Asaf Ifergan


Asaf Ifergan's Shortform

Effective Altruism Israel and LessWrong Israel present a new talk - Introduction to existential risk from Artificial Intelligence with Vanessa Kosoy.

In this talk, which assumes no prior knowledge in artificial intelligence, Vanessa will explain the problem in question, and how researchers in the field are trying to solve it. Vanessa is a Research Associate with the Machine Intelligence Research Institute (MIRI) studying the mathematical formalization of general intelligence and value alignment.

The talk will be in English, is not technical, very accessible and quite comprehensive, and is great for both EA's and your non-EA friends that you think should know about this topic.

Here's the facebook event, We start at 19:00 Israel Daylight Time, 16:00 GMT.
See the time in your timezone here.

See you there!

Effective Altruism Stipend: A Short Experiment by EA Estonia

Exciting project!

I really love how it enables to do a lot of different things: helps produce content, allows a "trial period" to examine the potential of prospects, acquiring highly-engaged and highly-informed community members, and building the local community.

Waiting to hear about the longer term effects, but it already seems quite worthwhile.

Audience Targeting for EA communities

Hi Prabhat!

First things first, I'm also relatively new to EA (approximately 8 months) and I think that it's of great value to take into consideration the ideas of new community members who still have a kind of 'outsider view' on things.

By in large, I agree and I actually started working on strategies to target people who are involved in relevant cause areas or might be more open to EA's concepts of expanding the circle of morality.

There a few assumptions that we can be the base of building this strategy:

  • Communities that have a moral underpinning:
  1. Might be more inclined to be interested in effective altruism in general.
  2. Might be more open to long-term moral arguments, and possibly more easily convinced with them.
  3. Might already have a relatively ‘expanded moral circle’ (e.g, animal welfare activists, climate change activists). This can make expanding their moral circle easier than with other people.
  • Attracting people that are already interested in one of EA’s cause areas with content that relates to that cause area can help build credibility with them, and make them feel more comfortable, This, in turn, can enhance the openness and willing of those people to read further about other EA causes
  • Existing communities enable us to reach a great number of people semi-organically and with a low cost.

Having said that, I think we should be careful with popular causes like climate change and animal welfare, the reason is that a respectful amount of the people who support these causes do so for reasons that are not suitable with EA, don't really have reasoning for their views, or are even aggressive towards people who think differently.

It's completely anecdotal but yesterday when I mapped relevant facebook communities I noticed some groups explicitly state they do shaming to meat-eaters, or are conspiracy-based.

Binding Fuzzies and Utilons Together

Although I'm all for variance in opinions within the community, in the case of outreach and marketing I'm kind of happy that we do (:

Binding Fuzzies and Utilons Together

First of all, I want to make clear that entering the broader market of charities can simply mean a different website design - I don't know how this should play out, and I believe that we need to be very careful to spend budgets, but I do think that there could be a way for organizations to be both appealing for EA's and non EA's without investing too much on marketing. It doesn't necessarily mean competing with big, well-funded charities that spend enormous amounts of money on marketing, it could simply mean learning what they do well and implementing small changes to at least be easier for me and you to convince our friends to donate to effective charities.

Furthermore, I want to refer to the second point you've raised - I also think that emotional appeal can boost the motivation within EA's. Things like GDlive give me a boost in motivation, not because the numbers are not sufficient to make a strong case but simply because there are some EA's, like me, that are more feeling-oriented than other EA's and I personally want them on board as well.

In turn, if what we are proposing in the post is successful, it could be the case that this gain in motivation by EAs and EA-aligned people would lead them be more eager to learn more about EA, donate more, and maybe even change their career plans to work on EA cause areas.

I think that alone can be a good enough reason to make an effort to seem more emotionally appealing.

Which person-person introductions could be highly impactful, COVID related and otherwise?

Curious to know why you think Bill Gates meeting the Israeli prime minister would be extraordinarily beneficial (:

Binding Fuzzies and Utilons Together

I agree with the main premise of this post and I have been thinking about this a lot for the last few months. Having said that, I think this marketing strategies should be utilized mostly within charities that are EA aligned, and not within EA itself.

A very strong case for producing more emotional content is that there is already an X amount of money donated by people, and it's better that this money goes to effective charities than in-effective charities. I think this is also very important to do this in "saturated markets" that get a lot of donations, simply because all we will need to do is re-direct funds to better charities, in oppose to telling people why the cause area is important in the first place.

I do think that this is some kind of blind spot within EA. If we really want to do the most good and be as effective as we can be at doing good, we can not strictly rely on the work and donations of the minority who will be drawn to the core ideas of EA. The entrance of effective charities to the regular-people donation market is, in my opinion, a no-brainer, though i'm not sure when and how this should happen.

What I do think is very important is that there will be a clear separation between EA and EA aligned non-profits to avoid harming the culture within EA, and also making sure that the marketing of foundations that are related to us stays honest and "morally sound".

To summarize, I would aim to keep EA relatively small (but maybe more inviting than it is right now) and harness the power of EA - the framework of finding the best opportunities to do good - to redirect donors and volunteers to better, more effective charities. If the way to do this is more emotional marketing, than emotional marketing it is. The means definitely justify the cause in my opinion.

Audience Targeting for EA communities

That's pretty good for personal outreach, and I would agree that these assumptions can be helpful when trying to reach to people who will have a positive tendency towards EA.

Having said that, it's pretty unclear to me how you would translate that into ad targeting considering:

1. It's difficult to clearly target "rational and logical" people when you're trying not to approach a specific audience. I can obviously target engineers, mathematicians, and philosophy students, but that is excluding everybody else that is logical and rational and assuming others don't possess these characters. This can also decrease the variety of opinions and talents in our community even more. I might be more sensitive about this because i'm not that typical EA character (no academic background, not much of a technology guy).

2. The goal is to build the community, not necessarily finding people who will donate. This means that a lot of different people can be relevant for us and i'd like to open our reach but still keep it within a reasonable and logical audience.

Than again, sometimes you just can't win everything. Maybe it will be a good idea to target specific audiences with different posts, targeting each audience with content that is more palatable and interesting for them.