EA Organization Updates: March 2020

by Aaron Gertler 3 min read17th Apr 20202 comments

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These monthly posts originated as the "Updates" section of the EA Newsletter.

You can also see last month's updates, or a repository of past newsletters.

Organization Updates

80,000 Hours

80,000 Hours mostly focused on COVID-19-related content this month. They've created a collection of pages to help people figure out if they should focus on the pandemic — and if so, how to help out:

  1. Landing page with all of their COVID-related research and other top resources
  2. Good news about COVID-19 (their most viral article in a while)
  3. Essential facts about the virus
  4. How to best crush COVID-19 through work and volunteering
  5. Top donation options
  6. List of 200 specific job vacancies, volunteering opportunities, & funding sources
  7. Podcast on the 12 best policy steps to stop pandemics — including COVID-19
  8. The case for and against attempting suppression
  9. Howie and Rob explain the coronavirus crisis (podcast)
  10. How to reduce catastrophic biological risks more generally

They also released their 2019 annual review.

Animal Charity Evaluators

Animal Charity Evaluators published a blog post addressing the common misconception that they are a watchdog organization. The post outlines the differences between watchdog organizations and evaluators, demonstrating how and why ACE aims to direct resources toward only the most effective animal charities. ACE also recommends their recent remote work roundtable series, which addresses many of the challenges teams may face as they transition to working from home. 

Centre for Effective Altruism

CEA released a video playlist from its recent virtual EA Global conference, as well as a transcript of Paul Christiano’s talk from EA Global: San Francisco 2019 (“Current Work in AI Alignment”).

Effective Altruism Funds published new payout reports from the Animal Welfare and EA Meta funds.

Centre for the Study of Existential Risk

CSER hosted Rachel Bronson, president and CEO of The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, for a lecture titled “Why is the Doomsday Clock the closest it has ever been to midnight?” You can see the full video on their website.

CSER received media coverage related to COVID-19 in the Guardian and Newsweek (in addition to CSER’s own update); to “cathedral thinkers” on BBC Radio 4; and to climate change and existential risk in Grist. Additionally, Lord Martin Rees appeared on Sean Carroll’s Mindscape podcast.

Charity Entrepreneurship

Charity Entrepreneurship decided to hold the 2020 Incubation Program in a virtual setting in order to prioritize participants’ safety and support efforts to contain COVID-19. 

If you’re looking for a high-impact career opportunity with an EA entrepreneurial framework, apply here. The deadline for applications has been extended to 21 April, 2020, and the program will take place from 29 June to 28 August, 2020.

CE published a summary of their 2019 research and their plans for 2020, including top charity ideas they’re currently researching in four cause areas: mental health and happiness, animal welfare, health and development policy, and family planning.

They also published a series of articles on entrepreneurship that cover picking a co-founder, working well with your co-founder, strengthening your co-founder relationship, and the impact of charity entrepreneurship on the NGO sector

Faunalytics

Faunalytics published results from their new poll on COVID-19 and animals. The study examines what the U.S. public understands about COVID-19's relationship to animals, support for legislation around animal farming to prevent future outbreaks, and other topics relevant to advocates. The results suggest a strong need for public awareness around how animal farming enabled the pandemic; however, Faunalytics cautions advocates against over-emphasizing this connection in the name of advocacy, as it may produce backlash.

They also summarized several external studies (including “Extreme and Effective Aren’t the Same”) and published a blog post in honor of their 20th anniversary: “20 Ways Faunalytics Has Supported the Animal Protection Movement.” 

Future of Humanity Institute

Following the COVID-19 crisis, FHI staff were asked to give advice at the highest level of government in the U.K. and the Czech Republic. Researchers from the biotechnology team were closely involved in establishing the COVID-19 diagnostic testing in the U.K. community study. Other FHI researchers contributed to the creation of an epidemic forecasting website that models projected disease progression given various levels of government intervention.

Future of Life Institute

The Future of Life Institute released three new podcast episodes this month. The latest episode deals with the COVID-19 crisis and what it can teach us about catastrophic risk and building resilience. The others feature Toby Ord on his new book (The Precipice) and Paul Scharre on lethal autonomous weapons.  

GiveWell

GiveWell is monitoring how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the work of its recommended charities, and is researching potential funding opportunities to address the pandemic directly. You can find more details in this blog post.

GiveWell also announced that they granted discretionary donations in the fourth quarter of 2019 to Malaria Consortium's seasonal malaria chemoprevention program ($11.9 million) and Helen Keller International's vitamin A supplementation program ($1.5 million).

Global Catastrophic Risk Institute

GCRI recently released a statement on the COVID-19 pandemic. While GCRI believes the pandemic is not likely on its own to threaten human survival, it may be the most serious global emergency in decades. GCRI plans to use its expertise in cross-risk analysis to contribute to the outbreak response, and to derive lessons about what we can do to prevent future catastrophes.

The Good Food Institute

GFI’s associate director of science and technology, Dr. Liz Specht, had a new piece published in WIRED: “Modernizing Meat Production Will Help Us Avoid Pandemics.”

GFI also announced the latest awardees of their competitive grant program.

Their COVID-19 statement can be seen here.

The Life You Can Save

Many of The Life You Can Save’s recommended nonprofits are rapidly pivoting to include COVID-19 prevention and response in their work protecting the world’s poorest. For more information, see these updates.

Open Philanthropy

Open Philanthropy announced grants including $33.9M to the Malaria Consortium, $3.5M to 80,000 Hours, $1.9M to Animal Equality, $1.2M to the Georgetown Center for Global Health Science and Security, and $250K to the Center for Global Development. They also announced a contract with Good Judgment Inc. to expand the organization’s efforts to aggregate, publish, and track forecasts about the COVID-19 pandemic. Barron’s Penta highlighted Open Philanthropy’s work on biosecurity and pandemic preparedness before and during the pandemic.  

Rethink Priorities

Rethink Priorities published a list of coronavirus research priorities for the EA community and a summary of how coronavirus is impacting animals.

Wild Animal Initiative

Wild Animal Initiative updated their research agenda and added new members to their scientific advisory panel.

Add your own update

If your organization isn't represented on this list, you're welcome to provide an update in a comment.

You can also email me if you'd like to be included on the list of organizations I ask for updates each month; I can then add any updates you submit to future posts. (I may not accept all such requests; whether I include an org depends on its size, age, focus, track record, etc.)

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