Asaf Ifergan

Wiki Contributions


Announcing "Naming What We Can"!

Or, you could change your name to Wise Julia. This will also allow you to signify your intellectual superiority.

Tail risk: if EA ends up voting for a top leader, and you get elected, this could sound pretty culty. If that risk seems significant to you, I would advise avoiding the obvious choice here - Julia the Wise - which is even worse.

Yale EA’s Fellowship Application Scores were not Predictive of Eventual Engagement

I don't have a strong opinion about this in the context of fellowships, but I can refer to setting a high entry bar in recruiting community members and volunteers in general, and specifically, by asking them to invest time in reading content. I hope this helps and not completely off-topic.

Though EA is a complex set of ideas and we want people to have a good understanding of what it's all about, demanding a lot from new people can be fairly offputting and counterproductive.

From my experience, people who are of high potential to be both highly-engaged and of high value to the community are often both quite busy people and relatively normal human beings.
As for the first point, if you sent someone a long list of content, he/she might just say "this is too demanding, can't handle this right now". As for the second point, we have to accept that people have much shorter attention spans than we would like to imagine, especially if they are not really familiar with the content.   

Me and Gidon Kadosh from EA Israel have thought long and hard about how to lower the perceived effort of people who come to our website by creating this "Learn More" page on our website. Though it's in Hebrew, you might be able to understand what we tried to do here on a structural level. We plan to make it even more attractive for readers, possibly by splitting this page into individual pages focusing on a specific subject, and allowing the user to conveniently move on to the next/previous subject - This way we both lower perceived effort of reading this content and create a feeling of progress for the user.    

I'm really not sure there is a correlation between the willingness of someone to invest a lot of time in reading lots of content or filling a long application before they have a clear view of the value in doing this. Going back to recruiting new community members and volunteers, there are brilliant people who are value-aligned, but just don't have the time (or are not willing) to invest the time needed to fill in a highly-demanding application, or read 20 articles about something they are not sure they care about yet.

Kelsey Piper on "The Life You Can Save"

Thanks for posting this! This can be pretty helpful for figuring out from which angle to approach broader audiences and people who are more skeptical about our ability to make a change.

Focusing on Career & Cause Movement Building

Hey David, enjoyed reading this post so thank you for investing your time in putting this together.
One thing I'm not sure is clear to me, is if the goal of these communities is to bring together people who are interested in, say, animal welfare, and then trying to expose them to more EA content?
Or is it aimed to bring together people who are already interested in EA, but are more focused or interested in one area than other areas?

Also, this made me think of an idea - building teams of EA's who are professionals from the same field (Finance, law, marketing, operations) that can provide advice and build strategies for community building. I'll think and talk about this some more, and will try to figure see if there's any benefit in doing that.    

Prioritization in Science - current view

Thank you for writing this Edo, it's really interesting to read about these topics as someone who's not really knowledgeable in research and academia. 

"it's not clear to me how much productivity loss is there when scientists are working on stuff they are less intrinsically interested in. The situation seems to be fine in commercial companies..."

I would assume there's a major difference in why most researchers in academia do what they do (interest and sheer curiosity, along with prestige) and why most professionals in the private sector do what they do (money and career development). This is not to say you're not right about that, but I think it's important to keep in mind the difference in the motivation that drives people's work in different work environments.


Desperation Hamster Wheels

Thank you so much for sharing this with us and investing time in writing this.
I found this really insightful and helpful, and I can empathize with a lot of what you've felt throughout this journey.

"I’m sad that I’m not better or smarter than I grew up hoping I might be."
I feel like this is a thinking pattern that many people from our generation have, which is problematic because it's a fact that not everybody can be the most X person in the world, be it most impactful, most beautiful, most talented, or most wealthy. I feel it's also not true on an individual level;  we tend to estimate our potential self while neglecting vital personal preferences - some of us just want to work less than others. and while for some people it feels good to work all the time, for others it's demotivating and depressing, and they are much happier when spending more time with friends and family, or watching Netflix on weekends instead of working and studying diligently.   

One of the biggest struggles for me, and I would assume that's true for other people too, is that it can prevent us from noticing and celebrating our own progress because it always feels that we're still miles away from the finishing line - We're not fulfilling our potential. Then we're demotivated, and that surely doesn't help.

I fully agree with you on that, and from my humble experience, it's rare for people in EA to be interested in doing good purely from a cold and calculated point of view. A lot of us probably had the will to do good much earlier in life and long before we got to EA, and for us Effective Altruism is just the way in which we follow our ever-existing passion to do good.
I also think we should make sure people who stumble upon us don't get the idea that we're not doing this because we're passionate about it. That can and does alienate a pretty substantial amount of people that discover EA, from my own anecdotal experiences with friends and newer community members.

Highlighting content that talks about motivation and excitement, and presenting it to people who are new to EA, might help us to:
1. Prevent people from feeling disconnected from our mission.
2. Be more appealing to people who have a strong desire to do good but are not very analytical or comfortable with the type of content we usually highlight. After we appeal to their emotion and establish common ground - we're all hopeful and excited to do good - then we can start talking about the HOW.

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.

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