Open Thread: August 2021

by Aaron Gertler1 min read2nd Aug 202128 comments

12

Open thread
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If you're new to the EA Forum, consider using this thread to introduce yourself! 

You could talk about how you found effective altruism, what causes you work on and care about, or personal details that aren't EA-related at all. 

(You can also put this info into your Forum bio.)


If you have something to share that doesn't feel like a full post, add it here! 

(You can also create a Shortform post.)


Open threads are also a place to share good news, big or small. See this post for ideas.

28 comments, sorted by Highlighting new comments since Today at 1:58 AM
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Hey everyone, excited to be part of this! :) My name is Dario Citrini.

I was born, grew up in, currently live and also study in Zurich, Switzerland. I've just completed my second semester of studying political science (major) and philosophy (minor) at the University of Zurich. I currently plan to pursue a master's in political science with a specialisation in PPE (philosophy, politics, economics) and am generally interested in interdisciplinary research on “the big questions”, especially regarding suffering, the future, and uncertainty.

The plight of badly-off humans and other animals has been a constant emotional involvement and intellectual interest of mine for many years, but only comparably recently have I embarked on my path to study how I could apply my compassion more systematically in a way that helps me to be more effective in making this world a better place. I've been fascinated by the philosophy of and social movement around EA since early 2020 and am excited about the profound impact EA has had on my life ever since.

Hundreds of sometimes broad, sometimes more specific intellectual interests have accumulated over the last few years. Those I'm currently most excited about (varyingly hardly to somewhat or maybe moderately versed) include, in no particular order:

  • effective altruism (esp. crucial considerations / viewquakes)
  • metaethics (and meta above that) (esp. moral epistemology)
  • moral (axiological and deontic) uncertainty (and meta above that)
  • global priorities research and axiology
  • population ethics, longtermism(s) / ethics of the (far) future, risk ethics, and fanaticism
  • suffering-focused ethics (esp. asymmetries, commensurability, and lexicality in ethics)
  • transhumanism and the intersection of sci-fi, technology, science, and philosophy
  • collective action problems and international relations
  • evolutionary psychology and moral psychology (esp. their intersection)
  • game theory and decision theory
  • moral circle expansion (esp. animal ethics, wild animal suffering, artificial sentience)
  • the philosophy, politics, and economics of emerging technologies (esp. interdisciplinary research on AGI (artificial general intelligence) value alignment)

I occasionally post stuff I find interesting and important on facebook and I have recently posted on my blog for the first time. I'm soon going to make an EA Forum post about this  compilation of resources on animal ethics and helping animals.

Please feel free to reach out to me to recommend or/and ask for any resources on any topic! :)

Hello, my name is Eddie. I was born and raised in Kenya but have lived in Canada(currently in Vancouver) for over 10 years now where I work as a Software Engineer. I learnt about Effective Altruism through the conversations between Will MacAskill and Sam Harris on the Waking up App. The huge disparities between my country of birth and my current country of residence have drawn me to think about how things can be improved for those less fortunate than I am. I would like to move from mostly thinking about it, to doing more about it and seems the ideas of EA could help me move in that direction. I'm still engaging and wrapping my head around EA and what it's all about and I hope that joining the forum may help me in my learning process.

Hi all! My name is Adi and I am a Software Engineer in the San Francisco Bay Area. I discovered EA through listening to Will MacAskill on the Sam Harris podcast several years ago and sort of followed the movement voyeuristically for like 2-3 years.  After landing my firs job out of grad school in 2018, I started donating small amount of money to GiveWell charities and suddenly knew that I was a full time EA. I have since been doing a lot of reading, and a lot of listening to the 80000 hours podcast. I currently trying to reshape my career with an EA focus and  working through the 80000 hours career guide. I am trying to meet new people in the EA community, hoping to strengthen the EA presence in the bay area by hosting events, and wanting to learn a lot more about different cause areas to figure out my long term focus. Please reach out to chat, or hang out in the bay area. You can also checkout some of the events I host through my Meetup group, MindFood SF.

Hey Adi! I'm actually working through the 80,000 Hours career guide at the moment, too. Where are you in it? Let me know if you'd like an accountability partner - I know I could use some more accountability/structure!

Hello, all! My name is Chloe and I'm an American expat currently living in Berlin. I'm an early career communications generalist looking to make a career change into an EA or EA-adjacent org. I'm excited to read more EA perspectives on the forum to continue my own learning and broaden my perspective! Don't hesitate to reach out if you want to chat EA, career changing, living abroad, vegan cooking, running or climbing (or anything else, really, but those are the topics I spend most of my time thinking about!). 

Hello Chloe. I'm also an early career communications generalist who likes running, vegan cooking, and living abroad. Happy to chat about my experiences with any of these, or with working at EA orgs! (I work at Rethink Charity and at ALLFED). My email is megan@rethinkprojects.org. Enjoy the EA Forum! 

Thanks, Megan!! Just sent you an email :)

Hi everyone. My name is Jay, and I'm a software engineer from Brisbane, Australia. My current goal is to become financially independent so I can devote the rest of my life to whatever cause I deem most worthy without needing to worry about earning a living. I expect to reach this point around 2025. I've joined the EA Forum because I want to spend some time in the next few years examining different causes, learning about the EA movement,  and figuring out how I can scale my efforts to make a big impact in retirement. 

I prefer to focus on concrete problems that are very scalable, and that one can easily contribute to in a small but meaningful way. Thus, the best option I've found so far is focusing on extreme global poverty. I also don't want to fall in the trap of always telling myself I'll do good later and never getting around to it, so in February of this year, I finally signed the Giving What We Can pledge.

Here is an update post on Metaforecast.

Heya! I'm Conrad, and I'm an effective altruist who's (1) not really a utilitarian and (2) unsure about narrow longtermism, whilst still (3) worried about neartermism's potential to neglect really high-impact but only slightly less tractable solutions. As if that doesn't make me a minority enough within EA, I'm also a black guy!

But I've long been dedicated to doing the most good I can. I'm a recent PPE grad who studied effective altruist philosophy at uni, and have been interested in its ideas for quite some time now. I've also been doing lots of self-studying over the recent months. I'm soon starting my career in London at an EdTech startup for the career capital, but certainly looking to help solve some of the world's most pressing problems in the future.  Using the forum will hopefully let me collect with more people, and resolve my (many!) uncertainties within the EA space.

Welcome to the Forum!

Trying to resolve uncertainties is a great way to use the site — though you'll also probably discover some new uncertainties :-)

I definitely recommend asking questions if any come to mind, even if they seem simple or straightforward; the simpler they are, the likelier it is that someone else has the same question.

Nice to meet you Conrad! EA London is starting to host more in person events - you should come hang out when you're in London!

Hello everyone. My name is Troy Wilkinson. I'm a U.S. citizen who was born in California, had a video game-filled childhood and then went off to university at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado. I studied Journalism and Media during my time there and developed my passions for writing, graphic design and involving myself in community groups.

I'm new to Effective Altruism. I've spent a year trying to Give What I Can via GiveWell and refine my work ethic so that I can embark on an impactful career. I hope that through this forum and other resources I can help spread the movement of Effective Altruism and inspire others to do what they can (which turns out to be a tremendous amount more than they may think).

We're doing an in person social next week in Boulder if you want to come say hi :)

I would love to. Though, I suppose it has already passed by now and I didn't mention that I've moved to and been working in China for a few years now. Does Boulder have an EA group? If you are part of the group I'd have a few questions :)

Greetings!

As a former college journalist, it's nice to see another person here who loves writing. I hope you'll find some useful posts on the Forum. And since you're new, I recommend looking checking out this resource to see if an online course or the EA Handbook seems helpful.

Hi Aaron, likewise! I've already applied to take part in next month's intro EA course. Excited, though unsure if I will be accepted to participate. Anyhow, nice to meet you.

[+][comment deleted]1mo 1

Hi everyone! I've been reading the forum for over a year now but have only very recently joined. I'm an undergrad student in the US studying Public Health and Earth Science. I was first introduced to EA through my interest in animal welfare advocacy, and now my current top focuses are international stability, civilizational collapse/resilience, and biosecurity. I have experience with EA community building, working on issues related to food security and civilizational collapse, and paleoclimate research. I hope that joining the forum will be a way to connect with more people in the broader EA community and for me to explore current uncertainties in my cause prioritization and possible career trajectory.

Hey, I'm trying to find a recent EA Forum post about the differences between longtermist and "near-termist" EAs. It conceptualizes these groups as having clusters of traits that don't necessarily have to do with valuing the far future, such as "near-termists prefer tight feedback loops and strong evidence." And I'm pretty sure it was published in the last 2 years. I've having a hard time searching for it, though. Does anyone know where it is?

I'm not sure what this post is, but the topic reminds me of the 80,000 Hours podcast episodes with Alexander Berger and Ajeya Cotra — might be worth skimming the subheadings on those transcripts to see if you find something useful.

Greetings to all! 

I'm Tessa, an EA enthusiast for just over 13 months now. My introduction to the EA community happened through my current organization, the Aquatic Life Institute (ALI). 

A bit of background for those not familiar with ALI; we're an international organization that supports research comparing potential welfare interventions. We then advocate for the implementation of promising initiatives, with the aim of positively impacting the lives of aquatic animals. 

Over the past year, we've seen some promising victories for aquatic animal welfare. Many were made possible through the establishment of our coalitions (Aquatic Animal Alliance & Coalition for Aquatic Conservation), engaging in certification scheme improvement consultations, developing government feedbacks, and internally identifying priority areas for further research and development. 

While we're not new to the EA Forum per se, we are just beginning our 'blogging/posting journey' here and welcome any comments, questions, etc. from anyone interested in our work. 

I look forward to our future conversations and wish you all the best! 

Fincerely, 

Tessa @ ALI

I posted this on LW as well, but I have being reading content from EA forum + LW sporadically for the last several years; only recently, though, did I find myself visiting here several times per day, and have made an account given my heightened presence. 

I am graduating with a B.A. in Neuroscience and Mathematics this January. My current desire is to find remote work (this is important to me) that involves one or more of: [machine learning, mathematics, statistics, global priorities research]. 

In spirit of the post The topic is not the content, I would like to spend my time (the order is arbitrary) doing at least some of the following: discussing research with highly motivated individuals, conducting research on machine learning theory, specifically relating to NN efficiency and learnability, writing literature reviews on cause areas, developing computational models and creating web-scraped datasets to measure the extent of a problem or the efficacy of potential solution, and recommending courses-of-action (based on my assessments generated from the previous listed entity). 

Generally, my skill set and current desires lead me to believe that I will find advancing the capabilities of machine learning systems, quantifying and defining problem afflicting humans, and synthesizing research literature to inform action, all fulfilling, and that I will be effective in working on these things done as well. 

It is my plan to attend graduate school for one of [machine learning, optimization, computer science] at some point in life (my estimate is around the age of 27-30), but I would first like to experiment with working at an EA affiliated organization (global priorities research) or in industry doing machine learning research. I am aware that it is difficult to get a decent research position without a Master's or PhD, but I believe it is still worth trying for. I have worked on research projects in computational neuroscience/chemistry for one company and three different professors at my school, but none of these projects turned into publications. This summer, I am at a research internship and am about to submit my research on ensemble learning for splice site prediction for review in the journal Bioinformatics - I am 70% confident that this work will get published, with me as the first author. Additionally, my advisor said he'd be willing to work with me to publish a dataset of 5000 fossil images I've taken of various fossils from my collection. While this work is not in machine learning theory, it increases my capacity for being hired and is helping me refine my competence as a researcher / scientist.  

I am planning on attending EA Global in October, but this is dependent upon how significant an issue COVID is at that point.

Nice to see that you've made the transition from lurker to poster :-)

I hope the paper gets published, and that EA Global goes as planned.

Hi all, I'm Daniel. I found out about EA many years ago from an ex-colleague who told me about a pub meet-up in London to discuss UBI that I actually ended up attending. I never bothered following up (being a pretty awkward person at the time). Don't quite recall what it was exactly but I was reminded of EA the other day so here I am. I've taken an interest and partaken in volunteering and community engagement over the last year and the EA forum sounds like a good place to speak with like-minds and perhaps make a greater impact.

hi, i'm skluug! i've been consuming EA-sphere content for a long time and have some friends who are heavily involved, but i so far haven't had much formal engagement myself. i graduated college this year and have given a few thousand dollars to the AMF (i signed up for the GWWC Pledge back in college and enjoy finally making good on it!). i'm interested in upping my engagement with the community and hopefully working towards a career with direct impact per 80k recommendations (i'm a religious 80k podcast listener).

Congratulations on getting to follow through on your pledge! I remember making my first post-college donation, once I was finally drawing a salary, and that was a special time.