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[-][anonymous]5y 21

I made a list of what I call "life gems" - those rare and precious things in my life that were easily introduced and have enabled me to "level up" in the amount of positive impact I create. It's obviously not exhaustive, but I started it ~3 months ago and have been adding to it since as things occur to me.

On motivation:

  • The System 1 / System 2 framework

  • Audiobooks - I otherwise struggle to get through books (h/t Sarah Morgan?)

  • Token payments to an EA friend every time I continue a bad habit or fail to sustain a regular, good habit (h/t Niel Bowerman and Sam Hilton)

  • Planning when exactly I will work on tasks so that my current to-do list is always short, otherwise I am tempted to do the quick - and usually less important - tasks in order to shorten the list as quickly as possible (h/t Sam Hilton)

On rationality:

  • The 'regression to the mean' phenomenon (h/t Toby Ord)

On practical ethics:

  • The idea of astronomical waste (h/t Ben Hoskin and Nick Bostrom)

  • The idea that if you're not sure where your meat comes from, the harm of factory farming is so great that you should hardly ever take the chance - this is what first made me a vegetarian (h/t a conversation

... (read more)
This was the thing that made me go vegetarian. []
Do you know if anyone has done a more recent analysis of this kind of thing? He lists quite a few caveats/reservations at the end of this post.
I think these can be categorised as follows (as of Oct 2017): * 8/22 came from my 1st year with the "pre-EA" community ( (4), Toby Ord (3), the rationalists (1)) * 4/22 from 6 years of social/professional relationships with EA types who are hot on personal development * 3/22 from my 2nd-8th years with the pre-EA/EA community * 2/22 from 2 years of independent thought prompted by reading philosophy and having a utilitarian friend at sixth form * 1/22 from 3 years of colleagues at non-EA orgs (Oxfam retail and a "digital transformation" consultancy startup) * 1/22 from independent thought plus ~7 years of knowing sexually diverse communities via university and EA * 1/22 from 26 years of family * 1/22 from really mixed sources (+ the Robin Hanson one that I want to take off the list in light of the value drift post [] ) Takeaway: My first year of being part of an EA-type community was disproportionately valuable. I wonder how other people's experiences compare, and if they're similar, the extent to which that implies that we should focus community-building on brief intense immersion and retention-wise simply optimise for something like subscribers to a quarterly newsletter.
That was great, I've read about a lot of those things already, but it gave me some more reading material. Fantastic! The one I'd never really heard anyone say was "An awareness of the risks of developing expensive new habits / increased standards of living i.e. huge future expense for temporary boost in happiness thanks to the hedonic treadmill." - Where did that idea come from?
I suppose a variety of places, and it's just particularly relevant to people who try to donate what they can. The term "hedonic treadmill" I probably first encountered via or David Pearce.
Have you seen this?: []
Yes. And I think the fact that I find it pretty useless is a good reflection on our community :-) ...rather than a poor reflection on the creators!

Hi, I´d like to share a full post about a potential of cost-benefit prioritization projects in developed countries. I´m heavily involved in EA, but a newbie to this forum, so need karma points. Here is a link to the planned post, if you think it´s relevant, like this comment :)

I've written up some notes from EA Global London – anyone who attended (or indeed spoke at) the conference should feel free to add/edit!

This is quite an old post, but if anyone comes across it now, they might find the following two links useful: 1) My review of EA Global London, largely intended as an insight into whether you'd want to attend future EA Global conferences [] 2) The videos of the talks from EA Global London []

Hi, I'm planning a post on finding relevant literature (I'm a librarian), as well as using reference management software to save time. Does anyone have any great suggestions for places they go for academic writing on EA-related topics, or for datasets? I'm thinking things beyond Google Scholar/Arxiv/JSTOR. All input valued.

Hi all, Liv here (REG co-founder). I've just joined the forum for the first time and don't have enough karma to post in the main thread yet, but hopefully someone very well-versed in climate change intervention rankings will see this:

I'm looking for feedback on the following prioritisation list

This list is being referenced by a potentially very high impact and well-intentioned individual I'm in conversation with, but it IMO it contains a number of surprises and omissions. Does anyone have a more EA-vetted ranking of interventions they could direct me to? Feel free to PM me, thanks.

Could also post to the effective environmentalism group on FB as well. []
New piece by John Halstead: []
Hi, a little late, but did you get an answer to this? I am not an expert but can direct this to people in EA London who can maybe help. My very initial (non-expert) thinking was: * this looks like a very useful list of how to mitigate climate consequences through further investment in existing technologies. * this looks like a list written by a scientist not a policy maker. Where do diplomatic interventions such as "subsidise China to encourage them not to mine as much coal" etc fall on this list. I would expect subsidies to prevent coal mining are likely to be effective. * "atmospheric carbon capture" is not on the list. My understanding is that "atmospheric carbon capture" may be a necessity for allowing us to mitigate climate change in the long run (by controlling CO2 levels) whereas everything else on this list is useful in the medium-short run none of these technologies are necessary.

Are you looking for more mods? I'd be happy to help out.

Oops, just saw that there's a post on exactly this [].

LW 2.0 now exists. It's still in beta, with a significant number of bugs left to fix and many features that haven't been added yet, but at some point it will become stable enough that it would be reasonable to consider switching. I'm curious what people think about this? Just thought that I'd flag this now.

2Peter Wildeford5y
I'd want to wait for more info on how LW 2.0 plays out. The EA Forum doesn't seem broken in any way right now, so I don't think there's a rush to switch over the backend.
1G Gordon Worley III5y
My guess is that it probably makes sense to keep the brands separate even if they are intertwined. That does mean there may be a lot of cross posting or posting things in one location when they would have done better in the other. Unless LW 2.0 has some plans I'm unaware of to support branded sub-groups so EA could have its own identity on the LW platform.
1Chris Leong5y
I meant keeping the site separate, but changing the tech underneath.

Hey! I've written a post about prioritising between different worldviews (as Open Phil calls them), using expected-value/expected choice-worthiness calculation. It would be nice if you could 1) give me feedback 2) like this post if you think I should be able to post this on the forum.

Thanks everyone :)

There are many important limitations to the direct impact of teaching, that 80,000 hours note in their teaching career review here

However, after some reflection, I think that this review underestimates some of the potential for impact through teaching, especially in terms of providing opportunities to promote effective altruism.

I have created the document below (which is still a work-in-progress) primarily with the intention of using it to discuss ideas with other teachers, and potentially advise them on opp... (read more)


I'm a student and iOS developer and I'm fairly new to the EA community. I'm willing to offer some of my time pro-bono in helping to build iOS apps for EA-related projects. Please let me know if there are any projects that you know of that require help in this field, via comments or messages!


Worth keeping an eye on this for potentially relevant projects: []

Hi guys, I wanted to make you aware of a global online debate on the governance of AI by a Harvard-incubated think-tank.

For background, I’m a French EA, and I recently decided to work on AI policy as it is a pressing and neglected issue. I’ve been working for The Future Society for a few weeks already and would like to share with you this opportunity to impact policy-making. The Future Society at Harvard Kennedy School is a think tank dedicated to the governance of emerging advanced technologies. It has partnerships with the Future of Life Institute and th... (read more)

Has anyone read the 80000 hours pdf? On page 12 I'm not sure how they arrived at the figure that a single individual needs $40000 of individual income. They say in footnote 9 that it comes from the fact that in an average household, the first single individual accounts for 1 out of 2.5 people, but then they say that using this approximation that individual requires about 53% as much as a typical household. Shouldn't it actually be 1/ 2.5 = 40% as much?

What do folks here think about the political views of Noam Chomsky? I ask because he is a strict global cosmopolitan thinker on foreign policy. And global cosmopolitanism is a central part of EA. Do any seasoned members of this site have an opinion?

I'm thinking about radically more secure computer architectures as a cause area.

  1. Radical architecture changes are neglected because it hard to change computer architecture
  2. Bad Computer security costs a fair amount at the moment
  3. Having a computer architecture that is insecure is making it hard to adopt more useful technology like Internet of Things.

I'd be interested in doing an analysis of whether it is effective altruistic cause. I'm just doing it as a hobby at the moment. Anyone interested in the same region want to collaborate?

Do you know of organisations, that take donations, and that are at least to some extent dedicated to the building and maintenance of roads in poor regions?

The only organisation that i have found that at least somewhat falls into this category is the german organisation welthungerhilfe.



I believe that the role of a proper road system is strongly underappreciated in development aid. What arteries are to the human body, roads are to a continent. The arteries transport all the different nutrients and elements that are required by the human body to... (read more)

Hi everyone!

I'm new to EA, but after reading 80,000 Hours and Doing Good Better, I'm eager to incorporate these ideas into my life. I find it amusing that I discovered EA shortly after getting accepted into medical school, since doctors have often come up as the prototypical example for being counter-intuitively ineffective. I don't think this is unrelated to the lack of fulfillment and jadedness that many doctors eventually come to experience, and I've since been consumed by the desire to find a promising way to avoid this trap. I think EA offers a compel... (read more)

You might find this group useful (once it get's a bit bigger) []

The recent quality of posts has been absolutely stellar*. Keep it up everyone!

*interesting, varied, informative, written to be helpful/useful, rigorous, etc

I've posted about an approach to AGI estimation.

I would love to find collaborators on this kind of thing. In London would be great.

Hi, I've written an article on climate change but I don't have enough karma points to post. Below I've written the abstract of my paper and I was hoping to get enough karma points to post the full article.

This paper will discuss the impact that climate change has had on the Earth. The issue of climate change has become a huge problem because of the continued campaigns to spread misinformation to the public. Climate change has been affecting the world’s ecosystems, and if nothing is done to fix this issue, various species of animals and plants will become ... (read more)

You could just link to a Google Drive (or other) copy of your full article in your comment, both to let people read the article, and to accumulate the karma for a top-level post if people like it.

Hi everyone.

I've been thinking about the potential effectiveness of lobbying for legalisation of psychedelics (whether individually or as part of a total legalisation of drugs) or the effectiveness of encouraging their use, legal or not, in terms of increasing the empathy of a population (and therefore their likelihood of becoming EAs).

Given their reputation for making people more open to new ideas, psychedelics could significantly bolster the number of people who agree with and act on EA principles.

Does anyone know of any research into anything related / any good articles on this?

I suggest starting with MAPS [].
see []


Given recent absurd temperatures in the Arctic, I've never been less sure than I am now that the human species even can avoid an early and untimely death. For that reason, I am now also interested in continuing the human legacy, once humans as we know them today have disappeared. I assume that no intelligent species exists aside from what we are aware of here on Earth. For the endeavors of the human species to continue after we expire, we need to make sure ourselves that the closest thing to human endeavor continues, and not pin our hopes on something t... (read more)

Ok, so you're talking about a scenario where humans cease to exist, and other intelligent entities don't exist or don't find Earth, but where there is still value in certain things being done in our absence. I think the answer depends on what you think is valuable in that scenario, which you don't define. Are the "best things" safeguarding other species, or keeping the earth at a certain temperature? But this is all quite pessimistic. Achieving this sort of aim seems like a second best outcome, compared to humanity's survival. For example, if earth becomes uninhabitable, colonisation of other planets is extremely good. Perhaps you could do more good by helping humans to move beyond earth, or to become highly resilient to environmental conditions? Surely the best way to ensure that human goals are met is to ensure that at least a few humans survive. Anyway, going with your actual question, how you should pursue it really depends on your situation, skill set, finances, etc, as well as your values. The philosophical task of determining what should be done if we don't survive is one potential. (By the way, who should get to decide on that?) Robotics and AI seem like another, based on the examples you gave. Whatever you decide, I'd suggest keeping the flexibility to change course later, e.g. by learning transferrable skills, in case you change your mind about what you think is important.

If you put on a donation event, is it better to keep donations for global EA causes, or to tie the event in with a logical charity (art charity for art event, or a local charity). I prefer EA causes, but the event might be weaker since most people don't think in an EA way. I don't want to ruin the good for want of the perfect. What would you do?

Hey all. I have a personal challenge. I'm a student from Iran. And I want to be a more effective altruist. However I'm not sure how. So here are a few points to consider: 1.There are no channels like for charities here. And most charities are horrible at best here.

  1. As Iran is boycotted, sending money overseas is rather hard and inefficient (though more efficient than local charities)
  2. as an student, I have little money to spare (few dollars every week).
  3. Also as a double majors student, I have no time time to spare as well. So money is all I can do.

So what can I do?

You could save it, if you believe that a) a time will come fairly soon when you can move the money easier or you will leave Iran and be able to take the money and b) the money won't significantly depreciate in value during this time. If I was you I would set up a small donation ($1 maybe) to the best charity you can find in Iran, or one that makes you feel good to donate to, to try and establish a habit of giving, while investing the rest of the money in yourself (decreasing the amount of time you have to work (if you work) so you can read more, getting a gym membership to maximise your health and therefore your working life and donatable earnings, etc).

Is there an Effective Altruism wiki? I found this one: but the URL that it asks you to go to doesn't take you anywhere.

I am sorta new to the EA movement. I think contributing to a wiki will help me learn more. Plus as a non-native English speaker trying to improve English writing skills, I think contributing to a Wiki can be useful to me. So where is the Wiki? If not, shouldn't we start one or improve the aforementioned wikia page?

According to this reddit thread [] :
Right. I sent a message via the contact page in the EA Hub Website. Maybe I will get an update on what is going on.
Have you had any updates on this? This topic came up at a recent meetup I was at; I'd be interested in reading/contributing.
Nope. Its been a long time now and I had almost forgotten about it! I guess this means we should start one...

I have a query regarding DALYs which I've been unable to find an answer too, but suspect there is literature on were I more familiar with econ/global health:

By my understanding one of the main advantages of DALYs is that they capture the intuition action in cases like "You may extend either person As life by 5 healthy years or extend person Bs life by 5 mediocre years (lets say they go blind due to the treatment)."

However, there seems to be no way of distinguishing the case where person A and B start of as perfectly healthy and we may help the fo... (read more)

0Peter Wildeford5y
If you improve the number of years lived for a healthy person, that is "straightforward" on the DALY view -- it's +1 DALY for every extra year of life added. The question of improving the quality of their life is a harder one -- I think the suggestion from the DALY framework is that if the person has perfect health, there isn't any way to improve the quality of their life (because it's already perfect). ...However, we know that's not actually true, because there is no DALY weight for getting tickets to go see Hamilton, while I think that would improve nearly anyone's life. That's just an area where DALY metrics are incomplete, but you could extend the DALY framework that way, by asking people questions like "If you could choose between an free Hamilton tickets but had a 1% chance of death, would you take the tickets?" (I'd probably take the tickets at a 0.005% chance of death.) - This one is also "straightforward" in the DALY view -- you're adding more years at their current disability weight. If I recall correctly, an extra year of life that would otherwise not have been lived, but lived with blindness is worth +0.8 DALY. Thus adding "five years at their current state of well-being" (that is, blindness but no other issues), would be +4 DALY.

I recently wrote about if generic feedback processes might produce suffering. I'm working on a follow up post now so interested especially in things I didn't address that people would like to see addressed.

[-][anonymous]4y 0

One disadvantage of "earning to give" that I don't recall anyone mentioning: These careers tend to be long hours, giving you less freedom to review and potentially pivot. I think this is a major consideration. I wonder how many people earning to give have a vague feeling that they could probably find something more effective to do with their time, but are struggling to even find the time to stay healthy (sleep, exercise, fulfilling relationships etc), let alone conduct a career review and research, experiment with and apply for other options.

Anot... (read more)

Hey, everyone! What do you think about ocean plastics in terms of tractable, impactful, and neglected solutions?

I am a plastics manufacturing engineer with EA on the brain. Here are the assumptions I've found based on my research so far:

We dump lots of plastic into our oceans, it destabilizes economies in some places and also poisons food/water supplies, i.e. high cost to humanity. Consumers are interested in buying products with post-consumer recycled content for a small price difference because they know that it reduces plastic that would otherwise go in... (read more)

You may get more of a response here. []
[-][anonymous]4y 0

Plea for authors to write summaries at the top of each post - it makes skimming the forum easier. (And a reminder that putting your "This post was cross-posted to...", "This post was co-authored by..." etc. above the summary takes up valuable space.)

This is also an idea for the forum structure itself: forcing people to write a tl;dr in order to post.

Greetings Do-gooders,

I'm wondering if this is an appropriate place to ask for college advice. I read Doing Good Better and 80000 hours, and am interested in joining the movement but haven't finished college. I have an associate's degree (from a community college) but I'm having a hard time deciding on a major/school.

I struggle with math and am unsure I'd be able to complete a math-intensive major. 80000 hours advises alternatively majoring in a liberal art or business. I'm trying to decide between studying a liberal art (e.g. political science) at my state... (read more)

The FB group on career discussions might be a good place to ask - with more people paying attention to it. []

I'm new to the idea of EA, and interested in pursuing it further. I'm finding that I have a hard time buying the argument of using expected value to make a decision, when I don't have a large number of decisions I get to make. Expected value works because it "averages out" over the long term. I'm especially concerned about the recommendations by GiveWell on deworming. I am not a rich person, and I want to be able to make an impact if I can. Nothing in life is a certainty. That said, putting a large portion of the $ that I can contribute to someth... (read more)

Hi. Firstly, I want to say that many people within the movement differ in how risk averse they are and make decisions with that taken into account. For example, this flowchart on deciding which cause to work on [] has a question “would you rather do something that has a 1% chance of saving 1,000 lives than save one life for sure?” I know some smart people who would answer that question with a “no” and behave accordingly. However, many EAs think that the 1% chance option is better and many EAs spend entire life’s effort on causes like AI-safety even though it’ll almost surely have no impact because for them it’s not that important to make sure you have at least some impact, for them the small possibility of having a huge impact is just as motivating. I do share your feeling that having at least some impact is better, but personally I try to somewhat ignore it as a bias when making important decisions. To me, in some abstract sense, 1% chance of saving 1,000 lives is better than 100% chance of saving 1 life. In the same way that helping 10 people africa is in some abstract sense better than helping 1 person who lives in my country. And in the same way that helping 10 people who will live in million years is better than helping 1 person who is living now. Part of my brain disagrees but I choose to call that a bias rather than a part of my moral compass. Which IMO is a totally subjective choice. Even if all of us were risk averse, it might still make sense for all of us to cooperate and put money into different risky causes, because then there’s a high probability that all of us combined will have a big positive impact. Instead of making sure that you yourself make a significant difference, you could think how EA community as whole (or humanity as a whole) could make a big positive difference. EA already supports many charities and maybe the risky charity that you

I am searching how to get attention to my 196p.A4 Dynamic Magnum Opus Multiple 'Humanitarian' Theoretic Solutions, Leads and Quests I compiled and are extremely important for the world to get familiar with the 2005/2018 text's many brake thru's. I'll of course keep searching a bit what others are writting and asking and delivering, but to be honnest I need mine to be made a EA group for, can I do this without karma points? And how to exactly earn Karma points? Thank you in advance for any time to provide me the facts, I am new and a bit confused by the interface and Karma points minimal requirements etc. I just want a theoretic chance to show how in theory I resolved the world part 1 solo.

DirK GieLeN

very neglected climate cause (an e-mail I wrote)

Hello Professors A and B,

Earlier this year I looked over a paper that was published in 2010 called "An adaptability limit to climate change due to heat stress”. It made a strong impression on me. I think heat stress must be the biggest danger to human beings from climate change. If a region becomes uninhabitable, or at least uninhabitable to folks too poor to afford air conditioning, that trumps everything else.

I wrote to you because I am puzzled that journalists and researchers do not seem to agree. ... (read more)

When I was preparing my recent forum post, it doubled itself if I tried to edit it after posting. Also, the "upload an image" box is very user unfriendly. I could not figure it out.

Is there any forum online where individuals can put their personal circumstances/choices/options up for discussion? Kind of like the 80 000 Hours coaching service, but since they don't have the resources to advise everyone, more of a crowd-sourced effort where someone could say "I'm in this situation, considering X, Y or Z, can anyone provide opinions/experiences/perspectives/alternatives I may not have thought of?"

I was kind of hoping this forum would be like that, but it seems like it's more academic - and the posts are very interesting and hi... (read more)

Career Discussion group on FB []

Stats, or Software?

Hey guys, I might make this a full post later but I realllly need advice.

I am a software developer with a BA in Ecomonics and Int'l Studies. I became a dev cause I needed a job terribly and didnt have any connections to orgs I was really passionate about. Ive been thrilled to learn programming can really help people! But im starting to get the vibe that data science and statistics might do a bit more damage.

What do ya'll think? How do I approach my developing my skillset without getting too distracted? I love stat and I love programming... (read more)

I posted a couple months ago that I was working on an effective altruism board game. You can now order a copy online!

To recap:

  • it's a cooperative game where you start out as a random human sampled from the real-world distribution of income

  • try to get lots of human QALYs and animal QALYs and reduce existential risk

  • all while answering EA-related trivia questions, donating to effective charities, partaking in classic philosophy thought experiments, realizing your own private morality and

  • try to avoid being turned into a chicken.

Cool! Who would you say is the target audience for this? Is it suitable for people who are very new to EA?

Thanks Will Pearson for creating this open thread!

Hi EA Community,

I recently heard about this forum and would like to share a pitch for your consideration. It relates to our need as a global community to address human population growth by tasking every nation with the responsibility to stabilize their population at a sustainable level.

Feedback is welcome and appreciated. Thank you.


Goal To catalyze an international campaign that leads to the UN establishing a Framework Convention on Population Growth. Further, the goal I have in mind is to present ... (read more)

I'm thinking about funding an analysis of the link between autonomy and happiness.

I have seen papers like


I am interested in how reproducible and reliable they are and I was wondering if I could convert money into an analysis of the methodology used in (some of) these papers.

As I respect EA's analytical skills (and hope their is a shared interest in happiness and truth), I thought I would ask here.

[+][comment deleted]4y 0