Ben_West

Division Manager: Forum and Events at CEA. Non-EA interests include chess, TikTok, and applying science to things it isn't usually applied to.

TikTok: @benthamite

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EA Retention

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EA Infrastructure Fund: Ask us anything!

This means that when we do encounter such an opportunity, we should most likely take it, even if it seems expensive or unlikely to succeed... Some EAs doing direct work could literally earn >$1,000 per hour if they pursued earning to give, but it's generally agreed that direct work seems more impactful for them

I notice that the listed grants seems substantially below $1000/hour; e.g. Rethink getting $250,000 for seven FTEs implies ~$35,000/FTE or roughly $18/hour. *

Is this because you aren't getting those senior people applying? Or are there other constraints?

* (Maybe this is off by a factor of two if you meant that they are FTE but only for half the year etc.)

[Job Ad] Help us make this Forum better

Thanks for commenting! Unfortunately applications for this position have closed, but I hope you will apply in a future round, or to one of the other positions for which we are currently hiring, if they are relevant to your skill set.

Retrospective on Catalyst, a 100-person biosecurity summit

Congratulations on such a successful event! 

  1. Regarding your NPS of 74: I think that's quite good; this page describes an NPS of 60+ as "very, very special, your only daughter probably just got married". 
  2. "We sent a lot of emails in the few weeks leading up to the summit, with various actions for participants to take, and that seemed like a good way to build enthusiasm / engagement." – could you say more about what you asked the attendees to do?
  3. I recently found out about Gather and was also pretty impressed. Do you happen to have filled out versions of the worksheets you could share? I'd be particularly interested in the "designer's agenda" you came up with
AMA: Working at the Centre for Effective Altruism

Positive: The people I work with, both at CEA as well as the wider EA community, are often impressive, talented, and kind.

Negative: I'm not a morning person, and living in Pacific time while working with Brits means I have to be up early a lot

AMA: Working at the Centre for Effective Altruism

I sometimes speak to people who aren't aware how many career paths in community building there are, even outside of EA. I do think this causes there to be fewer community builders than there "should" be.

It feels hard to make really broad statements though; some people's skills and interests are pretty clearly not a fit for community building, and I don't think they should try to force it.

Seven things that surprised us in our first year working in policy - Lead Exposure Elimination Project

Thanks for writing this up! Really helpful to hear about your experiences with governments, and it's cool that you've been able to make so much progress.

Animal Welfare Fund: Ask us anything!

I speak with a lot of people with software engineering backgrounds who are looking for impactful projects. Are there any software projects you wish people would take on?

I sometimes refer engineers to the cultivated meat modeling consortium, but that group doesn't seem very active.

Animal Welfare Fund: Ask us anything!

I've heard that academic research is funding constrained, in the sense that there are academics who would be willing to do research, particularly in the field of cellular agriculture, but they can't get grants. (I think this funding constraint is partially a reflection of biological research being pretty expensive.) I noticed that very few of your grantees are formally affiliated with an academic institution.

Is this just because you don't get applications from academics, or are there reasons against funding them (e.g. the minimum grant size is too high)?

Animal Welfare Fund: Ask us anything!

I sometimes hear from people who are interested in working on cellular agriculture or other meat alternatives, and want to do a PhD, but can't find an advisor who is working on one of those subjects, so they instead plan to research e.g. tissue engineering or cell modeling for the purpose of treating human disease (or some other better funded domain).

In your request for proposals, you seem mostly interested in people who are working full-time on animal-related research.

I'm curious if you have advice for people who are in the situation I described (including "it's really a lot better to immediately researching impactful things so you should try as hard as you can to do that"), and/or if there are any things people in this position could do that you would be excited to fund?

The Impossibility of a Satisfactory Population Prospect Axiology

Thanks for posting this! If I understand your "risky" assumptions correctly, it seems to be targeted at people who believe (as a simple example):

  1. Apples are better than oranges, and furthermore no amount of oranges can equate to one Apple
  2. Nonetheless, it's better to have a high probability of receiving an orange than a small probability of getting one Apple

Is that correct?

If so, what is the argument for believing both of these? My assumption is that someone who thinks that apples are lexically better than oranges would disagree with (2) and believe that any probability of an Apple is better than any probability of an orange.

Side question: the "risky" axioms seem quite similar to the Archimedean axiom in some variants of the VNM utility theorem. I think you also assume completeness and transitivity – are they enough to recover the entire VNM theorem? (I.e. do your axioms imply that there is a real-valued utility function whose expectation we must be trying to maximize?)

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