These monthly posts originated as the "Updates" section of the EA Newsletter. Organizations submit their own updates, which we edit for clarity.
You can see previous updates in our repository of past newsletters.
This month, Rob Wiblin spoke to Carl Shulman on the common-sense case for existential risk work and its practical implications. He also spoke with Varsha Venugopal on using gossip to help vaccinate every child in India.
Anima International published the results of a new survey on Russians’ attitudes towards plant-based alternatives that, among other results, showed a 3-fold increase in consumption in the last 18 months and found that the label “100% plant-based product” is 11 times more attractive compared to “100% vegan product”. You can read more about the study here or see the original in Russian.
Otwarte Klatki in Poland released the results of an investigation on mink farms, including interviews with breeders and farm workers, who discuss the presence of disease on farms. They also worked with the Auchan supermarket chain, which signed an agreement to improve the welfare of chickens raised to supply meat for its private-label products; this is the most important broiler chicken commitment they’ve achieved so far.
Animal Advocacy Careers
Animal Advocacy Careers has launched applications for their free, introductory online course.
AAC ran a study of this online course last year, and the results suggested that participants were more likely than a control group to make career plan changes and find roles that seemed promising for helping animals.
The course walks you through some of the key considerations and research involved in working out which are the most cost-effective strategies for you to help animals. It will also help you identify specific opportunities and plan your next steps. The course takes 1-2 hours per week, spread out over a couple of months.
If this sounds helpful to you, see details on their website and apply via the link there. Applications are due by 10 November.
Animal Ethics has been supporting the postdoc research of Jara Gutiérrez and others over the last few years. Jara and her professor Javier de Miguel recently published an article in the European Journal of Ecology focusing on the effects of wildfires on animals and ways to reduce such harms. The full paper can be openly accessed at Fires in nature: a review of the challenges for wild animals. The abstract of the paper is available on the Animal Ethics website.
Animal Ethics also published The development of sentience in juvenile animals, which includes two short case studies of the type necessary to eventually settle the question about which animals are sentient and at what stage in development an animal develops sentience.
Centre for Effective Altruism
Centre for the Governance of AI (GovAI)
GovAI has now officially relaunched as a nonprofit. Their mission remains the same: to build a global research community, dedicated to helping humanity navigate the transition to a world with advanced AI. However, owing to their new structure, they will also be exploring new ways to expand our impact.
They are hiring Research Fellows and a Chief of Staff, and taking applications for their 3-month Summer Fellowship Program (apply before January 1st). More info at governance.ai and in the announcement post.
Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER)
CSER announced a call for lightning talks as part of their 2022 conference (apply by 15 November). Talks will be delivered remotely during special sessions on the afternoons (BST) of 19-20 April.
In a new working paper, Jess Whittlestone and Jack Clark present a proposal for improving the regulation of AI by investing in government initiatives to measure and monitor aspects of AI research, deployment, and impacts.
Seán Ó hÉigeartaigh and Toby Ord published a comment on the UK Government's National AI Strategy, welcoming its initiatives and especially the government's commitment to working with researchers to safely advance AI and mitigate catastrophic risks.
CSER published a video of their recent panel on the causes of different existential hazards, the sources of existential risk in the past and present, what could change in the future, and what this means for the world.
Charity Entrepreneurship (CE) has announced the launch of five new EA-aligned charities that, thanks to generous funders (EA Funds, Open Philanthropy, and the CE Seed Network), were provided with $537,000 in grants. The 2021 incubated charities are:
- Training For Good - delivering a range of training programs to fill important EA capability gaps and raise the utilization rate of EA talent (EA forum announcement)
- High Impact Professionals - enabling working professionals to have the biggest positive impact possible (EA forum announcement)
- Shrimp Welfare Project - improving the lives of hundreds of millions of farmed shrimp in Southeast Asia
- Healthier Hens - improving the welfare of farmed egg-laying hens via a cost-effective intervention focused on feed fortification
- Center for Alcohol Policy Solutions - saving lives and promoting well-being through alcohol taxation
CE has introduced a quiz that can help you determine whether starting an effective nonprofit might be a good fit for you.
Effective Altruism Funds
The Long-Term Future Fund and the EA Infrastructure Fund are once more calling for applications. Please submit your applications for projects that could address important bottlenecks for the EA community or improve the long-term future!
They’re especially excited about ambitious ideas that could have a large-scale impact if successful, with specific plans for how you might achieve those successes. Apply now.
In the latest edition of their Faunalytics Explains video series, Faunalytics examines a report from the beef industry that can also serve as a tactical guide for advocates. They’ve also updated their research library with several articles on topics related to rethinking food systems, including Aquaculture: The Lesser Of Two Evils?, Technical Outrage: Innovating To Reduce Animal Use, and Towards A Just Food Future: Reimagining Dairy Systems. Additionally, their new blog What Is Animal Law? provides an overview of animal law and how advocates can (and do) employ it in creative ways.
Fish Welfare Initiative
In September, FWI secured its first corporate commitment. Although the scale of the commitment is relatively small (affecting ~500 fish/year), FWI believes it sets an important precedent; as far as they are aware, this is the first corporate commitment ever for farmed fish in India.
Additionally, they are hiring a Communications Lead. If you know any candidates in India who might be a good fit, please share!
Giving What We Can
Giving What We Can released a new guide to talking about effective altruism, effective giving, and Giving What We Can and recorded an interview with one of the co-authors, Geetanjali Basarkod, discussing key concepts and tips.
Giving Season is fast approaching, and GWWC would be very happy to help with events related to effective giving (see some event ideas) in collaboration with local, university, industry and workplace groups. Please contact them if you would like help organising an event for the 2021 giving season, or pick a time if you’d like them to give a talk online or help to facilitate a giving game.
Global Catastrophic Risk Institute
GCRI Executive Director Seth Baum contributed to a new paper on “Artificial Intelligence, Systemic Risks, and Sustainability”. AI is increasingly used in agriculture and forestry practices processing large datasets from environmental sensors. However, this creates major risks from cyberattacks, large-scale mis-optimization, and extreme cascading failure modes.
GiveWell's number-one priority is increasing the number of opportunities to which it can direct funding. It's seeking Senior Researchers to join its team and fill the most important role needed to achieve this goal. It hopes you'll consider applying or sharing the listing with your network.
Senior Researchers are the intellectual leaders who guide GiveWell's exploration of how it can do the most good. Senior Researchers will be responsible for finding, researching, and ultimately recommending high-impact giving opportunities. As part of a small team, they will be significant contributors to decisions about how hundreds of millions of dollars will be spent with the goal of saving and improving the lives of people living in the lowest-income communities in the world. Remote work is possible. More information is available here.
GiveWell also shared its initial thoughts on the malaria vaccine that was recently recommended by the World Health Organization.
Happier Lives Institute
The Happier Lives Institute (HLI) published new meta-analyses comparing the cost-effectiveness of cash transfers and psychotherapy in low-income countries in terms of subjective well-being. Their key finding is that StrongMinds is 12 times (95% CI: 4, 24) more cost-effective than GiveDirectly in terms of subjective well-being. This puts it roughly on par with the top deworming charities recommended by GiveWell.
This is the first in-depth charity evaluation to compare poverty alleviation and mental health interventions using the same units (subjective well-being) rather than income and DALYs. The analysis is built upon a much broader evidence base rather than evaluating individual charities in isolation. HLI also used Monte Carlo simulations, rather than point estimates, to account for their uncertainty in their final estimates.
HLI Director Michael Plant discussed these results, HLI’s broader approach, and a number of other topics, such as EA’s cause prioritisation methodology, on Spencer Greenberg’s Clearer Thinking podcast.
One for the World
One for the World has conducted corporate talks about giving at Microsoft, Blackrock, and Mott MacDonald this month, raising around $6000 so far. They are also launching their Giving Tuesday campaigns in the next month.
Open Philanthropy announced grants including $4M to Dezernat Zukunft to support work on monetary and fiscal policy in Europe, $3.3M to the Global Priorities Institute for general support, $3.3M to the Center for Security and Emerging Technology to support a biosecurity research project, and $3M to Mercy for Animals to support corporate engagement on animal welfare. Open Philanthropy co-CEO Holden Karnofsky also spoke with the New York Times’ Ezra Klein about how to do the most good, why we may be living in the most important century, the merits of worldview diversification, and more.
Rethink Priorities (RP) welcomed several new employees.
New members of the Global Health and Development team:
- Ruby Dickson, Researcher
- Bruce Tsai, Researcher
- Jenny Kudymowa, Researcher
- Greer Gosnell, Senior Environmental Economist
New members of the Animal Welfare team:
- Samara Mendez, Senior Researcher
- Jacob Peacock, Senior Research Manager
- William McAuliffe, Senior Research Manager
RP also published several new EA Forum posts. Principal Research Director David Moss presented the results concerning geography from the EA Survey 2020; it examined where EAs are located, how the number of EAs in different areas is increasing or decreasing, and explored differences across regional, country, and city divides. Lastly, Researcher Michael Aird gave a presentation on “Nuclear risk research, forecasting, and impact”, of which there is a summary, slides, and a video recording of the Q&A session.
WANBAM released a new blog post: “WANBAM: Successes and challenges from our first two years.” The post summarizes their activities, initial results, and steps they took to mitigate risk. They additionally onboarded their next round of mentees for their fourth round.
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