Head of Events at the Centre for Effective Altruism
Hi sbowman, thanks for asking! We are following the honor system for testing, and will not be requiring proof of the test results. When you arrive, we will ask you to confirm that you have taken one in the last 48 hours and that the result was negative.
As for the tests themselves, a DIY kit would work. We describe some details in our COVID protocol:
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org with any other questions!
Thank you for bringing this up!
1) We’d like to have a larger capacity at EA Global, and we’ve been trying to increase the number of people who can attend. Unfortunately, this year it’s been particularly difficult; we had to roll over our contract with the venue from 2020 and we are unable to use the full capacity of the venue to reduce the risk from COVID. We’re really excited that we just managed to add 300 spots (increasing capacity to 800 people), and we’re hoping to have more capacity in 2022.
There will also be an opportunity for people around the world to participate in the event online. Virtual attendees will be able to enjoy live streamed content as well as networking opportunities with other virtual attendees. More details will be published on the EA Global website the week of October 11.
2) We try to have different events that are welcoming to people who are at different points in their EA engagement. For someone earlier in their exploration of EA, the EAGx conferences are going to be a better fit. From the EA Global website:
Effective altruism conferences are a good fit for anyone who is putting EA principles into action through their donations, volunteering, or career plans. All community members, new or experienced, are welcome to apply.
EA Global: London will be selecting for highly-engaged members of the community.
EAGxPrague (3-5 December) will be more suitable for those who have less experience with effective altruism.
We’ll have lots more EAGx events in 2022, including Boston, Oxford, Singapore, and Australia, as well as EA Globals in San Francisco and London as usual. We may add additional events to this plan. The dates for those events and any additional events will go up on eaglobal.org when they’re confirmed.
In the meantime, if your friend is interested in seeing some talks, they can check out hundreds of past EA Global talks on the CEA YouTube channel.
One thing that you might already know, but could be helpful to spell out: CEA already subsidizes much of the cost of the conference. The main reason we don’t just subsidize it all is that having some cost for attendees means they have personal investment in coming. At some past events like EAGx where ticket costs were very low, a lot of slots got wasted because people claimed the free or low-cost tickets and then didn’t show up. But we don’t want to keep people away because higher prices are difficult for them, which is why we do offer financial aid.
On how to compare yourself to other attendees: We haven’t asked this lately, but in the past we’ve asked attendees how good a use of time the event was for them. (I realize this doesn’t fully answer the question of how to compare yourself to others, but it might help.) Here are the responses from the last time we asked this:
It’s hard for us to say whether EAG tickets should count as “personal” or “altruistic” spending. The overall goal of the event is to have a positive impact for the world — that’s why we host it. On the other hand, it would be kind of suspect for us to tell people “You should pay for your ticket out of your donation budget!” because the event is also enjoyable for attendees (we hope!), and it’s hard to make donation decisions clearly when you also personally benefit from the donation.
Thanks for raising this! We've adjusted the wording over time but still haven't hit on something that ideally conveys the different things we'd suggest to people in different circumstances.
Here's what I think we'd suggest to people in different situations:
Would adding something like that to the FAQ address some of your concerns?
Thanks for your reply! I've responded to your points separately below:
As I understand it, these two measures are more safety theater than anything else - it seems that almost all transmission is through the air, not through surfaces. But it would be good to hear about ventilation: getting lots of fresh air is one of the most effect ways of reducing transmission.
Great point about ventilation, I've added that to the protocol. See my reply to the OP:
Missing safety measures
The venue does provide surface cleaning and hand sanitizer stations, and we considered including that information in the protocol, but we worried that listing excessive detail would contribute to “safety theater” so we cut it from the final copy. We decided to focus on highlighting the policies that we think are most likely to contribute to safety, rather than giving attendees a false sense of security by highlighting precautionary measures that we think don’t add much. You can find more details on the venue safety protocols here.
We failed to mention that the ventilation system at the venue brings in fresh air from outside (rather than recycled air) and has filters that are changed weekly. Windows will be opened to provide additional ventilation where possible (depending on the weather). In addition, the venue capacity is 1,200 in some configurations. We are only having 500 attendees, which is a 23% reduction compared to EA Global: London 2019. I’ve added this information to the protocol.
Finally, I realize this is probably futile given venue restrictions, but as far as I'm aware one dose of J&J is not more effective than one dose of Pfizer or Moderna. If you're going to accept a single shot of J&J, why not also a single shot of Pfizer? Conversely, some other vaccines (e.g. Sinopharm) seem much less effective - does it really make sense to give people full credit for those? Or is there an implicit restriction on which vaccines are accepted based on e.g. MHRA approval?
We discussed this with our COVID Advisory Board, and they acknowledged that vaccine efficacy varies and the data is shifting. But we don’t feel up to doing our own vaccine assessment, and we’ve decided to follow the UK government’s policy here as a bright line.
Hi James,Thanks very much for sharing this feedback.
We mentioned in the protocol that “We considered the venue rules, UK and London requirements, and World Health Organization’s guidelines when drafting this protocol. We also used these resources to draft questions for our COVID Advisory Board.”
Some of the complication comes from cases where the rules from these different bodies are different from what our COVID Advisory Board recommended. The various rules and recommendations shaped the policies, but we didn’t explain our reasoning for some of the decisions and I think some of our language was confusing - sorry about that.
I’ve responded to each of your main points below.
Are negative tests sufficient?
We have updated the protocol to clarify that attendees must be fully vaccinated. To enter the conference venue, they must provide proof of full vaccination. In some cases, the venue might consider the vaccine card inadequate (for example, if the card is from another country without a certified translation). In this case, attendees will also need proof of an officially-logged negative lateral flow test.
Will contractors be vaccinated?
We’ve requested that all contractors and onsite employees are fully vaccinated. However, the venue expressed concern that they might be prohibited from agreeing due to UK employment discrimination laws, and we haven’t been able to secure agreement yet. We have escalated our request to the venue’s CEO and we’re waiting to hear back. If they don’t agree to fully vaccinated staff, they will require negative lateral flow tests as a minimum.
Can children attend?
We are continuing to monitor the situation and don’t plan to commit to a policy on children until closer to the event. Any parents who might wish to bring their children to EA Global can inform us when purchasing their ticket, and this information will help us to make a final decision.
Why are masks not compulsory?
We may revisit this policy but we’re not currently planning to require masks. We will encourage the wearing of masks and have them widely available onsite but we don’t plan to police their use (and thus don’t want attendees to attend with the expectation of strict mask protocols). The latest Government guidance asks the public to use their own judgement in deciding where they should wear one.
Thanks for sharing your concerns. I’ll reply more later (baby is still sleeping on me!) but I wanted to quickly clarify that everyone must be fully vaccinated. The venue may not accept some vaccine cards so the testing backup option is for those limited cases. Sorry that wasn’t clear.
I think this varies based on the team. My team (Events) is very strong on Alliance Mentality and Purpose First. I think we could improve on Perpetual Beta, which is why we are emphasizing skills related to impact analysis and program evaluation in our current hiring round.
One thing that CEA recently changed was to go from thinking about the org as "based in Oxford with remote staff" to "remote first". As someone who has been a remote employee for many years now, I'm excited about this change. What it means in practice, is that even after the pandemic ends
I'm especially excited about that last bullet point. I remember January 2016 as one of the best months of my life because I worked for weeks at the Oxford office. It was Julia's first time visiting too and so I got to know her, Will, Rob, Michelle, and lots of other CEA / 80K staff. It will probably be a bit harder now that I have kids, but I'm really excited imagining a work setup that involves the opportunity to go work with my team and other EAs at the Oxford Hub!
Oh, those were good too! Definitely loved the bake-off. My team’s name of Nick Bakestead was one for the books.
I also really liked the EA themed rap battle. Even though I epically choked trying to freestyle, the raps from Aaron and Louis made up for it!
And I liked when Stefan did spot on impersonations of other staff members. I think he really nailed me, Oli, and Tara!