These monthly posts originated as the "Updates" section of the EA Newsletter. Organizations submit their own updates, which we edit for clarity.
This month on The 80,000 Hours Podcast, Rob Wiblin interviewed Samuel Charap on why Putin invaded Ukraine, the risk of escalation, and how to prevent disaster, as well as 80,000 Hours advisors Michelle Hutchinson and Habiba Islam on balancing competing priorities and other themes from 1-on-1 careers advising.
80,000 Hours also launched a new podcast feed! 80k After Hours will still explore the best ways to do good with your career, but will have a wider scope — including things like how to solve pressing problems while also living a happy and fulfilling life, as well as releases that are just fun, entertaining, or experimental. The first episodes include:
- Alex Lawsen on his advice for students
- Rob and Keiran on the philosophy of The 80,000 Hours Podcast
- Michelle and Habiba on what they'd tell their younger selves, and the impact of the 1-1 team (Part 2 of their interview on the original feed)
Finally, 80,000 Hours is hiring for an operations specialist (apply by April 3!), and reviewing expressions of interest for three potential roles: research assistant, popular writing consultant, and writer.
- GiveWell recently published the following pages on grants it made or recommended:
- A $1.2 million grant to Malaria Consortium for monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of a campaign to distribute long-lasting insecticide-treated nets (LLINs) to prevent malaria in Anambra state, Nigeria. GiveWell previously published pages on a similar grant for M&E in Ondo state, and on the grant for the LLIN campaigns themselves.
- A $120,000 grant to Oxford University to support research into spillover effects of GiveDirectly's cash transfer program. This grant was made via GiveWell's small discretionary grantmaking process, which it may use for very small funding opportunities that seem plausibly high-impact; more information here.
- GiveWell also published short notes on why it's deprioritizing research into micronutrient powders, school feeding programs, and generic hepatitis C medication.
- GiveWell published notes from a conversation about tuberculosis with David Dowdy of the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, as part of its investigation into IRD Global's Zero TB program.
GiveWell is hiring
GiveWell is expanding its research team to find excellent new funding opportunities in 2022 and beyond. Current openings include a Senior Program Associate, Senior Researchers and Senior Research Associates, and Content Editors.
ALLFED - Alliance to Feed the Earth in Disasters
What would we eat after a nuclear war or massive asteroid impact? Malnutrition needs not be a major issue, given an adequate global disaster response: let's establish preparedness to facilitate it. Read the latest piece of research from ALLFED:
Following the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, Anima International temporarily switched much of its focus from reducing animal suffering across Europe to ensuring the safety of its staff, former staff and activists in Ukraine. A dedicated Ukraine crisis team was set up to help evacuate AI’s people, their companion animals and families, along with an activist support fund to cover emergency costs of accommodation, travel, medical supplies and so on. AI is also focusing on safeguarding the security of its staff in Russia.
Animal Charity Evaluators
Animal Charity Evaluators (ACE) currently has three open positions and has made an update to all three previous salaries. ACE is seeking an Executive Director to ensure that ACE’s strategic plan is set and implemented in line with ACE’s mission, a Director of research to lead their research team and oversee the execution of key programs, and an Evaluations Program Manager to lead their charity evaluations program. These are all full-time, remote positions. More details and how to apply can be found on their website.
Wild animals are often overlooked when assessing the effectiveness of interventions to reduce animal suffering, yet the number of wild animals far exceeds the number of humans, farmed animals, and animals in laboratories. Estimates suggest that most wild animals live very short lives and experience painful deaths. Their welfare, however, is still a relatively neglected cause area. That's why ACE believes the welfare of wild animals is a promising and high-impact cause area.
ACE’s charity comparison chart provides key information about their Top and Standout Charities and allows you to quickly compare their performance on individual criteria, work areas, and more. It is intended to give you a sense of what ACE’s recommended charities do, what makes them so promising, and how well they fit your interests and values. Learn more and view the chart in this blog post.
Thanks to the generous donor support of ACE’s Recommended Charity Fund, they were able to distribute $439,072 to their 2020 recommended charities. Each charity has provided ACE with an update on how they’ve used their grants to help animals over the past six months! Read more about their achievements here.
Animal Ethics published What technologies can be used to help wild animals?, an overview of a selection of technologies for capturing data in natural environments. Major improvements in recent years in machine learning and increases in processing capacity mean we can extract important insights about the welfare of animals from gathered data and make it possible to help animals more effectively.
Berkeley Existential Risk Initiative
BERI has received a $135,000 grant from the Long-Term Future Fund to support our collaboration with the Interactive Autonomy and Collaborative Technologies Laboratory (InterACT) at UC Berkeley. We originally launched a trial collaboration with InterACT in August 2020, and with this donation we’re converting our trial collaboration with InterACT into one of our main collaborators. More info at the blog post here.
Cellular Agriculture Society (CAS)
CAS has onboarded new Fellows and provided an update on their textbook project, Modern Meat:
CAS welcomed 5 new Fellows, working on projects such as food security and youth education. The title for the first textbook on cultivated meat, Modern Meat, was announced, as well as introductory details on its authorship cast of 90+ authors from the cultivated meat space and its release window.
Center for Human-Compatible AI
Stuart Russell has joined the inaugural cohort of AI2050 fellows, which has been tasked with solving the hard problems of AI. Eric and Wendy Schmidt have committed $125 Million in funding to the initiative over the next five years. Professor Russell’s work is focused on probabilistic programming with a goal of improving AI’s interpretability, provable safety, and performance.
Brian Christian spoke alongside Former Prime Minister of Norway Gro Bruntland and mRNA vaccine pioneer Katalin Karikó about AI as one of the essential trends affecting the world, and specifically public health, in the 21st century. The panel, “Understanding the Megatrends of the 21st Century — A Critical Step Towards Getting the World We Want”, was the first session of PMAC 2022. The theme for PMAC 2022 is “The World We Want: Actions Towards a Sustainable, Fairer and Healthier Society”.
Centre for the Governance of AI (GovAI)
Our Applied Research Lead, Joslyn Barnhart, published a new paper, “Emerging Technologies, Prestige Motivations and the Dynamics of International Competition.” She conceptualises international ‘prestige races’ within competitive dynamics over emerging technologies and highlights that prestige as a motivation can cause state behaviour to deviate from traditional arms race literature’s expectations. The paper analyses the US-Soviet space race as a potential analogy for AI.
Our Head of Policy, Markus Anderljung, joined 11 other co-authors in publishing an article in Science, “Filling gaps in trustworthy development of AI.” The paper explores mechanisms AI developers can use to anticipate and prevent harm while demonstrating their own trustworthiness. Governing AI must involve tools that identify and mitigate potential harm from AI systems in ways that can be verified and trusted by other actors.
Our Economics of AI Lead, Anton Korinek, launched a MOOC on the Economics of AI on Coursera. Sign-ups are free and are available now. The course introduces participants to cutting-edge research in the economics of transformative AI, including its implications for growth, labour markets, inequality, and AI control.
Korinek also published a new report for the Brookings Institution on Lessons on AI Control from the Facebook Files and their regulatory implications. The article points out that recent revelations from the “Facebook Files” exemplifies how misaligned AI systems can begin to act contrary to society’s interests.
Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER)
CSER will be hosting its 2022 Cambridge Conference on Catastrophic Risk from 19th – 21st April. The conference will feature presentations by Tina Park (Partnership on AI), Joachim Isacsson (Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre), Robin Gorna (Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria), Bryan Walsh (Vox), Jenty Kirsch-Wood (UNDRR), and Oliver Letwin (KCL Project for Peaceful Competition) among a programme of lectures, panels, workshops, and lightning talks, including in-depth presentation of the methods and findings from CSER's multi-year interdisciplinary project A Science of Global Risk.This year's conference will take a hybrid format with on-line participation open to anyone, including access to all panels, lectures, and lightning talks. Find out more and register here
CSER researchers Asaf Tzachor, Shahar Avin, and Seán Ó hÉigeartaigh co-authored a paper in Nature Machine Intelligence on the risks and benefits of artificial intelligence in global agriculture. The paper considers systemic risk factors of AI in agriculture and suggest risk-mitigation measures.
A joint statement by Future of Humanity Institute, CSER, and The Centre for Long-Term Resilience, discusses the UK's national resilience strategy and suggests steps to improve resilience. The report recomends a two step process for bosting resilience based around domestic and international policy proposals.
We have released the video of Mark Lynas's recent public lecture at CSER, in which he discusses the movie Don't Look UP and considers whether climate change really poses an existential threat to humanity. Mark is the author of several books on the environment, including High Tide, Six Degrees, The God Species, Nuclear 2.0, and Seeds of Science. In 2020 he published ‘Our Final Warning: Six Degrees of Climate Emergency’.
Center on Long-Term Risk
The Center on Long-Term Risk published their annual report on the EA Forum.
Charity Entrepreneurship has opened applications for their 2022 and 2023 Incubation Programs. Deadline: March 31. Through their June–August 2022 program, they plan to launch charities focused on road traffic safety, aid quality advocacy, tobacco taxation, postpartum family planning, and exploratory altruism. If an idea is not started through the summer program, it will remain an option in the February–March 2023 program, which will also start charities in the area of animal welfare. Early applications give candidates better chances of being accepted onto the program. If you want to explore whether nonprofit entrepreneurship is a good career fit for you, CE encourages you to take their quiz (high quiz scores correlate with candidates doing well in the application process). CE has also recently published a book, How to Launch a High-Impact Nonprofit. EA chapters and groups can receive a free copy from EA Books Direct. (If the book is not yet on your group’s order link, you can reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to add it.) To receive a copy for a book review or to engage with it for a feature, podcast, or interview, you can request a review copy by writing to email@example.com.
Faunalytics published two new blogs: Bone Health: The Next Frontier in Layer Hen Health? and South African Consumers are Ready to Embrace Plant-Based and Cultivated Meat, and added several new study summaries to their library on topics including the consequences of street lighting on insect populations and how aquaculture relies on overfishing.
Additionally, they hosted a live overview of their recent report “Attitudes Towards Chickens & Fishes: A Study Of Brazil, Canada, China, & India” with Faunalytics researcher Zach and Courtney Dillard with Mercy for Animals. Their research director, Jo, was also part of the A Happier World episode on how to help farmed animals.
Fish Welfare Initiative
In India, FWI completed a trial of pre-slaughter stunning with their corporate partner, SAGE. As far as they are aware, this is the first ever corporate engagement on fish stunning in India. They also had several meetings with local fisheries department government officials, and published a post assessing the impact of their version 1 welfare standards.
In China, they worked with the International Cooperation Committee on Farm Animal Welfare, a Chinese NGO, to produce the first ever (as far as they are aware) video short on fish welfare in China.
There are three job openings at the Forethought Foundation:
- Director of Special Projects to lead a variety of special projects and initiatives to build and strengthen the field of global priorities research. A significant component of the role will involve providing strategic advice and support to the Global Priorities Institute.
- Program Associate to support the new Director of Special Projects to build and strengthen the field of global priorities research. The role will also entail being responsible for Forethought’s Global Priorities Fellowship.
- Research Analyst to work closely with Philip Trammell, a research associate at the Global Priorities Institute, in order to support current projects and potentially explore additional areas of research related to improving the long-term future.
Recent EA forum posts by research fellows at the Forethought Foundation:
- How likely is World War III? by Stephen Clare
- Retrospective on Shall the Religious Inherit The Earth by Isabel Juniewicz
Giving Green has been expanding its outreach efforts, giving talks at a Stanford seminar and for private organizations. Other than that, the team has been busy recruiting new talent; roles at Giving Green are still open.
Giving What We Can
Giving What We Can has posted a strategy update to the EA Forum that covers Giving What We Can’s vision and strategy to “create a world where giving effectively and significantly is a cultural norm”.
A new video covering longtermism called “How you can help protect the future of humanity” has been released. This video aims to be an accessible resource for people who have not heard of longtermism before.
Michael Townsend, researcher at Giving What We Can wrote a post published on the EA Forum on “the value of small donations from a longtermist perspective”.
“It's perfectly okay to be an imperfect effective altruist” from Research and Content Associate Julian Hazell highlights how we can try to avoid ‘analysis paralysis’ and make progress as effective altruists.
Global Catastrophic Risk Institute
GCRI is watching the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine with great concern, especially as it pertains to the risk of nuclear war. GCRI has issued an official statement condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
GCRI’s Executive Director Seth D. Baum was featured in the BBC Future. His article, How to evaluate the risk of nuclear war, discusses the quantitative analysis of nuclear war risk in the context of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Executive Director Seth D. Baum also published an article about nuclear war risk in the Effective Altruism Forum. His article, Early reflections and resources on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, can be found online.
Finally, GCRI submitted a Request for Information (RFI) to the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) on national standards related to AI R&D. GCRI’s OSTP comment can be found online.
Happier Lives Institute
Michael recently returned from a trip to the US where he gave four talks: one to the student groups at NYU & Columbia, one to EA NYC (with the CEO of StrongMinds), one to EA Austin, and the main reason for the trip, a talk on the Easterlin Paradox at a workshop on the Moral Foundations of Progress Studies.
You can meet members of HLI’s team at a number of events over the next few weeks. Barry will be at EAGxOxford, Joel is speaking at EAGxBoston, and Michael, Barry, and Joy will all be attending EA Global: London.
Applications for HLI’s Summer Research Fellowship are now closed but they’ll start the hiring process for two Senior Researchers in the next few weeks. One will head up their work estimating the cost-effectiveness of micro-interventions in terms of subjective wellbeing. The other will work with Michael to establish a global wellbeing grantmaking portfolio for major donors who want to spend over $10 million a year.
The Humane League
THL continued to make progress to end the worst and most widespread abuses of chickens in the retail sector, which in the U.S. accounts for more than half of chicken purchased. Thanks to THL and a coalition of groups, Meijer, one of the top 10 US grocery stores, pledged to reform its chicken supply chain.
The Open Wing Alliance won their Bakery Bash campaign, securing global commitments to end the use of battery cages from French multinational Bakery Groupe Le Duff and Focus Brands, which operates Auntie Anne’s, Cinnabon, Jamba Juice, and several other brands across 6,000 locations in more than 60 countries.
THL was recognized by Animal Charity Evaluators (ACE) as one of its Top Charities for the eighth consecutive year. Learn more about THL’s plans to scale its work in 2022, and how to help end the abuse of animals raised for food.
Momentum wrote an EA Forum update outlining Momentum’s theory of change, providing updates on its progress to date, and exploring reasons for and against working at Momentum.
They offered a warm welcome to Benji Gering, who joined the growth team as Momentum’s 9th employee. They also kicked off recruiting for a new product manager to work closely with the founders designing and building out new software features.
Momentum also completed a minimum-viable version of a new content-management system which allows nonprofits to design and edit donation pages independently. They are currently testing and rolling out this ‘self-serve’ donation page system and will launch this system in the coming weeks, allowing any nonprofit to create a free donation page in minutes.
Machine Intelligence Research Institute
MIRI has released a series of informal, largely unedited chat logs of AI safety conversations between some researchers from MIRI, the Future of Humanity Institute, DeepMind, OpenAI, Open Philanthropy, and the Alignment Research Center, among others. The discussion so far is available in both text and audio form. MIRI has also announced a $1.2 million bounty for help with building a large fiction dataset for AI safety research.
One for the World
One for the World released two further posts in conjunction with Giving What We Can, part of their joint series on effective giving. These are how to donate well from a longtermist* perspective (written by Michael Townsend and reviewed by One for the World); and an update on One for the World's workplace giving outreach.The latter has raised ~$135k in recurring donations and $604k in one-off donations in 18 months.
Rethink Priorities (RP) recently hired several permanent staff members and research fellows. Tom Hird joined the Global Health and Development Department as a Senior Research Manager and the Longtermism Department welcomed the following fellows to the AI Governance and Strategy team: Abi Olvera, Shaun Ee, Onni Aarne, and Ben Cottier.
RP also opened roles in the following areas: AI Governance and Strategy, Longtermism, Animal Welfare, Global Health and Development, and Operations. See their Careers Page for more information and join Co-CEOs and senior research managers for Q&A sessions on March 29th and April 5th. Applications are due by April 17th. They are also accepting general applications for employment on a rolling basis as well as expressions of interest for their 2022 Fellowships.
Their new posts on the EA Forum include:
- Why short-range forecasting can be useful for longtermism by Linch Zhang
- Potentially great ways forecasting can improve the longterm future by Linch Zhang
In the last month, Suvita collected nominations for over 500 new immunisation ambassadors and began exploring options for using government administrative data to evaluate the impact of their programmes. They met with key government stakeholders in Bihar and Maharashtra states, and co-founder Fiona participated in the “Gavi 5.0” consultation in Bihar, along with other key state government partners, to help shape Gavi’s 5-year investment strategy in India.
Wild Animal Initiative
Wild Animal Initiative recently announced its first round of grants to research teams investigating important and neglected aspects of wild animal welfare. More than $500,000 has been distributed.
Grantmaking is one of the ways Wild Animal Initiative supports the growing field of wild animal welfare research, which aims to identify ways to reduce wild animal suffering from both human and natural causes. In 2021, Wild Animal Initiative launched its inaugural call for research proposals on the theme of juvenile welfare and ecology. The majority of animals born in the wild die before adulthood. This makes early-life experiences disproportionately important to estimating the welfare of a population or community. Yet this life stage is often poorly understood, in part because the juveniles and adults of many species have different diets, habitats, and even body forms.
Visit Wild Animal Initiative’s website for details on the projects that have been selected for this round of research funding.