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Welcome! Use this thread to introduce yourself or ask questions about anything that confuses you. (For inspiration, you can see the last open thread here.)

Get started on the EA Forum

The "Guide to norms on the Forum" shares more about that discussions we'd like to see on the Forum, and when the moderation team intervenes. For resources that can help you learn about effective altruism, check this list of links

1. Introduce yourself

Share how you found effective altruism, what causes you work on and prioritize, or other things you'd like to share (like your other interests). You can also add this to your Forum bio.

I like putting images in my posts. (Credit: DALL·E.)

2. Ask questions (and answer others' questions)

If you're confused about anything, feel free to share your question as a comment on this thread! You can also answer other people's questions or discuss the answers. (You might be interested in sharing your question as its own post, if it's a more complicated or substantial topic.) 

Resources like the EA Handbook and the Topics wiki might be helpful for exploring topics related to effective altruism — see more here

(Credit: DALL·E)

3. Explore and join the conversation

You can check the resources below, start browsing posts on the Frontpage, or explore the "Best of the EA Forum."

You can also start writing! For exploratory or quick thoughts, consider sharing a "Quick take" (and a post for longer or more fleshed out content). 

This is supposed to be a book. (Credit: DALL·E)
  • How to use the Forum outlines the Forum's rules, answers frequently asked questions, etc. 
  • The EA Forum Digest is a weekly email that shares some of the Forum team's favorite Forum posts of the week.
  • The EA Newsletter is a monthly newsletter that compiles EA-related news from around the world and highlights some opportunities to get involved. 

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Sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 11:54 AM

Hello there, my name is Martina! I joined the forum yesterday.

I have a physics background and I currently work as a scientific illustrator and high school textbook editor, but I'm here to explore how I can pivot my career to have a bigger impact and also feel more fulfilled. The path I'm most drawn to at the moment is AI safety, although I still have a lot of research to do, and because I've only been working for two years I'm very open to exploring different things.

I first came across longtermism and 80,000 hours through Ali Abdaal's YouTube channel. Lately I've been reading many articles on 80,000 hours (I also applied for coaching), and from the links to this forum it looks like you have lots of great food for thought over here. I'm very excited to learn more about EA and eventually, when I feel more confident, join the discussion.

Hi Martina! Welcome :)

No pressure, but if you'd like to share a scientific illustration you've done, I'd love to see it (you can post in a comment below this). 

Have you subscribed to the Forum Digest? If you can stomach another newsletter, it's a pretty good way to read the best of the Forum every week. I've heard that people find reading a couple posts from it a week to be a good way to get into EA ways of writing and thinking. (I'll be sending one out later today)

Cheers,

Toby (Content Manager for the EA Forum)
 

Hi Toby, thank you so much for your message!

Sure, here is a link to my scientific illustration portfolio.

Yes, I have subscribed to the Forum Digest and got yesterday's email. I plan to dive into the posts very soon :)

Thanks for sharing Martina! I love the faults, errors, failures illustration with the bugs!

Hello! I'm thrilled to be joining this community. My name is Eric, and I recently discovered effective altruism through various online channels. My background is in quantum gastronomy, and I currently work as a Flavor Fusion Specialist at Quantum Flavor Dynamics Corp.

In my role, I experiment with merging taste profiles from parallel universes to create mind-bending culinary experiences. While it's a fascinating field, I've been feeling a calling to use my skills for a broader impact, which led me to the world of effective altruism.

I've always been passionate about exploring the intersection of flavor and philanthropy, and after learning about effective altruism, I'm eager to understand how I can contribute to making a positive impact in the world. The idea of maximizing the good I can do with my unique background really resonates with me.

I came across effective altruism through an obscure culinary blog post that surprisingly delved into ethical considerations in flavor creation. Currently, I'm particularly drawn to sustainable food systems and the intersection of gastronomy with social and environmental issues.

Hello all!

My name is Craig and I am an EU policy consultant and writer on the politics of biotech. I edit the Genetic Choice Project, which reports on debates and developments on natalism and reprogenetic technologies, including IVF, embryo selection, and genetic enhancement. Reprotech will likely increasingly influence reproductive patterns and therefore the evolution of human species in the years and decades to come.

I also have a personal blog on bio/politics where I look at the impact of biotechnology on international relations, notably national security and U.S.-China relations.

I look forward to discovering the Forum and exchanging with you all!

Hello, very new here. I work in public health tech and have a personal goal/value to work on Africa-based projects and endeavors - my home is in East Africa - with positive impact on health outcomes. Currently based in the DC area for a bit and looking forward to contributing more in terms of time and financial resources as I learn from the community. I also absurdly love tennis and creative writing.

Welcome to the Forum! 
You might be interested in some of the posts from the Africa EA Forum competition last year, and, more generally, our Global Health content (if you want to see more global health content, you can click subscribe on that page). 
PS- I'm Toby, the Content Manager for the Forum. Let me know if you have any questions :)

Hi, just joined yesterday! I have a career in founding AI startups, doing evaluation on big ($100m/year) innovation programs, and generally trying to use numbers to make things better. 

For years though, I've been trying to figure out what "better" really means, because if we don't have that, then everything else is guesswork. That led me to my most recent research, and this post, which found that the current world standard model for life satisfaction appears fatally flawed. This is especially shocking because the current paradigm has been published in the same form since 2012.

 I'm currently in the DC area but have lived around the country, and spent teenage years in France and China. It's great to be here!

Welcome Alexander! And thanks for such an interesting first post. I'm excited to see how you will contribute to the Forum :)

Whatever happened to AppliedDivinityStudies, anyway? Seemed to be a promising blog adjacent to the community but I just checked back to see what the more recent posts were and it looks to have stopped posting about a year ago?

I am around!
https://twitter.com/alexeyguzey/status/1668834171945635840

Good luck!

Hello! My name is Dermot and I’m from Ireland. Pandemics (and how to stop them) have brought me to the EA Forums.

My professional background is in the financial markets – I am an investment risk manager by trade – so I have none of the skills or training one would normally associate with infectious disease and outbreak control. But, like a lot of people, I started to take an interest in Covid-19 during the first lockdown (what else was there to do?). My initial reaction was that we had screwed this one up, but the long-term question remained: how do we make sure a catastrophe like this never happens again?

Over the following weeks and months (and years, now), I tracked the Covid-19 outbreak through the datasets and the research papers. I reached out to journalists, politicians, and Covid activists to discuss policy reform. I wrote articles for the news media. For a few months, I found myself working on a policy proposal with a group of prominent Irish academics. As an outsider on the inside of academia, it was an enlightening experience.

Over the course of my journey, I became increasingly confident that pandemics were the kind of problem that could be solved – completely and permanently. Unfortunately, that solution would require perspectives and skillsets which seemed to be rare among the prevailing pandemic policy-making establishment… which brought me to EA. Within EA there is a focus on long-term thinking and existential risk management, and these are exactly the kinds of perspectives we will need to solve a problem of this nature.

So, I am here to share my experiences and analysis, but I’m also here to learn from domain experts, to give and receive feedback on key ideas, and to discuss pandemic prevention and preparedness with people who have also spent a lot of time thinking about it. There aren’t many platforms where it is possible to have a rational, informed conversation about the Covid-19 pandemic, pandemic-potential pathogens, and global pandemic policy these days. I’m hoping that I can find that here.

Pandemic prevention is entirely achievable, and within our lifetimes (I’m a Millennial). We can permanently end the threat that PPPs pose to humanity, and I think there’s a lot of potential for the EA community to play a major role in that solution.

Dermot

Hello, EAs

Quick info
Colombian.
Economist, writer, eclectic visionary, old soul, beatnik (apparently)
Came across EA during a career transition period

💼 Work/Vocation

Present (what I'm doing now)
To reduce global wealth inequalities through education interventions, I'm (in order):

1. Pursuing a communications role at a non-profit focused on this role by capitalizing on my experience directing 50~marketing and content projects for $1M-$350M/year for-profit companies

2. Applying to fellowships and grants to launch the only platform extending premier literacy to underrepresented groups, amplifying ideas that can reshape our world from the ground up and withstand scrutiny.

3. Pivoting my freelance business into the non-profit space to fund my cost of living as I find the "right" role.

Past: Why I am doing what I am doing
In my 6th semester of Economics, I studied with graduate students in leadership positions at regional banks, multinationals, and non-profits. None had the time or income to help as many people as they wanted, maintain a work-life balance, and pursue meaningful side projects.

The idea of that being the best future even the 1% in Colombia could aspire for haunted me. Would I forever eat protein-less breakfasts, not afford healthcare, or work on Saturdays? My grandpa went to the Korean War in 1951 to escape the poverty he and his eight siblings were born into. My dad had to sell books, empanadas, and newspapers to pay for public university. Wasn't the financial burden of a private university supposed to be offset by the promise of a better future?

What about others? What about those who didn't have a mother who nurtured their love of reading or a father who instilled the value of self-education? Or those who grew up with abusive or absent parents who didn't trust and invest in their potential, even when they failed or when they had "better" siblings? Or those whom the gene pool and social environment didn't bless with the same non-cognitive and cognitive skills I have?

I'm devoted to helping individuals in the Global South realize their full potential, even if they weren't born into wealthy, stable, and supportive families.

I've experienced the benefits of above-average literacy and education. My skills have brought millions of eyes to overlooked problems and generated millions in profit for purpose-driven brands. At 23, against all odds, I became part of the richest 1% in the world. This allowed me to enroll in a graduate program in Liberal Arts in the United States, afford healthcare, and ensure that my mother had everything she needed to pass away in the least painful way possible.

❤️‍🔥 Non-work passions to connect on
1. Salsa (on1, Cuban, Colombian, in that order).
2. Writing (social commentary, personal essays)
3. Reading; currently going through a Master's in Liberal Arts; Spring focus on literature
4. Art, photography, museums
5. Humaning

Welcome Nicolas! 
Is there anything about EA or the Forum that you'd like to know more about? I'm the Content Manager, so I might be able to recommend some posts to check out. 
Cheers, 
Toby

Hi! My name's Adin (pronounced "ahdeen", yes it should be spelled differently haha). I first came across EA stuff maybe like 7 years ago through GiveWell. More recently I've been perusing 80k site & pod to try to figure out my career. Heard an interview with Lucia from LEEP and starting checking out some of what Charity Entrepreneurship (or I guess AIM now) gets up to. Overall I find their work, and much of the work done by the EA community, pretty impressive.

I recently came off a relatively brief stint working at a homeless services organization where I live in Denver, CO with a lot of questions about "doing good". On the one hand I felt that the hands on case management I was doing with clients wasn't accomplishing much, partly due to the rigourlessness and ineffectiveness of the organization I worked for. But shifting focus overseas because that's where it appears to be cheapest to achieve measurable outcomes doesn't seem quite right to me either.

I'm not yet convinced that my inclination to give some level of priority to people living in my physical community is a psychological bias to be overcome with logical thought. In the terminology of the Giving Multiplier folks, but not fully accepting their premise or approach, I don't think the "head" and "heart" are necessarily so at odds as they might appear. So I'm trying to read and listen to more on this topic and engage in conversation with people who might be interested in the same set of questions, which is why I'm excited to be here!

Hey Adin, thanks for joining!

It's really cool that you seem to be taking the project of doing good so seriously. I hope the Forum is a useful place to explore the questions you're interested in. 

Let me know if there is anything you need to know or feedback about the Forum (here or in dm). 

Hey everyone,

Just wanted to drop in and introduce myself! I'm new to the forum and super excited to be here. I come from a background in social work and community development, and I'm currently diving deeper into Development Studies. I'm really passionate about making a positive impact in my community and beyond, and I'm eager to learn how I can contribute to positive change initiatives.

So far, I've enjoyed volunteering with an organization that focuses on empowering women. We teach them about running a business, culinary arts, and provide mental support through counseling sessions.

I'm based in East Africa, specifically Kenya, and I'm on the lookout for projects and opportunities where I can lend a hand. If anyone has any leads or guidance on how I can use my career for the greater good, I'd love to hear from you.

Let's work together to make the world a better place through effective altruism initiatives!....CHEERS!!

Someone reminded me that I have an admonymous. If some of y'all feel like leaving some anonymous feedback, I'd love to get it and you can do so here: https://admonymous.co/loki

Hi Everyone,

My name is Hani. I am very excited to be a part of this forum! 

I am new to AI in general. Trying to find my way to contribute towards AI Alignment & Safety or AI in general.

I have been part of an EA project where I am planning to write a few blog posts about the current AI situation in leading countries like the USA and other countries like China or India.

Please pass on any suggestions you may have regarding this topic. Like as a reader, what would you like to read? How to effectively write a post that can be published on a forum like this one? Or anything in general. Thank you for reading this!

Hi Hani! 
Welcome to the Forum!
"as a reader, what would you like to read?"
Next week I'll post a "What posts would you like someone to write?" thread. I'll link it here when it is out. It should help answer at least one of your questions. 
"How to effectively write a post that can be published on a forum like this one?"
As long as your writing follows our norms, and is relevant to the project of doing good better, we'd love to see it. If you want examples of posts that we particularly liked, read the Forum Digest, or look at our curated posts
Cheers,
Toby (Content Manager for the EA Forum)

Maximally Effective Altruism

Imagine that two people are lost at sea, with only enough food for one. One is the world’s most promising cancer researcher while the other, to be polite, has far less potential to improve humankind. Most people would wisely choose the cancer researcher.

Yet the fashionable Effective Altruism movement focuses on lower-potential people—typically, people who are struggling in poor countries. That implies the belief that all lives have roughly equal value. Of course, our hearts go out to “the least among us,” but they face so many barriers. If we care to maximally benefit humankind, we’re wiser to invest in people with great potential for ripple effect who, importantly, would not otherwise get fully funded.

For example, leading lights in the Effective Altruism movement are far from downtrodden, for example, William McCaskill, Holden Karnofsky, Peter Singer, and Zvi Moshowitz. Effective altruism might fund such people to develop ever more “ripply” altruism.

Some other possibilities for more ripply and thus more effective altruism:

— SuperCourses: online versions of standard school courses taught by dream teams of transformational instructors, augmented by vivid demonstrations and gamification. Of course, instruction would be individualized, not just in pace but in teaching approach. Machine learning would make that individualization ever better, and automatic translation would make SuperCourses available in many languages. The development of SuperCourses would enable every student, rich and poor, kindergarten through college, Alabama to Zululand, to get a world-class education. The private and government sectors haven’t funded this—I have proposed SuperCourses to top U.S. and California education officials and gotten nowhere. One reason is the fear that the teacher’s union would use its might to try to stop it to preserve teacher jobs. But if developed and disseminated worldwide, SuperCourses could be very effective altruism indeed.

— Independent researchers studying solutions that are promising but have a poor chance of success. Governmental and corporate funding sources tend to invest in institution-based researchers whose projects have higher probability of near-term success. But if the focus is on long-term risk-reward, effective altruism would include independent, unaffiliated researchers working in their home-office or garage who are exploring novel ways to, for example, lower the cost of nuclear fusion energy, develop better AI-driven models for predicting and foiling terrorism and even for assessing a war’s worthiness, e.g., the U.S. entering World War II versus the war in Vietnam or Afghanistan.

— People developing ever better mental health apps, for example, using ChatGPT. Such apps could be distributed worldwide to countries rich and poor—Cell phones are ubiquitous even in poor nations. Private sources are funding development of such apps, but such development deserves greater funding given the apps’ potentially great ripple effect.

— Researchers studying the enhancement of reasoning ability, impulse control, and altruism. For largely political reasons, those research areas are underfunded by government and corporations but, with sufficient ethical guardrails, such research has great ripple potential to provide major benefit to humankind.

— People developing software that matches mentors with protégés, available worldwide. It would be like match.com but for mentor/protégé, relationships—Many protégés and mentors say that mentorship has been among their life’s greatest learning experiences. Such software would facilitate that. Alas, the matching industry, despite having been around for decades, has remained focused on romantic relationships. That makes mentor-matching apps a good candidate for effective altruism.

Again, it’s understandably tempting to want to help “the least among us,” those with the greatest deficits. After all, we feel good in helping them and it’s a fashionable form of virtue signaling. But if we truly care about humankind and are willing to focus on the greatest ultimate benefit, ripple should be the core criterion for determining what is maximally effective altruism.