Topic Contributions


Will FTX Fund publish results from their first round?

I think that's referring to something else (see the comment above his response). I completely understand the reasons for not releasing all submitted proposals to the public. 

I'm  asking for the final results of the round - simply, which projects were funded? This doesn't seem unreasonable to ask, as most foundations usually do release some information about who and what they fund. Also FTX feels like it's modeled a bit on YCombinator and they definitely release a list of startups funded each cycle. It's good for transparency, but even more so for helping future applicants get a sense of what a particular funding body wants to invest in. 

The Future Fund’s Project Ideas Competition

 (short answer) more security, more features and the consolidation of a lot of existing but disconnected infrastructure tools... which could strengthen movement coordination, increase collaboration and calibration and sustain longterm engagement with the community. 

Just like you can't catch rain with a sieve, you can miss a lot of value with a fragmented ecosystem.

(longer answer

An intranet would subsume under one platform a lot of current tools like... event sign-ons, the forum, EA hub's directory, facebook groups, job/internship boards, the Wiki, various communication channels (twitter, discords, slacks, email etc), surveys and polls, chapter sites, separate application forms, the librarian project and organization newsletters.

An intranet can also provide a greater array of features that do not currently exist in the ecosystem including (but not limited to) spaces for sub-group discussions, tiered engagement levels, guided on-boarding for new members, greater analytics and much more.

I think the biggest benefit of all is concentrating the online activity of the movement in one place versus the present state of having to check a disorganized collection of websites, blogs, sign-ons and social accounts in order to keep up with what is going on with the community. The majority of our time should be spent on our work and collaboration - not trying to track down important or relevant information, trying to figure out how to get involved and meet people in the movement, and figuring out how to learn, grow and develop as an effective altruist.

Given the recent sunsetting of the EA Hub - and their comments that implied CEA may be attempting to develop a larger platform - this idea may be in progress. However, I still wanted to share and spark more discussion on the need for an intranet because I believe it would greatly improve movement coordination and strengthen the sense of community while significantly reducing the workload for meta organizations so they can invest more time and energy into their high impact programs.

Given the EA movement's desire to grow more, and the inconceivable amounts of money currently floating around, it may make sense to invest in a pre-packaged intranet for now while  also funding a team to begin building an in-house intranet platform that can be fully customized to the needs of the movement as it grows.

If you are interested in learning more about what a unifed platform for EA could look like here are some of the more popular intranets on the market: Sharepoint, Interact, GreenOrbit, Guru or Mangoapp (p.s. my favorites so far are Sharepoint and Interact).

[As someone personally interested in information architecture and digital taxonomy I started looking into this idea a while back and began drafting a proposal on how an EA intranet would operate and what benefits it could have for different roles within the movement. Let me know if you would be interested in reading a forum post on it - I have lots of articles in draft stage and it's hard to prioritize which ones to work on, so an expression of interest in this particular piece would definitely push it to the top of my list!]

If anyone is interested here is a quick breakdown on differences in intranets, extranets and the internet and the value they provide. 

The Future Fund’s Project Ideas Competition

Build an intranet for the effective altruism community 

Effective Altruism, Empowering Exceptional People

If effective altruism is going to be "the last social movement the world needs" it will need to operate differently from past movements in order to last longer and reach more people. Given that coordination is a crucial element for success within a distributed global network, a movement intranet could improve coordination on projects, funding and research and build a greater sense of community. An intranet would also help the movement (1) consolidate and streamline processes for onboarding new people to the movement, (2) help connect people to relevant, up-to-date information and (3) reduce the burden on current organizations by encouraging greater peer-to-peer learning and mentorship. An intranet also provides greater visibility of the movement's activities in real time, helping inform leaders and donors where resources and attention are most needed. This can include supporting community health in developing and reinforcing prosocial norms for a safer, more diverse movement.

The Future Fund’s Project Ideas Competition

Build an Infrastructure Organization for The EA Movement (TEAM) 

Effective Altruism, Empowering Exceptional People

Many high impact organizations in effective altruism have expressed issues with sourcing operations talent which takes time away from the key programs these charities provide, reducing overall impact. An infrastructure organization could provide operational support and build valuable tools that would alleviate the burden from these meta charities and streamline processes across organizations to improve movement coordination. This organization could also tackle major bottlenecks like hiring talent, vetting grants and projects, collecting data and user feedback and even building software to support internal activities like cost benefit analysis tools or a community intranet.

The Future Fund’s Project Ideas Competition

Reframe U.S. college EA chapters as an alternative to Greek life

Values and Reflective Processes, Empowering Exceptional People, Effective Altruism

Following the model of Alpha Phi Omega, the largest coed service fraternity in the U.S. with ~335 chapters and 400,000 alumni, reframing EA chapters as social organizations may help with recruitment and retention. It could also encourage a broader range of activities for chapters to run throughout the year including things like hosting workshops for other students on how to think about careers, hosting film screenings and speakers, introducing pressing problems, red-teaming career plans, hosting campus debate tournaments, raising money and awareness for high-impact charities and encouraging students to sign giving pledges like One for the World and Giving What We Can.

The Future Fund’s Project Ideas Competition

Publish an EA-inspired magazine like Time Magazine's "Time for Kids" (TFK)

Empowering Exceptional People, Values and Reflective Processes,  Effective Altruism

Time for Kids has almost 2 million subscribers and has been used by educators for over 25 years to introduce elementary students to issues in science, history and civic engagement, while empowering students to take action and have a positive impact on the world. An EA-oriented magazine could do something similar by introducing students to topics like current pressing issues, relevant career pathways and the skills that are highly needed to address global problems. Additionally, this could include developing an evergreen  website to accompany the magazine, which can produce content providing  support for educators and parents by covering topics like how to better  incorporate EA topics into lessons and how to advise students wanting to pursue  high-impact careers.

Effective Altruism, Before the Memes Started

One thing that jumped out at me as I read your post is the several references you make to the EA movement’s engagement with past critics - and by “EA movement” I mean William MacAskill - which to me reads as an underlying issue, and possibly the explanation for the point you appear to be making, in that the movement no longer responds to critics. 

One of my favorite modern aphorisms (which, regrettably, I can’t recall who I heard it from) is, “I hate Lord of the Rings…. but it’s still a billion dollar franchise.” The point being that every idea (be it a world-changing philosophy or what started as a simple fiction book) has critics and as things scale you begin to realize you can keep defending your work… or you can reach a threshold of “advocates” so you can just concentrate on your work… because your advocates will defend the work for you. 

Which to me is the larger part of the issue here: MacAskill was definitely a major voice in the beginning of the movement, as expected, given his help founding it and his book Doing Good Better - but all movements (much like startups) must face that first “crisis” of being able to support itself without needing the founder’s daily involvement in putting out small fires, or in this case, engaging with every new (or old) criticism that comes in. Unfortunately,  EA appears to be having a hard time moving past its need for founders to be highly involved at the ground level. A movement that continues holding on to its founders writes its own stagnation, because the founders cannot continue their own work in further developing the very ideas and vision that the movement was built on. 

I can’t speak for the founders because I wasn’t there at the time they were creating the movement, but I can’t imagine they intended to remain involved in the daily activities of the movement long-term.  I surmise there was an expectation that at some point, a threshold of people would “join” the movement, and they would be able to step back (into their existing, professional roles) and not have to invest so much time and energy into the development and maintenance of the movement, because enough structure would be in place so that it would be able to carry itself forward. 

I believe in many ways this has happened - the Centre (CEA), despite some instability early on, has done a remarkable job of taking over this crucial “hand-off” of the more practical, infrastructure side of the movement. Where EA seems to be struggling is in the “hand-off” of the more academic, intellectual part of the movement - the philosophical claims of EA are much more nuanced and the ability to argue and debate them require a deeper understanding of various ethical theories, traditional approaches in philanthropy as well as knowledge of economics, statistics and a slew of other subjects. 

I don’t think Will is the only person who can defend the ideas of EA, but Will might be the only person in EA who is confident enough in his understanding of the ideas (having helped create them) that feels he can publicly respond and debate the ideas with external critics. This unfortunately leads to an “ouroboros effect” in which Will feels he can respond so he does, which leads to other EAs not feeling they have the same level of understanding as him to publicly defend EA, so they continue ignoring critics waiting for Will to say something, so Will does and so on… this has surely been exhausting and stressful for Will and unfortunately it has reinforced a bad habit in the movement of “somebody else’s problem” (or in this case “Will’s problem.”)

I believe there are solutions to rectify this but even I don’t feel qualified to make suggestions, for many reasons, but primarily being that I am not a founder so I don’t feel like I have the “authority” to tell “leadership” how to manage the movement they created. This ties into a more complex web of issues that I see unfolding as the movement continues to grow, so to clarify I don’t think the solution here is as simple as founders “passing the baton” to the next round of leadership. The EA movement can definitely take advice from community-building best practices, but EA is a more unique kind of movement, which means not all of the traditional solutions can just be applied “cut and paste” and expected to work well. 

OP: I appreciate you sharing your thoughts because I believe it’s a good practice to document and demarcate changes (real or perceived) in the movement for future historical reference. 

Effective Altruism, Before the Memes Started

I agree with Linch, it was difficult to follow your train of thought… but I still found it worth reading to the end. 

It feels like you (the OP) had three distinct streams of thought intertwined; (a) the parts about Glen Weyl, (b) the general point that movements tend to stop engaging with critics, and then (c) using EA as your example for (b). This piece may have flowed better if you just cut out the parts about Glen Weyl -I for one had no idea who this was because I don’t engage on those other forums you mentioned. It doesn’t add much to your main point or reflections on the EA movement, and feels like a bit of a distraction from them. (this is just meant as friendly feedback, take it or leave it). 

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