These monthly posts originated as the "Updates" section of the EA Newsletter. Organizations submit their own updates, which we edit for clarity.
This month, Rob Wiblin covered three very different topics with his guests on the podcast:
- Maha Rehman on working with governments to rapidly deliver masks to millions of people
- David Wallace on the many-worlds theory of quantum mechanics and its implications
- Luisa Rodriguez on why global catastrophes seem unlikely to kill us all
Ben Todd also released a new blog post on The growth of effective altruism: what does it mean for our priorities and level of ambition? (which includes a recording of his October talk at EA Global in London), as well as two new articles:
- Be more ambitious: a rational case for dreaming big (if you want to do good)
- Career exploration: when should you settle?
Nähtamatud Loomad, Anima International’s Estonian Group, organized an event to launch their fresh report on cage-free processes in the food sector. It was very well received — one of the speakers, the CSR manager of one of the largest retailers — Rimi — made a rock-solid case for cage-free and the CEO of The Network of CSR in Estonia said that keeping hens in cages is violence that needs to stop. There were guests from many important food companies, food producers, HoReCa, ministries, food organizations etc. The report and the recording of the event will be sent to all food companies to create more peer pressure.
The president of Nähtamatud Loomad, Kristina Mering, was notified by the Estonian Minister of Environment that the team’s plant-based campaign Taimne Teisipäev was given the Environment-Friendly Act of the Year award by the ministry.
Animal Charity Evaluators
Animal Charity Evaluators has officially released their 2021 charity recommendations. Top Charities include The Humane League, Wild Animal Initiative, and — after 6 years as a Standout Charity — Faunalytics!
Animal Ethics published the overview What Animal Ethics is currently working on October 2021. Their major projects include a literature review about using thermal imaging to learn about wild animals, interventions to help wild animals, a paper on longtermism, and a project to introduce high school students to speciesism.
Animal Ethics spokespersons gave talks at EA Oxford and in Argentina and Chile.
In addition, they participated in two important events in Brazil. Animal Ethics co-organized a day-long wild animal ethics conference with the Council of Veterinary Medicine of Paraná. More than 100 people attended the conference targeting veterinary scholars and practitioners. They also gave an animal ethics course officially recognized by the Federal University of Uberlandia.
Berkeley Existential Risk Initiative
Center for Human-Compatible AI
Stuart Russell is the first computer scientist to be selected as a BBC Reith Lecturer. Russell delivered four lectures across the UK to discuss his views on AI from November 1 to November 19.
The lectures examined what Russell will argue is the most profound change in human history as the world becomes increasingly reliant on super-powerful AI. Examining the impact of AI on jobs, military conflict and human behavior, Russell argues that our current approach to AI is wrong and that if we continue down this path, we will have less and less control over AI at the same time as it has an increasing impact on our lives. How can we ensure machines do the right thing? The lectures suggest a way forward based on a new model for AI, one based on machines that learn about and defer to human preferences.
The series of lectures were held in four locations across the UK; Newcastle, Edinburgh, Manchester and London and will be broadcast on Radio 4 and the World Service as well as being available on BBC Sounds. Accompanying the lectures, Adam Rutherford and Hannah Fry explore the themes of the lectures in a complementary Radio 4 series.
The lectures were chaired by presenter, journalist and author, Anita Anand.
Centre for the Governance of AI (GovAI)
The Chief of Staff would serve as the “central node” within GovAI, reporting only to the Director. A range of crucial responsibilities, most of which currently sit with the Director, would be taken on by the Chief of Staff. These include managing the core team, and tracking and evaluating core objectives.
The Summer Fellowship provides an opportunity for early-career individuals to spend three months working on an AI governance research project, learning about the field, and making connections with other researchers and practitioners.
Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER)
The World Health Organization has published a horizon scan of emerging technologies and dual-use concerns co-authored and co-organized by CSER researcher Luke Kemp. The report brings together experts from a range of disciplines to examine scientific and technological developments that could give rise to concern over the next two decades. It identifies 15 priorities across three overlapping areas: new technologies; issues associated with the convergence of technical areas; and governance of the life sciences.
CSER researchers published a submission to the UK Cabinet Office’s Call for Evidence to the National Resilience Strategy arguing for more work to categorize and identify catastrophic risks; emphasizing the importance of taking a long-term perspective on risk mitigation; and encouraging the development of a more comprehensive strategy to such risks.
Luke Kemp wrote about who is causing existential risks and why for BBC Future. He argues that many drivers of risk are overwhelmingly caused by secretive, unchecked, power rather than malicious lone wolves and that too much secrecy is historically a greater driver of risk than information hazards.
Natalie Jones contributed to the Production Gap Report, a multi-stakeholder assessment of how the production of fossil fuels can be brought into alignment with the goals of the Paris Climate Change Agreement. Dr Jones was co-author for two chapters on Government Support and Policies For Fossil Fuel Production and The Critical Role of Transparency in Addressing the Production Gap.
Asaf Tzachor and Catherine Richards published an article on the future of food and cites in The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Urban and Regional Futures arguing that future foods (like microalgae, insect larvae, and cultured meat) provide nutritious and sustainable alternatives to customary food sources that mitigate external hazards.
Charity Entrepreneurship plans to open their next application round for the two-month Incubation Program in December.
Participants will be able to choose one of two programs:
Summer 2022 - runs from late June to late August 2022 (8 hours a day, 6 weeks online + 1 week in person in London).
Winter 2023 - runs from early February to late March 2023 (8 hours a day, 6 weeks online + 1 week in person in the USA – location TBA).
CE will release more information about these programs soon. Subscribe to their newsletter to receive details about their new charity ideas (they are currently researching health policy), important dates, and how to apply.
Animal Charity Evaluators has recognized Faunalytics as a Top Charity, one of the three most impactful giving opportunities in effective animal advocacy!
At this time Faunalytics has also announced their upcoming research agenda, and is accepting donations to support their work in 2022. Explore ways to give here, or donate to the EA Facebook Fundraiser for Faunalytics on Giving Tuesday (all Giving Tuesday donations to Faunalytics will be matched, up to $3,000)!
Additionally, in the latest edition of their Faunalytics Explains video series, Faunalytics unpacks a study on the greenhouse gas emissions from global aquaculture, and outlines the best way forward for advocates.
Fish Welfare Initiative
Fish Welfare Initiative (FWI) recently published their multi-year scaleup plan. In it, they discuss the key challenge holding back their work in India, namely identifying fish welfare improvements that are both sufficiently implementable and impactful, and how they plan to address this challenge.
They are also searching for an Agricultural Economist consultant — open to qualified candidates with experience in lower and middle income countries. Please share widely!
Giving What We Can
Giving What We Can is collaborating with the wider effective giving community to host a series of Effective Giving Day events around the world on Giving Tuesday (November 30). In these events you will learn how to do the most good with your charitable donations, hear the latest updates from charity evaluators and expert grantmakers, and participate in a Q&A with experts in effective giving. They will be suitable both for people new to effective giving and those who’ve already made it a meaningful part of their lives.
Their 2021 edition of the Effective Giving Guide (available for download as a PDF) is a great resource for those new to effective giving – sharing it is a great way to advocate for effective giving this giving season. Another way to advocate for effective giving this giving season is to join their Effective Giving Advocacy Challenge.
Giving What We Can have released many research summaries across the cause areas of global health and development, improving animal welfare, safeguarding the long-term future and advocating for effective altruism.
Global Catastrophic Risk Institute
GCRI recently published a blog post reviewing what it accomplished in 2021 and outlining its plans for 2022. GCRI writes that, in spite of the ongoing pandemic, they had a productive year in 2021 and were able to expand their research, outreach, and community support activities.
GCRI also recently published a blog post about its 2021 Advising and Collaboration Program for people interested in getting their advice or collaborating with them. The program was a continuation of the Advising and Collaboration Programs they conducted in 2019 and 2020. Some of the participants in the program offered testimonials about their experience here.
In addition, GCRI announced a new GCRI Fellowship Program. The program recognizes a select group of twelve GCRI Fellows who made exceptional contributions to addressing global catastrophic risk in collaboration with GCRI in 2021. Many of the GCRI Fellows first connected with GCRI through their Advising and Collaboration programs.
GiveWell has shared an update on their progress and long-term goals: We aim to cost-effectively direct around $1 billion annually by 2025. They discuss their increased room for more funding (they expect $450 million in 2021, up from $200 million in 2020), their fundraising, and how these changes will affect donors.
GiveWell has also shared a few additional updates:
- Their annual top charities announcement and recommendation on where to give: Our recommendations for giving in 2021
- More detail on their malnutrition research in: Why malnutrition treatment is one of our top research priorities. They guess they may direct as much funding to malnutrition in the future as they have to malaria programs in recent years.
- A change to how they produce their impact estimates. You can read more in their article: How we produce impact estimates.
Finally, GiveWell is still seeking Senior Researchers to join their team. It hopes you'll consider applying or sharing the listing with your network.
Happier Lives Institute
The HLI team have participated in a number of events in recent weeks including EA Global: London, a seminar with the Mind & Behaviour Research Group at Oxford University, talks for EA Medicine and EA Osnabrück as well as two Q&A sessions with Giving What We Can. HLI’s Director, Michael Plant, will also be speaking at EAGxPrague on 3-5 December.
The Humane League
In the US, THL secured groundbreaking chicken welfare commitments from four companies which will impact tens of millions of chickens per year, including some of the largest retailers in the country like Kroger, Sprouts, and Giant Eagle, as well as Black Angus Steakhouse. These victories came after a groundbreaking investigation in which THL found that 99% of chicken packets on supermarket shelves show signs of a disease that impacts both food quality and animal welfare.
After a relentless campaign, The Open Wing Alliance won a monumental campaign against Yum! Brands — the parent company of KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut — which pledged to go cage-free across nearly 50,000 locations in 150 countries worldwide.
THL published their Q3 progress report, which details their full impact from July to September here.
Open Philanthropy announced grants including $5M to Compassion in World Farming to support work on fish welfare and ending the use of cages in farming, $5M to Californians Against Pandemics to support work on the California Pandemic Early Detection and Prevention Act ballot initiative, $2.1M to Pure Earth to support work on reducing lead exposure in low- and middle-income countries, and $600K to the Federation of American Scientists to support work on high-skilled immigration policy. It also announced its allocation of $300M to GiveWell top charities; shared that its criminal justice reform program will launch as Just Impact, a new independent organization; and published technical updates to its Global Health and Wellbeing cause prioritization framework.
Rethink Priorities (RP) published their 2021 Impact and 2022 Strategy update. They also hosted an AMA (Ask Us Anything) during which RP staff answered questions about the organization, their work, as well as goals and plans for the next year.
Senior Economist David Reinstein presented the key findings regarding donations from the EA Survey 2020. It asked EAs about their charitable donations in the previous year and their predicted donations for the year of the survey.
RP’s team researching the moral weight of different animal species held a virtual conference earlier this month. A panel of five experts discussed Cognition, Welfare, and the Problem of Interspecies Comparisons. A recording is available on RP's website and one of the participants posted their conference notes on the EA Forum.
Senior Research Manager Daniela R. Waldhorn was one of the panelists at the Aquatic Life Conference 2021. Daniela elaborated on the topic of shrimp production and related welfare issues. A recording of the session can be found here and more information about farmed animal welfare is available in RP’s Research Database.
Wild Animal Initiative
Animal Charity Evaluators named Wild Animal Initiative a Top Charity for the second year in a row. You can read their analysis of WAI’s programs, cost effectiveness, culture, and room for more funding here.
At EA Global: London, Acting Executive Director Cameron Meyer Shorb made exciting connections for the wild animal welfare movement in the realms of policy, research, and academic outreach.
Wild Animal Initiative welcomed two returning members to the team in October. Mark Onley supports WAI’s operations and strategy in his new role as Executive Advisor. Law & Policy Fellow Suzanne Van Arsdale is exploring possible avenues for wild animal welfare advocacy.
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