These monthly posts originated as the "Updates" section of the EA Newsletter. Organizations submit their own updates, which we edit for clarity.
80,000 Hours is looking for new colleagues to join its team of advisors. Advisors talk one-on-one with talented and altruistic individuals to help them find high-impact careers. Those interested should apply by February 20.
Last month on The 80,000 Hours Podcast, Rob Wiblin interviewed Andrew Yang on our very long-term future, and other topics most politicians won’t touch.
Benjamin Todd also wrote an article on Expected value: how can we know what makes a difference when uncertain?, and 80,000 Hours staff compiled recommendations in two new blog posts:
- Insider insights from people reviewing their own careers by Benjamin Hilton
- 80,000 Hours staff picks: our favourite content of 2021 by Luisa Rodriguez
- 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.
ALLFED - Alliance to Feed the Earth in Disasters
Humanity is not prepared to respond to a global agricultural collapse. Many foods resistant to global catastrophic food risks still need significant development. ALLFED (Alliance to Feed the Earth in Disasters) is studying how to reduce these risks.
A new paper proposes a technology development roadmap to bring resilient foods to the level of technological maturity needed to use them in disaster response, preventing global famine. It studies as an example a historical chemical process for converting hydrocarbons into "margarine" or cooking oil, proposing ways to modernize it as a tool for surviving global catastrophes.
There is also great potential to use existing industrial infrastructure to produce food, which could help bridge the gap between food production and demand in the event of extreme catastrophes. This new paper presents how paper mills, biorefineries and breweries could be rapidly reconfigured to convert inedible plant material into sugar.
Anima International created a campaign to increase engagement with the EU survey regarding animal protection policies on two levels: 1) Engaging animal advocacy groups 2) Engaging followers in Anima International national groups.
1) In consultation with Eurogroup for Animals it was assessed that an engagement toolkit would be beneficial to increase the involvement of European animal advocacy groups in the work. Anima International created this toolkit to support adaptations of their survey tutorial video and 4 engagement videos to be used in the marketing work of advocacy groups. This toolkit was then promoted through the major networks in animal advocacy. 2) Internally in Anima International engagement campaigns were organized for national followers in Poland, Denmark, Estonia, Lithuania, Norway and the UK. Because the campaign only ended January 21st, Anima International still needs to complete an impact assessment on both levels of the campaign.
Anima Denmark has been in dialogue with Rema (Danish Retailer who runs 350+ Stores in Denmark) since 2018 and has run a hard-hitting campaign since 2020 in collaboration with Animals’ Alliance. Now, the retailer has launched a new animal welfare policy that means that they will start a phase out of ALL fast growing broilers starting this year and with the majority of volumes being phased out within approx. 1 year from now. In addition they want to ensure that 25% of chickens (and pigs) sold should be from free range by 2024/2025.
Animal Charity Evaluators
Animal Charity Evaluators (ACE) has shared how it verifies charities’ claims as part of its charity evaluation process. ACE primarily focuses on the claims that charities report regarding the outcomes of their programs and use this to inform its cost-effectiveness analysis, as well as other aspects.
Each year, ACE tracks donations to determine how many were influenced by its charity recommendations. This is an important way for ACE to measure its impact as a meta-charity. If you used ACE’s charity reviews and recommendations to influence your donations in 2021, please take a couple of minutes of your time to report them. Thank you.
ACE is seeking an Executive Director and Movement Grants Program Officer to join the team, who are dedicated to finding and promoting the most effective ways to help animals. These are remote positions; ACE can directly employ candidates in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. If the right applicant is not within those jurisdictions, ACE will explore a third-party employment solution. More details and how to apply can be found on ACE’s website.
Animal Ethics published its annual report, Animal Ethics: The year in review 2021. The report details its international outreach, publications, and collaborations for 2021.
For International Animal Rights day, Animal Ethics posted an AMA on each of their English, Spanish, and Portuguese YouTube Channels. They answered a variety of questions related to speciesism, animal ethics, and wild animal suffering.
Animal Ethics produced the first in a series of new educational materials. Their "Have you ever heard of speciesism" infographic is available for download in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, and Italian.
Berkeley Existential Risk Initiative
With support from LTFF and Open Philanthropy, BERI has converted our trial collaborations with the Autonomous Learning Lab and Sculpting Evolution into main collaborations. For more information, see this blog post.
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)
An international team of risk and machine-learning experts, led by researchers at the Centre, published a new call to action on developing trustworthy AI in Science. They argue that companies building intelligent technologies should harness techniques such as “red team” hacking, audit trails, and “bias bounties” – paying out rewards for revealing ethical flaws – to prove their integrity before releasing AI for use on the wider public.
CSER Academic Programme Manager, Paul Ingram, published a report for BASIC on achieving progress on nuclear disarmament via the five-step Stepping Stones Approach. The Approach is a pragmatic and adaptable political strategy to increase the chances of successful implementation of policy in highly contested environments by actively involving diverse perspectives in policy design, evolution, and execution.
CSER researcher Lara Mani and alumni Alexa Hagerty contributed to a paper in the journal Biodiversity setting out principles of increasing resilience of cities and their peripheries post COVID. These range from rewriting our narratives about spaces, cities, and landscapes to considering the impact of 'smart green cities' on individuals' rights and behaviors.
Ross Gruetzemacher and Jess Whittlestone published a paper in Futures arguing that the term ‘transformative AI’ is a helpful alternative to poorly defined alternatives like 'Artificial General Intelligence' as it reflects the possibility that advanced AI systems could have very large impacts without reaching human-level cognitive abilities. They propose three different levels on which AI might be said to be transformative, associated with different levels of societal change.
The final report of the House of Lords Select Committee on Risk Assessment and Risk Planning was released on the 3rd of December, citing written and oral evidence from CSER researchers.
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 recently published a handbook, How to Launch a High-Impact Nonprofit, which is now available on Amazon worldwide as an ebook and paperback. If you are running an EA chapter, you can also order it from EA Books Direct. CE’s team and other charity founders distilled their experience, advice, and expertise into this full-length guide on how to start a new effective organization. The book is recommended and includes a short foreword by Peter Singer. All proceeds will support CE in launching new high-impact charities.
CE has also announced the launch of a new pilot program: the Foundation Program. In 2022, CE aims to take 2 to 6 grantmaking foundations from beginning-stage to field leaders. The free, 1-month-long bootcamp will focus on building solid frameworks for making key decisions when the stakes are high. This intensive training will involve real-world challenges, discussions, introductions to experts, and 1 to 1 coaching, supported by readings, video lectures, podcasts, and other materials. The program’s content and structure is best suited for philanthropic grantmaking foundations or organizations either in their early stages or undergoing a large-scale pivot. To inquire further about the program’s fit for you or someone you know, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
CE is also hiring for 5 new full-time positions!
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.
Faunalytics has released their 2022 Plans and Priorities. Highlights include new original studies and resources for advocates, translating research into additional languages, and expanding their team—all within the framework of growing thoughtfully and sustainably.
Their upcoming Research Agenda outlines the studies they will conduct this year, including testing approaches to reducing chicken and fish suffering, examples of successful anti-subsidy lobbies, a chicken and fish substitution meta-analysis, and several additional projects.
Additionally, they’ve added several study summaries to their research library on topics including land use and plant based diets, environmental enrichment techniques for fish welfare, global shark and ray decline, next-gen materials, and more.
Fish Welfare Initiative
In India, FWI recently held two local events where they discussed the importance of animal welfare in aquaculture with several dozen farmers and community leaders. This is part of their strategy for increasing farmer engagement in, as well as public and government support for, their Alliance for Responsible Aquaculture (ARA). 58 fish farms are currently enrolled in the ARA and are improving the welfare of fish on their farms.
In the Philippines, FWI is currently hiring for an Aquaculture Technician.
Giving Green’s recommendations were featured in end-of-year giving lists from several major outlets, including the New York Times, Time Magazine, and Vox. Giving Green’s director Dan Stein also spoke to The Atlantic about their methodology and new recommendations, as well as their partnership with The Life You Can Save to add climate recommendations to the TLYCS list of top charities.
Giving Green is also hiring in research and communications roles.
Giving What We Can
Giving What We Can is approaching 8,000 members and had 694 new pledges from Dec 1 2021 to Jan 15 2022 which marked a successful year end and a bright start to the new year.
There has been some favourable coverage of Giving What We Can in the media, from The Guardian “New year’s resolutions: ‘I’m going to give away 10% of my income’” to Making Sense with Sam Harris “#271 - Earning to Give” which features FTX founder and Giving What We Can member, Sam Bankman-Fried.
Research and Content Associate Julian Hazell made a convincing argument as to “Why we're in the best position to do good in history”.
The Giving What We Can team has gotten together to discuss strategy for the coming years, and are looking forward to sharing an update in the near future.
Global Catastrophic Risk Institute
On February 14-15, Research Associate Andrea Owe will be part of the panel on “Digitalisation and sustainability transactions” at the Sustainability Frontiers Conference.
On February 22, Research Associate Andrea Owe will also give a seminar titled “Deepening AI ethics: AI and why we are in an environmental crisis” as part of the Chalmers AI Ethics Seminars.
Happier Lives Institute
HLI’s research plans for Q1 include updating their cost-effectiveness evaluation of psychotherapy and cash transfers to incorporate new data on the household spillover effects. Joel and Sam will also be evaluating deworming treatments and mental health apps. Michael is writing a response to the technical updates to Open Philanthropy’s cause prioritization framework and a post titled “Dilemmas for Do-gooders” which will explore some of the awkward and not-so-obvious choices we have to make as effective altruists.
HLI is planning to hire two Senior Research Analysts this year (full details to be announced in April). One will head up their work (re)estimating micro-interventions in terms of subjective wellbeing; the other will work with Michael on establishing what a global wellbeing grantmaking portfolio would look like for major donors spending $10m+/year.
Barry’s main project this quarter is redesigning the website so that we can present all our research in HTML format. He’ll also be working on the 2022 Annual Review and a new post making the case for using SWB measures. Joy will be preparing to launch applications for our 2022 Summer Research Fellowship. She’s also working with Barry to conduct interviews with our contacts in the policy world as we begin to explore opportunities for HLI to influence the world of policy making.
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.
Legal Priorities Project
The Legal Priorities Project (LPP) will be hiring Senior Research Fellows, a Head of Outreach & Community Building, and an Operations Associate. More details will be published on their website, newsletter, and social media in the coming days.
LPP launched its “Law & Longtermism Network” on Slack, which is open to researchers, students, policy-makers, and legal practitioners of all backgrounds interested in legal longtermism.
The call for proposals for the 2022 Multidisciplinary Forum on Longtermism and the Law, co-organized with the University of Hamburg, is still open. Proposals are invited from researchers of various disciplines on the role of law in sustaining and improving life hundreds or thousands of years into the future. The deadline for abstract submissions is February 15.
Laurens Prins will be leading LPP’s work on impact litigation as a means to reduce existential and catastrophic risk and protect the rights of future generations, in collaboration with visiting litigation fellow José Villalobos. Jeff Sebo joined as Senior Research Affiliate.
Momentum wrote an EA Forum update outlining Momentum’s theory of change, providing updates on its progress to date, and exploring reasons for and against working at Momentum.
They offered a warm welcome to Benji Gering, who joined the growth team as Momentum’s 9th employee. They also kicked off recruiting for a new product manager to work closely with the founders designing and building out new software features.
Momentum also completed a minimum-viable version of a new content-management system which allows nonpofits to design and edit donation pages independently. They are currently testing and rolling out this ‘self-serve’ donation page system and will launch this system in the coming weeks, allowing any nonprofit to create a free donation page in minutes.
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 raised over $1m for highly effective charities between July and Decemer 2021, a record total. The organisation also conducted nearly 50 corporate talks in the last 18 months, promoting effective giving and raising donations. So far, these have raised over $100k in recurring donations and over $400k in one-off donations. If you would like to host a talk at your workplace, contact Jack.
Open Philanthropy introduced their newest program officers: Santosh Harish, who will lead OP’s new South Asian Air Quality program, and Norma Altshuler, who will lead their new Global Aid Advocacy program. They also announced grants including $10.2M to UC Davis to support a feasibility analysis of a potential test of gene drives for malaria control and $8M to the Applied Research Laboratory for Intelligence and Security to support the development of forecasting platforms for policymakers.
Rethink Priorities (RP) has made several offers to candidates to join the Longtermism Department and AI Governance and Strategy (AIGS) Team as both permanent staff members, as well as research fellows.
Amanda El-Dakhakhni started with Rethink Priorities as Senior Research Manager on January 3, 2022. She will lead a team working on AIGS-related topics. Prior to joining RP, Amanda spent several years advising emerging technology companies operating in complex policy environments and worked in several policy and legal roles.
RP is hiring for People and Culture Coordinator. Applications are due by February 6, 2022 end of day.
Call for Abstracts: Rethink Priorities is co-organizing a conference on the problems and prospects for making interspecies welfare comparisons. Right now, they are accepting paper and poster abstracts that are due by January 31, 2022.
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