These monthly posts originated as the "Updates" section of the EA Newsletter.
This month, Habiba Islam joined the 80,000 Hours advising team and started doing her first one-on-one career advice sessions.
Rob Wiblin had the chance to interview Marc Lipsitch — one of the top epidemiologists in the world — and asked whether we’re winning or losing against COVID-19.
80,000 Hours also released two other podcasts:
- Arden Koehler interviewed Danny Hernandez (forecasting and the drivers of AI progress)
- And Keiran Harris talked with A.J. Jacobs (radical honesty, following the whole Bible, and reframing global problems as puzzles).
Finally, they released the fifteenth and final installment in their series of posts with anonymous answers.
They also released a page containing the complete collection of posts with anonymous answers, as well as an audio version of some highlights from the project on their podcast feed.
Alliance to Feed the Earth in Disasters
ALLFED is creating a Food Systems Handbook together with the team behind the Coronavirus Tech Handbook. This project aims to gather global expertise to find solutions to the food crisis. More information on the project, including a call to action, can be found here.
Animal Charity Evaluators
Animal Charity Evaluators hosted their first ACE Community Chat; watch the recording to hear Executive Director Leah Edgerton and Research Manager Jamie Spurgeon discuss ACE’s 2020 goals and respond to listener questions. If you’re interested in attending a future ACE Community Chat, you can fill out this form to vote on potential topics.
Animal Ethics released audio versions of every text in the wild animal suffering section of their website. This follows a major update and expansion of the section. They also published a text discussing whether it may be possible to vaccinate animals who are threatened by coronaviruses like SARS-CoV-2.
Berkeley Existential Risk Initiative
BERI is still accepting applications from university groups looking for operational and administrative support. Applications are due by 30 June.
For more information on what BERI does for their collaborators, see their FAQ.
Center for Human-Compatible AI
PhD student Vael Gates and Professors Anca Dragan and Tom Griffiths published “How to Be Helpful to Multiple People at Once” in the journal Cognitive Science. The authors consider the problem of deciding how to assist multiple recipients with very different preferences. They develop a quantitative model of what people consider desirable behavior, characterizing participants’ preferences by inferring which combination of “metrics” (maximax, maxsum, maximin, or inequality aversion) best explain participants’ decisions in a drink‐choosing task. The paper helps constrain the space of desirable behavior in both leaders and assistive artificial intelligence systems.
Centre for the Study of Existential Risk
The Centre has four important new publications to share:
- “Overcoming Barriers to Cross-cultural Cooperation in AI Ethics and Governance,” written with Chinese colleagues and published in English and Chinese.
- “Bioengineering Horizon Scan 2020” identifies 20 emerging political issues (the regulation of genomic data, increased philanthropic funding, and malicious uses of neurochemicals) and environmental issues (crops for changing climates and agricultural gene drives).
- Haydn Belfield, Amritha Jayanti and Shahar Avin submitted written evidence to the UK Defence Committee on the risks of premature procurement of AI defence systems.
- CSER Management Board Chair Sir Partha is leading the UK government’s Independent Review on the Economics of Biodiversity, for which an interim report was recently published.
Media coverage: Spear’s: Luke Kemp on COVID-19 as “a black elephant”; Haydn Belfield in the Metro on four doomsday scenarios; and Seán Ó hÉigeartaigh in a webinar with the Cambridge University Vice-Chancellor on AI and power.
Charity Entrepreneurship (CE) has just announced the Charity Entrepreneurship Fund. In addition to providing seed grants to charities founded through their Incubation Program, the fund will support other organizations with the potential to be highly cost-effective. If you are interested in contributing to the fund, contact CE directly or use their donations page for contributions under $1,000.
This summer, the CE Incubation Program will be split into two online training courses: a publicly available audit course focused on effective decision-making, and a certificate course on gathering support for your decisions. Read more about the two courses here.
As part of the Incubation Program, CE will publicly release parts of their handbook for entrepreneurs, chock-full of advice on how to start an effective charity startup. Get a taste of the handbook with Erik Hausen’s article on implementing surveys in developing countries, and Patrick Stadler’s top tips on management.
Effektiv Spenden (ES) (which roughly translates to “effective giving” in German) is a dedicated donation regranting platform for Germany focused on engaging with the general public. ES was founded in early 2019 and recently published a summary of their first year of operations and plans for 2020 on the EA Forum.
ES generated a donation volume of €358,869.75 for effective charities in global health and development, climate change, and animal welfare. Their tentative cost-effectiveness analysis suggests a positive counterfactual net impact with much room for growth in 2020. In particular, strong growth in Q1 2020 led to a donation volume of €157.427,45 that was disbursed to ES partner charities. For more information on ES, email them: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Faunalytics’ new blog post, “Effective Animal Campaigning: Current Knowledge and Guiding Principles,” examines how content, focus, and framing work together to create the most effective animal advocacy campaigns. Their new library article, “Deforestation and the Next Pandemic,” outlines how demand for meat increases the risk of zoonoses through environmental degradation.
They also conducted their annual community survey and are pleased to report that 81% of respondents find Faunalytics’ research and resources “very valuable” or “extremely valuable” for improving animal advocacy.
Fish Welfare Initiative
Continuing their foundational research, Fish Welfare Initiative published two new pieces: “Prioritizing Fish Species for Effective Welfare Interventions” and “Welfare Issues in Farmed Atlantic Salmon.” They also co-authored an EA Forum post discussing their collaboration with the Aquatic Life Institute.
FWI is hiring for what is likely the most critical role they will ever hire for: Director of Country Operations, located in South or Southeast Asia. They encourage all interested parties to apply or reach out.
Future of Life Institute
Lucas Perry interviewed Sam Harris and George Church on the Future of Life Institute Podcast. FLI is also looking for a recipient of the 2020 Future of Life Award. If you know of an unsung hero who has helped to avoid global catastrophic disaster, or who has done incredible work to ensure a beneficial future of life, please submit a candidate for consideration. FLI is incentivizing the search via MIT’s successful DARPA Network Challenge strategy, where the first to nominate the winner receives $3,000. There are also tiered payouts: the first to invite the person who nominated the winner (identified via a trackable link) receives $1,500, the first to invite that person receives $750, and so on.
GiveWell published a summary of their progress in 2019 and their plans for 2020. In brief, their 2020 goals are to expand into new areas of research, search for new cost-effective funding opportunities in their traditional research areas, and build their donor community. GiveWell also published reports on iron fortification and soft skills certification.
Global Catastrophic Risk Institute
GCRI posted a statement on racism in response to recent events. Additionally, GCRI Executive Director Seth Baum has a new paper in the journal Information, “Medium-term Artificial Intelligence and Society,” which analyzes the neglected intermediate period between near-term and long-term AI.
Global Priorities Institute (GPI)
Every Friday in June, GPI is hosting a seminar on a topic related to global priorities research (see GPI’s research agenda). These Global Priorities Seminars are held online and are free for everyone to join. For more information and to sign up, please visit this website.
The Good Food Institute
- GFI released their latest State of the Industry reports on plant-based and cultivated meat.
- Senior Scientist Elliot Swartz, Ph.D., co-authored a paper with two scientists from Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology, and Research (A*STAR) entitled “The Business of Cultured Meat.” It was published in the journal Trends in Biotechnology.
- GFI’s Corporate Engagement team published the first-of-its-kind Good Food Retail Report, benchmarking the top 15 US grocery retailers on plant-based sales strategies.
- GFI’s Dr. Liz Specht and Jan Dutkiewicz of Johns Hopkins published “Let's Rebuild the Broken Meat Industry — Without Animals.”
The Humane League
Following pressure from The Humane League (THL) and their coalition partners, Tyson Foods publicly announced plans to end the use of live-shackle slaughter, a brutal practice faced by more than 8 billion chickens raised for meat in the US. THL continues to urge Tyson and other large chicken producers to adopt the full suite of Better Chicken Commitment standards and listen to slaughterhouse employees demanding basic workplace protections. Director of Corporate Engagement Taylor Ford provided perspective on why standing in solidarity with workers’ groups presents an opportunity to reform our food system.
In the UK, a recent report estimated that thanks to more than 100 corporate commitments, already 30 million chickens raised for meat meet Better Chicken Commitment standards.
THL Labs, tracking the impact of corporate commitments by publishing data on the US cage-free egg supply, reported that 26% of hens now live in cage-free systems. This percentage rose by 2.8% from January through April of this year.
The Open Wing Alliance (OWA), a coalition of more than 80 international groups organized by THL, secured four cage-free commitments in the last month, including a global policy from Lindt.
The OWA hosted their fourth annual (and first virtual) Global Summit to End Cages, which convened more than 400 attendees across six continents. THL and their OWA coalition partners trained activists in effective campaign tactics, aligned around their global cage-free push, and strategized ways to maximize the coalition’s impact for animals during challenging times.
THL President David Coman-Hidy gave a virtual presentation, “Ending Factory Farming”, and participated in an open Q&A session. The recording is available for viewing.
Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence
For those unfamiliar with CFI who might want a quick overview, this summary of their first three years should be helpful.
Open Philanthropy announced grants including $776K to the University of Oxford to support a new office space for the Centre for Effective Altruism, the Forethought Foundation, the Future of Humanity Institute, and the Global Priorities Institute; $500K to 1Day Sooner to accelerate the development and deployment of a vaccine for COVID-19; and $500K to the Florida Rights Restoration Commission to conduct outreach to formerly incarcerated people. Open Philanthropy also published blog posts examining their progress in 2019 and plans for 2020 and announcing new staff members.
The EA Hub is now hosted by Rethink Charity and supported by the Centre for Effective Altruism. Catherine Low managed the Effective Altruism Resource Hub during 2019 while working for Rethink Charity, and is now a contractor with the Centre for Effective Altruism. This update on the EA Hub outlines recent improvements to the Effective Altruism Resource Hub, including the event category spreadsheet and the Virtual Events guide.
Rethink Priorities published an analysis of the 2019 EA Survey covering how people initially get involved in the movement. They also published the first posts in a series on comparisons of welfare and moral status across species and how to measure capacity for such welfare and status.
Raising for Effective Giving
Wild Animal Initiative
Wild Animal Initiative published a research note exploring the complex relationship between predation and wild animal welfare. They also shared career advice for people interested in wild animal welfare.
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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.)