In addition to the main event of EAGxVirtual 2020 on June 13th and 14th, there will be another chance to speak up, present your thoughts, discuss your paper, raise a question, host a discussion…

If you think there was anything missing during the first weekend, we would love for you to join the EAGxVirtual Unconference on Saturday, June 20th. The EAGxVirtual team will provide the schedule and tech support, and will help spread the word, but we’ll need you to come up with the actual content.

This event is especially meant for people who haven’t had a chance to discuss their ideas or research with a broader audience before, or who want to get feedback on novel ideas. Your presentation could be pure theory, or a concrete proposal for a project or a startup.

Currently, we plan to have two session blocks:

  • Early sessions: 8 x 30 min. sessions from 10 AM till 12 PM GMT+2
  • Late sessions: 8 x 30 min. sessions from 7 PM till 9 PM GMT+2

Each session will last 30 minutes, and there will be 2 sessions running in parallel. Each session comprises a 15 min. talk and a 15 min. Q&A.

If you’d like to run a session, please post your proposal as a comment below, include any relevant links, and let us know whether you would prefer to be part of the early or the late sessions. The 8 pitches that receive the most votes (for the early and the late sessions respectively) by 10am CET on Monday, June 15th will be picked.

If you're not planning to present something yourself but know someone who should, please share this post with them!

Either way, we would love for you to join the Unconference and be part of the discussion. Once the schedule is finalized, we’ll post it to the Forum, the Facebook event, and the EAGxVirtual 2020 website. This event is open to everyone.

UPDATE (June 19):

We are excited to announce the speakers for the EAGxVirtual Unconference (please note that we put together the schedule based on the number of votes and the speakers’ availability to give a talk).

If you were an attendee of EAGxVirtual 2020 you will also find the sessions in the official schedule of the conference on Grip: (Time zone: GMT+2)

You can also add each session from our shared Google calendar.

We look forward to seeing you there!

UPDATE (July 6):

(Most) speakers have kindly given their permission to add their talks to this public Youtube playlist:

You can find the crowdsourced notes for all the sessions (incl. Q&A) here:


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*Logarithmic Scales of Pleasure and Pain*

Recall that while some distributions (e.g. the size of the leaves of a tree) follow a Gaussian bell-shaped pattern, many others (e.g. avalanches, size of asteroids, etc.) follow a long-tail distribution. Long-tail distributions have the general property that a large fraction of the volume is accounted for by a tiny percent of instances (e.g. 80% of the snow that falls from the mountain will be the result of the top 20% largest avalanches).

Keeping long-tails in mind: based on previous research we have conducted at the Qualia Research Institute we have arrived at the tentative conclusion that the intensity of pleasure and pain follows a long-tail distribution. Why?

First, neural activity on patches of neural tissue follow log-normal distributions (an instance of a long-tail distribution).

Second, the extremes of pleasure and pain are so intense that they cannot conceivably be just the extremes of a normal distribution. This includes, on the positive end: Jhana meditation, 5-MeO-DMT peak experiences, and temporal lobe epilepsy (Dostoevsky famously saying he'd trade 10 years of his life for just a few moments of his good epileptic experience... (read more)

This sounds really interesting. I looked into QRI once before and was concerned that I couldn’t find much mainstream recognition of their work. Would you know how much mainstream recognition has QRI’s work received, either for this line of research or others? Has it published in peer-reviewed journals, received any grants, or garnered positive reviews from other academics? Could you point me to any information here? Thanks, and looking forward to hopefully hearing this talk.

Hi Aidan!

Thank you ^_^

We are collaborating with John Hopkins and Stanford researchers on a couple of studies involving the analysis of neuroimaging data of high-valence states of consciousness. Additionally, we are currently preparing two key publications for peer-reviewed journals on our core research areas.

Off the top of my head, some well-known researchers and intellectuals that are very positive about our work include: Robin Carhart-Harris, Scott Alexander, David Pearce, Steven Lehar, Daniel Ingram, etc. (e.g. Scott acknowledged that QRI put together the paradigms that contributed to Friston's integrative model of how psychedelics work before his research was published). Our track record so far has been to foreshadow by several years in advance key discoveries later proposed and accepted in mainstream academia. Given our current research findings, I expect this to continue in the years to follow.

Cheers! :)

It's very interesting!

EAs in Politics and Gov: A Case Study

Who I Am

I was the Senior Campus Outreach Director for the Humane League for 1.5 years, then went on to become the Animal Welfare Liaison for the Office of the Mayor of New York City. I now serve as the Deputy Strategist for the Brooklyn Borough President in NYC, advancing plant-forward initiatives, such as Meatless Mondays and the banning of processed meat.


Political and governmental involvement seems to be relatively neglected, while simultaneously, tractable, within EA. The presentation will consist of two parts: (i) an examination of effective animal advocacy within NYC government and (ii) a quick guide on how to be more politically involved.

EAs within policy and government can provide political will for electeds and governmental agencies to move on issues they otherwise wouldn’t move on. They also can have more power than outsiders to prevent poor high-level decisions and advocate for positive high-level decisions. These principles can apply to the local, state, and federal level. Working within politics/gov may also provide great career capital, as well as connections.

This presentation will speak about my own work related to animal welfare in NYC in these contexts, and provide a jumping off point for those interested in applying EA to politics and government.

Time Slot

Late session please!

I would be interested in this. Hi Rachel, I have been researching this topic for a while – although mostly in the UK context. Would be up for: * Inputting into a session on this. Could talk through with you or talk for a few minutes on my own findings and thoughts. * Separate from this having a catch-up to hear about your experiences. Send me a DM or email to: policy [at] – Sam
Terrific. Just emailed you, Sam. Looking forward to discussing! Would be honored to co-present with you.
1Danny Lipsitz2y
Glad you are doing this, thank you! It's peripherally related but I'm curious if you have any insight on the effectiveness of giving money to political campaigns, especially for races that might be on the fence between two very different candidates.
Absolutely have insight and would love to discuss it more!

Discussing EA with Non-EA People | External Movement-Building


When I first started calling myself an Effective Altruist, it was hard to talk about EA to other people. If it came up, I would find myself backed into a corner, ultimately trying to defend utilitarianism to someone who didn’t want to be convinced. These conversations didn’t feel productive. So for a while, I kept EA to myself.

Eventually I looked for carefully-worded, clear ways to explain EA concepts that are non-contentious but still retain fidelity to the heart and values of EA. I’ve learned that just because many people do not want to have long philosophical discussions, look at graphs, and listen to 3-hour podcasts, does not mean they don’t want to do a lot of good. Just like the animal rights movement has had success getting non-vegans to cut back on meat consumption, the EA movement could benefit by promoting certain concepts to people who don’t identify as EA.

Pulling from my 8 years of experience as a “highly-effective” public school educator and 2 years of experience giving and honing my talk about EA for high school and college students (on an irregular bas... (read more)

I'm excited about this! I actually came here to see if someone had already covered this or if I should ☺️. I'd love to see a teacher walk through this. Here's an idea I'd been curious to try out talking or teaching about EA, but haven't yet. I'd be curious if you've tried it or want to (very happy to see someone else take the idea off my hands). I think we often skim over a key idea too fast -- that we each have finite resources and so does humanity. That's what makes prioritization and willingness to name the trade offs we're going to make such an important tool. I know I personally nodded along at the idea of finite resources at first, but it's easy to carry along with the S1 sense that there will be more X somewhere that could solve hard trade-offs we don't want to make. I wonder if starting the conversation there would work better for many people than e.g. starting with cost-effectiveness. Common sense examples like having limited hours in the day or a finite family budget and needing to choose between things that are really important to you but don't all fit is an idea that I think makes sense to many people, and starting with this familiar building block could be a better foundation for understanding or attempting their own EA analysis.
8Catherine Low2y
In case you haven't seen it, here is a guide to talking about EA [], which includes a list of approaches various community members like to use, discussions of pitfalls to avoid, and FAQs. It is very open for additions and changes.
1Danny Lipsitz2y
Whoa, cool. I did not know about this, thank you.
I just watched this talk, and thought it was really great! Two things came to mind (both of which may already be covered, seeing as cafelow commented here already): * Is there a place where this talk could be linked to from the EA Hub site? I suspect the talk would be useful for other people wanting to learn about communicating about EA. * Danny, are you aware of [] ? They've got a bunch of cool materials I used last year when I ran an EA-based club at my school (I was a teacher then). * See also the post High School EA Outreach []
3Danny Lipsitz2y
Thanks, Michael! I would definitely love to have the talk linked from EA Hub. Cafelow [], is that a possibility? I have definitely checked out SHIC and skimmed through their materials. My initial concept for teaching in schools has a notable distinction from them. Before considering the idea of internal vs. external movement building, my concept was to do a single lesson, spark a lightbulb moment with a student or two who might be EA-inclined, give them a copy of "Doing Good Better," and then move on. Coming back for more lessons with the same class seemed like it would yield diminishing returns. I didn't think I would convince any additional students to become EA the second go-around. However, reading back through Catherine's conclusions in the High School EA Outreach [] post, it never occurred to me that sustained exposure might be what encourages some would-be EAs who agree with my first lesson to actually adapt EA behavior. Since the Unconference and my recent interest in the idea of external movement building, I do think I'd like to rethink a set of materials specifically aimed at people who are not EA-inclined, for classroom use, for general use by EAs when talking to non-EAs, and as guidelines for broader public outreach. From the conclusions of the contributors to the High School EA Outreach post (and from my own findings) it might be hard to get non-EA young people to put in additional resources into doing good. But collectively, young people will still give tons of money to walk-a-thons and fundraisers they see on Facebook. If we can't increase the quantity of giving, is it possible to improve the quality? It seems like Charity Navigator has been able to become a (nearly) household name and perpetuate certain ideas about giving. This could be a proof of concept that a large subset of the public is open to new
I have some vague thoughts on this sort of thing, but I only ran my EA-based club for about 6 months, and didn't do any follow-up measurements. So I don't think any of those thoughts would add much value relative to the High School EA Outreach post, the post SHIC Will Suspend Outreach Operations [] , and what you've already said/thought. So instead, here's a grab bag of links that came to mind as potentially relevant and useful, if you hadn't seen them already. (Though I'd guess that the collection of resources cafelow linked to may be more relevant and useful.) * [] * [] * [] * [] * [] Only tangentially relevant: * [] * Collection of EA analyses of how social social movements rise, fall, can be influential, etc. [] *
3Danny Lipsitz2y
Thanks! I'm 100% with you on the idea that real-world examples can help people to understand the importance of EA. Peter Singer does it well, and I start off my presentation for high school/college students by giving them a hypothetical amount of money and working through a decision about where to donate. Sometimes I use an example of a firefighter in a burning building. Unfortunately, it's unlikely that the firefighter will be able to save everyone so some tough decisions have to be made in order to save the most people in a finite amount of time. I think the more people working on good ways to promote EA ideas, the better; I'd love to hear about whatever you work on.
Definitely, I think for many people, the donations example works. And I like the firefighter example too, especially if someone has had first responder experience or has been in an emergency. I'm curious what happens if one starts with a toy problem that arises from or feels directly applicable to a true conundrum in the listener's own daily life, to illustrate that prioritization between pressing problems is something we are always doing, because we are finite beings who often have pressing problems! I think when I started learning about EA via donation examples, I made the error of categorizing EA as only useful for special cases, such as when someone has 'extra' resources to donate. So, GiveWell sounded like a useful source of the 'the right answer' on a narrow problem like finding recommended charities, which gave me a limited view of what EA was for and didn't grab me much. I came to EA via GiveWell rather than reading any of the philosophy, which probably would have helped me understand the basis for what they were doing better :). When I was faced with real life trade-offs that I really did not want to make but knew that I must, and someone walked me through an EA analysis of it, EA suddenly seemed much more legible and useful to me. Have you seen your students pick up on the prioritization ideas right away, or find it useful to use EA analysis on problems in their own life?
4Danny Lipsitz2y
I like your idea that the applicability of EA concepts in daily life decision-making can be used to show EA as a powerful tool. I haven't specifically done that yet but have considered it. I had expected to get pushback when I first started teaching about prioritizing causes and was careful about how I introduced it. However, students don't really push back on it, and when we work through examples, they do understand why an EA might prioritize, for example, schistosomiasis charities over cancer ones. That said, based on post-lesson surveys, that doesn't always translate to a shift in thinking after the lesson (though for some students it has.) I'm still working on bridging the gap between mastery of a theoretical concept and actual application in real life.
Sky and Danny, I'd be very interested to talk to either/both of you and share ideas about this. I've done quite a bit of EA outreach in my own school, having been teaching for the best part of a decade (some is discussed in my post history), as well as some outside. Please send a PM if you're interested and we can set something up.
5Prabhat Soni2y
This looks exciting! Since there's a limited time that someone may want to listen to us, it's important to prioritize concepts. Perhaps, we could use a {neglectedness - importance - ease of explaining} [or similar] framework to rank EA concepts? Some similar ideas are discussed by Will MacASkill in [] [30:40]
5Danny Lipsitz2y
Thanks for the comment! I've definitely had to choose my battles when making my "elevator pitch" to non EA people who may have limited time or interest. It's an interesting idea to go the next level: not just what and how should we tell people about EA in general, but very literally, what and how should we tell people about EA when given certain real-world time constraints. Some form of importance, as you mentioned, and ease of explaining, should be factors, I agree. I'd say those are similar but not entirely the same as these two of my considerations above: AND I'm glad you mentioned "ease of explaining" because in teaching, I'm constantly negotiating between what I ideally want students to know, and the likelihood that I will be able to successfully impart it to them. My goal is to change general public thinking about how to do good. I think neglectedness as an EA idea is specifically for choosing cause areas. I've stayed away from proposing specific cause areas (and charities) as EA ideas to spread to the public for a couple reasons: * Individual charities or cause areas may have relatively short shelf-life before we, as the EA Community, re-prioritize them (for various reasons). If we put time and effort into embedding certain EA ideas in the public mind, I think it makes sense for them to be general and long-lasting so that their relevance doesn't expire. * Even within the EA community (a group of altruistic and brilliant people) there is hardly consensus about which cause areas or charities we should prioritize. If we make our public face about promoting any specific cause or charity, a lot of the public will disagree and push back (see my second consideration: "...won't be contentious"). On the other hand, if we promote more general ideas that are hard to dispute (like the use of evidence for the purposes of doing good) few could disagree and it could help many people to do good even a little more effectively. Curren
2Thomas Kwa2y
I thought this talk was brilliant, not least in the specific terms you mentioned. I often talk to my EA friends about "counterfactual impact", leverage, and "comparative advantage" and often have a hard time switching gears to talk to non-EAs, but I can imagine this slight shift in terminology to "cause-and-effect evidence", leverage, and "personal advantage" to hit close to the core ideas and sound much friendlier. Most of the talk was immediately actionable as well. Thank you for making it.
1Danny Lipsitz2y
Thanks Thomas. Just sent you a message.
Where can we get the video?
2Danny Lipsitz2y
My video: [] All the Unconference videos are in a playlist, above!

Non-hormonal birth control for men and women

YourChoice is developing non-hormonal birth control for both men and women. Nadja Mannowetz has discovered three compounds that bind to sperm and render them immobile. At first, they aim to create a topically applied gel (e.g., on demand birth control for women that would be better than a diaphragm). After that, they’d like to develop an oral product (e.g., a non-hormonal male birth control pill). Eventually, the goal is to create a safe, cheap non-hormonal birth control implant for both men and women. Such an implant would drop the error rate close to zero vs. products that involve more human discretion.

This should be a boon to humanity since it will: 1) slow population growth and reduce our toll on the environment; 2) help people better plan their lives and reproductive decisions; and 3) improve family formation (vs. 40% of births in the U.S. currently being to single parents – this has a particular effect on young boys).

This is:

Important: Few things impact a person’s life more than the decision (or not) to have a child. This is particularly true in developing countries where resources to support a child might be sc... (read more)

Thanks, this is really cool !!! I'm interested to see how it compares with Vasagel too -- i met the founder at a previous EA global

"Everyday EA" - A new EA podcast


I am in the very early stages of creating a new EA podcast with the working title: Everyday EA. The podcast would be informal interviews with people in the EA community (broadly) who are not particularly well known, yet are doing valuable work, even if they aren’t yet the most successful person in their field. I’d like to use this session to get feedback on the initial idea, to talk to people who have podcasting experience, and to search for possible collaborators.


Many people in the community see the great research, writing, advocacy, and altruism of others and do not feel like they have enough to contribute so lose motivation to contribute at all. They only see the most successful people and think “I cannot achieve that”. This means that we are missing out on a large number of great minds who could help humans and animals now and in the future. I’d like to start a podcast project that promotes the voices of "everyday EAs": relatable role-models in the EA community who, while not necessarily being at the very top of their respective field, are having a meaningful impact that shoul... (read more)

Creating an EA podcast is something I've been interested in for a while now too! I'm a big fan of long-form interview podcasts, like 80,000 Hours' and the The Tim Ferriss Show. I like the idea of Everyday EA. I think though that Everyday EA should target interviewing people who are in the most engaged 1-10% of the EA community first though. There's a lot of accomplished and inspiring people within EA who haven't been in an 80K podcast or given an EAG talk yet, but can share a lot of great insights. I can suggest certain people. I'd be interested to attend this, and I'd also be interested to help you develop the strategy for this podcast. I'm quite busy with work and other projects, but I'd like to see if it's valuable for me to help. Also, a key consideration here is audio quality. Given that most of the world is in lockdown, and because EAs are geographically spread out, I assume you'll be conducting most of the interviews virtually. But a lot of EAs might not have access to a good microphone. And even if they did, you may have to ask them to record their audio on their end, and send it over to you after. (Anyone with experience recording virtual podcasts though could correct me on this!) 80K and other podcasts do some virtual interviews, and most of these have poorer audio quality than in-person ones. I and others would be less likely to listen to a podcast episode with poor audio quality. Anyway, maybe you could make sure to interview EAs with access to a good microphone first, just to keep the quality high for the first few episodes. I actually have a podcast microphone, and I'd be willing to be an interviewee. Let me know any thoughts you have on this here or privately!
Strongly agree on the importance of audio quality. Cool idea!
I agree with the paragraph about interviewing the most engaged people. Thanks for your offer of help. If the response from the unconference is positive, I will be in touch with you to see if there is a way that you can contribute. I agree with audio quality being a priority, especially with a remote interviewee. If the response from the unconference is positive, I was thinking of applying for funding for good quality hardware and software from e.g. the EA meta fund. As well as interviewing people who already have a good quality microphone, another option which I have hear other podcasters have success with, is to send a microphone to the interviewee by post and have them send it back (or to the next interviewee) after the interview.
I think you can get a good podcast microphone for ~$100. This is the microphone I have which was recommended by Tim Ferriss and others: [] I haven't tested it yet for a full podcast episode, but I think it's pretty decent audio quality. You can also just use Garageband as free software to start if you have a Mac. Tim Ferriss recommends using Auphonic to clean up the audio, but it doesn't cost much either. I don't think you'll need to apply for the Meta fund for this, given that these costs are quite cheap, and they're unlikely to give a grant that small.
4Linda Linsefors2y
I want to listen to this podcast!
Thanks for the feedback. A comment like this is useful at this stage as I'm trying to get an understanding for whether people would listen to this sort of thing.
I was going to link to this list of EA-related podcasts [] for readers who wanted a more comprehensive collection [] , and then I spotted that you're the person who collected that list! It's a good list - might be worth turning up your "willingness to shamelessly self-promote" dial :D Also, I'd be happy to play the role of interviewee at some point, if you do end up doing this and would want to interview me.
I've added a link now. After all, I need to turn up my "willingness to shamelessly self-promote" dial if I'm going to get this podcast off the ground! Thanks for your interest in being an interviewee. I'll keep a log of those who are interested and will be in touch if the project has enough interest to get up and running.
1Danny Lipsitz2y
I think this is a great idea. There's definitely an ideal of what it means to be EA that is set by the demands of moral philosophy and by EA superstars. However, there is a limit to what most people (even the superstars) can reasonably accomplish. It could be helpful to highlight the struggle between the ideal and the practical, and what each guest is doing to try to improve. I have professional experience in audio engineering so let me know if you have any questions on that front, and would love to be a guest at some point (you can see my project on this page.)
Thanks for the comment. I REALLY like the way you put it in the first paragraph. You've put the idea into better words than I could have done. If it goes down well at the unconference, I'll be in touch. It will be helpful to chat to an audio engineer.
1Danny Lipsitz2y
Sounds good! Yes, please stay in touch!

Improving access to effective medication to treat cluster ("suicide") headaches

OPIS is an EA-associated think-and-do tank focused on the prevention of intense suffering as an ethical priority ( We are addressing a few specific causes of suffering and, at a more meta level, working to promote compassionate ethics in governance.

One of our main current areas of focus is cluster headaches, a form of trigeminal autonomic cephalalgia and one of the most painful conditions known to medicine, often driving patients to suicide ( The agony they cause is often compared to having a red hot ice pick driven though the eye into the brain. Attacks typically last one hour and repeat several times a day. Patients are often woken up several times during the night by attacks, and they go to extremes, including banging their head against the wall and punching their head, to try to distract themselves from the severe pain. About 85% of patients have episodic clusters lasting 1-3 months, occurring once or twice a year at the same time of year, during which they have daily recurrences at the frequency mention... (read more)

I'm very interested in this!! thanks for sharing

How financial improvements can counterfactually increase funding for EA charities by tens of thousands to millions of dollars per charity

I run Antigravity Investments, an EA social enterprise with the mission of indirectly donating millions to charity by helping charities invest more effectively. Last year, we published this EA Forum article explaining why charities should shift cash from low-interest to high-interest accounts:

This talk will cover new research done by Antigravity Investments on approximating opportunity costs that charities incur by not following best practices in cash management. We will cover applying our opportunity cost estimation methodology across selected EA charities as well as across a data set of over 300,000 U.S. charities.

We will also cover how our outreach strategy has fared over the past year, and perhaps most importantly, recommend concrete steps EA community members and operations/finance staff at EA organizations can take to increase funding for high-impact causes.

I am based on the West Coast and would prefer the late sessions.

German-speaking EA community

NEAD (Netzwerk für Effektiven Altruismus Deutschland) is the umbrella association for EAs in Germany. We, the organizers, are looking forward to meeting new potential members and get to know EAs from all parts of Germany. We propose a German-speaking EA community meet-up during the unconference.

NEAD is an association that was founded in October 2019. You can read up on our initial objectives in this forum post. Right now we are looking for interested people within the community to become members of NEAD and get involved in our projects.

We want to present what NEAD is doing and how you can be and become a part of our network.

We also want to give you room to exchange your experiences with the virtual conference. Lastly, we want to learn from you what you expect and want from a national-level EA network in Germany :)

We would prefer one of the early time-slots.

*Incremental Reading as a Tool for Improved Learning and Research*

What is incremental reading?

(Note, I’m talking about incremental reading as it is implemented in SuperMemo, not as in Anki’s plugin, polar, or dendro)

Summary: allows for acquiring vast amounts of information efficiently

Many people are already familiar with spaced repetition, which is a good way for memorizing things for long-term recall.

The problem with just using spaced repetition is that it makes memorizing things easy but it doesn't give you a good system for learning things before memorizing them. If you want to go through say, a hundred articles from the original sequences it would be extremely tedious to memorize the important parts in Anki, for example.

Incremental reading fixes this issue by making it easy to:

1. collect all the information you want to learn in one place (electronic material at least)

2. prioritize what you have collected (when you have limited time, prioritizing is helpful for spending time on most important material)

3. Process and break down what you've prioritized (focusing on the parts of material that actually matter)

4. retain what you've processed (with spaced ... (read more)

EAs are Underrating the Anti-slavery Cause

Around the world, tens of millions of innocent people are enslaved in sweatshops, brick kilns & brothels, on farms and fishing vessels, inside homes, and in other dire situations. The largest categories of modern-day slavery are forced labour, bonded labour (a.k.a. debt bondage), sexual slavery, and coerced marriage.

In 2016, Giving What We Can (a part of the Centre for Effective Altruism) rated this cause at 3 stars out of a possible 5 in terms of its importance, neglectedness, and tractability. Also, it rated "the best [anti-slavery] charity we can find" (The Freedom Fund) -- focussing on its work in India in particular -- as follows:

cost-effectiveness -- 3 stars (out of 5)

robustness of evidence - 3 stars

quality of implementation - 4 stars

But last September, The Freedom Fund released new data about its recent work in 3 states of India that showed an approximate 125,000-person decline in bonded labour. This decline -- relative to the (untouted) cost of it -- leads to my rough estimate that the cost of each free person who otherwise would have been in bonded labour was $80 or 71 euros.

This indicates that -- contrary to GWWC&apo... (read more)

Thanks for this writeup - I'd greatly appreciate any further information you could provide about anti-slavery. * What are the links for these sources? * Can you share your cost-effectiveness calculations for The Freedom Fund? What does it assume? * What are the best writeups of the problem? Could you link to them?
1Douglas Pike2y
Here I cite 2 outside evaluations of The Freedom Fund's anti-bonded labour work in N. India and in S. India. You will see that they measured the reduction in HOUSEHOLDS that included at least one bonded laborer -- rather than estimating the reduction in the number of bonded laborers. (My estimate for the reduction in the number of bonded laborers came directly from The Freedom Fund.) Institute of Development Studies & Praxis Institute for Participatory Practices, Northern India Hotspot Prevalence Study and Evaluation, 2019 Institute [2019 Institute] of Development Studies & Praxis Institute for Participatory Practices,Southern India Hotspot Prevalence Study and Evaluation, 2019 [2019]
1Douglas Pike2y
CORRRECTION in what I just posted re: how I calculated The Freedom Fund's cost-effectiveness: In Southern India, the baseline was mid-2016 and the end line was mid-2018.
1Douglas Pike2y
I literally do not know how to put links here (or anywhere). But if you Google the stuff I mentioned, those sources should be easy to find. Here's how I calculated the cost-effectiveness of The Freedom Fund: $ 12.1 million Total spending in 2 states in Northern India (2014 thru 2019) + $6.8 million Total spending in 1 state in Southern India (2015 thru 2019) _________ $18.9 million TOTAL SPENDING in the 3 states Each year, FF's cumulative spending in the 2 states in Northern India is stated in its Annual Impact Report. Ditto, FF's cumulative spending in the 1 state in Southern India. So by subtraction, I computed FF's annual spending in N. India and also in S. India. For N. India, where the baseline for evaluating the work was early in 2016 and the endline was late in 2018, I subtracted FF's spending there in 2014, 2015 & 2019. This gave me a figure for 2016 through 2018 that I was confident overstated the exact amount. For S. India, where the baseline was mid-2018, I subtracted FF's spending there in 2015 (that's when the work started) and 2019. But because FF's spending there in 2017 was much lower than in 2016 or in 2018, I was concerned that the 2017 figure might be some kind of anomaly, and so I decided NOT to estimate FF's baseline-to-endline spending in S. India as: 2017 + half of 2016 + half of 2018. Instead, to be conservative, I added those 3 years of spending, and then multiplied the sum by 2/3. Estimating the baseline-to-endline cost this way gave me confidence that I was not underestimating it. So: $ 18.9 million TOTAL SPENDING in the 3 states -$ 8.9 million FF SPENDING excluded due to being before the baseline or after the endline __________ about $10 million in F.F. SPENDING in the 3 states between baseline and endline $10 million divided by 125,000 (reduction in bonded labour) = $80 (cost per person spared bonded labour) I'm going to post this & then respond soon re: assumptions.
2Douglas Pike2y
Clarification: I'm requesting an Early time slot.
This is a very important topic and I'd like to learn more about it. Hopefully, I'll get to hear you discuss it at the Unconference.
1Sonya Lebedeva2y
Hi Douglas, This is such an important topic and I would love to hear more about it. I definitely want to hear more about the range of disability factors that Giving What We Can used in 2016 . I think my suggestion would be to hear more about calls to action, because now that we have identified this as a problem what are some things we can do? Really hope to continue discussing this.

A Mindful Approach to Tackling those Yucky Tasks You’ve Been Putting Off

For many of us, procrastination is a problem. This can take many forms, but we’ll focus on relatively simple tasks that you’ve been putting off long-term.

Epistemic status: speculative, n=1 stuff.

Yucky Tasks

Yucky tasks may be thought of several ways:

  • things you’ve been putting off
  • tasks which generate complex, negative emotions.
  • that vague thing that you know is there but it's hard to get a grip on and you’re all like uhggggg

The connection to EA?

EA is not about following well-trodden paths. We’re all trying to do something different and new, and stepping out of comfort zones.

  • donating big sums of money to unusual causes
  • seeing the world through an unusual lens
  • reaching out to people we don’t know
  • planning our careers and our finances
  • and more
  • all while staying organized in our personal lives

For some of us, we may be exceptionally talented or productive in some domains, but find some of the tasks elusive or hard to get a grip on.

So what happens?

Most commonly avoidance. This can go on until there’s some kind of shift: maybe we avoid something until it becomes sup... (read more)

Potential of microbial protein from hydrogen for preventing mass starvation in catastrophic scenarios

My name is Juan B. García Martínez, research associate of the Alliance to Feed the Earth in Disasters (ALLFED). My colleagues Joseph Egbejimba, James Throup, Silvio Matassa, Joshua M. Pearce, David C. Denkenberger and I have researched the potential of microbial protein from hydrogen for preventing mass starvation in global catastrophic scenarios.

As members of ALLFED we are concerned by the fact that the current global food system is critically unprepared for extreme catastrophes of non-negligible likelihood, such as supervolcanic eruptions, asteroid impacts, nuclear wars or pandemics that disrupt food trade. Instead of giving up in the face of this fact, we study potential solutions that could help in such events.


Human civilization’s food production system is currently unprepared for catastrophes that would reduce global food production by 10% or more, such as nuclear winter, supervolcanic eruptions or asteroid impacts. Alternative foods that do not require much or any sunlight have been proposed as a more cost-effective solution than increasing food ... (read more)

Avoiding Infocalypse: How a decline in epistemic competence makes catastrophic risks inevitable — and what EA's can do about it

This would be shortened and modified version of a talk I gave at Cambridge University, at the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence and Centre for the Study of Existential Risk. The general public version of many of the ideas can be found in this TEDx talk that I gave in 2018 (ignore the title, not my choice).

Part 1: Framing the underlying problem

Describe what is meant by epistemic competence (the ability or desire for individuals, organizations, governments, etc. to effectively make sense of the world). Illustrate how it is declining, and how that is likely to get worse.

Part 2: Connect to catastrophic risks
Describe how lower epistemic competence makes it extremely difficult to do any sort of crucial coordination, making global coordination on catastrophic risks increasingly unlikely. In addition, lower epistemic competence makes catastrophic forcing functions more likely and individual mitigation steps less likely.

Part 3: Exploring mitigations

Discuss what can be done, and show that many of these problems are related to other better u... (read more)

Authentic Relating, Changing People's Minds, and Increasing Communication Capacity


We would like to share insights and discuss an authentic relating practise known as circling. Circling is an activity designed to create an “authentic” and “alive” atmosphere, as well as increase the participants' (and facilitators) capacity for empathy, connection, and sharing “cruxes”.


A common problem around “convincing” people to adopt EA values or change their behaviors to be more EA aligned, is accessing the emotional part(s) of themselves that can make the decisions and feel good about it in a way that can permeate into their lives.

The kind of circling that we do creates an atmosphere of vulnerability, emotional openness. During these sessions participants connect to what they personally find truly important and how they want to live their lives.

A secondary effect of participating in these circling (among many), is an increased capacity for those involved to have a better experiential understanding of how people make decisions, how they choose what to share, and how vulnerable they can be.


We would l... (read more)

Great to see this here, Daniel! After a few years helping to run a local EA group and working for an EA org, my focus at the moment is how to bring EA and AR (Authentic Relating) together in the most impactful way. I've just landed a trial with a leading AR org with the hope that I can work with them to increase their impact. I also just ran my first online AR workshop with a bunch of EAs. Your pitch for AR/circling to be a means of increasing the abilities of EAs to effectively spread our ideas is interesting! My initial thoughts are that the primary impact AR could have might lie in its capability to increase the quality of relationships in the workplace and thus the impact of the most impactful orgs. Secondly, as a practice to help people repair damaged relationships or to foster high quality relationships thus to increase individual wellbeing (this might be targeted at people doing particularly high impact work, or at people/cultures which could particularly benefit from these practices (prisons, schools...)
1Daniel Tabakman2y
I totally agree. The amount of potential value in creating and fostering these kinds of relationships are huge. I'm part of an organization called ThinkBetter and we are looking into this as well. I'm not going to be able to cover everything we are doing even just related to circling in my talk, and it feels like we would have a lot in common and would love to chat with you and see where our approaches intersect.
1Danny Lipsitz2y
Sounds interesting! I'm curious what circling actually entails. Could you describe what happens in one of the sessions?
1Daniel Tabakman2y
I will share what happens in the talk.

A Metamodern Approach to "Leveling-up" Humanity

ThinkBetter was founded by five EAs in Toronto with the mission of creating a scalable rationality training program, and the goal of materially raising the global sanity waterline. Through a series of rapid-prototyping and OODA loops, we ended up 'transcending and including' our initial curriculum and strategy, and are now working with a deeper understanding of the complexity of the challenge.

I'd be interested in starting a discussion to share:

  • Our journey
  • A new approach to learning that we are finding highly effective
  • The emerging ecosystem of individuals, teams, and communities that are all working on different parts of the human development stack
  • And of course - how our perspective on EA is shifting as we learn to 'see' higher levels of complexity

The Importance of the Arts in Effective Altruism and Social Change

While art is a powerful agent to create social change by incentivizing civic engagement, political movements typically miss critical opportunities to collaborate with artists. The presentation will begin by analyzing the theory why art creates impact. As a practice-led researcher, I will analyze both my art and the art of other artists aimed at fabricating social change. I will explain why certain interventions are more effective than others, and how we can leverage these ideas to create social change.

The lack of funding for arts research creates a lack of empirical evidence for the effectiveness of art. While the few studies have indicated that the arts is an effective agent for social change, less than 3% of funding in the arts are used for arts research within the US. Therefore, I will discuss the empirical evidence behind art for social change and why arts research needs more funding.

Despite multi-million dollar donations within the art world, these funds are disproportionately concentrated among few artists, curators, and collectors. Meanwhile, the average artist will live below the poverty line at some point ... (read more)

The importance and challenges of estimating existential risk

To make effective prioritisation decisions in relation to existential risks, we need estimates of the risks from various sources and of how various actions would reduce those risks. However, such estimates are extremely rare, extremely hard to make, and extremely hard to judge the reliability of. These conditions create risks of either ignoring expert views or overly anchoring on them, and of overlooking either the points of consensus that do exist or the vast disagreements and uncertainties that remain.

To mitigate these issues, I’ve collected all estimates of existential risk (or similarly extreme outcomes) I could find in a single database. This database can be collaboratively added to over time as new estimates are made or old estimates found, and it currently has ~70 existential risk estimates.

This session would expand on the above points, discussing why we need existential risk estimates, why it's hard to make such estimates or even just to know how much we should update our beliefs based on experts' estimates, what options this leaves us with, and why building and using this database is the best of t... (read more)

I have another somewhat related idea that I could talk about for 5-8 minutes as part of the same session where I talk about existential risk estimates, or that I could do a full session on instead of a session on existential risk estimates. (I obviously wouldn't plan to take up two session slots by doing full presentations on both ideas.) Perhaps it'd be best to use an "approval voting" approach, where you upvote the above comment if you'd be interested in a full-session on x-risk estimates, upvote this comment if you'd be interested in a full session on crucial questions for longtermists, and/or upvote my other comment if you'd be interested in a session briefly covering both. CRUCIAL QUESTIONS FOR LONGTERMISTS Convergence Analysis (who I work for) are embarking on a project to collect, organise, clarify, and highlight existing ideas and works related to a large set of the “crucial questions” for longtermists []. These are questions whose answers may be “crucial considerations” [] , which are “likely to cause a major shift of our view of interventions or areas”; their answers could substantially shift how we think about key problems and how we make major prioritisation decisions. One set of such questions relate to how high various existential risks are, but there are many other questions as well. For example, there are questions related to the optimal timing for work and donations, including: * How will “leverage over the future” change over time? * How effectively can we “punt to the future”? * What would be the long-term effective growth rate of financial investments? * Which “direct” actions have “compounding” impacts (if any)? How strongly and durably do those impacts compound? * How steeply do marginal returns to work done within a given time period diminish? How much can we paralleli
Perhaps upvote this comment if you'd be interested in a session where I present briefly on the existential risk estimates idea, then present briefly on the crucial questions for longtermists idea, then open the floor for discussion of both topics. (I'm also open to moving away from this sort of approval voting approach.)

What prevents researchers from prioritising x-risk?


This proposal aims to answer the following questions:

  • What are researchers' existing beliefs about existential risks?
  • How are their actions concerning existential risk mitigation dependent on their beliefs?
  • What factors might explain researchers not prioritising existential risk?


Most longtermist EA-inspired organisations advocate for and support research on existential risk (among other topics). They do so, presumably, in the hope that, by providing information and resources to researchers, researchers' views and efforts will shift in favour of more impactful topics.

Yet, little is known about several factors that appear critical to this theory of change. I am not aware of work concerning:

  • Researchers' existing beliefs about the prevalence of and relative concern caused by existential risks.
  • The extent to which providing information and research support related to existential risk affect researchers' beliefs and downstream actions.
  • The barriers to researchers' prioritising work related to existential risk.

(That said, I am sure that research exists on questions broadly analogous to those above.)

M... (read more)

Sounds interesting. A few questions/thoughts: Are you just focused on any and all researchers, or researchers in some particular set of fields? Perhaps the fields most relevant to existential risk (e.g., AI, biotech, international relations)? I think there's some value in updating one's beliefs based on experts' existential risk estimates, such as those from Ord. But I'd also worry about the possibility of anchoring [] and/or information cascades [] if other researchers - who might have been able to come up with their own reasonable estimates if they tried - are actively encouraged to adjust their beliefs based on existing estimates. I'd also be wary of heavily relying on any particular estimate or set of estimates, without checking what other experts said about the same topic. So it might be useful for you to draw on the existential risk estimates in this this database [] I made, and also to just keep in mind the risks of anchoring and information cascades and try to find ways to mitigate those issues. (I'll be discussing these topics more in a lightning talk at EAGx, and maybe in an Unconference session too [] .) At first, I thought you meant telling the researchers what experts thought, and then incentivising the researchers to say the same. I felt unsure what the point of that would be. But now I'm guessing you mean something like telling them they'll get some incentive if the estimate they come up with is close to experts' estimates, to encourage them to think hard? If so, what's the goal from that? I could imagine this leading to researchers giving relatively high estimates because they expect x-risk experts would do so

What is forecasting and how do I get started?

I'm currently teaching this as a 4x90 minute course. If there was sufficient interest I'd be happy to put together a half hour lightning version.

Edit: looks like I was about a week late having this idea, though I'm still happy to run this at some point if people want.

I'd be interested if you have any written posts you recommend (not so big on watching videos generally)

*Match for More*--An organization seeking to cultivate a community of EA professionals who leverage their company's matching program towards EA-align charities/causes.

My colleague and I have been working on developing an organization/community that, similar to the way GWWC fosters a community of effective givers who pledge 10% of their income, we look to cultivate a community of those effectively leveraging their company’s matching opportunities, and specifically leveraging them towards various EA-aligned causes and organizations. We believe that this organization, called 'Match for More', can have an impact on professionals’ charitable contributions and longevity, their allocation effectiveness, and their ability to speak more about their donation opportunities in a social atmosphere that will continue to motivate and spread the giving mentality that lies at the core of EA values.

More details:

After just a bit of research, and some polling in various online EA communities, we’ve learned that there are already EAs out there taking full advantage of their matching opportunities, whether their own or that of their spouse or partner. Of the numerous... (read more)

Thanks for organising this Unconference! I really enjoyed both presenting and attending.

It seemed there were a lot of interested attendees, a lot of applications to present, and some applications that came in after the deadline. (Meaning there were some cool-sounding things I didn't get to see, like alexrjl and JuanGarcia's ideas!) And it seemed like this is a cool opportunity for people to raise some awareness of their ideas/projects and get feedback, and for attendees from across the world to make connections during the Q&As and icebreakers.

So I wonder if it might be worth doing something like this every month or two? There could be either this post or a new post where people can apply on a rolling basis by commenting, and each month or two the 4-8 applications with the highest karma that haven't already been done go ahead. And then new people can apply for the next time, and the prior applications can continue to gain karma. And maybe there'd just be one "track" for each time slot, as there's always next time to do presentations that couldn't be gotten to this time.

I imagine the EAGxVirtual team would do a great job of this, but also ... (read more)

3Sebastian Schwiecker2y
Thanks for the nice words. I also think there could me more Unconferences in the future. Every month might be a bit much, but every quarter or every 6 month might work. Currently we (or at least I) have no plans to organize another event but that might change soon. In case you are interested, please feel free to start planning.

What is the best leadership structure for (college) EA clubs?

A few people in the EA group organizers slack (6 to be exact) expressed interest in discussing this.

Here are some ideas for topics to cover:

  • The best overall structure (What positions should there be etc.
  • Should there be regular meetings among all general members/ club leaders?
  • What are some mistakes to avoid?
  • What are some things that generally work well?
  • How to select leaders

I envision this as an open discussion for people to share their experiences. At the end, we could compile the result of our discussion into a forum post.

TOPIC: Effective Altruism API and Blockchain-based Donation Platform


We would like to discuss and showcase two projects under active development. The first is our effective altruism application programming interface (API). This is a public dataset of information about the notable charities and charity evaluators that we would like to expand so that researchers and developers can query and use for their own purposes and projects. We could use your help to know what type of structures and features would be most useful to the community.

The second project relates to blockchain technology. Leveraging the power of the Ethereum network, and using the aforementioned API for data, we are developing smart contracts and a frontend interface that form a decentralized application. This platform enables donors to make informed decisions about their crypto donations to notable charities, as identified by well-established charity evaluators (to include 80,000 Hours, The Life You Can Save, Animal Charity Evaluators, and Give Well).


We would like to present working prototypes of both the API and decentralized application during our time period. There would be a brief discussion

... (read more)
1Prabhat Soni2y
Hey, the hyperlinks of the 'homepage' and 'GitHub' URLs are wrong
Thanks, fixed

Demand Reduction is a neglected approach in climate solutions

We want to share some ideas about demand reduction, which we feel is a neglected approach to addressing climate change. We would like to get feedback on these ideas and connect with other like-minded EAs. These are early-stage ideas that we are still making more rigorous and actionable.

Whereas energy efficiency improvements reduce energy and resource demands by making certain behaviors and processes more efficient, demand reduction is about reducing or eliminating those behaviors and processes altogether, thus avoiding issues like the rebound effect (see Jevons paradox and Khazzoom-Brookes postulate). For instance, whereas a mainstream approach to reducing the environmental impact of transportation would focus on shifting travel to trains or electric vehicles, a demand reduction approach would focus more on reducing the need for commuting and travel overall.

Demand reduction has several advantages as an approach: it comprehensively reduces environmental burdens, rather than only reducing emissions; it is less dependent on technological progress; it is less dependent on new investment; it is less complex and thus more robus... (read more)

I've seen a lot of work on demand side response, whether that's reducing demand or just shifting it in order to reduce peaks in consumption. For example, the International Energy Agency tracks it annually. []
We'd love to see what you seen, if you don't mind sharing some links. Note that when we talk about 'demand reduction' (which honestly isn't the best term, but we're still working on that), it doesn't mean just any work on the demand side. Any kind of efficiency standard is a demand side intervention, but we've tried to distinguish 'demand reduction' from that sort of work. Similarly, we wouldn't consider demand response as falling under 'demand reduction', as from what I understand, it's primarily about shifting consumption which could be viewed as efficiency improvements. Maybe to put it more clearly, we should distinguish between two types of demand: 1. Demand for goods and services, such as the service received from an appliance or travel over a distance 2. Demand for energy and resources, such as electricity Work that we've seen on the demand side may work on reducing demand #2 by improving the efficiency in which those goods and services are delivered. But we haven't seen much work on reducing demand #1. The use of taxes and incentives to shift demand #1 is probably the closest thing we've seen, but we think there's a broader space of policies to be considered for reducing demand #1 that is under-explored.
Yes, I definitely think it's useful to draw a distinction between reducing demand for the product or service vs making the product or service more efficient. I've seen some interventions to reduce waste - I'm not sure which category you'd put that in. I think providing free smart meters is a nudge in this category. []

Geographic diversity in EA:

Here´s a link to my recent post about it:

content copied here:

I suspect that due to lack of diversity, questions that could be relevant to EA have not been considered enough and here I share some of the ones that I deal with the most (although I don't have a strong position about most of these things and probably I just have not been aware if they DO HAVE been considered, in that case I would appreciate a lot if you could send link... (read more)

WORKSHOP: Global development negotiation

~~ Learn global development negotiation techniques from a trained negotiator. ~~

My background:

  • MA in Economic Diplomacy, international development focus
  • Negotiating for cost-effective environmental actions with the UN


Why to negotiate for global development? (0-1 min)

Negotiation techniques (with examples) (1-5 min)

  • Ask for more, insist & refine
  • Repetition & Memos
  • Respond, then advocate
  • Personal example
  • Respect decisions
  • Focus on outcome, not power dynamics

Q&A (5-13 min)

Role-playing workshop on the Icebr... (read more)

AI Safety Career Circle

Putting this suggestion out there, because there are always people looking for AI Safety career advise, and this is a tried and tested format.

First round, everyone shares their career plans (or lack of plans).

Second round everyone who wants to shares career advise that they think might be helpful for others in the circle.

Must be late session if you want me to lead it.

Using General Collective Intelligence to Break through the Barriers to Global Transformation

I'd like to give a presentation on General Collective Intelligence or GCI, which is a decision-making system that combines groups into a single collective intelligence with vastly greater general problem-solving ability than any individual in the group. In this presentation I'd like to talk about why GCI might be critical to achieving virtually every group challenge when the group is big enough, potentially including all the global outcomes targeted by eve

... (read more)
I've never heard about GCI before but it seems super cool, could you link to any resources on it?
For a little more information you can read about an experiment I'm trying to conduct to validate that GCI has the potential to significantly increase the effectiveness of altruism [] For still more information you can watch a 5 minute video of one particular potential application of GCI in another field: [] For yet further information, you can read a published paper summarizing the topic: The Relationship Between Collective Intelligence and One Model of General Collective Intelligence, Andy E. Williams, Computational Collective Intelligence, 11th International Conference, ICCCI 2019, Hendaye, France, September 4–6, 2019, Proceedings, Part II, Pages 589-600 Or you can read the pre-print (working draft) of another paper that provides a lot more detail: Williams, A. E. (2020, April 30). A Model for General Collective Intelligence.

Add resources to the EAGxVirtual Notes

Wait! I know this may not sound groundbreaking but I think a collaborative session to link lots of related resources and opinions could be valuable.

What would we do?

For half and hour a group, with a video call would add resources and thoughts to the notes here:

Why is this valuable?

We would end up with a much better and more linked set of notes, that would better answer peoples questions and give them more to read.

Also, we could use this to test out whther thi... (read more)

I don't know how you'd do it but I think the notes could be really valuable if you could add a means for upvoting or allowing people to show which notes they found the most valuable.