiveness to past grants, but become less cost-effective over time.)
- Marketing materials from some charities claim you can save a life for just a few dollars. Why are GiveWell's estimates of cost per life saved so much higher? This page explains, step by step, how a donation of $4,500 translates to one life saved for a 2020 AMF distribution in Guinea.
- GiveWell CEO Elie Hassenfeld recently spoke with journalist Matthew Yglesias about GiveWell’s origins, evolving role, and latest research. You can find a recording and transcript of their conversation on this page.
- GiveWell is expanding its research team to find excellent new funding opportunities in 2022 and beyond!
- Senior Researchers are responsible for finding, researching, and ultimately recommending high-impact giving opportunities.
- Content Editors help produce clear, informative, and well-supported public written materials.
Anima International published recordings from this year’s CARE edition. Among others, there is a talk about Cause prioritization within Animal Advocacy by Marcus Davis or a panel hosted by Ben West about Scaling up organisations.
Thanks to the work of Tušti Narvai in Lithuania, the Lithuanian parliament passed the first reading of the bill to ban fur farming in the country.
Nähtamatud Loomad launched a campaign to end piglet tail docking in Estonia. The Estonian group organized a press conference and got really good media coverage. Ending tail docking means fewer animals on farms and higher welfare by means of activities and space for each animal.
Another success of Otwarte Klatki’s cage-free campaign - Netto, a Polish retailer, announced it is now cage-free (shell), making it the first cage-free retailer in Poland (except for Frisco.pl which is an online-only shop that’s cage-free since 2019). Netto released a policy in 2017 with a 2025 timeline, but they decided to do it much quicker. In addition, two other big polish retailers - Biedronka and Makro (Metro), are also going to be cage-free (shell) soon - in January 2022, even though their timelines were also set to 2025.
Otwarte Klatki’s plant-based campaign Roślinniejemy was awarded the main prize for Conscious Engagement by Forbes Poland at their Congress for Conscious Capital. It is crucial that such major business media recognised the plant-based campaign work as impactful.
Animal Charity Evaluators
During charity evaluations this year, ACE made the difficult decision to discontinue their recommendation of two of their 2020 Top Charities. Understandably, this raised some questions so their recent blog aims to provide more explanation of their reasoning.
ACE just published their new 2022 Guide to Giving, where people can learn more about our recommended charities and donation options so they can donate with confidence.
ACE is currently advertising for the role of Executive Director. This is an exciting opportunity to lead ACE into its next chapter. Qualified candidates will have experience in strategic planning, excellent communication skills, and share a dedication to ACE’s mission and vision, which are centered on the principles of effective altruism for animals.
Animal Ethics published a report about the welfare of wild animals in urban environments. The report evaluates the existing scientific literature and outlines what we can learn about population dynamics, behavior, and natural harms as they relate to animal welfare.
Representatives from Animal Ethics gave talks at Bhopal (India), Oxford, and at the Online Animal Rights Law Conference organized from Argentina.
Center for Human-Compatible AI
Stuart Russell has been selected to be the inaugural director of the newly created Kavli Center for Ethics, Science, and the Public.
The Kavli Center for Ethics, Science, and the Public is a new research center administered under the auspices of the Vice Chancellor for Research. The Center will commence operations at UC Berkeley in January 2022 with a mission focused on the intersection of science and ethics. It will be a multi-disciplinary hub for understanding the ethical implications of science and technology, guiding the development of policy concerning scientific advances, and ensuring that they are answerable to fundamental human interests. Rather than stipulating those interests a priori, the center will stress the need for involving the public in defining them.
The Center’s core programs will advance the philosophy and ethics of science based on collaborative links to specific areas of science in which ethical questions are critical. The initial three focus areas are: gene editing (Berkeley Ethics and Regulation Group for Innovative Technologies – BERGIT), artificial intelligence (Center for Human-Compatible AI – CHAI), and neuroscience (Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute – HWNI). Guided by world-leading scholars, the Center will become a global resource, extending its research scope and policy leverage through working with faculty in the Graduate School of Journalism, Berkeley Law, the Goldman School of Public Policy, and the Haas School of Business, to ensure meaningful and sustained real-world impact.
Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER)
Luke Kemp and Aaron Tang published their paper A Fate Worse Than Warming? Stratospheric Aerosol Injection and Global Catastrophic Risk which assesses the potential of SAI to 1) act as a direct catastrophic risk through potentially unforeseen ecological blowback; 2) interact with other globally catastrophic hazards like nuclear war; 3) exacerbate systemic risk; and 4) act as a latent risk that can be triggered later.
Shin Shin Hua and Haydn Belfield published a paper in The Yale Journal of Law and Technology that seeks to reconcile the cooperative development of AI and competition law by examining 14 forms of cooperation strategies, identifying tensions, and suggesting mitigation steps with the aim of ensuring the long-term sustainability of these important safeguards to the responsible and beneficial development of AI.
Natalie Jones published a paper in The British Yearbook of International Law arguing that practice by states and international organizations to grant indigenous peoples enhanced status in intergovernmental fora, such as UNESCO, WIPO, FAO, and processes under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Convention on Biological Diversity may be seen to logically follow from the law of self-determination.
Clarissa Rios Rojas co-authored a paper in Nature calling on the heads of academic institutions to support science diplomacy (and policy impact) efforts by their early career researchers and presenting a set of recommendations including goals and indicators of success.
Lara Mani was appointed as Outreach and Engagement representative on the committee of The Volcanic and Magmatic Studies Group, Matthijs Maas was listed as one of ‘35 under 35’ by the CIDOB Future Leaders Forum. While, SJ Beard and Clarissa Rios Rojas were selected as Borysiewicz Interdisciplinary Fellows by the University of Cambridge
Center on Long-Term Risk
The paper Normative Disagreement as a Challenge for Cooperative AI by Julian Stastny, Maxime Riché, Alexander Lyzhov, Johannes Treutlein, Allan Dafoe, and Jesse Clifton was accepted at the Cooperative AI workshop and the Learning in Presence of Strategic Behavior workshop at NeurIPS 2021.
The CLR Fund made a grant to University of Michigan professor Michael Wellman for work on a project aimed at extending the methodology of empirical game-theoretic analysis (EGTA) in fundamental technical directions, driven by application to the design and evaluation of intelligent bargaining agents.
The Center on Emerging Risk Research made a grant of $3m to Carnegie Mellon University to establish the Foundations of Cooperative AI Lab, led by Vincent Conitzer.
Charity Entrepreneurship has opened applications for two Incubation Programs (late June to late August 2022 and early February to late March 2023). In the last few years CE facilitated the launch of 18 new charities. Several are on track to becoming field leaders in their respective cause areas.
CE provides well-researched charity ideas, a 2-month, full-time, cost-covered, in-depth training program (online), cash stipends to cover living expenses, considerable funding (of up to $175,000) to bring the projects to life, and a wide range of ongoing support.
What they need are the aspiring founders — the people to take the high-impact charity ideas and make them a reality. They are not necessarily looking for experience, rather, for potential.
Visit their website and consider if founding a charity is the right fit for you.
Double Up Drive
Double Up Drive is a nonprofit committed to promoting Effective Altruism and hosts matching Drives to raise money for a selection of effective charities. Double Up Drive is currently hosting it’s 8th end of year drive and this year, the Drive is on track for it being the biggest ever.
In 2021, close to US$3M in match funding has been available for 12 beneficiary charities including the Centre for Effective Altruism (full list of charities below) and will draw to a close on either December 31, 2021 or when the match pool is exhausted, whichever comes first. Close to 1,000 people have been inspired by the match funding opportunity and already donated, many would not have without the dollar-for-dollar match.
This year, Double Up Drive has partnered with non-profit The Life You Can Save, in order to operate more effectively: to share resources and expertise across our organizations, avoid duplicating or competing efforts, and - above all — help inspire more people to give effectively.
It is not too late to have your donation matched to any of the below effective charities by visiting www.doubleupdrive.org
2021 charities: 80,000 hours, Against Malaria Foundation, Animal Charity Evaluators, Centre for Effective Altruism, Clean Air Task Force, Evidence Action, Founders Pledge, International Refugee Assistance Project, New Incentives, StrongMinds, The Good Food Institute, The Life You Can Save.
This month Faunalytics released a study examining the motivations and influences of new vegans and vegetarians (veg*ns). Faunalytics found that 42% of participants’ veg*n journeys were motivated by health, 20% by animal protection, and 18% by environmental concern. Self-driven motivations to go veg*n combined with external motivators was also found to be a powerful driver of success.
Faunalytics has released their 2021 Year in Review. Highlights include being named a Top Charity by Animal Charity Evaluators; 4 new original research studies published, with 4 more currently in progress; 65 advocates and organizations directly helped through Office Hours; and 250 new study summaries and blogs with key takeaways for animal advocates.
The Faunalytics Impact Center, which measures and evaluates their internal operations and efforts, has been updated through the end of Q3 2021.
Faunalytics also added several study summaries to their library on topics including the future potential of cultured meat.
Fish Welfare Initiative
They recently published a retrospective of their first 2.5 years of work on the EA Forum. In it, they discuss their key accomplishments, bottlenecks, and lessons learned. They also use the post to thank the EA Community, which in nearly every way has made FWI’s work possible.
FWI is also hosting a year-end matching donation drive. Learn more.
Giving What We Can
Giving We Can Can is running their annual Pledge Drive for 2021. This is the perfect time of year to reflect on your charitable giving, and set new resolutions or goals for 2022. They are encouraging people who are interested to consider taking a giving pledge or donating to effective organisations in the new year.
The Effective Giving Day 2021 Events were a success. The video covering key effective giving news and updates is now up on the Giving What We Can Youtube Channel and Podcast feed, with Q&A sessions from each of the events to follow soon. Subscribe if you don’t want to miss the release of these engaging conversations.
They have also released a short new video succinctly describing why effective giving matters and what Giving What We Can aims to do. This video features a stunning animation and would be ideal to share with friends and family over the holiday season.
Global Catastrophic Risk Institute
GCRI received a new $200,000 donation from Gordon Irlam to fund work on AI in 2022. Irlam also made donations in support of AI project work in 2021, 2020, and 2019, and those donations enabled GCRI to make many accomplishments in 2021.
Research Associate Andrea Owe and Executive Director Seth Baum have a paper forthcoming in AI & Society titled From AI for people to AI for the world and the universe. The short paper calls for AI ethics to better account for nonhumans, such as by giving initiatives names like “AI for the World” or “AI for the Universe” instead of “AI for the People”.
On December 17, Executive Director Seth Baum participated in an EA Forum “Ask Me Anything” where he answered questions about the importance of AI ethics, how to get involved in the field of global catastrophic risk, government response to global catastrophic risk, and many others.
The Humane League
THL continued to make progress to end the worst and most widespread abuses of chickens in the retail sector, which in the U.S. accounts for more than half of chicken purchased. Thanks to THL and a coalition of groups, Meijer, one of the top 10 US grocery stores, pledged to reform its chicken supply chain.
The Open Wing Alliance won their Bakery Bash campaign, securing global commitments to end the use of battery cages from French multinational Bakery Groupe Le Duff and Focus Brands, which operates Auntie Anne’s, Cinnabon, Jamba Juice, and several other brands across 6,000 locations in more than 60 countries.
THL was recognized by Animal Charity Evaluators (ACE) as one of its Top Charities for the eighth consecutive year. Learn more about THL’s plans to scale its work in 2022, and how to help end the abuse of animals raised for food.
Machine Intelligence Research Institute
MIRI has released a series of informal, largely unedited chat logs of AI safety conversations between some researchers from MIRI, the Future of Humanity Institute, DeepMind, OpenAI, Open Philanthropy, and the Alignment Research Center, among others. The discussion so far is available in both text and audio form. MIRI has also announced a $1.2 million bounty for help with building a large fiction dataset for AI safety research.
One for the World
One for the World finished the year strongly to post its highest fundraising totals yet. By the end of December, members will have contributed over $800k since July - more than was raised in the whole of the last academic year. They also hired Ella Matza, a former One for the World chapter leader, to invest further in community building and volunteer management. She starts in January.
Open Philanthropy announced grants including $2.6M to California YIMBY to support advocacy for more housing across California; $2M to the Malaria Consortium to study the effects of a campaign to distribute long-lasting insecticide-treated nets in Ondo state, Nigeria; $496K to Rethink Priorities to support research projects on topics related to AI governance; and $300K to Dyrevernalliansen to support efforts to improve fish welfare in Norway.
Rethink Priorities (RP) has hired a Communications Coordinator to start in February. They have also made several offers to candidates to join the Longtermism / AI Governance and Strategy Department.
One of RP’s former Visiting Fellows, Hannah McKay, published an article about how various types and features of vocalization could act as welfare metrics for wild animals, and how a remote acoustic sensing network could be used to collect relevant data non-invasively.
Rethink Priorities still has significant room for more funding for research in all cause areas and welcomes broad support from the community.
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