EA Organization Updates: August 2021

by Aaron Gertler9 min read27th Aug 2021No comments

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These monthly posts originated as the "Updates" section of the EA Newsletter. Organizations submit their own updates, which we edit for clarity.

You can see previous updates in our repository of past newsletters.

Organization Updates

80,000 Hours

This month, 80,000 Hours published Is effective altruism growing? An update on the stock of funding vs. people and How are resources in effective altruism allocated across issues?

On the podcast, Rob spoke with Alexander Berger on improving global health and wellbeing in clear and direct ways, and with Cal Newport on an industrial revolution for office work. He also had two conversations with Chris Olah: one on what the hell is going on inside neural networks and one on working at top AI labs without an undergrad degree.

80,000 Hours is currently looking for a Marketer and a Head of Marketing.

Anima International

In the UK, Open Cages just published a large-scale undercover investigation revealing the reality of Morrisons’ chicken (Morrisons is Britain’s fourth-largest retailer). The investigation is a part of a joint campaign (together with The Humane League UK and Animal Equality UK) for Morrisons to sign the BCC (Better Chicken Commitment). The video is narrated by a British celebrity Chris Packham and has already made the mainstream TV and news coverage.

In Poland, Otwarte Klatki commissioned a new opinion poll from BioStat, according to which almost 72% of the country’s people are against fur farming. This data is useful for the organisation’s campaign in a country that is one of the biggest fur producers in the world.

Anima International’s Estonian activist Karin Kanamäe from Nähtamatud Loomad got an award from the Minister of Environment for her work getting schools to join the Taimne Teisipäev campaign and offer plant-based lunch on Tuesdays. More than 10% of schools have already joined and many more intend to, including universities and kindergartens.

Tušti Narvai has been collaborating with one of the biggest retail chains in Lithuania — Maxima — on the cage-free campaign. Statistics of egg sales currently show a decrease in sales of caged eggs from 92% in 2018 to only 46% this year.

Animal Charity Evaluators

Animal Charity Evaluators (ACE) shared an update on how their recommended charities have used their grants from the Recommended Charity Fund to help animals over the past six months. They also published updates from their 2020 summer and fall Movement Grant recipients. Check it out for a high-level overview of some of the great work that has been completed over the past year.

The research team at ACE is in the midst of conducting their annual charity evaluations — they’re eager to write up the reviews and publish them alongside their recommendations in November 2021.

Animal Ethics

Animal Ethics has been researching what could be the best ways to spread concern about animals in China and incorporate interest in wild animal suffering. They recently published “A literature review of the current consideration of animals in China,” written by Courtney Henry, Vincent Chow, and Nadine Grinberg, in partnership with Animal Ethics.

They have also completed Perspectives on animal advocacy in China for which experts on this topic were questioned about how to effectively work in defense of animals in China considering the Chinese authorities’ and general public’s attitudes towards animal advocacy in China.

Center for Human-Compatible AI

Stuart Russell was named Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire by HM Queen Elizabeth “for services to artificial intelligence research.”

Thomas Krendl Gilbert co-authored the article Hard Choices in Artificial Intelligence, which will appear in the journal Artificial Intelligence

CHAI PhD student Daniel Filan’s podcast AXRP published Episode 10, a conversation with Katja Grace. Listen on the AXRP website or any podcast provider.

The Sunday Show podcast interviewed Jonathan Stray in the episode “Can social media help depolarize society?” They discuss his latest paper, Designing Recommender Systems to Depolarize, which will appear in First Monday.

Centre for the Governance of AI (GovAI)

The Centre for the Governance of AI is becoming an independent nonprofit (their placeholder website and new mailing list are here). They are currently in the process of setting up the organisation, forming a board, and fundraising. Anne le Roux joined GovAI as Operations Manager in August. 

Recent publications from the GovAI community include Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence: Evidence from a Survey of Machine Learning Researchers (Zhang, Anderljung, Kahn, Dreksler, Horowitz, and Dafoe) and The Logic of Strategic Assets: From Oil to AI (Ding and Dafoe). 

Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER)

Videos are now available online for two recent panels exploring CSER’s current research: Why Didn't Technology Save Us From Covid-19? and Doom and Doubt: Uncertain Futures & Open Questions about Existential Risk. A third panel in the same series, “Who is Creating Existential Risk? (Why, and Why Should We Care?)”, will take place on 25 August at 5:00 pm BST. Register here.

A paper published in Nature Human Behaviour by Tatsuya Amano, Clarissa Rios Rojas, and other colleagues sets out simple steps to overcome language barriers that make knowledge inaccessible, impede its uptake by decision-makers, and entrench inequality. These range from supporting non-native language users to translating novel scientific terms.

A report for the Stockholm Environment Institute by Natalie Jones and colleagues examines how countries' nationally determined contributions and long-term, low-emissions development strategies can help reduce the supply of fossil fuels and identify opportunities for further and more just reductions.

In the latest of our Meet the Researcher series, CSER's Academic Programme Manager SJ Beard describes their journey from philosophy to existential risk studies, why they think global catastrophic environmental risks deserve greater attention, and why x-risk researchers should read widely.

Charity Entrepreneurship

Charity Entrepreneurship has published a video introducing their 2021 Incubation Program participants. This year, CE plans to found new charities in the animal welfare and EA meta cause areas, among others. You can now join CE’s seed grant network to determine how many charities will be launched. This is a higher risk/reward donation compared to funding a charity later in its life. If you are interested in joining the network (i.e., you have the ability to donate $10k or more and might wish to seed-grant a charity being founded this year), you can contact joey@charityscience.com.

CE has also released new blog posts: see Common Mistakes When Pitching Your Charity Startup and Most Common Reasons People Do Not Get Into the CE Incubation Program.

Effective Altruism Funds

The EA Infrastructure Fund and the Long-Term Future Fund are calling for funding applications. These funds support a wide range of causes in global health and wellbeing, longtermism, and cause-general infrastructure. They fund career exploration, local groups, entrepreneurial projects, academic teaching buy-outs, top-up funding for poorly paid academics, and many other things.

You can now apply anytime or suggest grant ideas.

Faunalytics 

Faunalytics has expanded their Office Hours sessions, where advocates and researchers can receive free, one-on-one support from the Faunalytics team. They now offer three sessions per week across multiple time zones, and are available to speak with advocates in English, Spanish, Polish, and French.

Last month Faunalytics released a study examining the experiences of new vegans and vegetarians (veg*ns). Longtime advocates may remember their groundbreaking and controversial 2014 study, which found that a staggering 84% of veg*ns do not maintain their diet past the first year of transitioning. In their latest blog, Faunalytics discusses how the studies compare and what the differences mean for animal advocates.

In their latest Faunalytics Explains video, they summarize research that outlines the most effective actions to protect species and slow extinctions. Additionally, they’ve added several study summaries to their research library on topics including aquaculture In Africa, farmed salmon welfare, and a review of the current state of plant- and cell-based meats.

Fish Welfare Initiative

In the Philippines, FWI launched a talent database to identify promising Filipinos who may be interested in fish welfare work. If you live in the Philippines and are interested in full-time, part-time, or volunteer fish welfare work, sign up here!

FWI also recently published an Impact Page to better track their impact.

Giving What We Can

Giving What We Can recently launched a collaboration with Giving Multiplier, collaborated with Stephen Fry’s YouTube channel Pindex on a video explaining cause prioritisation from an effective altruism perspective, and released preliminary research on why their members have taken (and maintained) an effective giving pledge.

They are also hiring a researcher to help provide people with high-quality guidance on where to donate to do as much good as they can, and a head of content to help inspire donations to the world's most effective organisations, and are looking for applicants for their Ambassador Program.

GiveWell 

GiveWell is closely watching developments related to malaria vaccination and speaking with malaria experts about how vaccines could interact with the malaria-prevention programs it supports today (nets and seasonal malaria chemoprevention). GiveWell published notes from a conversation with one of those experts, Dr. David Schellenberg of the World Health Organization, here

GiveWell also recently updated its cost-effectiveness model.

Global Catastrophic Risk Institute

GCRI recently put out two new papers on the governance of artificial intelligence (AI): 

“Collective Action on Artificial Intelligence: A Primer and Review” by Robert de Neufville and Seth Baum describes the theory of collective action as it relates to the development of safe and beneficial AI. It also reviews different types of proposed solutions to collective action problems posed by the development of AI, including AI races. 

“Corporate Governance of Artificial Intelligence in the Public Interest” by Peter Cihon, Jonas Schuett, and Seth Baum surveys a range of opportunities to improve corporate governance of AI in the public interest. 

GCRI Executive Director Seth Baum also gave a talk covering a wide range AI governance issues to Effective Altruism NYC on 13 August.

One for the World

OFTW has hired a Director of Communications, Chloë Cudaback, who will start in September. She will spearhead OFTW’s experiments in communications this year as they try to improve donor retention, their ability to ‘upsell’ long-standing donors and their ability to attract new donor pledgers through online marketing and outreach.

Open Philanthropy

Open Philanthropy announced grants including $3.1M to the Future of Humanity Institute to support their early career researcher programs, $1.2M to Wakker Dier to support farm animal welfare litigation in the Netherlands, and $600K to Abundant Housing Massachusetts for general support. The 80,000 Hours Podcast also interviewed Open Philanthropy co-CEO Alexander Berger about Open Philanthropy’s global health and wellbeing grantmaking and other topics. 

Ought

Ought launched a new workflow in Elicit called “Find experts.” Researchers identify a few examples of the types of people they are looking for. Elicit then combines calls to GPT-3 and Google to identify similar experts and their relevant bios. This is the first workflow stitching together large language models and calls to narrower systems to perform more complex workflows. More information about the workflow can be found here

Rethink Priorities

Rethink Priorities (RP) launched a new website and research database, which allows for searching through publications by a cause area, topic, and author.

RP also published several EA Forum posts written by their staff, interns, visiting fellows, and volunteers. Topics included: A longtermist framework for safeguarding democracy, Predictions on Open Phil funding, AI predictions, Specification problems in forecasting, Humanities research ideas, Agricultural land redistribution, and EA Survey on cause prioritization.

Additionally, RP submitted survey results showing support for the inclusion of invertebrates in animal protection legislation to the UK government.

Apart from that, RP has been actively hiring. They have made several offers to candidates for researcher roles in their Global Health and Development and EA Movement Research departments. In addition, RP has increased their Operations team capacity by adding Carolina Salazar as Project and Hiring Manager, and Romina Giel as Operations Associate.

Wild Animal Initiative

Wild Animal Initiative held a Q&A session about their current call for proposals on the welfare and ecology of juvenile wild animals. Submit a brief project outline by 29 August to be considered. 

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