Topic Contributions


Thoughts on Nadia Asparouhova (nee Eghbal) essay on EA ideas, Ideas machines

Firstly, I want to address why effective altruism, as I’ve stated elsewhere, “cannot singlehandedly meet the civil purpose of philanthropy.”

I think Nadia is misreading EA as a fundamentally philanthropic movement. EA is about maximizing the amount of good we do. Longtermism is about maximizing the EV of the future. Philanthropy is part of that, but far from the whole picture. Neither have made any claims about fulfilling the civil purpose of philanthropy-which I take it is something like libraries and children's hospitals. In their more extreme forms, EA and longtermism may claim on the margin they are more important than those things, but not that they meet the same purpose. 

I enjoy the piece, but do think it misses the mark in its comments on EA.  

Tentative Reasons You Might Be Underrating Having Kids

I believe Abby's take on this, but I don't think it's a misrepresentation of Caplan's position (though maybe an unnuanced one), unless we're really just coming down on the meaning of "significant amount." I would say  saving 10% of parenting time is "a significant amount."

I think those low hanging fruits, if they are there at all, are probably there for 8-15 year olds, give or take. 

Tentative Reasons You Might Be Underrating Having Kids

We clearly agree on your first point (and sorry, I don't mean to single your comment out too much as a foil, it just came to mind as a recent example of the discourse).

The second strongest reason is if you think childrearing is actually the most cost-effective thing for you to do on the margin because of the effects of the children themselves

I thought about making some back of the envelope EV calculations to this point but it sort of lives or dies on certain assumptions and I didn't want to make it just an argument about those. But it's conceivable to me that, for the median EA, raising a child (and trying to instill EA values) would be the most cost effective use of that marginal time. That might be crazy, but I'd like to see different  people's numbers on it. 

Again, these are all tentative, but I think my main point in this post is there is something of a collective action problem, where it is more high value (and lower cost) if a lot of EAs to have kids than it is the most cost effective thing for any individual EA having children. 

A new media outlet focused in part on philanthropy

FYI anything you write to Teddy could end up in an article. I suggest you read some of his pieces before engaging. I worry this piece makes him sound more EA than he is, although of course he could be pivoting.