Aaron Gertler

I moderate the Forum, and I'd be happy to review your next post.

I'm a full-time content writer at CEA. I started Yale's student EA group, and I've also volunteered for CFAR and MIRI. I spend a few hours a month advising a small, un-Googleable private foundation that makes EA-adjacent donations. I also play Magic: the Gathering on a semi-professional level and donate half my winnings (more than $50k in 2020) to charity.

Before joining CEA, I was a tutor, a freelance writer, a tech support agent, and a music journalist. I blog, and keep a public list of my donations, at aarongertler.net.


Part 7: What Might We Be Missing?
The Farm Animal Welfare Newsletter
Replacing Guilt
Part 8: Putting it into Practice
Part 6: Emerging Technologies
Part 5: Existential Risk
Part 4: Longtermism
Part 3: Expanding Our Compassion
Part 2: Differences in Impact
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Wiki Contributions


Concerns about AMF from GiveWell reading - Part 1

Malaria rates in Benin, DRC, Ghana, Mali & Sierra Leone increased as net coverage increased, which is more evidence that the malaria data being used is not great. 

I appreciate your sharing what you find as you dig through the data. But I'd also recommend sharing links for statements like this (or at least instructions for finding the same information you found). This makes it much easier for other people to dig along with you.

Elsewhere, I have read that AMF requires its distribution partners to collect monthly malaria case rate data from all health centers in the distribution zone for 12 months preceding and 4 years following the distribution.  I don’t think this requirement is actually enforced. 

If you email AMF to ask about whether they enforce this, I think you'll get a response pretty quickly. Ditto other questions you come up with in your research. (At least, based on my own experience emailing AMF about things.)

Propose and vote on potential EA Wiki entries

Seems like a good idea!

If we have three criticism tags covering "causes", "organizations", and "community", then having a general "criticism of EA" tag doesn't seem to make sense. The best alternative seems like "criticism of EA philosophy".

If I don't hear objections from Pablo/Michael, I'll make that change in a week or so and re-tag relevant posts.

How to use the Forum

Upvotes (and downvotes) are anonymous.

EA Forum Creative Writing Contest: $22,000 in prizes for good stories

I assume this is just a general comment, but so I can be sure — did you mean to make a point about the current rules of the contest?

Notes on "Managing to Change the World"

Great review!

Green's blog, "Ask a Manager", is really well-written. Many of the questions are a bit narrow, or "funny but rare", but I still find the blog a good way to immerse myself in the mind of someone who thinks clearly about hard problems in the workplace.

Introducing Training for Good (TFG)

Several of CEA's new hires over the past couple of years have been people older than 30 with no prior EA experience, who in at least some cases were responding to materials that were "broad" enough to include them in the discussion. This doesn't necessarily mean that we should be investing a lot of effort into reaching experienced people, but they do apply for first-time EA jobs!

Two examples of impressive older people switching into EA work (no comment on how much impact they've had in their roles):

  • Open Philanthropy's Beth Jones (led ops for Hillary Clinton's campaign, worked on Obama's staff)
  • ex-MIRI staffer Edward Kmett, one of the world's foremost Haskell programmers, who worked there for ~3 years
How impactful is free and open source software development?

This should probably be a post! I'd love to share it in the Forum Digest and elsewhere — I can technically do this even when it's a comment, but I'd love to see it get a title, some tags,  its own full comment section, etc.

Ben_Snodin's Shortform

The lobbying pressure seems more important than the common knowledge.

EA orgs already spend a lot of time identifying and sharing important and simple ideas — I wouldn't call them "uncontroversial", but few ideas are. (See "building more houses makes housing cheaper", which is a lot more controversial than I'd have expected before I started to follow that "debate".)

I do think it would be worth spending a few hours trying to come up with examples of ideas that would be good to spread + calculating very rough BOTECs for them. For example, what's the value of getting one middle-class American to embrace passive rather than active investment? What's the value of getting one more person vaccinated?

Development Media International is the obvious parallel, and the cost-effectiveness of using ridiculously cheap radio advertisements to share basic public health information seems hard to beat on priors. But there are a lot of directions you could go with "civilizational epistemics", and maybe some of them wind up looking much better, e.g. because working in the developed world = many more resources to redirect.

(Speaking of which, Guarding Against Pandemics is another example — their goal isn't just to reach a few specific politicians, but to reach people who will share their message with politicians.)

Ben_Snodin's Shortform

For a billion dollars, you can buy hundreds of millions of eyeballs.

As an extreme example, a 30-second Super Bowl advertisement costs just under $6 million and reaches almost 100 million people. And that can't be anywhere near the upper limit of efficiency (I'd guess those ads are wildly overpriced given the additional status/prestige they confer).

Is it crunch time yet? If so, who can help?

Of course, some organizations and people that do a lot of work on this problem would say that it is, in fact, crunch time. If someone decides to explore the area, "it's crunch time" is a hypothesis they should consider. I just don't think it should be their default assumption, or your default pitch.

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