Another slightly tangential but very similar question that came up in conversation I had recently is:
"How well have EA-funded orgs built on the momentum created by the COVID-motivated global interest in GCRs (global catastrophic risks) to drive policy change or other changes to help prevent GCRs and x-risks"
I could have imagined a world where the entire longtermist community pivoted towards this goal and at least for a year or two and focused all available time skill and money on driving GCR related policy change – but this doesn’t seem to have happened much. I could imagine the community looking back at this year and regretting the collective lack of action.
The organisation where I work, the APPG for Future Generations pivoted significantly, kickstarted a new Parliament Committee on risks and I wrote a paper on lessons learned from COVID which had significantly government interest and seems to have driven policy change (writeup forthcoming).
But beyond that there has definitely been some exciting stuff happening. I know:
- CSER are starting a lessons learned from COVID project, although this is only just getting started.
- FHI staff have submitted a some evidence to parliamentary inquiries (example).
- The CLTR (funded by the EAIF) has launched a report on risk (I'm unsure if this was a change in direction or always the plan).
- No more pandemics (not funded) was started.
This stuff is all great and I am sure there is more happening – but my general sense is that it is much less than and much slower than I would have expected.
I also loosely get the impression (from my own experience and that of 2-3 other orgs that I have talked to) that various EA funders have been disinterested in pivoting to support lessons learned from COVID focused policy work, some of which could scale up quite significantly, and that maybe funding is the main bottleneck for some of this (I think funding for more policy work is a bottleneck for all of the orgs listed above except FHI).
[Disclaimer – I will be bias given that I pivoted my work to focus on COVID lessons learned and policy influencing and looked for funding for this.]