Building effective altruism
Building EA
Growing, shaping, or otherwise improving effective altruism as a practical and intellectual project

Quick takes

New: floating audio player for posts You can already listen to Forum posts via the audio player on the post page and via podcast feeds, thanks to Type III Audio. Recently, we enabled their new floating audio player. Now, the player becomes fixed to the bottom of the screen when you scroll down, making it easier to read along with the audio. In addition, you can click on the play buttons next to section headings to skip directly to them. As always, we’d love to hear your feedback! Do you prefer to read or listen to posts? How can we improve the listening experience? Feel free to respond here or contact us in other ways.
In late June, the Forum will be holding a debate week (almost definitely) on the topic of digital minds. Like the AI pause debate week, I’ll encourage specific authors who have thoughts on this issue to post, but all interested Forum users are also encouraged to take part. Also, we will have an interactive banner to track Forum user’s opinions and how they change throughout the week.  I’m still formulating the exact debate statement, so I’m very open for input here! I’d like to see people discuss: whether digital minds should be an EA cause area, how bad putting too much or too little effort into digital minds could be, and whether there are any promising avenues for further work in the domain. I’d like a statement which is fairly clear, so that the majority of debate doesn’t end up being semantic.  The debate statement will be a value statement of the form ‘X is the case’ rather than a prediction 'X will happen before Y'. For example, we could discuss how much we agree with the statement ‘Digital minds should be a top 5 EA cause area’-- but this is specific suggestion is uncomfortably vague.  Do you have any suggestions for alternative statements? I’m also open to feedback on the general topic. Feel free to dm rather than comment if you prefer. 
I highly recommend the book "How to Launch A High-Impact Nonprofit" to everyone. I've been EtG for many years and I thought this book wasn't relevant to me, but I'm learning a lot and I'm really enjoying it.
Edit: it seems like this already exists! @Aaron Bergman can you confirm? Can someone who runs an EA podcast please convert recorded EAG talks to podcast form, so that more people can listen to them? @80000_Hours @hearthisidea @Kat Woods @EA Global (please tag other podcasters in the comments) The CEA events team seem open to this, but don't have the podcasting expertise or the bandwidth to start a new podcast (Full disclosure - this is a bit of a selfish ask, I'm attending EAG and want to listen to quite a few talks that I don't have time for, and streaming them on YouTube seems clunky and not great for driving)
We’re very excited to announce the following speakers for EA Global: London 2024: * Rory Stewart (Former MP, Host of The Rest is Politics podcast and Senior Advisor to GiveDirectly) on obstacles and opportunities in making aid agencies more effective. * Mary Phuong (Research Scientist at DeepMind) on dangerous capability evaluations and responsible scaling. * Mahi Klosterhalfen (CEO of the Albert Schweitzer Foundation) on combining interventions for maximum impact in farmed animal welfare. Applications close 19 May. Apply here and find more details on our website, you can also email the EA Global team at if you have any questions.
My overall impression is that the CEA community health team (CHT from now on) are well intentioned but sometimes understaffed and other times downright incompetent. It's hard to me to be impartial here, and I understand that their failures are more salient to me than their successes. Yet I endorse the need for change, at the very least including 1) removing people from the CHT that serve as a advisors to any EA funds or have other conflict of interest positions, 2) hiring HR and mental health specialists with credentials, 3) publicly clarifying their role and mandate.  My impression is that the most valuable function that the CHT provides is as support of community building teams across the world, from advising community builders to preventing problematic community builders from receiving support. If this is the case, I think it would be best to rebrand the CHT as a CEA HR department, and for CEA to properly hire the community builders who are now supported as grantees, which one could argue is an employee misclassification. I would not be comfortable discussing these issues openly out of concern for the people affected, but here are some horror stories: 1. A CHT staff pressured a community builder to put through with and include a community member with whom they weren't comfortable interacting. 2. A CHT staff pressured a community builder to not press charges against a community member who they felt harassed by. 3. After a restraining order was set by the police in place in this last case, the CHT refused to liaison with the EA Global team to deny access to the person restrained, even knowing that the affected community builder would be attending the event. 4. My overall sense is that CHT is not very mindful of the needs of community builders in other contexts. Two very promising professionals I've mentored have dissociated from EA, and rejected a grant, in large part because of how they were treated by the CHT. 5. My impression is that the CHT staff underm
GET AMBITIOUS SLOWLY Most approaches to increasing agency and ambition focus on telling people to dream big and not be intimidated by large projects. I'm sure that works for some people, but it feels really flat for me, and I consider myself one of the lucky ones. The worst case scenario is big inspiring  speeches get you really pumped up to Solve Big Problems but you lack the tools to meaningfully follow up.  Faced with big dreams but unclear ability to enact them, people have a few options.  *  try anyway and fail badly, probably too badly for it to even be an educational failure.  * fake it, probably without knowing they're doing so * learned helplessness, possible systemic depression * be heading towards failure, but too many people are counting on you so someone steps in and rescue you. They consider this net negative and prefer the world where you'd never started to the one where they had to rescue you.  * discover more skills than they knew. feel great, accomplish great things, learn a lot.  The first three are all very costly, especially if you repeat the cycle a few times. My preferred version is ambition snowball or "get ambitious slowly". Pick something big enough to feel challenging but not much more, accomplish it, and then use the skills and confidence you learn to tackle a marginally bigger challenge. This takes longer than immediately going for the brass ring and succeeding on the first try, but I claim it is ultimately faster and has higher EV than repeated failures. I claim EA's emphasis on doing The Most Important Thing pushed people into premature ambition and everyone is poorer for it. Certainly I would have been better off hearing this 10 years ago  What size of challenge is the right size? I've thought about this a lot and don't have a great answer. You can see how things feel in your gut, or compare to past projects. My few rules: * stick to problems where failure will at least be informative. If you can't track reality well eno
With another EAG nearby, I thought now would be a good time to push out this draft-y note. I'm sure I'm missing a mountain of nuance, but I stand by the main messages:   "Keep Talking" I think there are two things EAs could be doing more of, on the margin. They are cheap, easy, and have the potential to unlock value in unsuspecting ways. Talk to more people I say this 15 times a week. It's the most no-brainer thing I can think of, with a ridiculously low barrier to entry; it's usually net-positive for one while often only drawing on unproductive hours of the other. Almost nobody would be where they were without the conversations they had. Some anecdotes: - A conversation led both parties discovering a good mentor-mentee fit, leading to one dropping out of a PhD, being mentored on a project, and becoming an alignment researcher. - A first conversation led to more conversations which led to more conversations, one of which illuminated a new route to impact which this person was a tremendously good fit for. They're now working as a congressional staffer. - A chat with a former employee gave an applicant insight about a company they were interviewing with and helped them land the job (many, many such cases). - A group that is running a valuable fellowship programme germinated from a conversation between three folks who previously were unacquainted (the founders) (again, many such cases).   Make more introductions to others (or at least suggest who they should reach out to) By hoarding our social capital we might leave ungodly amounts of value on the table. Develop your instincts and learn to trust them! Put people you speak with in touch with other people who they should speak with -- especially if they're earlier in their discovery of using evidence and reason to do more good in the world. (By all means, be protective of those whose time is 2 OOMs more precious; but within +/- 1, let's get more people connected: exchanging ideas, improving our thinking,
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