EA Organization Updates: September 2021

by Aaron Gertler8 min read1st Oct 2021No comments

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These monthly posts originated as the "Updates" section of the EA Newsletter. Organizations submit their own updates, which we edit for clarity.

You can see previous updates in our repository of past newsletters.

Organization Updates

80,000 Hours

This month, Rob spoke to Holden Karnofsky on whether we’re living in the most important century and about building aptitudes and kicking ass. He also spoke with Mushtaq Khan on using institutional economics to predict effective government reforms.

Anima International

In August Anima International organised an online edition of CARE - The Conference on Animal Rights in Europe. This year’s CARE conference had a total of 31 presentations (with speakers, among others like: Amanda Hungerford, Andrea Gunn, Carolina Galvani and Marcus Davis), including workshops, networking and funding opportunities.

Shell gas stations in Denmark have commited to the ECC (European Chicken Commitment). The commitment is a result of collaboration between Shell and Anima International, and will have a huge impact on chicken welfare, as Shell operates more than 100 stores in Denmark. Another commitment in Denmark comes from 7-Eleven, YX 7-Eleven, Narvesen, Northland, and Caffeine, convenience chains that make up more than a third of the convenience sector in the country. 

Otwarte Klatki published a guide for producers of dairy alternatives, which aims to make it easier for more entrepreneurs to bring more substitutes for cheese, milk etc. to market.

Animal Charity Evaluators

After months of planning and background research, the team at Animal Charity Evaluators (ACE) is excited to have started the next big stage of their annual charity evaluation project, which consists of drafting the reviews that will be published alongside their charity recommendations in November 2021. 

Animal Ethics

Animal Ethics participated in the World Day for the End of Speciesism by giving talks about the reasons to reject speciesism. The talks can be viewed on their YouTube channels in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.

Animal Ethics has updated the ethics and animals section on their website and added new pages about prioritarianism, suffering-focused ethics, and negative consequentialism. The ethics section describes the major ethical theories and their variations, looks at how each commonly regards nonhuman animals, and shows why applying any of these theories consistently requires giving greater moral consideration to animals.

Berkeley Existential Risk Initiative

BERI has recently hired two employees in support of our collaborations program: J.P. Gonzales as Assistant to Stuart Russell at CHAI, and Anthony Barrett as Senior Policy Analyst working with the Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity.

Center for Human-Compatible AI

CHAI affiliate Alison Gopnik, Professor of Psychology and Affiliate Professor of Philosophy at UC Berkeley, has won the 2021 Carl Sagan prize for Science Popularization.

Congratulations to recent CHAI alumni Karthika Mohan, Steven Wang, Cody Wild, Dylan Hadfield-Menell, and Thanard Kurutach, who are starting new roles. 

Karthika, who has been a postdoctoral scholar at CHAI, will become Assistant Professor at Oregon State University. Former Research Engineer Steven is starting a Master’s of Computer Science at ETH Zurich and Cody is joining Google Research. 

Dylan, recently appointed Assistant Professor at MIT, published his thesis The Principal-Agent Alignment Problem in the journal Artificial Intelligence. Thanard graduated with the thesis Learning, Planning, and Acting with Models and will work at Cruise as a Research Engineer. 

Read about recently published journal and conference papers on the CHAI website.

Stuart Russell’s 2019 book Human Compatible: Artificial Intelligence and the Problem of Control was translated to Turkish, Korean, Japanese, and Ukrainian.  

Stuart Russell published two articles on the topic of lethal autonomous weapons.

Centre for Effective Altruism

CEA launched a writing contest for stories and creative nonfiction related to effective altruism.

Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER)

Global catastrophic risk from lower magnitude volcanic eruptions, by Lara Mani, Asaf Tzachor, and Paul Cole in the journal Nature Communications, presents seven global pinch points where a clustering of critical systems converges with regions of volcanic activity, presenting a new landscape for catastrophic volcanic risk. This paper has received widespread media attention, including from WIRED, VICE and Forbes.

CSER researchers responded to the EU’s AI Act, expressing support for proposed new regulations while flagging the need to adapt to new capabilities and risks as they arise and manage the broader societal impacts of AI.

CSER researcher Natalie Jones published a response to the latest IPCC Assessment Report and appeared on the Gin and Topic podcast to discuss climate change and climate justice. Luke Kemp co-authored a paper in Environmental Research Letters highlighting a substantial mismatch between dangerous, likely warming rates and research coverage in previous IPCC reports.

A new paper by Lauren Holt considers the ethos of decoupling humanity and the biosphere and argues that this could endanger humanity and future Earth-originating life forms.

Ellen Quigley published an article for Aeon, providing an accessible introduction to the concept of Universal Ownership and its applicability to risk mitigation.

Charity Entrepreneurship

You can help Charity Entrepreneurship in strengthening their 2022 CE Incubation Program by donating a few minutes of your time and filling out this survey. Your feedback will help them run even better programs and start more high-impact nonprofits.

CE has also recently finished their 2021 Incubation Program and will soon announce the new incubated charities. Sign up to their newsletter to get the news first.

Effective Altruism Funds

The Animal Welfare Fund has funded another 35 projects with $1.9 million in grants, and is calling for funding applications related to neglected, large-scale animal populations.

The EA Infrastructure Fund and alternative funders are looking to fund non-EA-branded groups, such as reading/discussion groups or cause-specific groups.

As a reminder, you can apply to EA Funds at any time, and the process is fast and easy.

Faunalytics 

Faunalytics published new research to support farmed animal protection in China. The qualitative study, conducted with members of the farmed animal protection community in China, breaks down different approaches for working on farmed animal protection in various sectors.

Additionally, they’ve added several study summaries and blogs to their research library on topics including how scientists empirically assess emotions in non-human animals, invertebrate consciousness, and public perception of farmed animal health and behavior.

Fish Welfare Initiative

Along with its corporate and governmental work, FWI continued expanding and refining its Alliance for Responsible Aquaculture (ARA). The ARA is a collective of producers and NGOs in India who are committed to improving animal welfare in aquaculture, and was launched by FWI in June. It currently includes 33 fish farms, with the potential to improve the lives of 400,000 fish per (~annual) season.

FWI is continuing to reevaluate its welfare improvements (stocking density caps and water quality ranges) to assess their impact, and plans to make this a primary focus of 2022.

Giving What We Can

This month, Giving What We Can launched a podcast containing interviews with charities, member stories, and audio versions of their articles. They recently released videos on whether money can buy happiness, why people take a giving pledge, and how to evaluate charities.

They are hiring for a head of content to help inspire donations to the world's most effective organizations, and are looking for applicants for their Ambassador Program.

GiveWell

In July 2020, GiveWell recommended a grant from the Effective Altruism Global Health and Development Fund for a very large cluster-randomized controlled trial on masks (600 villages, 342,126 adults). The working paper from that trial was published earlier this month and got significant media attention.

GiveWell also published an update about its research on public health regulation. Within this area, GiveWell recently recommended an $8 million grant to Pure Earth for its work to reduce lead exposure in low- and middle-income countries. The Pure Earth grant was funded by the Effective Altruism Global Health and Development Fund, along with Open Philanthropy and an anonymous funder.

One for the World

One for the World ran two online training conferences for 50 student chapters in the US, UK, Canada and Australia last month.

Open Philanthropy

Open Philanthropy announced grants including $39M to the Center for Security and Emerging Technology for general support, $600K to FAI Farms to support cage-free certification and poultry welfare work, and a $126K contract with Hypermind to support efforts to aggregate, publish, and track forecasts on the trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic. The 80,000 Hours Podcast also interviewed Open Philanthropy co-CEO Holden Karnofsky about career choice and positively shaping humanity’s longterm future

Rethink Priorities

Rethink Priorities (RP) has recently hired two new Staff Researchers, Ruby Dickson and Bruce Tsai, to work on issues relating to global health and development.  

RP continues to look for talented researchers and operations staff to join the organization. Upcoming openings will be posted on their newly updated Career Opportunities page.

Apart from that, RP has published several posts on the EA Forum, including the EA Survey 2020 Community Information and Engagement findings. Additionally, Lizka Vaintrob, one of RP’s Visiting Fellows, wrote a post about Robin Hanson's paper regarding the idea of a futarchy – a form of government that puts prediction markets in charge of accepting and rejecting policies.

Wild Animal Initiative

Cat Kerr and Amy Klarup joined the Wild Animal Initiative team as Communications Manager and Content Specialist.

The WAI postdoc working group convened to discuss ways for the organization to further support researchers interested in wild animal welfare.

Wild Animal Initiative received 297 expressions of interest in response to their inaugural call for proposals. They invited 50 applicants to submit full proposals to research the welfare and ecology of juvenile wild animals.

A recent article in Frontiers in Marine Science on the academic debate around fish sentience cites work by Wild Animal Initiative’s Luke Hecht on population ecology and wild animal welfare (age-specific survivorship, optimal population density).

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