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'I think very few systemic changes will affect 1B people' . I agree entirely. We should not in any way close the door on the possibility of systemic interventions with wide-scale impact and it made me think:

'Imagine a systemic change intervention could create a HALY/person of 1.00 for all scentient beings all the time'.


1) all time less an implementation period accounting for ramp-up to maximum impact

2) is not constrained by arbitrary boundaries e.g. rich/poor, planetary, species, only by the limits of our consciousness

3) I'm considering a HALY of 1.00 to equate to the elimination of all avoidable suffering

This statement is logically consistent with the original sentence and only scaled up beyond the 1B people (so both numerically, within the our species, but also beyond our species).

So what does this mean exactly? Effectively we are imagining, expressed in another way, transitioning from a world of:

x-risk, nuclear catastophe, environmental degradation, compromised well being, family-oriented suffering, animal suffering, selfishness, displacement, conflict, fair economies, discrimination, compromised physical or mental health, poor nutrition, tobacco, pollution, corruption, poorly treated children, unsafe (e.g. safe roads) and irresponsible transportation, abuse, inadequate education, slavery, poverty, corporate or poltical irresponsibility, gridlock, equality, the ills of globalization, technology risk e.g. AI, to children), genocide,, terrorism, materialism, suicide etc

to living experiences characterized by:

happiness, sensation, creativity, caring, love, understanding, dynamicism, responsibility, progress, equality, fun, good health, truth, trust, consensus, sharing etc

Even if there were very few such interventions, any demonstrating:

  • a compelling, well-reasoned and evidence-based story
  • scalable to achieve the desired outcome
  • testable from a modest initial scale pilot
  • as such not massive $'s to test

This would have to be worth investing in. It would have to be as much of a no-brainer as buying malaria nets, frankly.

Hi and many thanks for this wonderful post, I have a few thoughts and observations to share:

I strongly agree there is a need for a greater focus in general (i.e. within and outside of the EA community) on systemic versus symptomatic interventions.

I think this should be achieved via proportionally funding systemic versus symptomatic interventions. This appears to me to be morally correct in the sense that it considers both current and future suffering reduction. My off-the-bat split … 90% symptomatic / 10% systemic given the scale of the current state of suffering

This however is based on the assumption that compelling, well-reasoned and evidence-based systemic invention opportunities exist for funding allocation

This is problematic: I personally I not aware of such intervention opportunities today per se, perhaps in part because of the central issue you raise i.e. quantifying the estimated impact

Conversely we have several compelling, well-reasoned and evidence-based symptomatic interventions today. Front-of-mind is AMF: $2 a net, 3750 nets installed = 1 life saved @ $7,500 total. Qudos to this community for shining a light on this suffering reduction no-brainer

Coming back to the example given, I don’t regard international legal reform as a systemic invention: the need for it is the absence of it in the first place leading to the symptom (in this case poverty), as such the reasoning is that international legal reform is symptom of symptom and not cause of the problem in itself

As such the first challenge is to formulate interventions that are truly systemic and with a tremendous sense of urgency: there is what seems like an infinite number of manifestations of suffering in our world today and a real threat to our existence estimated at 1 in 5 by 2100 by this community

Reasoning and logic always leads me personally (i.e. whether thinking about any specific case of suffering, anytime, anywhere) to the root cause being embedded within our consciousness (individually/collectively, naturally/nurturally)

One issue that your example highlights is the investment required for large-scale systemic interventions: using your example, funding need will exceed funding availability by many multiples

As such feasible and compelling systemic interventions should be scalable i.e. testable on a smaller scale i.e. via (non-throwaway) pilot projects; and/or have extremely high expected return profiles

As such it does not have to be the case that smaller campaigns be proportionally less effective in a material sense i.e. in the sense that they can be judged for their effectiveness, considering the benefits of efficiency of scale-up, and therefore requiring more modest investment and therefore able to access a broader base of potential funding

Many thanks again for the post,

Allister Clark.