We’re announcing two EA Global conferences in 2024:
- EA Global: Bay Area (Global Catastrophic Risks) (Feb 2–4)
- EA Global: London (May 31–June 2)
We may also run an EA Global in Boston later in 2024, or perhaps a virtual event instead (or both). We’re planning to see how the upcoming Boston and EAGxVirtual events go before making a decision.
EA Global Bay Area (Global Catastrophic Risks) will be our first GCR-focused conference and will:
- Have talks, workshops, meetups, and so on solely focused on risks from AI and other GCRs, as well as cross-cause efforts such as policy and community-building that are relevant to reducing these risks.
- Be designed for attendees working (or planning to work) on GCRs or meta/other areas (such as software engineering, law, or community building) where they expect their work to contribute to GCR reduction efforts.
As in previous years, we’ll just have one admissions process across all EA Global events and we’ll invite attendees to self-select. That is, for attendees focusing on other areas, you’ll be welcome to apply and register for the Bay Area event (and your chances of admission won't be affected), we just expect it’ll be less useful for you. We expect the London event to be similar to our past London conferences — with most attendees likely still focused on AI and GCRs, and with about 50% of our content focused in these areas.
We’re also announcing our ticketing structure for 2024, which is similar to the structure we had in 2021. The default ticket price for EA Global will be £400 GBP or $500 USD with discounts for students, people on low incomes, and select mentors.
The rest of this post explains some of the reasoning behind these decisions.
Why are we running a GCR-specific conference?
Most of our funding comes from funders who are prioritizing GCR capacity building (notably, Open Phil’s GCR Capacity Building team). Historically, we’ve not attracted substantial funding from donors prioritizing farm animal welfare and global health and wellbeing, though we’d be excited about broadening our donor base over time. Fortunately, support from the GCR funders allows us to maintain programs serving the full scope of EA, even those not directly related to global catastrophic risk reduction.
This also means that our funders are more excited about us experimenting with cause-specific events on GCRs — though we want to clarify that the Events Team is excited about pursuing this too.
We’re excited about exploring cause-specific events
As mentioned above, the Events Team is also excited about exploring cause-specific events. Over the past two years, we’ve run retreats focused on GCRs and have also been exploring a conference focused on global health and wellbeing (we’ve also lightly explored running a FAW conference). We also recently ran a retreat for folks focused on effective giving.
Like many at CEA, the majority (but not all) of the Events Team currently lean towards GCRs in their cause prioritization. Most of the team is still very excited about pursuing other cause area events as well and is also excited about big tent / principles-first events like the regular EA Global events. But, like our funders, some on the team are excited about putting particular energy into GCR and/or AI Safety events.
Historic attendee pool
Our Bay Area events have historically had a very GCR-focused (and specifically AI Safety-focused) attendee pool. Part of what we’re doing here is trying to make this more explicit, so that attendees know what to expect. Previously we’ve heard that these Bay Area events have been less valuable for non-GCR attendees as there haven’t been many people from their cause area present.
Why keep the event EA branded?
Costs to building a new brand
Since this is a test, we don’t think it’s worth doing the lift of a significant rebrand with new application portals, branding, etc. Having the event under the EA Global umbrella also means we can have one central admissions process, which saves our users from having to apply to multiple events.
We want to avoid creating a new brand unless we feel confident in it, to avoid potentially rebranding multiple times. If this event goes well, we may iterate on it the year after and perhaps create a new event brand if we think there’d be sufficient demand.
Skepticism around a GCR-branded conference
We’re skeptical that we’d get lots of attendees to come to a “GCRs Global” who wouldn’t otherwise come to an EA Global — currently the GCR field as EAs consider it isn’t a substantial area outside of EA. We think such a conference could make sense as a more introductory event, but EA Global conferences have largely been targeted at people who have engaged with these ideas substantially, and we don’t expect there to be a large pool of people who’ve engaged with GCRs who wouldn’t attend an EA Global.
We’re more excited about an AI safety (or biorisk) specific event — that seems more clearly something that would get counterfactual attendees, and is more clearly a package of ideas that would make sense to someone outside of EA. We’ve been exploring an AI safety conference and will continue to do so, though this is a bit tricky as our team aren’t AI experts and don’t have authority in this area. We expect such an event would likely involve partnering with an AI safety org to execute their vision and we’ve been talking with various orgs to explore this. We’ve also already helped to support various other (smaller scale) AI safety and biorisk events.
In a previous post we outlined our event costs and mentioned that we would likely increase ticket prices to help recoup some of our costs. We wanted to do this in such a way that wouldn’t price out the bulk of our attendees, some of whom are students, are on a low income, or are attending mostly to provide value to others at the event (in which case it makes less sense for them to pay much to attend).
As a result, we’re planning to raise our ticket prices to a similar level to what they were in 2021. We’ll have default ticket prices of £400 (or $500), with discounted options for students, people on low incomes, and select mentors. In general, we’d like everyone to pay something in order to create some sort of buy-in, so we’ll be moving towards a world where we’re more restrictive with who’s able to get a free ticket. We encourage folks to email us if they need a free ticket due to financial hardship, and we expect to grant nearly all of these requests (though we may have to backtrack here if we get inundated with requests).
- We’re in the process of organising many EAGx events in 2024 and think it’s likely that there’ll be at least one EAGx event in the US in 2024 (as well as events in various other locations).
- We expect the EA Global: Bay Area (GCRs) event to be pretty similar to other EA Globals; we’ll likely be keeping the food all-vegan, using Swapcard, and expect the branding and feel of the event to remain the same.