A further attempt at categorization that I think complements your "Respectable <-> Speculative" axis.
I've started to think of EA causes as sharing (among other things) a commitment to cosmopolitanism (ie neutrality with respect to the distance between the altruistic actor and beneficiary), but differing according to which dimension is emphasized i) spatial distance (global health, development), ii) temporal difference (alignment), or ii) "mindspace" distance (animal welfare).
I think a table of "speculativeness" vs "cosmopolitanism type" would classify initiatives/proposals pretty cleanly, and might provide more information than "neartermism vs longtermism"?
There's a real issue here but I dislike the framing of this post.
Throughout the text it casts neartermism as "traditional EA" and longtermism as an outside imperializing force. I think this is both historically inaccurate, and also rather manipulative.
Longdistancers (emphasizing neutrality wrt spatial distance from beneficiaries, vs temporal distance for longtermism)
Amazing, yes I know of the West African initiative and wondered if they were related. Will reach out, thanks!
Sentinel biosecurity program in Guatemala
This sounds really cool, but I can't seem to find any details on it outside of this post. Could you point me to a resource (or should I just email Paulina)?
I thought this might be the output of an LLM (it just has that 'feel'), but ChatGPT actually produced an IMO better essay when prompted with the title of this post:
Complexity science is the study of complex systems, which are systems that consist of many interacting parts that can give rise to emergent behavior. Effective altruism is the idea of using evidence and reasoning to determine the most effective ways to benefit others, and taking action based on that evidence.
In recent years, effective altruism has become an increasingly popular movement, with a growing number of people seeking to use their resources and talents to make a positive impact on the world. At the same time, complexity science has begun to shed light on some of the fundamental principles that govern the behavior of complex systems, such as networks, ecosystems, and social organizations.
One of the key insights of complexity science is that the behavior of complex systems cannot be fully understood by simply analyzing the individual parts of the system in isolation. Instead, it is necessary to consider how the parts interact with each other and how they combine to produce emergent behavior. This is because the interactions among the parts of a complex system can give rise to behavior that is not predictable from the behavior of the individual parts alone.
This insight has important implications for effective altruism. For example, when trying to address a complex social problem, such as poverty or inequality, it is not enough to simply identify the individual causes of the problem and address them one by one. Instead, it is necessary to take a more holistic approach that considers how the different causes of the problem are interconnected and how they combine to produce the overall effect.
Another key insight of complexity science is that complex systems can exhibit surprising and counterintuitive behavior. For example, in some cases, small changes to a system can have large and unexpected effects, while in other cases, large changes can have little or no effect. This means that interventions designed to address complex problems may not always produce the intended results, and it may be necessary to adapt and adjust the interventions in response to feedback from the system.
This insight has important implications for effective altruism because it suggests that even well-intentioned interventions can have unintended consequences. For example, an intervention that is designed to address a particular aspect of a complex problem may actually make the overall problem worse by disrupting the delicate balance of the system. In order to avoid these kinds of unintended consequences, it is important for effective altruists to be aware of the complexity of the systems they are trying to address and to approach their interventions with caution and flexibility.
Overall, complexity science is an important field for effective altruism because it offers insights into the nature of complex systems and how they behave. By taking these insights into account, effective altruists can develop more effective interventions and avoid unintended consequences. This can help them to make a greater positive impact on the world and contribute to a better future for everyone.
This is wonderful.
Plausibly very high impact, certainly neglected, and (crucially) not a particularly weird research program for a neuro/global health focussed epidemiology department.
Have you had any interest from funders or researchers?
Fair point. I'm actually pretty comfortable calling such reasoning "non-EA", even if it led to joining pretty idiosyncratically-EA projects like alignment.
Actually, I guess there could be people attracted to specific EA projects from "non-EA" lines of reasoning across basically all cause areas?