All of abrahamrowe's Comments + Replies

Critiques of EA that I want to read

That makes sense to me.

Yeah, I definitely think that also many people from left-leaning spaces who come to EA also become sympathetic to suffering focused work in my experience, which also seems consistent with this.

Critiques of EA that I want to read

Definitely mostly using it to mean focused on x-risk, but most because that seems like the largest portion / biggest focus area for the community.

I interpret that Will MacAskill quote as saying that even the most hardcore longtermists care about nearterm outcomes (which seems true), not that lead reduction is supported from a longtermist perspective. I think it's definitely right that most longtermists I meet are excited about neartermist work. But I also think that the social pressures in the community currently still push toward longtermism.

To be clear, ... (read more)

Critiques of EA that I want to read

I think something you raise here that's really important is that there are probably fairly important tensions to explore between the worlds that having a neartermist view and longtermist view suggest we ought to be trying to build, and that tension seems underexplored in EA. E.g. an inherent tension between progress studies and x-risk reduction.

Critiques of EA that I want to read

I mean, my personal opinion is that is there was a concerted effort of maybe 30-50 people over ~2015-2020, the industry could have been set back fairly significantly. Especially strong levers here seem to be around convincing venture capital not to invest in the space, because VC money is going to fund the R&D necessarily to get insectmeal cost-competitive with fishmeal for the industry to succeed. But the VC firms seemed to be totally shooting in the dark during that period on whether or not this would work, so I think plausibly a pretty small effort ... (read more)

Critiques of EA that I want to read

Yeah that's fair - there are definitely people who take them seriously in the community. To clarify, I meant my comment as person-affecting views seem pretty widely dismissed in the EA funding community (though probably the word "universally" is too strong there too.).

Critiques of EA that I want to read

That doesn't seem quite right - negative utilitarians would still prefer marginal improvements even if all suffering didn't end (or in this case, a utilitarian might prefer many become free even if all didn't become free). The sentiment is interesting because it doesn't acknowledge marginal states that utilitarians are happy to compare against ideal states, or worse marginal states.

2Oliver Sourbut3d
Got it, I think you're quite right on one reading. I should have been clearer about what I meant, which is something like * there is a defensible reading of that claim which maps to some negative utilitarian claim (without necessarily being a central example) * furthermore I expect many issuers of such sentiments are motivated by basically pretheoretic negative utilitarian insight E.g. imagine a minor steelification (which loses the aesthetic and rhetorical strength) like "nobody's positive wellbeing (implicitly stemming from their freedom) can/should be celebrated until everyone has freedom (implicitly necessary to escape negative wellbeing)" which is consistent with some kind of lexical negative utilitarianism. You're right that if we insist that 'freedom' be interpreted identically in both places (parsimonious, granted, though I think the symmetry is better explained by aesthetic/rhetorical concerns) another reading explicitly neglects the marginal benefit of lifting merely some people out of illiberty. Which is only consistent with utilitarianism if we use an unusual aggregation theory (i.e. minimising) - though I have also seen this discussed under negative utilitarianism. Anecdata: as someone whose (past) political background and involvement (waning!) is definitely some kind of lefty, and who, if it weren't for various x- and s-risks, would plausibly consider some form (my form, naturally!) of lefty politics to be highly important (if not highly tractable), my reading of that claim at least goes something like the first one. I might not be representative in that respect. I have no doubt that many people expressing that kind of sentiment would still celebrate marginal 'releases', while considering it wrong to celebrate further the fruits of such freedom, ignoring others' lack of freedom.
Critiques of EA that I want to read

Yeah, I think that some percentage of this problem is fixable, but I think one issue is that there are lots of important critiques that might be made from a place of privileged information, and filling in a form will be deanonymizing to some extent. I think this is especially true when an actor's actions diverge from stated values/goals — I think many of the most important critiques of EA that need to be made come from actions diverging from stated values/goals, so this seems hard to navigate. E.g. I think your recent criminal justice reform post is a pret... (read more)

3sapphire2d
There are multiple examples of EA orgs behaving badly I can't really discuss in public. The community really does not ask for much 'openness'.
Critiques of EA that I want to read

Thanks for the response!

RE 5d chess - I think I've experienced this a few times at organizations I've worked with (e.g. multiple funders saying, "we think its likely someone else will fund this, so are not/only partially funding it, though we want the entire thing funded," and then the project ends up not fully funded, and the org has to go back with a new ask/figure things out. This is the sort of interaction I'm thinking of here. It seems costly for organizations and funders. But I've got like an n=2 here, so it might just be chance (though one person at... (read more)

4calebp9d
I found this helpful and I feel like it resolved some cruxes for me. Thank you for taking the time to respond!
Critiques of EA that I want to read

Yeah that makes sense to me. To be clear, the fact that two smart people have told me that they disagree with my sense that moral realism pushes against consistency seems like good evidence that my intuitions shouldn't be taken too strongly here.

Critiques of EA that I want to read

I definitely agree with this. Here are a bunch of ideas that are vaguely in line with this that I imagine a good critique could be generated from (not endorsing any of the ideas, but I think they could be interesting to explore):

  • Welfare is multi-dimensional / using some kind of multi-dimensional analysis captures important information that a pure $/lives saved approach misses.
    • Relatedly, welfare is actually really culturally dependent, so using a single metric misses important features.
  • Globalism/neoliberalism are bad in the longterm for some variety of reas
... (read more)
-5Oliver Sourbut4d
Critiques of EA that I want to read

Yeah those are fair - I guess it is slightly less clear to me that adopting a person-affecting view would impact intra-longtermist questions (though I suspect it would), but it seems more clear that person-affecting views impact prioritization between longtermist approaches and other approaches.

Some quick things I imagine this could impact on the intra-longtermist side:

  • Prioritization between x-risks that cause only human extinction vs extinction of all/most life on earth (e.g. wild animals).
  • EV calculations become very different in general, and probably glo
... (read more)
4antimonyanthony9d
Agreed—while I expect people's intuitions on which is "better" to differ, a comprehensive accounting of which bullets different views have to bite would be a really handy resource. By "comprehensive" I don't mean literally every possible thought experiment, of course, but something that gives a sense of the significant considerations people have thought of. Ideally these would be organized in such a way that it's easy to keep track of which cases that bite different views are relevantly similar, and there isn't double-counting.
3Pablo10d
There are also person-neutral reasons for caring more about the extinction of all terrestrial life vs. human extinction [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/KfoEiEnLYgfRBJKzM/x-risks-to-all-life-v-to-humans] . (Though it would be very surprising [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/omoZDu8ScNbot6kXS/beware-surprising-and-suspicious-convergence] if this did much to reconcile person-affecting and person-neutral cause prioritization, since the reasons for caring in each case are so different: direct harms on sentient life, versus decreased probability that intelligent life will eventually re-evolve.)
Critiques of EA that I want to read

That's interesting and makes sense — for reference I work in EA research, and I'd guess ~90%+ of the people I regularly engage with in the EA community are really interested / excited about EA ideas. But that percentage is heavily influenced by the fact that I work at an EA organization.

2ShayBenMoshe10d
Yeah, that makes sense, and is fairly clear selection bias. Since here in Israel we have a very strong tech hub and many people finishing their military service in elite tech units, I see the opposite selection bias, of people not finding too many EA (or even EA-inspired) opportunities that are of interest to them. I failed to mention that I think your post was great, and I would also love to see (most of) these critiques flashed out.
EA Organization Updates: May-June 2022

Thanks for sharing these! It looks like this list ends at H (with some Ls at the beginning). I was wondering if it got cut off, or if that's coincidental?

2Lizka10d
Thanks for asking! Unless I got things wrong when I was transferring the Google Doc to the Forum post, there wasn't anything from M-Z or from I-M. (Some organizations on the list didn't have an update this month, apparently, and also the list of organizations is pretty early-alphabet-heavy.)
Critiques of EA that I want to read

My spouse shared this view when reading a draft of this post, which I found interesting because my intuitions went somewhat strongly the other way.

I don't really have strong views here, but it seems like are three possible scenarios for realists:

  • Morality follows consistent rules and behave according to a logic we currently use
  • Morality follow consistent rules but doesn't behave according to a logic we currently use
  • Morality doesn't follow consistent rules

And in 2/3 of those, this problem might exist, so I leaned toward saying that this was an issue for reali... (read more)

1antimonyanthony9d
For the record I also don't find that post compelling, and I'm not sure how related it is to my point. I think you can coherently think that the moral truth is consistent (and that ethics is likely to not be consistent if there is no moral truth), but be uncertain about it. Analogously I'm pretty uncertain what the correct decision theory is, and think that whatever that decision theory is, it would have to be self-consistent.
Critiques of EA that I want to read

I'd be interested in a survey on this. 

My impression is that realism isn't a majority view among EAs, but is way higher than the general non-religious public / greater tech and policy communities that lots of EAs come out of. 

Though I think this is something I want to see critiqued regardless of realist-ness.

Critiques of EA that I want to read

I think I agree with everything here, though I don't think the line is exactly people who spend lots of time on EA Twitter (I can think of several people who are pretty deep into EA research and don't use Twitter/aren't avid readers of the Forum). Maybe something like, people whose primary interest is research into EA topics? But it definitely isn't everyone, or the majority of people into EA.

The scale of direct human impact on invertebrates

It probably depends on the area, but probably non-welfare related impact is going to vary by industry significantly. E.g. I imagine that insecticide use has fairly substantial environmental impacts, but that residential insecticides do not. I haven't looked into this at all, but I'd guess there are many ways in which these industries are bad and also good (they all exist because they provide some useful benefit) besides the welfare implications.

I feel anxious that there is all this money around. Let's talk about it

I think that I agree with many aspects of the spirit of this, but it is fairly unclear to me that if organizations just tried to pay market rates for people to the extent that is possible it would result in this - I don't think funding is distributed across priorities according to the values of the movement as a whole (or even via some better conception of priorities where more engaged people were weighted more highly or something, etc.), and I think different areas in the movement have different philosophies around compensation, so it seems like there are... (read more)

Operations is really demanding

Thanks for sharing this! I think that it is tough that the experiences you list are shared by many other people with ops experience. I also think that something I've witnessed at a lot of organizations is that growth can be somewhat stumbling - e.g. new non-ops staff are added until ops is overwhelmed, and only then are ops staff added.

To mildly shamelessly plug my own employer, Rethink Priorities has been really focusing on offsetting some of these challenges, including doing things like:

  • Having a pay system that doesn't discount ops work - ops staff are p
... (read more)
Rethink Priorities’ Operations team is expanding — we’re hiring for several positions on our Core Ops and Special Projects teams

Hey Charles!

Sure thing! I am really excited about this position. I think the main motivation is that there are a lot of things where it seems like there ought to be summaries of the evidence for what the best practice is on an operational question, but there just isn't good information out there. So, we're hoping that some combination of literature review and self-experimentation can help us ensure we are operating efficiently and intelligently as we grow.

In response to your specific thoughts:

  1. I definitely think our exec teams work on these questions, but w
... (read more)
2Charles He3mo
Thanks, this is a really informative. This is a really exciting role, I hope the candidates will be fantastic and produce great work!
Rethink Priorities’ Operations team is expanding — we’re hiring for several positions on our Core Ops and Special Projects teams

Hey!

We set the title level for the Special Projects Associate roles for a few reasons: 

  • We think that this could be a valuable way for people new to operations for EA organizations to gain skills.
  • We think that generally these roles would be good learning opportunities for early career EAs to explore ops careers.
  • These roles are fairly generalist

I think it is likely that if someone came in who had a fairly deep background in operations relevant to these roles, we'd basically evaluate them for a different title level on an individual basis.

I think we'd al... (read more)

1JBPDavies3mo
Many thanks for the quick reply & clarifications Abraham! Looking forward to the information sessions.
Rethink Priorities is hiring fellows, research assistants, and researchers in several cause areas

Thanks! We are happy to be a good place to work and will keep that idea in mind for the future.

Notes on "Managing to Change the World"

Sorry to callously steal your thunder Peter!

1Sim5mo
Makes sense; thanks very much both!
Notes on "Managing to Change the World"

I know this question wasn't directed at me, but my impression was that we had a lot of people do the training and many also read the book, and most came away thinking that the training was not worth the time / covered a lot of the material in the book but in a less useful format.

That being said, I think it's possible that having all managers just being in a situation where they sit and think about good management practices for 3 days can be really helpful, even if the feeling of being there is negative / the training itself is bad, and I wouldn't be surprised if having a large number of people go through the training improved management at RP overall.

4Peter Wildeford5mo
The question was directed at me but I will approve of this as my answer. (Makes sense given that Abraham is the COO at the organization where I'm Co-CEO and we've talked a lot about this.)
Why is Operations no longer an 80K Priority Path?

Yeah that makes sense to me - RP definitely is at an advantage in being able to recruit people interested in tons of different topics, and they might still be value aligned? I'd say that we've gotten some very good longtermism focused ops candidates, but maybe not proportional to the number of jobs in EA? Not sure though. I think remote work really factors heavily - most of the organizations mentioned in this thread as having open positions that they are struggling to fill aren't hiring remotely, and are just hiring in the Bay Area it looks like.

Why is Operations no longer an 80K Priority Path?

Looking at other comments here, it seems like more people share your thought. I think maybe the remote/non-remote line is still important. But given that other ops people perceive a bottleneck, I added a note to my answer that I don't think it's really accurate.

Why is Operations no longer an 80K Priority Path?

Yeah, I think it sounds like people are saying that there is a lack of executive-level talent, which makes sense and seems reasonable - if EA is growing, there are going to be more Executive-y jobs than people with that experience in EA already, so if value-alignment is critical, this will be an issue.

But, I guess to me, it seems odd to use "ops" to mostly refer to high-level roles at organizations / entrepreneurial opportunities, which aren't the vast majority of jobs that might traditionally be called ops jobs. I definitely don't think founding an organi... (read more)

Why is Operations no longer an 80K Priority Path?

Edit: Given the other answers here it seems like there probably is a higher unmet demand for ops roles than I suggest here, so I don't think this comment should be the top answer here. I think my comments below might still be helpful for indicating why we and some other organizations have had less trouble hiring for ops than other organizations, but it seems like a bunch of groups are struggling to hire for ops.

 

I've hired operations people for EA-aligned organizations both during the period that 80,000 Hours had ops as a priority area and after.

Some ... (read more)

Maybe it's easier in effective animal advocacy, because there's a broader animal advocacy movement to draw from and some large animal advocacy orgs building talent? Also, EAs seem to disproportionately have STEM backgrounds and want to do research, but this is probably not the case for animal advocates in general, so the proportion of animal advocates with ops skills may be higher than for EAs.

These are great thoughts, thanks! We definitely have different perceptions, but I really appreciate this perspective.

One crux may be what CarolineJ points to in her comment: "ops" captures a continuum of skillsets, some of which seem much rarer and more urgently needed than others. I am not sure what roles you were hiring for at your orgs, but I agree with CarolineJ that we especially need those with "chief of staff"-type skills. Examples that come to mind are Zach Robinson (Chief of Staff at Open Philanthropy) and Bill Zito (co-founder and COO at Redwood ... (read more)

What's the Theory of Change/Theory of Victory for Farmed Animal Welfare?

I don’t know if I buy any specific theory of change as being particularly useful, but my impression is most people in the animal welfare world are working under something like scenarios 1, 3, or 4 on your list, but not in any deeper detail than you have here. It also doesn’t seem like you have to have a Theory of Victory if you think corporate campaigning is highly cost-effective and otherwise making progress on animal welfare issues is hard.

The closest thing I’ve seen to something explicit and detailed is DxE’s Roadmap to Animal Liberation - https://docs.google.com/document/d/1YN7KpuShiZItqVuQtWv6ykrjrNv6rAnmjVOcsofRj0I/

Is it no longer hard to get a direct work job?

Here are roles Rethink Priorities has hired for since 2020. There hasn't been any real trend as far as I can see, except that my subjective impression is that the number of highly qualified applicants for research roles and operations roles is up, suggesting that it is getting harder to get a job at RP.

Our most competitive hiring round was for an Operations Associate a few months ago. Our researcher roles are in specific cause areas, so it's hard to compare directly to when we hired general researchers, but my impression is that they are up. We consistentl... (read more)

We’re Rethink Priorities. Ask us anything!

This potentially sounds useful, and I can definitely write about it at some point (though no promises on when just due to time constraints right now).

Rethink Priorities - 2021 Impact and 2022 Strategy

If you're donating on our website (https://rethinkpriorities.org/donate), on the second part of the donate form, you can add a comment. Just add a note there if you'd like us to restrict your gift to a specific pool - our finance team sees these notes.

If you're giving via another platform (EA Funds, a DAF, etc.) feel free to just email us at info@rethinkpriorities.org and let us know!

Thanks for supporting us!

We’re Rethink Priorities. Ask us anything!

This is a little hard to tell, because often we receive a grant to do research, and the outcomes of that research might be relevant to the funder, but also broadly relevant to the EA community when published, etc.

But in terms of just pure contracted work, in 2021 so far, we've received around $1.06M of contracted work, (compared to $4.667M in donations and grants (including multi-year grants)), though much of the spending of that $1.06M will be in 2022.

In terms of expectations, I think that contracted work will likely grow as a percentage of our total revenue, but ideally we'd see growth growth in donations and grants too.

We’re Rethink Priorities. Ask us anything!

I appreciate it, but I want to emphasize that I think a lot of this boils down to careful planning and prep in advance, a really solid ops team all around, and a structure that lets operations operate a bit separately from research, so Peter and Marcus can really focus on scaling the research side of the organization / think about research impact a lot. I do agree that overall RP has been largely operationally successful, and that's probably helped us maintain a high quality of output as we grow.

I also think a huge part of RP's success has been Peter, Marcus, and other folks on the team being highly skilled at identifying low-hanging fruit in the EA research space, and just going out and doing that research.

7MichaelDickens7mo
To the extent that you think good operations can emerge out of replicable processes rather than singularly talented ops managers, do you think it would be useful to write a longer article about how RP does operations? (Or perhaps you've already written this and I missed it)
We’re Rethink Priorities. Ask us anything!

So there are a bunch of questions in this, but I can answer some of the ops related one:

  • We haven't had ops talent bottlenecks. We've had incredibly competitive operations hiring rounds (e.g. in our most recent hiring round, ~200 applications, of which ~150 were qualified at least on paper), and I'd guess that 80%+ of our finalists are at least familiar with EA (which I don't  think is a necessary requirement, but the explanation isn't that we are recruiting from a different pool I guess).
    • Maybe there was a bigger bottleneck in ~2018 and EA has grown a
... (read more)

I have private information (e.g. from senior people at Rethink Priorities and former colleagues) that suggests operations ability at RP is unusually high. They say that  Abraham Rowe, COO, is unusually good.

The reason why this comment is useful is that:

  • This high operations ability might be hard to observe from the inside, if you are that person (Rowe) who is really good. Also, high ability operations people may be attracted to a place where things run well and operations is respected. There may be other founder effects from Rowe. This might add nuance
... (read more)

Here's some parts of my personal take (which overlaps with what Abraham said):

I think we ourselves feel a bit unsure "why we're special", i.e. why it seems there aren't very many other EA-aligned orgs scaling this rapidly & gracefully.

But my guess is that some of the main factors are:

  • We want to scale rapidly & gracefully
    • Some orgs have a more niche purpose that doesn't really require scaling, or may be led by people who are more skilled and excited about their object-level work than about org strategy, scaling, management, etc.
  • RP thinks strategicall
... (read more)
We’re Rethink Priorities. Ask us anything!

It's a little hard to say because we don't necessarily know the background / interests of all donors, but my current guess is around 2%-5% in 2021 so far. It's varied by year (we've received big grants from non-EA sources in the past). So far, it is almost always to support animal welfare research (or unrestricted, but from a group motivated to support us due to our animal welfare research).

One tricky part of separating this out - there are a lot of people in the animal welfare community who are interested in impact (in an EA sense), but maybe not interested in non-animal EA things.

Rethink Priorities - 2021 Impact and 2022 Strategy

This is correct - the RFMF is how much we think we'd like to raise between now and the end of 2022 to spend in 2022 and 2023 according the budgets above. 

Is "founder effects" EA jargon?

Edit: This looks like it is be wrong - the oldest reference I found on the EA Forum to it is explicitly the biology one: https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/WAhFnueRgHkAf8KHc/making-ea-groups-more-welcoming.

 

My guess would be that people have accidentally swapped "founder's syndrome" with "founder effects." Founder's syndrome is widely used outside EA to refer to the things people are talking about: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Founder's_syndrome. EA seems to use it to refer to a wider range of things, but this seems more likely than people int... (read more)

Noticing the skulls, longtermism edition

It seems pretty bizarre to me to say that these historical examples are not at all relevant for evaluating present day social movements. I think it's incredibly important that socialists, for example, reflect on why various historical folks and states acting in the name of socialism caused mass death and suffering, and likewise for any social movement look at it's past mistakes, harms, etc., and try to reevaluate their goals in light of that. 

To me, the examples you give just emphasize the post's point — I think it would be hard to find someone who di... (read more)

[Job ad] Research important longtermist topics at Rethink Priorities!

It’s definitely the case that we can hire people in most countries (though some countries have additional considerations we have to account for, like whether the person has working hours that will overlap with their manager, some financial / logistical constraints, etc), and we are happy to review any candidate’s specific questions about their particular location on a case by case basis if folks want to reach out to info@rethinkpriorities.org. For reference, we currently have staff in the US, Canada, Mexico, Spain, UK, Switzerland, Germany, and New Zealand.

2NunoSempere9mo
Thanks!
How are resources in EA allocated across issues?

I think this is likely true for animal welfare too. For example, looking at animal welfare organizations funded by Open Phil, and thinking about my own experience working at/with groups funded by them, I'd guess that under 10% of employees at a lot of the bigger orgs (THL, GFI) engage with non-animal EA content at all, and a lot fewer than that fill out the EA survey.

Research Topics in Nonprofit Operations

Here are some ideas that I think would be useful (or at least, I would definitely read), from first to last in order of how excited I would be to read them:

  • Developing a tangible, scalable framework for doing project management and tracking for research teams. The software that exists for this seems insufficient and spreadsheets don't seem to scale well.
  • What are things that a lot of EA orgs spend a lot of money on where they could share costs instead and save money?
    • Things that come to mind: legal research (e.g. if two orgs. pay 2 separate lawyers to do the
... (read more)
1[comment deleted]1y
Animal Welfare Fund: Ask us anything!

For what it's worth, I think there is a good case to be made that WAI is somewhere between a neartermist and longtermist organization (mediumtermist?) — e.g. this research and similar seem to be from a relatively longtermist perspective. Though I'm biased because I know that I am sympathetic to some aspects of a longtermist worldview (though obviously no longer work there), and that several of the staff there are also somewhat sympathetic to longtermism. These views might be separated from the work of the organization. And they received around 25% of the t... (read more)

2MichaelA1y
From my limited knowledge of WAI, I think I'd say that that research you link to is indeed from a long-termist perspective, but most of the other stuff seems either targeted mostly at the next 5-60 years, or perhaps targeted at long-term futures that look much more like the present world than I expect (which would then go with the empirical/epistemological views that seem more "neartermist"). Or maybe it's also partly that the work could plausibly be top priority from a longtermist perspective, but I haven't seen/heard WAI framing or justifying the work that way. But this is just based on reading a handful of posts a while ago, watching some talks, etc. - I haven't looked very closely. (I'm also not necessarily saying I think WAI should change its priorities or how it frames/justifies them.)
Insects raised for food and feed — global scale, practices, and policy

Hi, most of the annual production information came from a combination of market research, industry publications, and estimates I built myself - the first part of the Methods section details this and links to sources when available:  https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/ruFmR5oBgqLgTcp2b/insects-raised-for-food-and-feed-global-scale-practices-and#Methods

Animal Welfare Fund: Ask us anything!

If you had to make some predictions about what the animal advocacy space will look like in 20 years, what would be different from today?

8kierangreig1y
Great question! Multi-decade forecasts are hard, so take all these quick thoughts with some salt :) * Amount of funding in our space increases significantly. Sometimes I find it pretty inspiring to think that over the past decade or so, we have almost gone from no field really existing to a budding one. It has gone from <$20M/yr to ~$200M/yr. Predict (75%) that positive trend continues and we would be at >$500M/yr by 2040. * Alt-proteins have significant progress and are really important. Again, it can be inspiring to look back on our progress. Circa ~2015, GFI didn’t exist, alt-proteins were barely a thing. Now GFI is one of (if not the biggest) group in our space. Since, ~2015 we have also seen the 2.0 of PB alts. The likes of Beyond and Impossible suggest that taste and price-competitive alternatives for some animal products are likely, and we are actually now quite close to (if not at) parity for some product categories like beef patties. I predict that we would see this trend continue and there would be at least a couple of other product categories where we reach parity. I think 65% chance that we will see >5% of meat consumption be from alt-proteins. I am hopeful that we may even see some big government funding (scale: tens or hundreds of millions) in open access-research on pb alts, and think that the folks at Mobius [https://mobius.life/] have been doing some great work on this recently! * Movement becomes even more global. Again, past progress seems inspiring. We have gone from basically not much happening throughout large parts of Asia to now a number of groups active there. I would expect that general trend to continue and we will significantly scale up in the likes of Latin America, Africa, and the Middle-East, too. * Continue to expand on the neglected animal frontier. To an extent, I think that over twenty years for our movement we will see: fish become the new chicken, crustacea
Animal Welfare Fund: Ask us anything!

How do you go about evaluating a grant for research vs. a grant that supports direct work?

We grade all applications with the same scoring system. For the prior round, after the review of the primary and secondary investigator and we’ve all read their conclusions, each grant manager gave a score (excluding cases of conflict of interests) of +5 to -5, with +5 being the strongest possible endorsement of positive impact, and -5 being a grant with an anti-endorsement that’s actively harmful to a significant degree. We then averaged across scores, approving those at the very top, and dismissing those at the bottom, largely discussing only those grant... (read more)

Animal Welfare Fund: Ask us anything!

This is a lot more invertebrate welfare work than has been ever supported in the EA space than before (as far as I can tell).

  • Are you funding more invertebrate work because new opportunities are available, or because your minds have changed on working in this space?
  • Do you see invertebrate work becoming part of mainstream animal advocacy over the next few decades? Or, how do you see invertebrate welfare advocacy becoming part of the broader animal advocacy community in general?
9KarolinaSarek1y
That's right, there is growing support for invertebrate welfare work. * For the EA Animal Welfare Fund, it is a matter of the availability of new opportunities. Historically we have been limited by the applications we received and the talent pool for active grantmaking in this space—both of those increased over time, corresponding to greater support of such initiatives from the fund. * We can already see growing interest from animal advocates. Outside our last funding round grantees, we can see groups like Material Innovation Initiative [https://www.materialinnovation.org/] working on silkworms or Charity Entrepreneurship planning to incubate shrimp welfare charity [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/9h6GTpxAX35ets2TQ/why-we-want-to-start-a-shrimp-welfare-charity-founders] . I believe it may be a matter of time when work on invertebrates will become part of mainstream effective animal advocacy movement.
Animal Welfare Fund: Ask us anything!

It looks like most of these grants fall into a few categories:

  • Highly neglected areas / research (e.g. WAI, invertebrate stuff, Rethink Priorities)
  • Non-US/Europe farmed animal work
     

This seems good since many groups recommended in the EA space seem to be in the US and Europe (GFI, Albert Schweitzer, Anima, etc.), so I imagine these other opportunities are especially neglected. The exception to this are the grants you made to THL UK and OBRAZ. I'd be interested in what makes these two groups such good opportunities compared to the charities typically recommended that work in the US / Europe?

6kierangreig1y
I think I would name the categories a bit differently but your point still stands. Fwiw, I would name the categories: * Large-scale and neglected animal populations (for instance, farmed fish and wild animals) * Large-scale and neglected geographies (for instance, China and India) On THL UK and OBRAZ being exceptions, briefly, a few thoughts: THL UK: * We think THL UK has been instrumental to the successes of the broiler movement. * The THL UK team plays a major role in OWA’s global & European progress (e.g., last years helped with training in eastern Europe. * Pretty interested in the specific ways that they are expanding, with more work on fish and legislative efforts. * Generally less concerned about funging with them than we are for some of the other bigger groups in Europe or the US. OBRAZ: * They do seem to have made, relatively speaking, quite good progress on cage-free. Honestly, to an extent, we have been blown away by the progress they have made on cage-free. * This group has won two major victories in Czechia in recent years. In 2017, the group achieved a ban on fur farming [https://www.obrancizvirat.cz/prezident-podepsal-zakaz-vstupuje-v-platnost/] that went into effect in 2019; more recently, they successfully pushed for a ban on cages for laying hens [https://www.obrancizvirat.cz/podpis-prezidenta/] that will become effective in 2027. The recent ban on cages was preceded by successful corporate campaigning efforts led by OBRAZ in partnership with the Open Wing Alliance [https://openwingalliance.org/].
Animal Welfare Fund: Ask us anything!

Right now it seems like there are some really promising but risky opportunities for the EA AWF (e.g. all of insect and invertebrate stuff this grant cycle). How do you evaluate some of these more speculative or high-risk / high-return grants vs. something like corporate chicken campaigns in a neglected region, or an ACE top charity in a neglected space (e.g. Wild Animal Initiative)?

9kierangreig1y
Yeah, I feel uncertain about how to weigh these. Here are some things that feel important: * What feels like one of the stronger considerations for me, is I am generally more excited about the EA AWF taking on some of the more high-risk stuff given that it's easier for Open Phil and others to pick up the proven stuff. It’s also easier for the more proven stuff to fundraise from non-EA sources. E.g., with a group like Crustacean Compassion we gave them a few smaller grants, prior to them getting significant Open Phil funding. * All else equal, we look to explore and vet projects that donors to the AWF are less familiar with. At least two reasons as to why: so we can add value over what their counterfactual donations may have been, and the AWF can play an important role in signalling the quality of groups to other donors, or in pioneering certain areas or subfields (somewhat like what we’ve done in invertebrate welfare) for others then to hopefully take up in future. * Wild Animal Initiative is a special case right now. Namely, so far, WAI hasn’t received much support from major individual donors focused on animal suffering. As they are a quite promising and relatively established group that major donors such as the Open Phil don’t yet fund (though they recommend others do [https://www.openphilanthropy.org/blog/suggestions-individual-donors-open-philanthropy-staff-2020#Farm_Animal_Welfare_recommendations_by_Amanda_Hungerford_and_Lewis_Bollard] ), that creates somewhat of a unique comparative advantage for the AWF, and results in our presently being the major wild animal welfare funder. If that situation were to change, our level of support may also change. * In some cases, I am wary of us funging Open Phil or OWA or some other funder. E.g., potentially at times with some corporate chicken campaigns in a neglected region, or even with larger promising groups based in Europe or the US. * Larger groups
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