Wiki Contributions


Most successful EA elevator pitches?

Does the short causal pitch not run the risk of limiting EA's scope too much to philanthropy?  To me, it seems to miss the core of EA: figuring out how to better improve the world, given the resources we have.

What self-help topics would you like better research/ resources on?
Answer by ag4000Jan 19, 202210

This is sort of vague, but I'd like to see more about whether/how to induce mindset shifts.  For example, for decreasing procrastination, there are sort of "quick fix" methods (e.g., blocking websites, creating routines) and others that try to get you to change your mindset or motivations (e.g., Nate Soares's Replacing Guilt).  I'm not sure whether there is any research on how these two broad methods of self-help compare, but I'd be interested to hear.  For example, to what extent are these approaches complementary?  In the procrastination example, does blocking websites effectively decrease people's urges to find distractions, inducing a mindset shift, or does it simply cause them to find new distractions?

What are some artworks relevant to EA?
Answer by ag4000Jan 17, 202211

Ted Chiang's "The Lifecycle of Software Objects" (included in one of his collections of stories, Exhalation) is a fascinating exploration of digital sentience.

Apuleius's The Golden Ass is an ancient novel (the only complete surviving Roman novel!) in which the protagonist accidentally turns into an ass.  Although I haven't read the novel, Peter Singer seems to think that it is a good vehicle for conveying empathy towards other animals.

J.M. Coetzee's The Lives of Animals is a peculiar story of a novelist (much like Coetzee himself) delivering a set of lectures on humans' treatment of the other animals, along with surrounding tensions and encounters. 

Please complete a survey to influence EU animal protection policies

Sorry if this is a very dumb question -- can non-EU people fill out the survey/will it make any difference if they do?  For example, I see that a small number of people from the US filled out the survey.  Are those just people from NGOs/consumer organizations or food business operators?

EA outreach to high school competitors

Unfortunately, at this point I have relatively limited contact with current LDers -- there are some I know, but not very well.  I do know some people who are important within the LD community (e.g., run debate camps or major tournaments), but I am not very involved in LD anymore.

EA outreach to high school competitors

I also wanted to chime in about debate.  For context, I did Lincoln-Douglas debate (LD) competitively throughout high school.  

I think many LDers could be good targets for outreach.  Many ideas from EA come up extensively in LD.  In particular: different moral theories and arguments for/against them, cost/benefit analysis, moral hedging to deal with moral uncertainty, arguments for existential risk reduction, and focus on existential risks.  Note that debaters bastardize many of these arguments and concepts, but I think this introduction is useful nonetheless.  LD was certainly where I first heard names like Bostrom, MacAskill, Singer, and Parfit. More generally, I think LD inculcates many attitudes and skills that can be useful for EAs.  Debating LD well requires extensive research of policies, thinking hard about how to apply moral theories to concrete problems, and thinking through both sides of issues. 

I should note a major caveat to what I said above.  Much of the LD community and discussions within LD are not the sort of EA debates I noted above.  There is much sophistry and arguing over rules.  Moreover, the LD community is fairly left politically (at least based off arguments many people read) and so I imagine there could be some pushback to outreach efforts.

If anyone is interested in learning more about LD, or US high school debate more generally, I'm happy to talk about it! 

How Should Free Will Theories Impact Effective Altruism?

I'm no expert in this topic and haven't read Sam Harris's argument, but there are a couple of things I usually bear in mind:

1. If you're uncertain about whether determinism is true (that is, the probability you assign to hard determinism is less than 1), then it seems you should still act as though you are not determined.  Then we can apply reasoning like Pascal's Wager -- if determinism is false, then sadistic torture is terrible; if it's right, then we are indifferent.  Hence it seems that we should still act on the side of morality still having bearing.

2. A more compelling response (although, still contentious) is compatibilism.  I leave you to explore it here.

ag4000's Shortform

I was planning to donate some money to a climate cause a few months ago, and I decide to give some money to Giving Green (this was after the post here recommending GG).  There were some problems with the money going through (unrelated to GG), but anyways now I can still decide to send the money elsewhere.  I'm thinking about giving the money elsewhere due to the big post criticizing GG.  However, I still think it's probably a good giving opportunity, given that it's at an important stage of its growth and seems to have gotten a lot of publicity.  Should I consider giving someplace else and doing more research, or should I keep the plan of giving it to GG? (Sorry if this is vague -- let me know if I can fill in any details!)

ag4000's Shortform

Thanks so much! I've been doing some stuff related to GTD, but haven't read the whole book -- will do so.

ag4000's Shortform

Sorry if this isn't directly related to EA.  What is a good way to measure one's own productivity?  I tend to measure the amount of time that I spend doing productive activities, but the discussion here seems to make a convincing case that measuring hours worked isn't the best method to do so.  

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