BrianTan

I'm the co-founder of EA Philippines and a community building grantee of the Centre for Effective Altruism. I was formerly a Senior Product Designer at First Circle, a FinTech company in Manila. You can reach out to me at brian@effectivealtruism.ph or add me on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/brianctan/.

Comments

Launching a new resource: 'Effective Altruism: An Introduction'

Hi Ryan,

On #1: I agree that we should focus on the merits of the ideas on what causes to prioritize. However, it's not clear to me that longtermism has convincingly won the cause prioritization / worldview prioritization debate that it should be ~95% of an Intro to EA collection, which is what 80K's feed is. I see CEA and OpenPhil as expert organizations on the same level as 80K's expertise, and CEA and OpenPhil still prioritize GH&D and Animal Welfare substantially, so I don't see why 80K's viewpoint or the longtermist viewpoint should be given especially large deference to, so much so that ~95% of an Intro to EA collection is longtermist content.

On #2: My underlying argument is that I do see a lot of merit in the arguments that GH&D or animal welfare should be top causes. And I think people in the EA community are generally very smart and thoughtful, so I think it's thoughtful and smart that a lot of EAs, including some leaders, prioritize GH&D and animal welfare. And I think they would have a lot of hesitations with the EA movement being drastically more longtermist than it already currently is, since that can lessen the number of smart, thoughtful people who get interested in and work on their cause, even if their cause has strong merits to be a top priority.

Launching a new resource: 'Effective Altruism: An Introduction'

Hi Rob, I also like the idea of "there being a wide variety of 'intro' EA resources that reflect different views of what EA causes and approaches are best, cater to different audiences, and employ different communication/pedagogy methods."

However, it's not easy for "people make new intro resources to compete with the old one, rather than trying to make any one resource universally beloved (which can lead to mediocre or uncohesive designed-by-committee end products)." Most people do not have the brand or reach of 80,000 Hours. 

It's likely that only very popular figures in the EA community would get substantial reach if they made an Intro to EA collection, and it would still likely not be as large as the reach of 80,000 Hours's. As such, 80,000 Hours's choice of what Intro to EA resources to include is quite hard to compete with, and thus should ideally be more representative of what the community thinks.

80K will somewhat solve this problem themselves since they will create their own feed that exposes people to a wider variety of problems and topics, and possibly they could create a near-termist feed aside from that too. But I still think it would be better if what 80K marketed as an "Intro to EA" feed had more global health and dev't and animal welfare content. I talk more about this here.

I do see that many hours probably went into picking the ten episodes. But it seems like 80K didn't get enough feedback from more people (or a wider variety of people) before releasing this. Hence I'm giving my feedback this way, and judging from the upvotes, quite a few people agree with me. 

Of course, I agree that more testing and re-listening could be done. But I would think that a significant % of people who get interested in EA, including quite a few people who are into longtermism, first get interested in global health and development or animal welfare, before getting interested in longtermism. And I think 80K might be losing out on these people with this feed.

Launching a new resource: 'Effective Altruism: An Introduction'

Hi Rob and Keiran, thanks for the quick response! I agree that this is a difficult issue. Thanks for letting us know about that 2nd feed with a wider variety of things that EAs are up to. I think that's a good thing to have.

Even with that 2nd feed though, I think it would still be better if the "Effective Altruism: An Introduction Feed" had the Lewis Bollard episode and an episode on global health and dev't, whether by substituting episodes or expanding it to 12 episodes. I don't want to make this into a big debate, but I want to share my point of view below.

Because the feed is marketed as something "to help listeners quickly get up to speed on the school of thought known as effective altruism", and because of 80K's wide reach, I think some people seeing this list or listening to this feed may have a misrepresentative view of what EA is. Specifically, they might think we are more longtermist than the community really is, or be expected to lean longtermist.

Also, all or most of the popular "Intro to EA" resources or collections out there at least give a substantial part on global health and dev't and animal welfare, such as the Intro to EA on the EA website, the Intro EA Fellowship syllabus created by EA Oxford (with input from CEA and other EAs), and Will MacAskill's TED talk. And CEA still makes sure to include GH&D (Global Health and Dev't) and Animal Welfare content substantially in their EA conferences. 

All of these are reflections that the community still prioritizes these two causes a lot. I know that key leaders of EA do lean longtermist, as seen in 80K's key ideas page, or some past leaders forum surveys, or how 3-4 weeks of the Intro EA Fellowship syllabus are on longtermist-related content, while only 1-2 weeks are on GH&D, and 1 week on animal welfare / moral circle expansion. 

I'm fine with the community  and the resources leaning to be longtermist, since I do generally agree with longtermism. But I don't think "Intro to EA" resources or collections like 80K's feed should only have snippets/intros/outros of GH&D and animal welfare content, and then be ~95% longtermist content.

Of course, people consuming your feed who are interested in global health and dev't and animal welfare could listen to your episode 0/intros/outros, or find other podcast episodes that interest them through your website. But I worry about a larger trend here of GH&D and animal welfare content being drastically lessened, and people interested in these causes feeling more and more alienated from the EA community.

I think 80K has some significant power/effect in influencing the EA community and its culture. So I think when 80K decides to reshape the way effective altruism is introduced to be ~95% longtermist content, it could possibly influence the community significantly in ways that people not interested in or working on longtermism would not want, including leaders in the EA community who work on non-longtermist causes.

I'd understand if 80K still decides not to include an episode on GH&D and animal welfare into your Intro to EA feed, since you're free to do what you want to do, but I hope I laid out some arguments on why that might be a bad decision. 

It's a bit time-consuming and effortful to write these, so I hope this doesn't blow up into a huge debate or something like that. Just trying to offer my point of view, hoping that it helps!

Launching a new resource: 'Effective Altruism: An Introduction'

Thanks for making this podcast feed! I have a few comments about what you said here:

 Like 80,000 Hours itself, the selection leans towards a focus on longtermism, though other perspectives are covered as well. The most common objection to our selection is that we didn’t include dedicated episodes on animal welfare or global development.

We did seriously consider including episodes with Lewis Bollard and Rachel Glennester, but i) we decided to focus on our overall worldview and way of thinking rather than specific cause areas (we also didn’t include a dedicated episode on biosecurity, one of our 'top problems'), and ii) both are covered in the first episode with Holden Karnofsky, and we prominently refer people to the Bollard and Glennerster interviews in our 'episode 0', as well as the outro to Holden's episode.

I think if you are going to call this feed "Effective Altruism: An Introduction", it doesn't make sense to skew the selection towards longtermism so heavily. Maybe you should have phrased the feed as "An Introduction to Effective Altruism & Longtermism" given the current list of episodes. 

In particular, I think it would be better if the Lewis Bollard episode was added, and one on Global Health & Dev't, such as either the episode with Rachel Glennerster or James Snowden (which I liked). 

If 80K wanted to limit the feed to 10 episodes, then that means 2 episodes would have to be taken out. As much as I like the episode with David Denkenberger, I don't think learning about ALLFED is "core" to EA, so that's one that I would have taken out. A 2nd episode to take out is a harder choice, but I would pick between taking one out among the episodes with Will MacAskill, Paul Christiano, or Hilary Greaves. I guess I would pick the one with Will, since I didn't get much value from that episode, and I'm unsure if others would.

Alternatively, an easier solution is to expand the number of episodes in the feed to 12. 12 isn't that much farther from 10.

I think it is important to include an episode on animal welfare and global health and development because

  1. The EA movement does important work in these two causes
  2. Many EAs still care about or work on these two causes, and would likely want more people to continue entering them
  3. People who get pointed to this feed and don't get interested in longtermism (or aren't a fit for careers in it) might think that the EA movement is not for them, even when it could be, if they just learned more about animal welfare or global health and development.

As a broader point, when we introduce or talk about EA, especially with large reach (like 80K's reach), I think it's important to convey that the EA movement works on a variety of causes and worldviews. 

Even from a longtermist perspective, I think the EA community is better the "broader" it is and the more it also includes work on other "non-longtermist" causes, such as global health and development and animal welfare. This way, the community can be bigger, and it's probably easier to influence things for the long-term better the bigger the community is. For example, more people would be in government or in influential roles.

These are just my thoughts. I'm open to hearing others' thoughts too!

8+ productivity tools for movement building

Thanks for this post! From your list above, we in EA Philippines use Airtable, Calendly, Google Workspace, Asana, and Slack, and we generally have good experiences with these. I've also used Zapier personally before, but we haven't made much use of it yet for EA Philippines. We should though soon.

Other software EA PH has used: Discord, Webflow, Miro, and Otter.ai

#1: Our 3 student chapters in EA Philippines use Discord for their groups/fellowships, not so much for productivity but for community chatting. Students in the Philippines are more active on Discord than on Slack.

#2: Another honorable mention is Webflow, which we use for EA Philippines's website. Webflow's student plan only costs $19/year, and they also have a free plan (if you are okay with hosting your site on a domain ending in" webflow.io"). CEA would probably be happy to provide funding for websites on Squarespace, but Webflow's student plan is still significantly cheaper and could save your group or CEA some money. 

One con about Webflow is it's a bit harder to use than Squarespace, but there are still free or paid templates that can be used. I think CEA / Catherine Low might have an EA Group website template on Webflow that could be duplicated, though I'm unsure if that's still available. I have knowledge of UI/UX design and of Webflow, so that's why I used it. And I wanted the design to be custom versus using Squarespace, which seems harder to fully customize.

#3: For brainstorming / ideation sessions, collaborative meetings, or just making diagrams, you can use the collaborative whiteboard platform  Miro.  We used this a lot in my previous company, and we've used it to make a theory of change diagram for EA Philippines. Miro's student plan gives you Professional access for 2 years. Google Jamboard is also an alternative, though I prefer Miro. 

#4: For transcribing talks or meetings, you can use Otter.ai. We've used this before to easily transcribe interviews we've done with experts or to create transcripts of past talks EA Philippines has organized. Otter has a free plan, but you can get a free 1-month business trial, and their plans are 50% off for students and teachers.

Free Student Plans for Airtable and Asana

Something not mentioned in your article above is that student groups can get free plans for Airtable and Asana. Airtable for Education gives students free access to Airtable Pro for a maximum of 2 years. Even if Airtable has a free plan, it's easy to go above the free plan, so we're thankful one of our student chapter leaders applied for an Airtable pro workspace. So EA Philippines's Airtable base is in this free Airtable pro workspace now.

Meanwhile, Asana also gives free 6-months of Asana Pro for student groups.  EA Philippines and our 3 student chapters have been using this free 6-month trial of Asana for the last 5 months, since the free plan of Asana only allows 15 people, and we wanted easier collaboration between our groups and us. We will soon have to migrate to the EA Hub Asana though, which is going to be a headache. But at least we had a test-run of Asana for 6 months, and now we're more confident of using ~$200 USD of our grant on it.

Hope this info helps other group leaders, especially other student chapters!

Announcing "Naming What We Can"!

How about Confidance, since guesstimate cells look like a dance floor to me

Load More