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I'm going to be a contestant on British quiz show Pointless! It's a popular quiz show which, I think, averages ~3 million views per episode - largely in the UK. I'd love to get in a promotion for EA or something EA-ish. There is a 20 second personal intro (e.g. at 3:24) and sometimes 5 seconds to talk about where your prize money would go. 

Has anyone considered if there's anything effective to get across in a short time to a large general audience? Would be very interested if there are resources/previous discussions - and welcome opinions too. This isn't necessarily an elevator pitch for EA though- it may just be a brief reference in my personal intro (I'm unsure how formulaic the show is). 


Initial thoughts are, I study AI so would probably talk plans to work on safe AI.  Could talk about giving 10% to charity. I could also name-check CEA or 80,000 hours, or possibly someone like GovAI if I got as far as winning money. 


I applied last night, had a pre-screening interview just now, and filming is on Monday (edit: now delayed to Spring 2022) - so haven't thought through much... Any advice on picking up lots of general knowledge in a weekend would be lovely too.




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I did a quick pitch for GiveWell after winning a gaming tournament, though I had more time than it sounds like you will.

It might help if you can link to a clip of what someone's personal intro sounds like / how it is presented.

In your place, I'd avoid trying to say anything about AI risk in 25 seconds and stick to "effective altruism" (someone who's curious can easily Google that and find out about AI and other things quickly thereafter).

So maybe something like: "I study artificial intelligence and think a lot about effective altruism, which is the art of doing as much good as you can with your money and your time. Google it!" (That last bit may be too much, but I think it could work in the context of a lighthearted show.)

And if you win money: "I'll be donating this to X, which does Y".

I agree with Aaron! Given the little time you have, I would make the pitch as simple as possible.

Maybe it would be better to mention less about "do good with your money" and instead more about "do good with your time"? (to counter the misconception that EA is all about E2G)

Also, agreed that the message should be short and simple.

Anecdotally, I've found that describing EA as "a community of people trying to do as much good as possible with our time and money" gets good response. 

This seems very sane advice - thank you!

Out of interest, did you ever hear from anyone who looked in to GiveWell after your plug?

Aaron Gertler
Yes, though it's not clear whether it was the broadcast plug or some Tweeting/streaming I did later with more plugs. A couple of people just told me they donated without mentioning an amount (and I assume the donations were small). One person claims to have matched all the GiveWell donations I made that year (over $25,000) — I think this claim is probably true, because a GiveWell staffer responded on Twitter to thank them. I also heard from another person who told me they registered for EA Global in part because they remembered my talking about effective altruism, which could have originated with the broadcast plug. That's the only impact that comes to mind.

Well done and good luck! I generally agree with Aaron. I would say something like: Hi I am x, I do x y. My hobbies are (ideally something relatable, interesting and/or funny for the audience). I am interested in effective altruism, which is.... As part of that, I try to give 10% of my money to effective charities

Other suggestions:
Smile and engage listeners upfront
Don't sound like an ad
Sound relatable and humble and not preachy/morally superior. People are most influenced by credible & similar sources  

Helpful points, thanks! I think that will be the challenge: sounding like a nice relatable person and not an ad, while also fitting in a plug. I think the formula is to have one topic only in your intro- so would prefer not to but probably will have to sacrifice the hobbies to talk EA... and rely on innate charm and humility to get myself across!

I would avoid mentioning EA, it seems hard to get across nuance in 20 seconds and there seems to be a lot of misinterpretation even in longer form media.

Mentioning what you study/plan to work on and where to donate seems like a fine thing to do.

I do wonder what the downside is here. It's a fleeting, low-fidelity impression of EA that will probably not stick in most minds. However, if 10-20 people donate money after hearing about it through Patrick, it might already be positive in sum.

I'd be slightly surprised if it led to a single donation, I'm not even sure how many searches it would lead to

I wondered this as well. I think the context here makes me think otherwise:

It's a positive-spirited show where contestants are treated well, so wouldn't be like a debate or a news article.

It's this or not this (rather than choosing to allocate resource in high-fidelity rather than mass media).

Do you think something broad, like Aaron's suggested  'I like thinking about effective altruism, which is the art of doing as much good as you can with your money and your time'   has possible negatives, like being misinterpreted badly or putting people off EA?

I think for most people who hadn't heard of EA, it's very unlikely that they'll start searching for it online after hearing about it briefly on daytime TV. For those that have already heard about EA it may just reinforce what they already think about it, some positive and some negative.  Even just the phrase effective altruism can be interpreted as arrogant if you don't spend some time explaining what you mean. I prefer people to have high value impressions when they come across EA, whether that's online/in person,  rather than having more but less valuable touch points.

Thank you all for comments! Filming has been delayed until April/May 2022, so have a good five months to consider and also practice my quizzing.

My feeling at the moment is to keep it simple and positive (e.g. 'I have recently become really interested in effective altruism - which is about trying to have as positive an impact as possible with your time and money - I joined a community of others thinking and working on the same thing ~4 years ago and love it') - allowing people to look up effective altruism if they are interested but not going in to much detail about methodology.

I think the positives of this: some people looking up / getting involved with EA, outweigh the negatives: reinforcing negative impressions or spreading a low-fidelity message which prevents proper understanding later on. But would be really interested if anyone disagrees with this/has examples of this kind of messaging not working well(or also examples of it yes working well).

Brainstorming some concrete wording for a personal intro:

"Hi, I'm Patrick. I'm currently pursuing a master's degree in artificial intelligence. A startling fact that keeps me up at night is that humanity spends more on ice cream every year than on ensuring that the technologies we develop do not destroy us. I intend to help change this with my career and with the Giving What We Can pledge I've taken to give 10% of my income to whichever organisations can most effectively use it to improve the lives of others, now and in the years to come."

(The hyperlinked text is taken verbatim from the sources linked.)

The thought behind this wording is that it ensures you actually introduce yourself, but also manages to subtly fit in two plugs--the first being that if a curious viewer tries fact-checking the ice cream factoid by Googling something like "humanity spends more on ice cream than technology not destroying us" the top search results will all be about Toby Ord's The Precipice, and the second obviously being GWWC / effective giving.

If you're thinking about something about GiveWell a catchy line might be something like: 

"The best charities are 100 times more effective than others, GiveWell is a nonprofit that finds these charities and recommends them so your donation goes the furthest (or so your donation can save the most lives)."

I would be hesitant on directly noting comparisons. I think the first clause of your sentence could come off as suggesting other charities are poor. This would be especially bad if any other person on the show mentions a charity. I like Aaron Gertler's plug at DreamHack (from his answer on this post) as it specifically notes the analytic and methodical side of showing expected returns from charitable investment. Just getting good bang for your buck.

I personally find the concept of "best charities are 100 times more effective than others" motivating, and it... (read more)

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