Some months ago, Rethink Priorities announced its interdisciplinary Worldview Investigation Team (WIT). Now, we’re pleased to introduce the team’s members:
- Bob Fischer is a Senior Research Manager at Rethink Priorities, an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Texas State University, and the Director of the Society for the Study of Ethics & Animals. Before leading WIT, he ran RP’s Moral Weight Project.
- Laura Duffy is an Executive Research Coordinator for Co-CEO Marcus Davis and works on the Worldview Investigations Project. She is a graduate of the University of Chicago, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Statistics and co-facilitated UChicago Effective Altruism’s Introductory Fellowship.
- Arvo Muñoz Morán is a Quantitative Researcher working on the Worldview Investigations Team at Rethink Priorities and a research assistant at Oxford's Global Priorities Institute. Before that, he was a Research Analyst at the Forethought Foundation for Global Priorities Research and earned an MPhil in Economics from Oxford. His background is in mathematics and philosophy.
- Hayley Clatterbuck is a Philosophy Researcher at Rethink Priorities and an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has published on topics in probability, evolutionary biology, and animal minds.
- Derek Shiller is a Philosophy Researcher at Rethink Priorities. He has a PhD in philosophy and has written on topics in metaethics, consciousness, and the philosophy of probability. Before joining Rethink Priorities, Derek worked as the lead web developer for The Humane League.
- David Bernard is a Quantitative Researcher at Rethink Priorities. He will soon complete his PhD in economics at the Paris School of Economics, where his research focuses on forecasting and causal inference in the short and long-run. He was a Fulbright Scholar at UC Berkeley and a Global Priorities fellow at the Global Priorities Institute.
Over the next few months, the team will be working on cause prioritization—a topic that raises hard normative, metanormative, decision-theoretic, and empirical issues. We aren’t going to resolve them anytime soon. So, we need to decide how to navigate a sea of open questions. In part, this involves making our assumptions explicit, producing the best models we can, and then conducting sensitivity analyses to determine both how robust our models are to uncertainty and where the value of information lies.
Accordingly, WIT’s goal is to make several contributions to the broader conversation about global priorities. Among the planned contributions, you can expect:
- A cross-cause cost-effectiveness model. This tool will allow users to compare interventions like corporate animal welfare campaigns with work on AI safety, the Against Malaria Foundation with attempts to reduce the risk of nuclear war, biosecurity projects with community building, and so on. We’ve been working on a draft of this model in recent months and we recently hired two programmers—Chase Carter and Agustín Covarrubias—to accelerate its public release. While this tool won’t resolve all disputes about resource allocation, we hope it will help the community reason more transparently about these issues.
- Surveys of key stakeholders about the inputs to the model. Many people have thought long and hard about how much x-risk certain interventions can reduce, the relative importance of improving human and animal welfare, and the cost of saving lives in developing countries. We want to capture and distill those insights.
- A series of reports on the cruxes. The model has three key cruxes: animals’ “moral weights,” the expected value of the future, and your preference for making a difference vs. doing good in expectation. We’ll explore all these issues in some detail.
We’re looking forward to the discussion.
This post was written by Bob Fischer on behalf of Rethink Priorities. If you’re interested in RP’s work, you can learn more by visiting our research database. For regular updates, you can subscribe to our newsletter. If you’re able, please consider supporting our work financially. Donations and major grants are deeply appreciated.