Update, 12/7/21: As an experiment, we're trying out a longer-running Open Thread that isn't refreshed each month. We've set this thread to display new comments first by default, rather than high-karma comments.


If you're new to the EA Forum, consider using this thread to introduce yourself! 

You could talk about how you found effective altruism, what causes you work on and care about, or personal details that aren't EA-related at all. 

(You can also put this info into your Forum bio.)


If you have something to share that doesn't feel like a full post, add it here! 

(You can also create a Shortform post.)


Open threads are also a place to share good news, big or small. See this post for ideas.

221 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 9:04 AM
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I'm excited.

A lot changes now.

Future is really now.

I did it!

Well not really. The specific me doesn't matter. It's the idea.

Ideas are Elementary Units of ABSOLUTE TRUTH.

Now We Are Free. (Lisa Gerrard)

Yes, that's a gladiator reference. Why? The universe willed it to be so. It called the idea of utopia by the name Rome. And we worked really hard for it. Yes we did make loads of mistakes. That's only natural. Entropy increases in an isolated system. We found the answer to every question we needed to survive and beyond. We just didn't realise.

Now its, No Time for Caution.

Full thrusters. But different. We will f... (read more)

What's up EAers. I noticed that this website has some issues on mobile devices - the left bar links don't work, several places where text overlaps, tapping the search icon causes an inappropriate zoom - is there someone currently working on this where it would help if I filed a ticket or reported an issue?

2JP Addison9d
Don't worry about finding the perfect place (here is a fine place for now). You can message us [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/contact] about bugs, or post in the Feature Suggestion Thread [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/NhSBgYq55BFs7t2cA/ea-forum-feature-suggestion-thread] for feature requests, so that others can vote on the ideas. I'm guessing you use an iPhone? This is a longstanding issue that we really should have fixed, it used to be you had to tap twice, though now it appears to have broken entirely. Thanks for the report. I see the behavior, thanks.
3Kevin Lacker7d
Excellent, sounds like you're on it. I do in fact use an iPhone. I should have made a more specific note about where I saw overlapping text earlier, I can't seem to find it again now. I'll use the message us link about any future minor UI bugs.

Hello, I'm new to this forum, met a bunch of EA folk in London at the EA Global drinks a couple of weeks ago, and have been EA adjacent for a while, so happy to chat and link up on projects of mutual interest. Most of my personal giving is in humanitarian and development, also investing in green tech through crowdfunding platforms.

I'm currently Head of Global Health Communications & Stakeholder Engagement at UK's National Institute for Health & Care Research (NIHR) , previously over 20 years senior leadership in universities, research institutes, international NGOs, charities and funders, mainly in bioscience, health, and international development. Full career history on https://www.linkedin.com/in/patrick-wilson-323b591b/
I am active in various science communication networks and rationalist/ish groups. I enjoy football and samba. I blog at https://pathfindings.substack.com and I'm currently writing a popular (I hope!) science book on advances in bio-gerontology and the future of humanity. If you want to get a flavour of some of my writing, I just cross-posted a recent blog on https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/h2EaaDchr9QYuKz9z/rabbits-robots-and-resurrection.

Are shortforms supposed to show up on the front page? I published a shortform on Sunday and noticed that it did not appear in the recent activity feed, but older material did.

Also, does anyone else think that the shortform section should be more prominent? It's a nice way to encourage people to publish ideas even if they're not confident in them, but my most recent one has gotten little to no engagement.

4Lizka15d
The shortform should in fact appear in recent activity -- not sure what happened there. And I agree that we should grow and develop low-barrier ways of interacting with the Forum.

Upcoming posts about not yet created EA project or institution called “EA common application”.

I know a writer/”founder” who wrote up documents related to an “EA common application”. 

Importantly, their vision seemed to get serious interest and funding—but they later exited or got kicked off the project[1][2].

I have access to these documents written by this person. 

In the last few months, EAs have asked for these documents to read and distribute to others. Some requests have come from people I have never met. 

There seems to be a lot of interes... (read more)

2Charles He25d
(Continued) For my own idiosyncratic reasons, related to this particular project of the common application, it seems bad for me to organize, or put people together. Similarly, being a single point of contact, or “holding on to these documents or ideas” seems inappropriate. Yet, with the pressure/sentiment described above, it's irresponsible to do nothing or just sit on the document . So I plan to write up some posts and share the documents. I'll write this all up quickly. The resulting output might be low quality, or confusing to people not engaged or in the “common app headspace” (like, 99% of forum users). The truth is that writing about this is pretty hard, orthogonal to founder skill, and there’s just a lot going on, it’s one of the more complex projects, and the content is by its nature opinionated. All this content will be posted on a new EA forum account, with much more conventional communication norms than the one used here. I’ll write a little more below for some context, as I prepare a document.
2Charles He25d
QUICK, BASIC OVERVIEW OF EA COMMON APPLICATION (1/2) (Note that the following describes one vision of the common application, and is dependent on founding team preferences and ability. Things will be different, even if everything goes perfectly. The below content might also be wrong or misleading.) Basically, the “common application” is a common point of entry for EAs and talented individuals applying to EA organizations. Concretely, this would include a website that is used by applicants and EA orgs. It would also become a team or institution that is universally seen as competent, principled and transparent by all EAs. To say it simply, it would be a website that everyone uses and applies to, when working in EA. It’s just the optimal thing to do. To the organizations and applicants that are users, the common application will be simple and straightforward. But for the founders/creators, achieving this is harder than it sounds, and in the best version, there are (extraordinarily) complex considerations[1] [#fncke5p2qoc6]. But as demanding as it is, it’s equally or more valuable to EA. Even in the early stages, the value of the common application includes: * A streamlined, common place for thousands of talented people looking to contribute or work at EA orgs, as well as a competent institution that provides services, advice and standards to EA organizations. * A central place that provides insights about EA recruiting (like this, but automatically for everyone, at the time [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/vGRFZMriNYdLtD2AJ/is-it-still-hard-to-get-a-job-in-ea-insights-from-cea-s] ), and observes and can intervene in bad outcomes ("really hard to find an EA job [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/jmbP9rwXncfa32seH/after-one-year-of-applying-for-ea-jobs-it-is-really-really] "). * The common application can coordinate with EA, responding to gaps as well as surpluses for talent, for example by creating grants or specia
2Charles He25d
QUICK, BASIC OVERVIEW OF EA COMMON APPLICATION (2/2) The bread and butter of the common application is the day-to-day work to get operations running smoothly and build expertise and trust among EA orgs and applicants. While much of this seems seems mundane, just the basic operations and having experienced, trusted staff perform friendly check-ins with talented candidates is important (I think focus might be on engaging and retaining highly talented “liminal” EAs, as opposed to existing highly-engaged EAs). It is key to have founder(s) who respects and will execute this unglamorous work. That being said, in the later stages (year 2 and after), the common application can provide enormous and unique value: * Working as a servant to EA organizations, the common application can develop assessment, screening and guidance tools for candidates and organizations that makes EA organizations recruit more effectively and provides confidence and insight for EAs in their job search. * The common application can go far beyond streamlining recruiting, bringing strong candidates into EA, and make better matches for existing talent, for example, creating new roles, catching candidates who might bounce off EA, and building up deep pools of talent beyond any single job search. * This activity in the common application will provide a way to further develop and grow the pool of EA “vetting” and communication that is important for EA scaling, supporting existing strong EA culture, norms and institutions This vision of the common application is unusual. It’s hard to think of any other movement that has an institution like this. In later stages, some of the ideas, methods and practices could be groundbreaking. The previous writer/"founder" had interest from professors in Stanford GSB , Sloan/MIT and Penn State, as well as other schools, who expressed interest in working for free, studying and developing methods (market design, assessment) for this common appl
5Greg_Colbourn15d
Would it be fair to say that Triplebyte is a similar thing for the software engineering industry?
2Charles He15d
I don't fully understand Triplebyte, but the common application seems more extensive in functionality. I expect EAs who create a common application to believe they can achieve closer and more effective coordination between EA organizations than many portals or job search sites. For example, (in one vision of the common application) with the consent of organizations and explicit agreement by candidates, organizations can share (carefully controlled, positive) information about candidates who don't end up accepting a job offer, or share other expertise or knowledge about hiring or talent pools they come across. I think this post [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/TcfszCh4iTTw7ffLH/brief-presentation-and-considerations-for-an-ea-common] , and future, not yet posted content, by the account "che [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/users/charleshe]" will be more explicit and clarify the role and value of a common application.

Hi All, 

Just introducing myself! I've been an advocate of EA for a number of years but I'm new to the forum. I've spent a while reading though various posts and it's great to see a forum with such a reasonable, open minded and friendly tone. 

Like most people here I'm really interested in how humanity responds to existential threats (e.g. climate change) and global living standards (e.g. economic development in poorer regions). My background has been working in a start up - so I feel very comfortable starting projects, getting things off the ground, discovering something doesn't quite work and then consigning it to the failure list :P 

If anyone has a great idea that they want help getting off the ground then I'd love to hear from you. I'm hoping to have more free time to devote to projects soon as I'm leaving my job as a Financial Director to go back to university to retrain as a computer scientist :)  

Is there like some statistics on this forum? Particularly distribution of votes over posts?

6Lorenzo1mo
Hi Emrik! Is this what you're looking for? https://effectivealtruismdata.com/#post-wilkinson-section [https://effectivealtruismdata.com/#post-wilkinson-section] https://www.effectivealtruismdata.com/#forum-scatter-section [https://www.effectivealtruismdata.com/#forum-scatter-section]
2Emrik1mo
Exactly! Thanks a lot.

Hi there, I first came across EA last summer after someone suggested it might be a good fit for what I'm working on. 

I'm building a platform for community-based disaster risk manangement and resilience.  https://www.thrivespring.com/

The events of the past two years have made it very clear that we live in an increasingly complex and unpredictable world. Our interdependent global supply chain is brilliant when everything is working as expected, but it is vulnerable to black sky hazards that can cause cascading failures across multiple sectors. Cros... (read more)

Hi everyone!

It's been a while since I started my research on how to donate cost-effectively. That journey led me to GiveWell, TheLifeYouCanSave, Animal Charity Evaluators  and, eventually, to the EA Community. I am so grateful for all the valuable resources, tools and concepts I could find thanks to the effective altruism movement. This has allowed me to start refining my mindset to maximise the positive impact, not only of my donations, but all my actions.

However, I have not found any way to donate tax-efficiently from my country (Spain). The chariti... (read more)

2Lorenzo1mo
Hi Liam! I usually look at this table for country-specific tax-deductibility opportunities https://donationswap.eahub.org/charities/ [https://donationswap.eahub.org/charities/] It seems that among the listed charities only Animal Ethics and Oxfam are tax-deductible in Spain :( You can try the donation swap (not sure how responsive they are), and of course keep in mind that donating effectively does not necessarily imply donating tax-deductibly [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/jq4ENfSYjuD5PbTCv/donating-effectively-does-not-necessarily-imply-donating-tax] , but you probably already thought about that.
1Liam McHara25d
Hey Lorezo, thank you for your reply! What a pitty that only Animal Ethics and Oxfam are the only tax-deductible listed charitities in Spain :/ Lately I have been seriously thinking about starting a Spanish platform like RC Forward. I may write a post soon about that idea, asking for the community's feedback.

Hello!,

I chose a pseudonym (-dunce scout), as I'm starting a blog with same name. There isn't a popular blog (or one that I know of), that talks about simple/big ideas like lesswrong or SSC or EA forum -around here. (I'm based in Kerala; I'll write mostly in ENG, maybe both ENG/MAL for region-relevant posts? Then again, typing MAL is hard)

The blog will be a guide/map to these sites. Occasionally, I'll digest the more large/complex posts -in an original way?; maybe write/think on simple things and show a new way to think through.

I somehow stumbled upon lesswrong, and added it to bookmarks. (This maybe through stumbleupon when it was free and available on the chrome web store; I think I was in 5th/6th grade when that happened) Never read it though. When covid/online classes happened, I got time. I started with Rationality A-Z since the posts had catchy headings. Soon realised that most posts are going over my head. Then, after a week or so I started with Codex and really enjoyed reading it. (except for the much more than you need to know series) I did read some of Rationality A-Z, but not to completion. Enjoyed hpmor, replacing guilt by Nate Soares, and few other posts on lesswrong b... (read more)

Hello! I am here to get feedback on a blog post I wrote recently (Wild Animal Suffering Should be Effective Altruism's Flagship Cause (substack.com)). I wrote it for my blog, but I ended up emailing openphil for feedback, and a rep told me to go ahead and share it here.

A summary of the article is that wild animal suffering would become much more relevant as correlated with certain engineering problems as ecosystem design and microbiome control, and that this gives it desirable properties as a future "flagship". Therefore, we should invest in popularizing i... (read more)

Hi everyone! 

I've known about the ideas behind EA for a while now, but have just recently become aware of how much concrete organizing is going on and how many resources the movement now has.

I've got academic training in a lot of skills that are useful to EA organizations, such as cost-effectiveness analysis, decision science, and preference elicitation. My reading in the EA literature has given me a few ideas about how I might some day put those skills to work for this cause. I'm definitely open to research and project collaborations if you think I might be useful to you -- or even if you just want someone to brainstorm with!

Somewhat new EA here - I'm thinking of wearing EA gear at an upcoming livestreamed collegiate poker tournament. Any thoughts on whether that's a good idea? Seems good for the EA brand as long as I don't do/say anything too out of line (?)

Thoughts on how to talk about EA to other competitors/interviewers would be much appreciated too

Also a disclaimer that I don't expect to do very well on the tournament hahaha, I'm a pretty recreational player

7Owen Yeung1mo
Update: I made it on akaNemsko's Twitch stream (287k followers!) with my EAGxBoston shirt! https://www.twitch.tv/videos/1457837512?t=02h28m34s

Hello! My name is Garrett, and I am from Seattle, Washington. I have been involved in EA for about a year and was introduced to it by my closest friend while at school. He and I have both always been directly involved in humanitarian aid projects around the world for most of our lives (it's how we met, actually), and after returning from a service trip in Lesbos where he had been shaken by the suicide of a small child there he began to wonder about the effectiveness of his efforts. This then put him on the road to finding EA. When he ran across it, he shared it with me, and I immediately fell in love with everything about EA. I was the director of the university's service department at the time and was responsible for activities involving hundreds of students, and was frustrated with what I perceived to be inefficient and ineffective university policies governing funding and activity options. EA was simply too relatable to pass up.  I've been heavily involved ever since, although my schooling has prevented me from attending many of the conferences that I wish to attend one day in order to make more of your acquintances.  Until then, I am happily engaged in furthering the ... (read more)

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/10/business/mackenzie-scott-charity.html

 

This seems like a great article and thought provoking:

  • There's a lot of attention on meta EA and EA money. The FTX grants, which might total ~$100M in a year, seem big. These grants are extremely important for the cultural effects and could be enormously impactful. 
  • Scott moved out $8.6 billion last year. If just 10% of that was directed toward very impactful causes, what would the value of that be?
  • Did Scott or her staff encounter EA? Did this happen, and if so, what did they
... (read more)

Hi everyone. I'm a therapist & academic philosopher based in Boston. I do individual therapy  and also teach philosophy at Bentley University. Further info here: https://www.jmaier.net/about-me.html

I look forward to hearing more about ideas/suggestions about how to direct my own giving. I have a strong interest in promoting effective mental health interventions at scale. I've written about this a bit in a blog for Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/philosophy-and-therapy. Looking forward to learning from folks on this forum.

7Lorenzo2mo
Hi John! You might be interested in the work of the Happier Lives Institute, they have a donation advice page https://www.happierlivesinstitute.org/donation-advice.html [https://www.happierlivesinstitute.org/donation-advice.html] You can also see all forum posts tagged as "mental health" here: https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/tag/mental-health [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/tag/mental-health]
2John T Maier1mo
Thank you, Lorenzo, this is really helpful. I'm familiar w the Happier Lives Institute and the v important work that they're doing. Looking forward to learning more.

Hey everyone! Just joined EA a few months ago and was very fortunate to attend EAGx Bostone recently! I could not be more excited about discovering this community!!!

I’m doing two fellowships and working on a marketing project team in my university EA USC group.

I feel very strongly about utilitarianism, am interested in physics, and as a result came to longtermism several years ago on my own. I actually wrote a book called “Ways to Save The World” essentially about innovative broad strategies to sustainably, systemically reduce existntial risk. Really excited to share it with the EA community and have my ideas challenged and improved by fellow highly intelligent, rational do-gooders!

Hi all! I'm new to the EA forum. My husband's been involved in EA for years, and I am finally in a place to want to join in as well. Specifically, I'm an efficiency consultant, specializing in operations and productivity improvement. I would love to take my talents to the EA world to make charities and the people involved more impactful.

Hello! I am the Affective Altruist, and I am building a little dating website for EAs. I'm starting off with WordPress to keep it simple. Consider this a fun side project of mine, and friendly competitor to reciprocity.io.  ^_^

Is anyone interested? What simple features would you want from such a site? Should I make a top-level question asking this?

My general advice for people building projects that require network effects is to think about how to 100% of a small market before you try to tackle the entire market. Peter Thiel has written about this dynamic in Zero to One. Can you get all EAs in your city/region perhaps?

9Affective❤️Altruist2mo
Yeah, I've read in another book, the Cold Start Problem by Andrew Chen, that to form an atomic network you should think even more specific than you normally would. I was considering EA as kinda niche but it would make sense that people generally want to date others constrained by location. Though early adopters might care a bit less if they're willing to travel or have online relationships?

I had a conversation with my partner yesterday about how we want to do good better, but at the same time nobody can do 100% and taking care of yourself is important. She described to me a concept that is a simple but important change from how I have understood EA, and I'd like to share it. While I normally thought of doing good better as

devoting more resources toward highly impact efforts

what she described was

using whatever amount of resources you are going to use for good and making sure those resources are having the greatest impact.

This isn't a ... (read more)

3Bary Levi1mo
For me, knowing my giving is effective makes me more confident to give more. Before learning about EA I never considered donating 10% of my income because I never thought it will be so helpful, and I saw charity as something I was sometimes obliged to donate small amounts to.
2Guy Raveh2mo
I look at it this way: EA is about maximising the total amount of good you do over your lifetime. If you can do lots of good right now but it will tear you down - you may not be more impactful overall by doing it.

Hi everyone! I generally go by Velociraptor online, but if you find that too silly, please call me Lu. I had a pretty awful experience burning myself out trying to do too much volunteer work during the peak of covid, and when I was seeking more reasonable and high-impact ways to return to helping, I stumbled across effective altruism a few months ago. The ideas have really appealed to me, although I'm still uncertain about some aspects (mostly the global focus, I'm generally a proponent of local efforts as participants tend to have more in-depth knowledge ... (read more)

4acylhalide2mo
You can have work that is driven by local communities but with funding coming from wealthier countries. (Unless I misunderstood your point)
2Guy Raveh2mo
If you're from an affluent community or country, there's a trade-off between doing things you strongly know to be good (because you're local), and helping the people who are the least fortunate (who are nowhere near you). A solution might be finding ways to elicit local knowledge and help with impactful work in other places (the Global South, the future, factory farms etc.).

Hi Everyone, this is my introduction post. I've put some info in my bio, so I'll elaborate on it here. You can find out a little more about me here https://snlawrence.com/.
I was introduced to EA through an interview with William MacAskill on Sam Harris' meditation app, Waking Up. In the interview, William mentioned 80000 hours, which I then googled after. I began reading through their key idea and career review articles and was quickly convinced of the value of doing impactful work over my career. The articles are well written, well researched and very hon... (read more)

1rass1mo
Hi Sean, we met online last year and through 80,000 hours, nice to see you on the forum! Let's keep the conversation going, I'm in a similar boat looking to maximise exploration value over the 24 months - keen to trade ideas.

Hi, call me Rahela.  I'm working in Anima International and Open Cages PL, as IT manager. In free time I write my personal blog about animals, effective helping, ethics and life on the countryside. I also host a podcast about similar topics. You can find me here https://hodowlaslow.pl/. 

I found EA, thanks to my colleagues from Anima International. Before that I was working 13 years in fashion industry, as a designer thinking all days what am I doing here. Took me a long time to became pragmatic, not fanatic. (I was radical vegan 4 years ago).

 You can contact me about some fundraising topics and IT if you need some help. 

I love meditation and cats. Try to meditate with 3 cats!  Feel free to contact me. 

Thoughts/comments on potential new series of posts ("Gates are Open, Come In")?

 

Someone I know has benefited a lot from interactions with major EA funders (for reasons that aren't clear, the funders just seem communicative and benevolent).

This person is thinking of writing up a series of posts about their experiences, in a positive, personally generous way, to provide value and insight to others. 

They would share actual documents (they wrote) as well as describing their views of communications and key points that seem important to their interacti... (read more)

1DonyChristie2mo
This looks like a great idea!

The new effectivealtruism.org homepage looks fantastic.

It does, but why is CEA capitalizing "effective altruism" now? 😕

2Rahela2mo
Wow, I didn't even know that there is a new design. Looks really good.

Hello everyone,
I'm a PhD student using non-invasive brain stimulation to enhance human attention. I'm convinced that using non-invasive brain stimulation to enhance human intelligence has massive potential in improving productivity across the global economy. 

Unlike its productivity-enhancing counterparts (invasive brain stimulation and artificial intelligence) it is vastly underfunded, making it an ideal target for effective altruism!

Compared to current AI human intelligence is already general, so enhancing it can be applied to all aspects of society.... (read more)

1Luca Parodi2mo
Hi Jack. I am really into cognitive enhancement. In 2020 (right before COVID) I did a two months research period at Bernhard Hommel's cognitive enhancement [https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/en/staffmembers/bernhard-hommel#tab-1] lab in Leiden. While I was a Cognitive Science student in Milan I did an exam with Roberta Ferrucci [https://scholar.google.co.uk/citations?user=0MDpjasAAAAJ&hl=it&oi=ao] and one with Alberto Priori [https://scholar.google.co.uk/citations?user=JUXu_u8AAAAJ&hl=it&oi=sra], two prominent TDCS as a cognitive enancher experts. At the last EAxOxford I spoke with Anders Sandberg about cognitive enhancement as an EA cause area. All to say that I am interested in what you are doing and that could be valuable to connect more people that are into "serious" (e.g. non risky and unproved biohacking shit) cognitive enhancement research
1Jake Toth2mo
Hi Luca, That sounds really interesting, it is good to hear from others in this space! I have connected with you on LinkedIn, hopefully, we can find a way to work on this together in the future.
2Aaron Gertler2mo
Ahead of the full post, I'd like to know what you think the most compelling evidence is for non-invasive brain stimulation actually working. This could be a paper, a blog post from some self-experimenter, or something else — whatever made you think this was important to study further. (I know nothing about this topic at all, and don't even have a mental picture of what NIBS would physically look like.)
1Jake Toth2mo
Thanks Aaron, I will make sure to include this information but hopefully this will help in the meantime: Non-invasive brain stimulation is any method of causing brain activity to change without surgery. This can include using electrodes to apply a small amount of current to the scalp with a headset like this: https://www.neuroelectrics.com/solutions/starstim [https://www.neuroelectrics.com/solutions/starstim] Creating a magnetic field in the brain with a device like this: https://www.healthline.com/health/tms-therapy#What-is-TMS-therapy? [https://www.healthline.com/health/tms-therapy#What-is-TMS-therapy?] Or by using ultrasound waves with a device that looks something like the image here: https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Technical-Review-and-Perspectives-of-Transcranial-Yoo/c26b8b3655561cfb24dfb262d4fbf5ad76bc6867 [https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Technical-Review-and-Perspectives-of-Transcranial-Yoo/c26b8b3655561cfb24dfb262d4fbf5ad76bc6867] The electrical and magnetic stimulation methods are well established with decades of research covering tens of thousands of participants and proven safety profiles. The magnetic method is too bulky for a consumer headset, and the electrical method has issues with reliability across subjects (my research plays a small part in helping to address this.) The ultrasound method is more new, but with the promise of much more accurate stimulation. Without going too deep into the technical challenges that remain I think an electrical stimulation based headset that increases intelligence significantly could be available to consumers within 5 years. With an ultrasound-based headset superseding that once the research is more firmly established.
2Charles He2mo
Can you explain why this technology/approach is so underfunded/neglected, when some implementations seem simple/benign, and the benefits seem large?
2Jake Toth2mo
Great question, I think it's largely because the implementation wouldn't be as simple as it may first appear so relatively deep pockets are required. Also, the amount of researchers in this field is pretty low (low thousands?). It's still much simpler than invasive stimulation (e.g. Neuralink), but not something that can be implemented overnight. The easiest headset to initially implement would use electrical stimulation, and there are devices on the market that use electrical stimulation, for example, this one for depression: https://flowneuroscience.com/ [https://flowneuroscience.com/] The issue is that we all have different shaped heads, skull thickness, shapes of brain etc and this can lead to up to a 100% difference in the electric field in the brain https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1935861X19304115. [https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1935861X19304115.] To phrase that differently, because our brains and heads are different giving two people the same stimulation can mean one has improved intelligence and the other does not. But luckily there is a way around this, namely taking an MRI scan of the user's head, simulating brain stimulation, then personalising the stimulation to their head and brain. This essentially gets rid of much of this variability between people by accounting for the different shape of the head and brain. The issue of course is that we can't go and have an MRI scan when we buy this headset, it's expensive time consuming and doesn't scale across the population. This is where the field has sat for a few years, have personalised stimulation at great expense or don't and have it and get poor results. Most research groups cannot afford to put every participant through an MRI, so most research on this topic has poor results. Instead, a prospective startup needs to find a way to personalise the stimulation without an MRI scan. One way is to use AI to generate an MRI scan based on the shape of the persons head, t

Hi! Long time listener, first time caller. I currently work in operations in higher ed and I just know I can be doing the same exact job in the EA community and be making much more of an impact and have more of an opportunity to test my skills and grow into related fields. I actually just applied for a position at CEA which would be a dream! I'm curious if any one else from the community came into EA from student affairs or enrollment management and if so what are you doing now and how was the transition?

:wave I'm Seth Ariel Green, I mostly write here: https://setharielgreen.com/blog/, I'm a freelance writer currently based in New Orleans, about to go finish up a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail that I mostly completed last year. Long-time lurker, might start posting, looking forward to getting into it with y'all

4JP Addison2mo
Welcome! Props for that accomplishment. Our editor decided to interpret the comma after your link as part of your link. I fixed it for you, I hope you don't mind.
1Seth Ariel Green2mo
TY TY!

I like the new colored icons on posts with certain tags (e.g. Farmed animal welfare, Existential risk) 😀

6JP Addison2mo
Thanks [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/rWoT7mABXTfkCdHvr/shortform?commentId=BuFmphgBSyXYjDDeF] , Evelyn!

Hello everyone, my name is Emre. I am the co-founder and director of Kafessiz Türkiye, a farmed animal advocacy organisation in Turkey. Looking forward to learning from you all!

Hello everyone!

I am a human rights activist from Russia. I work as a ML scientist at a medical tech startup in Germany. When the war with Ukraine started 8 years ago, I decided to record an antiwar video as a reply to Ukrainian students. It was my first time trying to organize a protest, and it was way scarier than just participating. What if one of the students got expelled for this? What if at the rally I'd organize in their support someone got accused of hitting a cop? Suddenly it looked like my little initiative could turn into a years-long nightmare. I decided to do it and was very glad to discover that an Open Russia journalist had the same idea and we could merge our efforts.

No one got in trouble for the recording, but it didn't change anything, either. So I went looking for more effective ways to help Ukraine and free my own country. As protests in Russia dwindled, I decided that building a friendly AI was my best bet. I got into machine learning, read most books on MIRI's reading list and was in the middle of a MIRI interview when COVID struck and they stopped hiring programmers. My plan no longer called for staying in Russia, so I moved to Germany last year, to stop supporting Putin's war and oppression with my taxes.

Hello there !

I'm David, 31, French, father of 2 - recently moved to Madagascar.

I would be really interested to get in touch with EA community members in Madagascar. Also I believe there's also an opportunity to spread the movement here, given the poverty and inequalities issues are really tangible here.

Currently, I hold the role of Chief Technology Officer at Baobab+, a social business aiming at enabling access to energy, digital and finance products. We distribute our products in rural areas in Africa, and sell all our products in "pay as you go" (Similar to leasing) to make them affordable to the most (typical cost < 0.5 usd / day) .

Customers, proving their trustworthyness with good repayment enter a virtuous circle and get access to larger products (e.g. basic phone or a fridge) or loans.

I would be thrilled to study a bit closer the impact we're having compared to other initiatives.

Why I Am (Not) a LongTermist

I am copy and pasting my newest endeavor to meditate on the meaning of "long-termism." https://whatiscalledthinking.substack.com/p/why-i-am-not-a-long-termist?s=w

1.

The Long-Term is like the Maimonidean conception of God—you know it when you don’t see it.

2.

The Divine Face, like the distant future, is hidden. But Moses is permitted to see the back of God’s face. Similarly, today’s super-forecasters cannot know the future, but they can see the back of the future.

3.

Of God we know nothing, says Franz Rosenzweig, but our ignorance is ... (read more)

Hi all! Recently found this community and I'm really impressed with the discourse here!

This is kind of meta and not about EA per se, but from a community-builder's perspective I was wondering how this forum is moderated (self or otherwise), and how it was built up to such a vibrant space! Are there other forums like this (I know lesswrong runs on a similar-looking community blogging model)? Have there been any moderation challenges? 

I read through some of these posts (https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/tag/discussion-norms) but would appreciate any o... (read more)

Hello, at age sixteen some combination of debating a pastor about universalism, visiting worship centers of various faiths, and Rick and Morty killed my religion. With nothing remaining that seemed worthwhile, I booked a ticket to Singapore and began wandering around odd destinations for the next few years in variable states of despair. I tried to construct a new sense of meaning through pragmatic mythicalism, the idea that untestable ideas can still be believed in based on their utility. I decided it would be useful to believe that the well being of people are worth fighting for, but still felt miserably alone. 
Then I discovered EA, or rather it discovered me as I was ranting half-crazed to someone about the fermi paradox and great filters to which someone replied "oh yeah, those are called existential risks in effective altruism," to which I replied "what the HELL is effective altruism?"
Then there was no turning back. The concept that a community exists with such a purposeful drive to improve lives gave me a rope to grasp as I clawed my way back to life like it matters. The ideology granted me a beacon to strive towards, but lacking interaction or connection with the communi... (read more)

Hello everyone! I'm a member of the Polish EA community. Over the last few days we've witnessed an outpouring of support for Ukraine which is amazing. But among the information overload, both donors as well as those in need, may find it difficult to single out credible forms of help.

We’re aiming to create a database of verified information to make sure people can make the biggest impact when donating.

This FORM allows those of you who have information about existing initiatives to submit them for our evaluation. Please, spread it in your groups / communitie... (read more)

Sam Harris and Rob Reid just put out this podcast that seems very relevant to this community:

[The After On Podcast] 58: Recipes for Future Plagues | Kevin Esvelt #theAfterOnPodcast

https://podcastaddict.com/episode/136135023 via @PodcastAddict

Basically, the US government is trying to find all the pandemic-capable viruses it can, and it will then POST THEIR FULL GENOMES ONLINE.

This is potentially a catastrophically stupid blunder that we intend to make but have not made yet. The recommended actions from Rob are to tell USAID directly at https://www.usaid.gov/contact-us, tweet at them, if you live in a state with a senator on the subcommittee on state department and USAID management (https://www.govtrack.us/congress/committees/SSFR/14) contact your senator, contact Washington State University if you have a relevant tie, and otherwise spread this, get attention, apply whatever leverage you have.

Twitter thread from Kevin Esvelt (professor at MIT, speaker at EA global on mitigating catastrophic biorisks):
https://twitter.com/kesvelt/status/1498409798903209996

2James Montavon3mo
Here's some very well done podcast notes if you like text more than audio: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ORM6XjEQCycmzBrCt_D3nyl5O_fNPGwS3kYpAAy364c/edit?usp=sharing

(X-posting from LW open thread)

 

I'm not sure if this is the right place to ask this, but does anyone know what point Paul's trying to make in the following part of this podcast? (Relevant section starts around 1:44:00)

Suppose you have a P probability of the best thing you can do and a one-minus P probably the worst thing you can do, what does P have to be so it’s the difference between that and the barren universe. I think most of my probability is distributed between you would need somewhere between 50% and 99% chance of good things and then put some

... (read more)
6RyanCarey3mo
As I understand it, he gives two possibilities. 1. Our capacity for happiness is symmetric while our "reality" (i.e. humanity's historical environment) has been asymmetric. 2. Our preferences themselves were asymmetric, because we were "trained" to suffer more from adverse events, making us have greater capacity for suffering. (1) gives more reason for optimism than (2) because we are more able to change the environment than our capability for happiness/suffering. FWIW, I think we might be able to change our capability for happiness/suffering too, and so thinking along these lines, the question might ultimately hang on energy efficiency arguments anyway.
1Anirandis3mo
Cheers for the response; I'm still a bit puzzled as to how this reasoning would lead to the ratio being as extreme as 1:a million/bajillion/quadrillion, which he mentions as something he puts some non-negligible credence on (which confuses me as even a small probability of this being the case would surely dominate & make the future net-negative.)
3RyanCarey3mo
It could be very extreme in case (2) if for some reason you think that the worse suffering is a million times worse than the best happiness (maybe you are imagining severe torture) but I agree that this seems implausibly extreme. Re how to weigh the different possibilities, it depends whether you: 1) scale it as +1 vs 1M, 2) scale it as +1 vs 1/1M, or 3) give both models equal vote in a moral parliament.

Hi, I'm Jonny, a software engineer based in London. I've recently come across EA and am looking to re-align my career along a higher impact path, most likely focusing on AI risk, however I've still not fully bought into longtermism just yet so am hedging by also considering working on climate change or global health. I look forward to using this forum to try and answer some of my questions and clarify my own thinking.

2Chris Leong2mo
What are you thinking about regarding next steps to become more involved with AI Safety?
9Jonny Spicer2mo
I've taken a few concrete steps: * Applied for 80k career advising, which fortunately I got accepted for. My call is at the end of the month * Learned the absolute basics of the problem and some of the attempts in progress to try and solve it, by doing things like listening to the 80k podcasts with Chris Olah/Brian Christian, watching Rob Miles' videos etc * Clarified in my own mind that AI alignment is the most pressing problem, largely thanks to posts like Neel Nanda's excellentSimplify EA Pitches to "Holy Shit, X-Risk" [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/rFpfW2ndHSX7ERWLH/simplify-ea-pitches-to-holy-shit-x-risk] and Scott Alexander's "Long-Termism" vs "Existential Risk" [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/KDjEogAqWNTdddF9g/long-termism-vs-existential-risk] (I'd not spent much time considering philosophy before engaging with EA and haven't had enough time to work out whether or not I have the beliefs required in order to subscribe to longtermism. Fortunately those two posts showed me I probably don't need to make a decision about that yet and can focus on alignment knowing that it's likely the highest impact cause I can work on). * Began cold-emailing AI safety folks to see if I can get them to give me any advice * Signed up to some newsletters, joined the AI alignment Slack group I plan on taking a few more concrete steps: * Continuing to reach out to people working on AI safety who might be able to offer me practical advice on what skills to prioritise in order to get into the field and what options I might have available. * In a similar vein to the above, try to find a mentor, who can help me both focus my technical skills as well as maximise my impact * Getting in contact with the folks at AI Safety Support [https://www.aisafetysupport.org/] * Complete the deep learning for coders fast.ai course [https://course.fast.ai/] My first goal is to ascertain whether or not I'd be
3Chris Leong2mo
Nice, I'd also recommend considering applying for the next round of the AGI Safety Fundamentals course [https://www.]. To be honest, I don't have much else I can recommend, as it seems like you've already got a pretty solid plan.
2Norman Borlaug Stan3mo
If you're interested in more resources to help you decide, may I recommend https://80000hours.org/ [https://80000hours.org/] It has a pretty good set of decision-making tips for someone like yourself. They also occasionally give out personalized career advice which might be of benefit.
8JP Addison3mo
Welcome! Super exciting you're thinking of using your career for impact. I'm also a software engineer and was in the same position in 2016, and now I make this Forum. Take your time to discuss the ideas, and don't feel any pressure to come to any particular conclusions.

Hi everyone, I am Oisín from Ireland. I am relatively new to EA (about 4 months), and am currently in university studying Theoretical Physics (3rd year), though I'm pretty sure I won't graduate with a first to be quite honest. The general field of EA I would currently be most invested in is animal welfare/advocacy. I am also in the middle of the AAC training course and finding it intruiging. Would you know how someone with my sort of degree could be useful in EAA (effective animal advocacy) or other areas of EA? Thanks for all the advice

1Erich_Grunewald3mo
you might want to have a look at animal advocacy career's website [https://www.animaladvocacycareers.org/]. they have a section for career advice as well as an introductory online course. (if you are interested in other areas too, there is also 80k hours [https://80000hours.org/] which you probably already heard about. they offer 1-on-1 advice too.)

Hello I'm Timothy from Germany I just joined the forum after finding out about EA through Peter Singer a couple of days ago. I am just 18 years old so I still have my whole career ahead of me. I'm currently thinking about what to study and what to do in the next six months before university will start. Any suggestions welcome, especially for what to do in the next six months. 

Hi Timothy, it's great that you found your way here! I am also from Germany and am happy to report that there is a vibrant German EA community (including an upcoming conference in Berlin in September/October that you may want to join). 

Regarding your university studies, I essentially agree with Ryan's comment. However, while studying in the UK and US can be great (I've done both!), I appreciate that doing so may be daunting and financially infeasible for many young Germans. If you decide to study in Germany and are more interested in the social sciences than in the natural sciences, I would encourage you (like Ryan) to consider undergraduate programs that combine economics with politics and/or philosophy. Based on my own experience, I can particularly recommend the BA Philosophy & Economics at the University of Bayreuth, though you should also consider the BSc Economics at the University of Mannheim (which you can combine with a minor in philosophy or political science).

In case you are interested in talking through all this sometime, feel free to reach out to me and we'll schedule a call. :)

7RyanCarey3mo
It depends what your strengths and interests are, but let me give some generic thoughts. Most EA high-schoolers who like math/science should at least consider a CS degree (useful for AI safety research and job security in software development), or a math/econ double degree (useful for Econ PhD, policy, and big picture strategy research). I would recommend that a strong student apply to US universities, because they are far stronger than any outside US/UK/CH. But it's a few months past the deadline for those (and UK universities too). If you're confident you can lodge a strong application to US schools, but you didn't do it this year, then you could take a gap year, and apply in 6 months. For people who dislike maths and are excited about policy or politics, another option is law, which in a US setting could follow an undergrad in some combo of polisci, philosophy, and econ. I'd be interested to hear what others think too!

Would it be beneficial for the EA community to have dedicated financial planners who help community members invest for personal and altruistic goals (i.e. investing to give), kind of like 80K advising? I see that we have some financial planners registered on EA Hub.

3michaelchen3mo
Founders Pledge thinks it's fairly difficult to make an impact through one's investments, at least in large stock markets – see Impact Investing Executive Summary | Founders Pledge [https://founderspledge.com/stories/impact-investing-executive-summary].
4evelynciara3mo
I meant investing to give, not impact investing - but that's helpful!

Hello everyone,

I have a quick question: if I want to have maximum impact to mitigate climate change, what's the best use of a small monthly donation? I was planning to pay the extra money to my utility company every month for renewable energy, but I figured there might be a more effective use of that same money. Any suggestions?

3saulius3mo
This is totally not my area but since no one else answered in six days, I'll just say that Founders pledge has a report [https://founderspledge.com/stories/climate-change-executive-summary] on best climate change interventions with some charity recommendations at the bottom. Also, there is this post [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/yhKnbcX6YmTgLpfwJ/climate-change-donation-recommendations] , though I don't know if recommendations are up to date there. And probably there is much more EA stuff that I don't know about on this topic.
1Norman Borlaug Stan2mo
Thank you!

Hello EA world! My name's Zach. I'm a writer by trade and for passion, and I'm stoked to be here.

I found this community after asking Google "what are some jobs that do good for the world."
Currently, I work for an ad agency (owned by an AI company) company as a Creative Copywriter. It's a new job, but I already know that this kind of writing contributes to a destructive economic system (not that it's all bad, but it's definitely destructive.)

After that Google search, I found 80,000 as many other have, and now I'm looking for my next steps. That might mean a... (read more)

5ludwigbald3mo
Hey Zach! I really like that prayer! Thank you for sharing it, and welcome to the community!
1Zach Roush3mo
Thanks for liking it :) and thank you also for the welcome.

I'm proud to announce that some months after my boss, Peter Wildeford, rudely overtook me on the Metaculus leaderboards, I've finally achieved higher EA Forum karma than him! 🎉🎉🎉

5Greg_Colbourn3mo
He's higher than you again already!
3Linch3mo
😭😭😭
2Darius_M3mo
Time to up your game, Linch! 😉
4Linch2mo
I'm ahead of both him and MichaelA now. Currently #2!

Hello, my name is [name redacted] and I'm a new member here. Or, more accurately, I've been here for a little over a month but I haven't introduced myself yet because writing on a public forum is mildly anxiety-inducing for me. However, I have lately been attempting to become better at things I'm bad at by doing things that make me uncomfortable; this has included applying for an internship at Redwood Research despite not feeling terribly qualified, spending an afternoon using food to entice college students into discussing the merits of not eating meat despite being socially anxious, and now making an introduction post despite my instinctive aversion to doing so.

I am an undergraduate at a non-prestigious state university in the US studying computer science and math. I'm also working part-time as a research assistant to a professor working on a reinforcement learning project. The latter is a fairly recent development, and I find it a somewhat astounding one; about a year ago I was expecting to spend my time at university using scholarship funds to eke out a meagre existence, whereas now I will be making enough money that I could eat out 2-3 times per day (not that this seems like t... (read more)

3Chris Leong2mo
Welcome to the forum! I recommend signing up here [https://airtable.com/shrfxnMJyZd4iGEoT] to be informed about the next round of the AGI Safety Fundamentals course. If you don't get accepted the first time, it's worth applying down the line as they seem to be increasing the number of people that they accept in every iteration (I didn't get in the first time). You might also want to consider booking a call with AI Safety Support [https://calendly.com/aiss/] or applying to speak to 80,000 hours [https://80000hours.org/speak-with-us/?int_campaign=2021-08__primary-navigation] .
5Aaron Gertler4mo
Welcome to the Forum! This is a great introduction :-) If you don't subscribe to the Alignment N [https://rohinshah.com/alignment-newsletter/]]e [https://rohinshah.com/alignment-newsletter/]wsletter [https://rohinshah.com/alignment-newsletter/]], that seems like a good way to get regular updates on steps you can take. The EA [https://www.effectivealtruism.org/ea-newsletter-archives] and Open Philanthropy [https://www.openphilanthropy.org/get-involved] newsletters also feature related opportunities from time to time, though I'm not sure how much they catch that the AN misses.
9CatGoddess4mo
Thanks for pointing me in the direction of these resources! I just signed up for the Alignment Newsletter. As a note, the AN link you posted actually doesn't work, though I was able to figure it out with my fabulous tech skills (the URL has a ] at the end). Here's [https://rohinshah.com/alignment-newsletter/] a working link, for posterity.

Hello Everyone

I’m Attila Suba a blues singer and the founder of an international climate action project from Amsterdam called the Green Revolution.

We want promote the science behind How wealth reduces compassion. That is why our project focus on decentalization of power. 

Because of our impending climate catastrophe, we created a project for funding and coordinating the global mobilization transforming our consumer society, capturing vast amount of CO2 while lifting people out of poverty.

We are reaching out to the world leading climate scientist commun... (read more)

Last year there were 2062 Frontpage posts and 82 Personal Blogposts. By default, Personal Blogposts are hidden from view — you have to search for them in All Posts or change your settings to view them.

By default, the home page only displays Frontpage Posts, which are selected by moderators as especially interesting or useful to people with interest in doing good effectively. Personal posts get to have looser standards of relevance, and may include topics that could lead to more emotive or heated discussion (e.g. politics), which are generally excluded fr

... (read more)
5Aaron Gertler4mo
This description has been out of date for a long time, and I thought the Forum team had updated it a while ago. Might be a merge issue that reinstituted some old language, or maybe we updated in some places but not others. While I'm no longer a moderator, I should clarify that we never used "Personal Blog" to "torpedo a post's visibility". If we thought a post shouldn't have been visible, we moved it back to a draft (many instances of spam, exactly one instance I can recall of an infohazard concern). Otherwise, it's always been up to the voters. Personal Blog is the Forum's way of classifying: a) Posts that the authors want to be less visible (you can ask to have your post labeled this way in the post editor) b) Posts that aren't really about EA (although, as with any classification system, there will be weird in-between examples [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/YKMav2pfmrpuEfqad/stress-effective-ways-to-reduce-it?commentId=8YtngAhtzhhmM3SZF] ) Everything else is Frontpage by default. I'll let the online team know that the description is wrong at the moment — thanks!

Just wanted to flag that AI scientist Timnit Gebru has written a tweet thread criticizing the AI safety field and the longtermist paradigm, quoting the Phil Torres Aeon essay. I would appreciate it if someone could put out a kind, thoughtful response to her thread. Since Gebru is a prominent, respected person in the mainstream AI ethics research community, inconsiderate responses to her thread (especially personal attacks) by EA community members run the risk of making the movement look bad.

3Norman Borlaug Stan3mo
I find it a bit frustrating that most critiques of AI Safety work or longtermism in general seem to start by constructing a strawman of the movement. I've read a ton of stuff by self-proclaimed long-termists and would consider myself one and I don't think I've ever heard anyone seriously propose choosing to decrease the risk of existential risk by .0000001 percent instead of lifting a billion people out of poverty. I'm sure people have, but it's certainly not a mainstream view in the community. And as others have rightly pointed out, there's a strong case to be made for caring about AI safety or engineered pandemics or nuclear war even if all you care about are the people alive today. The critique also does the "guilt by association" thing where it tries to make the movement bad by associating it with people the author knows are unpopular with their audience.
6evelynciara4mo
The thread arose from this related conversation [https://twitter.com/AmandaAskell/status/1484678621268615168] about sentient AIs being compared to people with disabilities (where everyone agreed that such analogies are harmful)

This response feels like it is making unnecessary concessions in an attempt to appease someone who will probably never be satisfied. For example, Habiba says

Of course we should be working on harms of tech right now also!

But this is not at all obvious! There are strong arguments that the contemporary 'harms' of tech are vastly overstated, and even if they were not, it seems unlikely that we should be working on them, given their vastly lower scope/neglectedness/tractability than other issues EAs focus on. I would be very surprised if any credible CBA suggested that short-term tech harms were a better cause area that third world poverty, factory farms and existential risks.

Similarly, Habiba contrasts

cold "number crunching"

with 

caring, thoughtful folks who truly care about helping others

But these by no means need to be in conflict. I think any reasonable evaluation of EAs will find many who are quite unemotional, and do do a lot of number crunching - the later is, after all, a core part of cost-effectiveness estimates, and hence the EA movement. But that doesn't mean they don't "truely care" - it's that number-crunching is the best way of executing on that caring.

Despite what see... (read more)

3evelynciara4mo
I really like her response :)

Hello all. I'm Dave, I'm in my late 20s and I've been on an existential crisis since I've come across EA and related topics. I don't know what to do to help since I don't have any degree, I don't live in a rich country, and also because I don't think there's much we can do on the long-term. Namely if we keep inventing these magic-like technologies which will grant us power that no human being is wise enough to hold. I don't have anyone to talk to, and even if it did I wouldn't want to destroy their sanity, as I'm already on my way of destroying mine. Any advice or perspectives would be appreciated. Thank you

You're not alone in finding these topics mind-boggling and distressing!

If you'd like to talk to people and there's not an EA group near you, you could join the EA Anywhere group: https://eahub.org/group/effective-altruism-anywhere-2/

There's also the EA Peer Support group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ea.peer.support

Hi, 

I'm new here. My name's Carlos and I'm an anthropologist and social scientist looking for new career perspectives after my PhD. I would love to join a company or NGO to have a positive impact on the world. I'm interested in animal rights, fighting poverty and universal basic income. It's a pleasure to be here and to learn with you. Thanks for reading me

1noahchonlee3mo
Hi Carlos! I am delighted to find an anthropologist in the EA sphere! I study sociology at UC Berkeley and stayed with a tribe among the Woarani people in eastern ecuador and have been trying to find anyone involved in indigenous rights. I'll send you a message I'd love to chat!

Hi,

I am writing to say that I might be doing “moderately-high temporal resolution scrapes of some subset of EA Forum content".

This comment/notification is mainly for forum technical admin, and anyone interested in these scrapes or the potential products of such a project.

Precedents for this scraping include this post, this question, the existence of the API and it's discussion here, and general open source/discussion principles, or something.

Feel free to discuss!

For more information, I've very quickly written rambling, verbose thoughts in a reply to this c... (read more)

1Charles He5mo
Flagging some more technical points about the scraping above (verbose, quickly written): * This scraping might be in the form of API calls that occur every few minutes. The burden of these calls seems small (?) relative to the mundane, everyday use of the API, e.g. see GreaterWrong [https://www.greaterwrong.com/]or Issa Rice's site [https://lw2.issarice.com/]. * Just to be super clear, I think the computing costs for the backend activity of these calls are probably <$1 a month * It seems there aren't rules/norms for rate limits and there is some evidence that the EA forum/ LessWrong may not handle heavy use of API calls robustly : * Calls that seem sort of large are allowed. To me, these calls seem large compared to say, response limits and size limits of calls of Gmail API and other commercial APIs I've used. * Pagination isn't supported in the API, and for many calls there aren't even date filters ("before:"/"after:") for me to approximate pagination I found additional query "views" such as MultiCommentOutput, which allow offset, so you can paginate. * The API exposes certain information that isn’t available in the front-end website. However, I am reluctant to elaborate because (1) this same information is available another way, so it’s not quite a leak (2) I’m a noob, but this was easy to find—I think this is a sign it's sanguine and maybe already used (3) I don't want to just add a low value ticket to someone's Kanban board (4) I find this information interesting! Other comments on the purpose (also verbose, quickly written): * This "higher resolution" scraping might help answer interesting questions. I don’t want to write details, mainly because I’m in the fun, initial 10%/ideation stage of a side project. In this stage, usually I see something shiny, like a batch of kittens in the neighborhood that need fostering, and the project ends. * Not really relat
7NunoSempere4mo
Hey, I have a series of js snippets that I've put some love into that that might be of help, do reach out via PM.
4Charles He4mo
Hi Nuño, This is generous of you. So I managed to stitch together a quick script in Python. This consists of GraphQL queries created per the post here [https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/LJiGhpq8w4Badr5KJ/graphql-tutorial-for-lesswrong-and-effective-altruism-forum] and Python requests/urllib3. If you have something interesting written up in js, that would be cool to share! I guess you have much deeper knowledge of the API than I do. It was a bit of a hassle was getting it packaged and running on AWS, with Lambda calls every few minutes. But I got it working! Now, witness the firepower of this fully armed and operational battlestation!

Pulse charity:

Effective altruism seems to focus like a laser on the most valuable problems for human suffering, but what if we extend the metaphor further, and to increase the impact make it a pulse laser? (Part of my inspiration was debt jubilees) I think this could have a few effects:

  • Many issues can be solved with large piles of cash that can't be solved with smaller ones, such as building a well vs importing water
  • on the donor side, it could be a Schelling point. Hey, those EA folks only come around every few years, now I can blow off other donors the
... (read more)
1TyQ4mo
Currently, EA resources are not gained gradually year by year; instead, they're gained in big leaps (think of Openphil and FTX). Therefore it might not make sense to accumulate resources for several years and give them out all at once. In fact, there is a call [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/ckcoSe3CS2n3BW3aT/] for megaprojects in EA, which echos your point 1 and 3 (though these megaprojects are not expected to funded by accumulating resources over the years, but by directly deploying existing resources). I'm not sure if I understand your second point though.

Hi, I'm new here. I am writing from Calgary., Canada. I'm a Ph.D. student in the area of Communication and Media Studies.  Interested in AI and media 

1Charles He5mo
That seems like really important and interesting work. Can you write a bit more here about anything that would help you in your "journey" in EA or elsewhere, or have any questions for anyone?
8Leslie Salgado Arzuaga 3mo
Hi Charles, Oh, so sorry I took so long to answer. I'm particularly interested in AI narratives portrayed by the media and their relationship with Ai governability. Beyond that, I'm interested in science communication and disinformation. This Forum looks like a great place to share my texts and learn from others.
2Charles He3mo
That's fantastic, many people would be interested in your work!

Anyone know how to embed links into text in the "User Profile" section?

So make it look like this:

Instead of this:

Just can't seem to do it!

4Habryka5mo
I think we maybe support markdown in that textbox, so try using Markdown syntax.
2Jack Malde5mo
Thanks. I ticked "Activate Markdown Editor" and tried the hyperlink syntax but comes out like this: Maybe I'm doing something wrong?
4Aaron Gertler5mo
You had a non-syntactical space between [LinkedIn] and your URL. I removed it. (Note that you don't need to turn on the Markdown editor to edit your bio — the bio is in Markdown no matter what.)
2Jack Malde5mo
Thanks Aaron!

As per this comment, "winter" doesn't feel like the best term for this time of year given we have people from both hemispheres on the Forum

https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/MTfxQbT4gPgZrgqwP/ea-conferences-in-2022-save-the-dates?commentId=QvL6qaa7gETS4PkYe

Here is a forum bug that has been bugging me since forever: My own comments show up as new comments, i.e., the post comments bubble lights up in blue. But this shouldn't be the case; I already know that I left a new comment.

This summer, I became incredibly interested in effective altruism and as a high school student and someone from a low-income background, I felt like there were limited options on how to get involved in EA.

I would love to start a project supporting the EA movement for high school/secondary students.  Here are my ideas!

1. A website similar to 80 000 hours, mentioning career planning and how to plan your undergraduate career to align with EA principles.

2. Hosting an EA conference for youth in a virtual format.

3. Having an EA council with mentorship from more established members in the space to work on the projects mentioned above and produce content.

9ovidius5mo
Hi! I know this is two weeks late, but I'm new to the forum so I hope you'll forgive me. I'm also a high school student interested in EA, and I've found some ways to help out in the movement despite the limited options which I'd be happy to talk more about. I'm really interested in your ideas, and also just in how many high schoolers lurk on this forum but (like me) find the high level of discourse a bit intimidating. I'd like to write a post intended to surface and connect with those high schoolers. Perhaps from there, we can work together on making 2 or 3 happen.
1RayTaylor3mo
maybe Reddit can work in a similar way?
1RayTaylor3mo
I find the level hard work too, so I practice in Facebook groups :-) (I'm older than average EAs: EA wasn't formally an available option when I was at college.)
2Charles He5mo
Hi, I'm not an official or representative from EA or anything like that, but this sounds awesome! Your post is really welcome. Are you asking for help in any way? If so, just say so and people can help. By the way, yes, the discourse uses a lot of words, but a lot of the ideas are basically from high school. People are just familiar with writing with them. What really sets good EA apart is patience, listening, and perception, and the gradual development of good judgement. There's deep pools of talent people who don't write a lot. This is less obvious, but these people are valuable. You are too!
2DavidXYu5mo
I really appreciate the sentiment from this. I help run SPARC (https://sparc-camp.org/) and while the camp itself is meant to be a selective program, we want to support more broadly addressed initiatives too (if nothing else they end up benefiting us anyway because it encourages future good and aligned applications). SPARC can probably help on the level of ops support from alumni who may be interested and a degree of funding that can at least make something like 2. happen.
2ChanaMessinger5mo
Cool! Peter McIntyre is working on things like #1 and might be interested in 2 and 3 as well. That doesn't mean you shouldn't try it on your own, but that might be someone to get in touch with!

Hello! I am slowly seeping into the Forum floorboards, dripping down the comments section, leaving meandering mumblings along an electronic thread. Most of my thoughts are obscure and dubiously specific. Expect errors; I do. And, I value dialogue not for compromise, but to send feelers out in all directions of the design-space. Those lateral extremes bind the constraints of good ideas, found only after pondering a few dozen flops! I'm glad to turn them around, to find any lucky inspirations. Most domains are a straight path up my alley; I follow specific problems into each arena, in turn.

Hi! I got recommendation to join the forums because of my reflections about what I should focus on in my career. Is it allowed to write a post on the forum which is not making a specific proposition but rather is asking for advice and providing discussion points for commenters? Or should that be posted as a question?

4Khorton5mo
I'd probably use the question feature, but I'm sure either is fine - looking forward to your post!

Had the chance to speak to venture capitalist, former poker pro and Effective Altruist Haseeb Qureshi about EA and Web3 - including earning to give and how crypto can facilitate effective giving. You can give it a read here: https://golem.foundation/2021/12/03/interview-HQureshi.html. 

1SimonM5mo
That link is broken for me.
1Guy Raveh5mo
There's an extra dot at the end. Remove it and the link is fine.

Hi, I've been interested in EA for years, but I'm not a heavyhitter. I'm expecting to give only dozens of thousands of dollars during my life.

That said, I have a problem and I'd like some advice on how to solve it: I don't know whether to focus on shortterm organizations like Animal Charity Evaluators and Givewell or longterm organizations like Machine Intelligence Research Institute, Center for Reducing Suffering (CRS), Center on Longterm Risk (CLR), Longterm Future Fund, Clean Air Task Force and so on. It feels like longterm organizations are a huge gamb... (read more)

3Aaron Gertler6mo
This is one of the hardest "big questions" in EA, and you've outlined what makes the question hard. You might want to wait another week or two — we have an annual post where people explain where they're giving and why. You can be notified when it goes up if you subscribe to the donation writeup tag [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/tag/donation-writeup]. You can also see last year's version [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/SjxB2KHihsJMb6G4M/where-are-you-donating-in-2020-and-why] of that post. Maybe some of the explanations in these posts will help you figure out what point of view makes the most sense to you!
1LoveAndPeaceAlways6mo
Thank you for answering, I subscribed to that tag and I will take a closer look at those threads.
6NunoSempere6mo
Personally, 1. Bite all the bullets, uncertain but higher expected impact > certain but lower impact 2. It's tricky to know how good longtermist organizations are compared to each other. In the past I would have said to just defer to the LTFF, but now I feel more uncertain.
1LoveAndPeaceAlways6mo
Thank you for answering, your reasoning makes sense if longterm charities have a higher expected impact when taking into account the uncertainty involved.

Hi everyone! 

I was wondering if anyone had an opinion on whether it is more ethical to eat 100% grass-fed beef/lamb from trusted suppliers in Australia (i.e. CCTV in slaughter houses and minimal transport) or more tofu/beans? 

The pros of tofu/beans are clearly that it does not require taking the life from a cow or lamb who wants to live (although note that it takes lots of meals  to cause the death of one cow), and also that it dramatically reduces carbon emissions. 

The pros of instead eating 100% grass-fed beef/lamb are that it ma... (read more)

2TyQ4mo
From a consequentialist perspective, I think what matters more is how these options affect your psychology and epistemics (in particular, whether doing this will increase or decrease your speciesist bias, and whether doing this makes you uncomfortable), instead of the amount of suffering they directly produce or reduce. After all, your major impact on the world is from your words and actions, not what you eat. That being said, I think non-consequentialist views deserve some considerations too, if only due to moral uncertainty. I'm less certain about what are their implications though, especially when taking into account things like WAS. A few minor notes to your points: At least where I live, vitamin supplements can be super cheap if you go for the pharmaceutical products instead of those health products wrapped up in fancy packages. I'm taking 5 kinds of supplements simultaneously, and in total they cost me no more than (the RMB equivalent of) several dollars per month. It might be hard to hide that from your friends if you are eating meat when being alone. All the time people mindlessly say things they aren't supposed to say. Also when your friends ask you about your eating habit you'll have to lie, which might be a bad thing even for consequentialists [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/CfcvPBY9hdsenMHCr/integrity-for-consequentialists] .
1Lucas Lewit-Mendes4mo
Thanks TianyiQ, these are really interesting and useful thoughts!
1utilitarian014mo
Might be irrelevant, but have you considered moving to the US for the increased salary?
1TyQ4mo
Thanks for the suggestion, but I'm currently in college, so it's impossible for me to move :)
5Lucas Lewit-Mendes5mo
Update - I just came across this article [http://www.animalvisuals.org/projects/data/1mc], which suggests that harvesting/pasture deaths are probably higher for beef than plants anyway, so it seems a pretty clear decision that being vegan is best in expectation!
2Charles He6mo
This is a really thoughtful and useful question. Most informed people agree that beef and dairy cows live the best life of all factory farmed animals, more so than pigs, and much much more so than chickens. Further, as you point out, beef and dairy cows produce much more food per animal (or suffering weighted days alive). A calculator here can help make make the above thoughts more concrete [https://reducing-suffering.org/how-much-direct-suffering-is-caused-by-various-animal-foods/] , maybe you have seen it. I think you meant prevents painful deaths? With this change, I don't know, but this seems plausible. (I think amount of suffering depends on the land use and pesticides, but I don't know if the scientific understanding is settled, and this subtopic may be distracting.) I think you have a great question. Note that extreme suffering in factory farming probably comes from very specific issues, concentrated in a few types of animals (caged hens suffering to death [https://countinganimals.com/is-vegan-outreach-right-about-how-many-animals-suffer-to-death/#:~:text=Chickens%20arrive%20dead%20for%20a,days%20to%20reduce%20fecal%20contamination.] by the millions and other graphic situations). This means that, if the assumptions in this discussion are true, and our concern is on animal suffering, decisions like beef versus tofu, or even much larger dietary decisions, seem small in comparison.
6Lucas Lewit-Mendes6mo
Thanks Charles for your thoughtful response. I just wanted to note that I'm referring to 100% pasture fed lamb/beef. I think it's very unlikely that it's ethically permissable to eat factory farmed lamb/beef, even if it's less bad than eating chickens, etc. I'd also caution against eating dairy since calves and mothers show signs of sadness [https://kb.rspca.org.au/knowledge-base/what-happens-to-bobby-calves/]when separated, although each dairy cow produces a lot [https://reducing-suffering.org/how-much-direct-suffering-is-caused-by-various-animal-foods/] of dairy (as you noted). Sorry, I probably could've worded this better, but my original wording was what I meant. My understanding is that crop cultivation for grains and beans causes painful wild animal deaths, but grass-fed cows/lamb do not eat crops and therefore, as far as I'm aware, do not cause wild animal deaths. I certainly agree with your conclusion that not eating factory farmed chicken, pork, and eggs (and probably also fish) is the most important step! But I'd still like to do the very best with my own consumption.
2Charles He6mo
Everything you said is fair and valid and seems right to me. Thank you for your thoughtful choices and reasoning. Edit: I forgot you said entirely pasture/grass fed beef, so this waives the thoughts below. A quibble: 1. It seems that beef and dairy cows both use feed, not just grass. Because eating dairy/beef requires more calories of feed (trophic levels), it is possible the amount of land needed for beef might be large compared to land needed for soy. 2. Grass crops are a use of land that might have ambiguous effects on animal suffering. I don't know about either of 1) or 2) above. I guess I am saying it is either good to be uncertain, or else get a good canonical source.

Just watched the new James Bond movie No Time to Die - the plot centers around a nanobot-based bioweapon developed by MI6 that gets stolen by international terrorists (if I'm understanding the plot correctly; it was confusing). Maybe someone can write a review of it that focuses on the EA themes?

I am the founder of Sanctuary Hostel a unique cross border eco friendly animal rescue/ hostel/ community garden project.

After taking a trip all over Mexico i noticed the animals were not treated well there, so i decided to move there and build an animal rescue. After arriving i decided a rescue was not enough. The existing rescues fail because they rely solely on donations and they dont really solve the problem they are a band aid.

I felt community and worldwide involvement was needed so i decided combining a hostel would help with that as well as a communi... (read more)

Greeting. My name is Anna and I am a digital producer. I am glad that there are so many of us here :)  

Hi guys, my name is Nathaniel and I'm new to this forum. I found out about EA a few months ago because I've been thinking in these terms my whole life (how to maximize positive output to the world) and it's great to see there's a whole community centered around that question. I'm studying an undergrad in sustainable energy engineering at SFU and I'm hoping to have a career somewhere in the intersection between this field and computer science (computational sustainability). I haven't done a lot of research into this yet but it seems like an area with so muc... (read more)

I'm Gabe Newman from Canada. My wife got involved in EA earlier this year and I've been skulking on the sidelines, reading and thinking. I'm almost 50 but also a student again as I am getting my MSW (little midlife crisis). I'm still trying to figure out where and how to apply my skill set. I have lots of experience with micro NGO projects which are sustainable but I'm not sure how easy they would be to study, so EA is a bit of a new way of thinking for me. I've typically enjoyed Keep It Simple Stupid projects. But lately I have had a couple incredible com... (read more)

8CarolineJ4mo
Welcome! It seems like your skills in NGO management are very needed [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/a7CnLEmn3P2ACugxm/why-is-operations-no-longer-an-80k-priority-path] in EA projects! You can consider reading more about how to apply your expertise [https://80000hours.org/articles/advice-by-expertise/]to high-impact causes and see if you come across exciting opportunities to directly work in an NGO or be a consultant for different organizations.

It seems like there's been a proliferation of AI safety orgs recently; I'd like to see a forum post describing all of them so people can easily find out more about them and who's hiring.

Hi, I'm newish to EA and new (as of today) to the forum! I use she/her/hers pronouns and I'm a college freshman. I've recently been thinking a lot about how I can use my career to help. AI safety technical research seems like the best option for me from the couple hours of research I've done. I'm planning to donate all my disposable income to the EA meta fund. I'm really passionate about doing as much good as I can, and I'm excited to have found a community that shares that! My biggest stumbling block has recently been my mental health, so if anybody has resources/tips they want to share, I'd love to hear them (for reference, I am actively getting treatment, so no worries there)!

5Tessa6mo
If you're looking for resources on mental health, you might enjoy some of the upvoted posts under the self-care tag [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/tag/self-care?sortedBy=top], including Mental Health Resources Tailored for EAs [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/iHvvc9HHzSfHNGCHb/mental-health-resources-tailored-for-eas-wip] and Resources on Mental Health and Finding a Therapist [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/by38PwJNpqNWfc43G/resources-on-mental-health-and-finding-a-therapist] .
3Charles He6mo
Similar to what Linch said, another useful perspective comes from in this post [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/mMEBty3W3WkK7rgEH/your-time-might-be-more-valuable-than-you-think] which says the value of your time might be higher than you think. At the same time, your earnings are probably lower right now than they will be. With this perspective, you might be better off spending the money on yourself given the personal needs you mentioned. For example, regular cleaning or relaxing travel probably helps mental health for many. It is wonderful you are working to help others.
5Linch6mo
Welcome to the Forum! I think it's good to donate a bit of money to good causes to help build good virtues, but at your current life/career stage you should probably focus on spending money in ways that make you better at doing good work later. See this blog post [https://meteuphoric.com/2013/03/30/the-value-of-time-as-a-student/] for some considerations.

Hi everyone!

My name is Holly, and I'm a 20-year-old freshman student in California. I first encountered the EA community in the International Youth Summit on Energy and Climate Change, Shenzhen, China, and found the forum when I was looking for help to navigate through my future career path.  I've been exploring and trying to understand the concept of effective altruism since I grew up in a highly self-interest-driven, bureaucratic environment, but I want to do good to help others and make this world a better place. EA would be a great opportunity for me.

I'm currently an Economics major, and I want to be an Econ professor in the future. (However, I just started to embark on this path to get a P.hD. first, and I found myself a little nervous since the road ahead is a bit unknown for me at this point. I sort of have a weak math background, and I've been trying to improve my skills) I care about people, and I'd love to help them find happiness and the true meaning of their lives, as well as help them to pick up the right mindset to understand the world and live better. This is what I wanna do for my whole life.

4Aaron Gertler6mo
Greetings! You didn't mention whether you'd found an EA group near you, and I'd recommend looking for one [https://eahub.org/groups/] if you haven't. It's easier to stay motivated and interested when some of your friends share your interests. Do you see this as something you'd be able to do as an economics professor? What is it that draws you to economics, specifically?

Hey, everyone. I don't post here often and I'm not particularly knowledgeable about strong longtermism, but I've been thinking a bit about it lately and wanted to share a thought I haven't seen addressed yet and I was wondering if it’s reasonable and unaddressed. I’m not sure this is the right place though, but here goes.

It seems to me that strong longtermism is extremely biased towards human beings.

In most catastrophic risks I can imagine (climate change, AI misalignment, and maybe even nuclear war* or pandemics**), it seems unlikely that earth would beco... (read more)

2TyQ4mo
Great points! I agree that the longtermist community need to better internalize the anti-speciesist belief that we claim to hold, and explicitly include non-humans in our considerations. On your specific argument that longtermist work doesn't affect non-humans: * X-risks aren't the sole focus of longtermism. IMO work in the S-risk [https://s-risks.org/] space takes non-humans (including digital minds [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/tag/digital-person/]) much more seriously, to the extent that human welfare is mentioned much less often than non-human welfare. * I think X-risk work does affect non-humans. Linch's comment mentions one possible way, though I think we need to weigh the upsides and downsides more carefully. Another thing I want to add is that misaligned AI can be a much powerful actor than other earth-originating intelligient species, and may have a large influence on non-humans even after human extinction. * I think we need to thoroughly investigate the influence of our longtermist interventions on non-humans. This topic is highly neglected relative to its importance.
2Frank_R6mo
I agree with Linchs comment, but I want to mention a further point. Let us suppose that the well-being of all non-human animals between now and the death of the sun is the most important value. This idea can be justified since there are much more animals than humans. Let us suppose furthermore that the future of human civilization has no impact on the lives of animals in the far future. [I disagree with this point since it might be possible that future humans abolish wild animal suffering or in the bad case they take wild animals with them when they colonize the stars and thus extend wild animal suffering.] Nevertheless, let us assume that we cannot have any impact on animals in the far future. In my opinion, the most logical thing would be to focus on the things that we can change (x-risks, animal suffering today etc.) and to develop a stoic attitude towards the things we cannot change.
4Linch6mo
If humanity survives, we have a decent shot of reducing suffering in nature and spreading utopia throughout the stars. If humanity dies, but not all life, and some other species eventually evolves intelligence and then builds civilization, I think they might also have a shot of doing the same thing, but this is more speculative and uncertain, and seems to me to be a much worse bet than betting on humanity (flawed as we are).
1bezurli6mo
Thanks for the comment. I really hadn't considered colonizing the stars and bringing animals.
3Linch6mo
TBC, I think it's more likely that utopia would not look like having animals in the stars. Digital minds [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/tag/digital-person/] seem more likely, but also I think it's likely just that the future will be really weird, even weirder than digital minds.
2acylhalide6mo
Aren't all ethical principles / virtues by default biased towards human beings? Except the ones that explicitly attempt to include animals in the moral circle. I assume most people value human lives higher than animal lives, even within EA, and even if they believe society currently undervalues animal lives. Not that that makes it objectively right or wrong ofcourse, you're free to value animal lives as highly as human if that is something you are drawn to. P.S. Valuing animal lives highly doesn't mean human extinction is neutral, it is still a bad thing because it is a lot of lives lost, versus counterfactual where no lives are lost. And if your ethics are total utilitarianism, what value you assign to animal lives doesn't even matter in this scenario, because it's the same number of lives lost. The lives not lost don't contribute to the delta. I personally don't find total utilitarianism intuitive though, we are probably closer to log(total) maximisers.

Hey everyone, I'm also new to the forum and to EA as of summer 2021. I found EA mostly through Lex Fridman's old podcast with Will MacAskill, which I watched after being reminded of EA by a friend. Then I read some articles on 80,000 hours and was pretty convinced.

I'm a sophomore computer science student at the University of Washington. I'm currently doing research with UW Applied Math on machine learning for science and engineering. It seems like my most likely career is in research in AI or brain-computer interfacing, but I'm still deciding and have an a... (read more)

2Chris Leong2mo
Did you reach out to groups@centreforeffectivealtruism.org? [groups@centreforeffectivealtruism.org?]
5Alex Mallen2mo
Yes, I have a group going now!
2Chris Leong2mo
That's great!

Hi everyone! I'm a longtime EA but I haven't spent much time on the EA Forum, so taking this opportunity to introduce myself.

Professionally, I'm an economist in California focused on tax and benefit policy. I'm the co-founder and CEO of PolicyEngine, a tech nonprofit whose product lets anyone reform the tax and benefit system and see the quantified impact on society and one's own household (we're live in the UK and working on a US model). I'm also the founder and president of the UBI Center, a think tank researching universal basic income policies. Outside of work, I'm a founding lead of Ventura County YIMBY, which advocates housing density, and I lead the Ventura chapter of Citizens' Climate Lobby, which advocates carbon dividends.

I previously spent most of my career as a data scientist at Google, where I first encountered EA when Google.org gave a grant to GiveDirectly in 2012. I then became active in Google's internal EA group, left Google in 2018, took the GWWC pledge in 2019 (which I wrote about here), and got a Master's in Development Economics from MIT in 2020, where I became involved in the MIT EA community. I give primarily to GiveDirectly and GiveWell, though as an avid l... (read more)

3Aaron Gertler6mo
Welcome, Max! I've been following you on Twitter for a long time, and I'm excited to see you on the site I help to run :-) If you want feedback before you publish your post, I offer that to everyone [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/ZeXqBEvABvrdyvMzf/editing-available-for-ea-forum-drafts] (though it's totally optional).

Hi, I'm new to the forum and wanted to introduce myself! I'm a product manager in the cybersecurity industry, located in Salt Lake City, UT. I'm currently looking for ways to make more of a positive impact, focused around 1) helping to build up the local EA community and 2) using my career.

I'm relatively early in my career so I have a lot of uncertainties around what cause area to work on and what my personal fit would be for different roles, so I'm trying to find lots of people to talk to in the EA community about product management, data science, or EA startups.

Happy to be here and excited to start contributing!

3Aaron Gertler6mo
Hi there! You may have considered this already, but I'd recommend applying to speak with 80,000 Hours [https://80000hours.org/speak-with-us/]. They're a great starting point for finding others to talk to, and they accept a lot of applications ("roughly 40% of people who apply", and I'd guess that many of their rejections are because the applicant has never heard of EA and doesn't really "get" what 80K is about).
1Derek Brimley6mo
Yep, should have mentioned I already applied for their 1-on-1 advice! Trying to cast as wide a net as possible. :)
3Max_Daniel6mo
Welcome! I guess there's a good chance you've already seen this, but just to make sure: some people think that careers in the info sec space can be very high-impact [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/ZJiCfwTy5dC4CoxqA/information-security-careers-for-gcr-reduction] .
3Derek Brimley6mo
Thanks! Skimming that over, it does seem like a potentially good path. I know info sec is one of 80k's "potentially good options" but I've generally brushed it off, even though it might seem like a good fit on paper. I've really only been involved in the development/management of a few insider risk products, so my skillset isn't focused on expertise in traditional info sec, it's mostly generalist PM skills for software dev. I'm probably in a slightly better position than most to pursue that route, but not by much. I'll read it over more thoroughly, thanks for the pointer!

I noticed something at EAG London which I want to promote to someone's conscious attention. Almost no one at the conference was overweight, even though the attendees were mostly from countries with  overweight and obesity rates ranging from 50-80% and 20-40% respectively. I estimate that I interacted with 100 people, of whom 2 were overweight. Here are some possible explanations; if the last one is true, it is potentially very concerning:

1. effective altruism is most common among young people, who have lower rates of obesity than the general population
2. effective altruism is correlated with veganism, which leads to generally healthy eating, which leads to lower rates of diseases including obesity
3. effective altruists have really good executive function, which helps resist the temptation of junk food
4. selection effects: something about effective altruism doesn't appeal to overweight people

It's clearly bad that EA has low representation of religious adherents and underprivileged minorities. Without getting into the issue of missing out on diverse perspectives, it's also directly harmful in that it limits our talent and donor pools. Churches receive over $50 billion in donatio... (read more)

7Will Bradshaw7mo
The natural first step here is to check whether EA has lower rates of overweight/obesity than the demographics from which it primarily recruits. I can't speak much to the US, but in the European countries I've lived in overweight/obesity varies massively with socioeconomic status. My classmates at university were also mostly thin, as were all the scientists I've worked with (in several groups in several countries) over the years. And it's my reasonably strong impression that many other groups of highly-educated professionals have much lower rates of obesity than the population average. In general, I've tended to be the most overweight person in most of my social and work circles – and I'd describe my fat level over the past 10 years as, at worst, a little chubby. If it is the case that EA is representative of its source demographics on this dimension, that implies that it doesn't make all that much sense to focus on getting more overweight/obese people into the movement. Obviously, as with other demographic issues, we should be very concerned if we find evidence of the movement being actively unwelcoming to these people – but their rarity per se is not strong evidence of this. (EDIT: See also Khorton's comment for similar points.)
6Will Bradshaw7mo
It's also probably worth noting that obesity levels in rich European countries are pretty dramatically lower [https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/statistics-on-obesity-physical-activity-and-diet/england-2020/part-3-adult-obesity-copy] than the US, which might skew perceptions of Americans at European conferences: I don't want to overstate this, since my memory of EA San Francisco 2019 was also generally thin. But it is probably something to remember to calibrate for.

I think there are extensions of (1) and (3) that could also be true, like "people at EA Global were particularly likely to be college-educated" and "people who successfully applied to EA Global are particularly willing to sacrifice today in order to improve the future"

EDIT: and just generally wealth leads to increased fitness I think - obesity is correlated with poverty and food insecurity in Western countries

3Nathan_Barnard6mo
I'm currently doing research on this! The big big driver is age, income is pretty small comparatively, the education effect goes away when you account for income and age. At least this what I get from the raw health survey of England data lol.
5Linch7mo
FWIW I see a much higher percentage of overweight EAs in the Bay Area.
5Larks7mo
I'm skeptical of the comparability of your 2/100 and 50-80% numbers; being overweight as judged by BMI is consistent with looking pretty normal, especially if you have muscle. I would guess that more people would have technically counted as overweight than you'd expect using the typical informal meaning of the word. It could also be that obese people are less likely to want to do conference socializing, and hence EAG is not representative of the movement.
8Will Bradshaw7mo
While BMI as a measure of obesity is far from perfect, it mostly fails in a false negative direction. False positives are quite rare; you have to be really quite buff in order for BMI to tell you you're obese when you're not. That is to say, I believe BMI-based measures will generally suggest lower rates of obesity than by-eye estimation, not higher. https://examine.com/nutrition/how-valid-is-bmi-as-a-measure-of-health-and-obesity/ [https://examine.com/nutrition/how-valid-is-bmi-as-a-measure-of-health-and-obesity/]
2Larks7mo
Thanks for sharing this, I guess it looks like I was wrong!
3Jay Bailey7mo
I still don't think you're wrong. Will is correct when he says that it is more likely someone with a BMI of 25 or lower is actually overweight than someone with a BMI of 25 or higher is just well-muscled, but that isn't the same as estimating by eye. The point, as I understand it, is that if you live in a country where most people are overweight, your understanding of what "overweight" is will naturally be skewed. If the average person in your home country has a BMI of 25-30, you'll see that subconsciously as normal, and therefore you could see plenty of mildly overweight people and not think they were overweight at all - only people at even higher BMI's would be identifiable as overweight to you.
8Will Bradshaw6mo
Relatively minor in this particular case, but: Please don't claim people said things they didn't actually say. I know you're paraphrasing, but to me the combination of "when he says" with quote marks strongly implies a verbatim quote. It's pretty important to clearly distinguish between those two things.
3Jay Bailey6mo
Fair enough. I've edited it to remove the quotation marks.
2Will Bradshaw6mo
I agree "BMI gives lots of false negatives compared to more reliable measures of overweight" is not the same thing as "BMI is more prone to false negatives than by-eye estimation" – it could be that BMI underestimates overweight, but by-eye estimation underestimates it even more. It would be great to see a study comparing both BMI and by-eye estimation to a third metric (I haven't searched for this). But if BMI is more prone to false negatives, and less prone to false positives, than most people think, that still seems to me like prima facie evidence against the claim that the opposite (that by-eye will underestimate relative to BMI) is true.
6Pablo7mo
Is that so? From the way BMI is defined, one should expect a tendency to misclassify tall normal people as overweight, and short overweight people as normal—i.e. a bias in opposite directions for people on either end of the height continuum. This is because weight scales with the cube of height, but BMI is defined as weight / height².
4Will Bradshaw7mo
After reading around a bit, my understanding is that the height exponent was derived empirically – the height exponent was chosen to maximise the fit to the data (of weight vs height in lean subjects). (Here's a retrospective article [https://academic.oup.com/ndt/article/23/1/47/1923176] from the Wikipedia citations.) The guy who developed the index did this in the 19th century, so it may well be the case that we'd find a different exponent given modern data – but e.g. this study [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2082278/] finds an exponent of 1.96 for males and 1.95 for females, suggesting it isn't all that dumb. (This study [https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ajpa.20107] finds lower exponents – bad for BMI but still not supporting a weight/height³ relationship.) I don't find this too surprising – allometry [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allometry] is complicated and often deviates from what a naive dimensional analysis would suggest. A weight/height³ relationship would only hold if tall people were isometrically scaled-up versions of short people; a different exponent implies that tall and short people have systematically different body shapes, which matches my experience. In any case, my claim above is based on empirical evidence, comparing obesity as identified with BMI to obesity identified by other, believed-to-be-more-reliable metrics – those studies find that false positives are rare. Examine.com is a good source, and its conclusions roughly match my impressions from earlier reading, albeit with rather higher rates of false negatives than I'd thought.

For those interested in the work Michael Kremer (Giving What We Can member and 2019 Nobel Laureate in Economics) and his spouse and fellow GWWC member Rachel Glennerster have done on COVID-19 vaccine supply, our team profiled one of their co-authors this week — Juan Camilo Castillo of UPenn. An excerpt is below / the link is here: https://innovationexchange.mayoclinic.org/market-design-for-covid-19-vaccines-interview-with-upenn-professor-castillo/

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JCC: Michael Kremer had worked on groundbreaking pneumococcal vaccine research in the past. Early in 2020, h... (read more)

(Repost from Shortform because I didn't get an answer. Hope that's ok.)

The "Personal Blogposts" section has recently become swamped with [Event] posts.
Most of them are irrelevant to me. Is there a way to hide them in the "All Posts"-view?

3Ben_West6mo
Thanks Tobias, we are aware of this issue and have fixing it on our backlog. Unfortunately there isn't an easy way to filter out these posts in the interim.
7Aaron Gertler7mo
Does this strike you as unusually threatening compared to other bugs that have been discovered in recent years? Headline aside, the article's tone seemed mild to me, and it looks like several organizations are taking steps to mitigate the issue. But my knowledge of computer security is rudimentary at best — do the stakes seem very high to you?
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